During the many years I’ve been advising people on how best to use the LinkedIn networking website, I’ve routinely steered people away from investing in the paid “premium” packages on the site, unless such individuals happened to be high-volume recruiters, sales professionals, or similar folks who truly need the extra firepower that a paid subscription provides.

In fact, to reinforce my stance on this matter, I’ve routinely pointed out to people that I myself have been a basic free user of the site for all these years, despite the fact that I teach numerous classes on the tool and use the system religiously.  So again, for most users, I continue to recommend a free account on LinkedIn as the right way to go — at least initially.

Recently, however, I’ve seen convincing evidence that it might be time to make an exception to this rule.  At least in the case of people using LinkedIn for job hunting purposes.  For those professionals seeking a new assignment, openly and aggressively, it appears it might be wise to consider signing up for one of Linked’s “Job Seeker Premium” subscription options.

There are three tiers of such package avaialble and if you click here, you’ll see the breakdown of what each package provides — ranging from access to a certain number of InMail credits (allows you to contact people on the system directly without going through intermediaries), the ability to see increased information about who’s viewed your profile, and the promise that you’ll receive a higher potential ranking on recruiter searches via “Featured Applicant” status.

It’s this last item that has my attention.  While I’m not a big proponent of InMail, and don’t think it’s all that useful to note who has viewed your profile or not, there’s DEFINITELY benefit to be gained by coming up higher on the page when a recruiter runs a candidate search!

So again, based on the anecodtal evidence I’ve heard from several clients of mine who are trying out the Job Seeker Premium package, membership truly does have its privileges, and the enhanced status gained as a paid subscriber really does lead to more positive results.  It gives your profile a little “extra credit” to help it come up high on the search results page — and also adds a small brown suitcase icon next to your name, alerting recruiters and hiring managers that you’re actively in the market for a new opportunity.

Not looking for a job at all?  Or looking confidentially?  Then you’ll probably want to skip this step.  You don’t want that little suitcase icon to “out” your search to your current boss!  But for those of you enthusiastically on the hunt for a new assignment, I’d recommend looking into the Job Seeker Premium package.  While I don’t really see all that much advantage to purchasing the two more expensive tiers of service available, try ponying up the $20 for the “Job Seeker Basic” package and see if you notice a difference in the number of inquiries you receive.

Heck, let’s even be scientific about it.  Before you switch to the premium subscription, write down the number that shows up in the “Who’s Viewed Your Profile?” section on the right side of your LinkedIn “Home” page.  Then, once you’ve subscribed for a month, check the number again and see how much (if at all) your number of profile views has increased!

Any other comments about the value of a paid LinkedIn subscription, from those of you out there who might have tried one at some point?