Should you upgrade to a paid LinkedIn account?

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If you're in the market for a new job, you've probably been spending more time on LinkedIn, updating your profile and expanding your network. The professional social network, which now boasts more than 100 million users, has a number of free tools and features to kick start your job search. But could one of its paid options give you the edge you need to land the perfect job?

In many instances, LinkedIn's free account offers you just a taste of the extended features in its paid accounts. Here are a few of the top perks you get for paying:

See who's viewed your profile: This free feature, located on the right-side about halfway down when you log in to LinkedIn, gives you some detail about who's checked out your profile. Usually you'll receive a handful of names—sometimes anonymous, sometimes not—as well as how often your profile has shown up in search and how many views your profile has received.

If you upgrade to one of the paid accounts, LinkedIn gives you access to more information, including the top search keywords people used to find you, your viewers by industry and geography, and the full list of people who have viewed your profile.

Search by salary: When you search for jobs on LinkedIn, you're able to narrow the field by a number of filters, including location, job function, company, the date the listing was posted, and more. If you upgrade to a paid account, LinkedIn gives you the added option of searching by salary.

Move to the top of the list: When you upgrade to a paid account, you're moved to the top of the list when you apply for jobs. This feature was introduced two years ago and helps you stand out more with hiring managers.

Send InMails: InMail, which lets you directly message anyone on LinkedIn, is a feature available in only two of the three paid tiers. If you have a free account, the contact first has to accept your invitation to connect before you're able to message him. With a paid account, you can send InMails to prospective contacts without first having to be connected.

Lewis Howes (LinkedIn expert and author of LinkedWorking) says that, while InMails can have advantages, you can still obtain the same value from free LinkedIn accounts. "There are ways to connect with decision makers by simply growing your personal network on LinkedIn," he says. "Getting introductions [through existing connections] adds more credibility and social proof than simply reaching out by yourself."

The paid tiers

If you do decide that paid is the way go to, you must choose from LinkedIn's three types of paid accounts: Job Seeker Basic, Job Seeker, and Job Seeker Plus. Each includes the features mentioned above, with the exception of InMails (noted below). Here's how the three differ on the basics:

Job Seeker Basic

  • Price: $20 per month when you pay for one month at a time; $16 per month when you pay for a full year in advance.
  • InMails: None
  • Company Introductions: 10

Job Seeker

  • Price: $30 per month when paid monthly; $25 per month when paid annually.
  • InMails: 5 per month
  • Company Introductions: 15

Job Seeker Plus

  • Price: $50 per month when paid monthly; $40 per month when paid annually.
  • InMails: 10 per month
  • Company Introductions: 25

For a more complete features comparison, check out LinkedIn's upgrade page.

This story, "Should you upgrade to a paid LinkedIn account?" was originally published by CIO.

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