According to statistics from a 2020 Jobvite report, 72% of recruiters are active on LinkedIn, and 67% of recruiters say that LinkedIn provides the highest quality candidates.

If you are looking for a job, merely using LinkedIn’s free basic membership could put you ahead of the competition. On the other hand, if you want to “seal the deal,” a LinkedIn Premium Career (formerly known as Job Seeker) account (starting at $29.99/month, or $239.88 if paid a year upfront) might be worth considering.

key takeaways

  • A LinkedIn Premium Career account costs $29.99 per month.
  • For the money, the Premium Career account offers several additional features over the basic account, including free InMails, profile views, more intel on the job and job applicants, and featured applicant status.
  • Some recruiters feel that having a premium status indicates that an applicant is more serious and professional about landing a job.

How a LinkedIn Basic (Free) Account Works

To understand the value of a LinkedIn Premium Career account, it’s essential to know what comes with a Basic (free) account.

With a basic account, you can:

  • Create and maintain a professional identity online.
  • Build a network that includes other professionals.
  • Receive recommendations from other LinkedIn members and provide recommendations for them.
  • Request up to five introductions at a time.
  • Search for people, jobs, companies, and more, including a limited number of advanced search features.
  • Save your search results and receive weekly alerts about them.
  • Receive (but not send) unlimited InMail messages.

What You Get With LinkedIn’s Premium Career Account

The Premium Career account (one of four premium accounts available on LinkedIn) offers several additional and expanded features:

Premium Profile 

This feature allows for a larger profile picture and a customizable background. As a premium member, you can turn this feature on through the settings page. The advantage of a larger profile picture is that it helps you stand out from the rest of the job-seeking crowd. A customized background lets you target certain professional sectors or even specific recruiters.

Featured Applicant Status 

As a premium member, your job application automatically sits above non-premium members when you apply for a job via Jobs You Might Be Interested In (JYMBII). This is similar to sponsored search status on Google

Full List of Profile Views 

Basic members can only see the last five views of their profile. By purchasing a premium membership, you will see all the people who have viewed your profile over the last 90 days.

More importantly, you receive information telling you how those people arrived at your profile. This allows you to personalize any contact you may wish to make. This would also let you strengthen the avenues that seem to be used most often by recruiters. 

InMail 

InMail is LinkedIn’s personal message system that lets you communicate with people outside your individual LinkedIn network. This can be invaluable when you are looking for a job. LinkedIn members trust InMail and the likelihood of a response is higher than with traditional email. The Premium Career account lets you send up to five InMail messages per month. Users can purchase additional InMail messages. 

A Premium Career account allows you to contact potential employers directly through InMail something Basic account holders can't do.

How You Rank 

The How You Rank feature (available to basic members) lets you see how you compare to a limited number of your connections and even provides suggestions on improving your rank. By becoming a premium member, you unlock the ability to see the top 100-plus rankings for “professionals like you.” 

Advanced Search 

The premium search filter lets you fine-tune searches and save time looking for the right job or recruiters likely to be interested in your skillset. Parameters include the ability to search for people based on company size, Fortune 500 ranking, seniority, and much more. 

Job Listing Breakdown 

When you search for jobs, you can use this feature to analyze your fellow job applicants by level of experience, skills, and even their degrees. Having this ability lets you decide whether to apply or not—based on where you fall in the applicant pool pecking order.

Open Profile

The Open Profile feature allows anyone to contact you without needing to be introduced or connected. Basic members have to either be connected or become connected through an introduction. This feature's benefits may not be immediately apparent, but over time, the fact you can be more easily approached may prove to be a real plus. 

LinkedIn Basic vs. Premium
Basic vs. Premium Build Your Own Profile See Who is Looking at You Can Send and Receive InMail Build a Network
Basic LinkedIn Account Yes See 5 views in the last 90 days Can only send Yes
Premium Career Account Yes Yes (in the past 90 days) Both Yes

Additional LinkedIn Premium Account Benefits

Built-in features available on LinkedIn’s Premium Career account are only part of the picture. Observations by those who have used Premium Career reveals a few additional advantages.

Connecting With Executives

Top business leaders often tend to insulate themselves through privacy settings. InMail, mostly because it is trusted, can help facilitate connections to people you would not otherwise be able to contact. While you can receive an unlimited number of InMail messages with a basic account, you can only send messages if you have a premium membership. 

Higher Response Rate to InMail

Another advantage of InMail, again due to the trust factor, is that the response rate is higher than with traditional email. The actual response rate varies—mostly with the degree to which the InMail is personalized—but in general, many job seekers find that the likelihood of getting a response goes up when using InMail. 

Increase In Profile Views

Something as simple as “profile views” can have a significant impact on your ability to connect with the right employer. After all, as with ad views, more profile views put your product (you) in front of more people—with a greater likelihood one of them will want to hire you.

Recruiters note that when someone has gone to the trouble (and expense) of obtaining a premium membership, it indicates they are more serious about a professional presentation. That makes it more likely they (the recruiter) will take time to view the profile.

LinkedIn Premium FAQs

Is LinkedIn Premium worth it in 2021?

While a smaller percentage of HR recruiters are using LinkedIn (92% in 2017 vs. 72% in 2020), according to Jobvite, it appears to be still a healthy choice for recruiters based on those figures.

According to LinkedIn, Premium Career account holders are hired on average of two times as fast as other candidates. This type of account provides online tools (like interview prep and online video courses), and it's an easy way for recruiters who aren't in your network to view your profile and contact you with job opportunities. Also, some recruits feel that LinkedIn Premium profiles are a bit more professional for job hunters.

What is the difference between LinkedIn Basic and Premium?

A LinkedIn Basic account allows you to maintain a professional profile on LinkedIn. A Basic account is for anyone who wants to create and maintain a professional profile online, locate and connect with colleagues and friends, plus receive messages and save up to three searches a week.

A Premium Career account is aimed at job seekers who want to view their competition, receive InMail credits, see who has viewed their profile in the past 90 days and enjoy all the features of a Basic LinkedIn account. A Premium Career account is designed for active job seekers and professionals seeking to network and find growth opportunities in their field.

Why is LinkedIn Premium so expensive?

Not everyone would consider it expensive. LinkedIn Premium Career is less than $30 a month for a wide range of tools to help you polish your professional profile and find potential new jobs or career advancement opportunities. Premium Career accounts can access 15,000 expert-led LinkedIn learning courses. All for less than $10 a week, which some job seekers might say is an affordable way to network, while others may think it is too expensive. 

The Bottom Line

Whether LinkedIn’s premium features are worth it, the extra price is something you won’t likely know until you try the service. Fortunately, a one-month free trial is easy to set up. At the end of the trial, if you don’t feel you’ve gained enough benefit to justify the cost, you can drop back to the basic free membership service.

It’s important to note that extra features are only valuable if you use them. If you sign up for LinkedIn Premium Career, take the time to explore all available services and make an honest attempt to use them. Otherwise, you’ll never know which feature may have helped you land that dream job.