Job Search–Pay for Higher Ranking?

I’ve been a fan of LinkedIn as a job search tool for years, although occasionally they do something I’m less than wild about. However, the latest wrinkle–reported in a recent “Ask the Headhunter” column–struck me as a really sour note. In case you might run up against this situation, I thought I’d spend a few minutes sharing my thoughts about this, as well as brief references from Nick Corcodillos’ pithy column.

LinkedIn’s Paid Placement Offer–What’s It Worth?

Before I get into the LinkedIn bit, let me throw out an analogy that indicates to me the lack of value in LI’s new offer. I like flying Southwest Airlines for a number of reasons. However, I never take advantage of their early check-in offer (which, the last I looked, only cost $10 or $15). The reason is two-fold: (1) It doesn’t necessarily move me up in the line by much, so it’s not saving much in time. (2) Although paying the fee might place me nearer to the end of the A group instead of the first part of the B group, the people who board ahead of me don’t all choose to sit near the front of the plane, so I usually still have ample choices to pick from without paying the fee. I’d rather spend the money on something more rewarding.

So what is LinkedIn’s new paid-placement offer, and what’s it worth to you?

One of Corcodillos’ readers wrote in that he had started to apply for one of the jobs listed in an email he had received from LinkedIn. When he clicked the link, a pop-up ad appeared. As he put it: “For $29.95 per month, LinkedIn has offered to sell me an ‘upgrade’ that will put me at the top of the results this employer will see when it searches the LinkedIn database for job applicants.”

$29.95 doesn’t seem like a fortune–unless maybe you took advantage of the offer for every job you wanted to apply for via LinkedIn. However, there’s a darker side to this, as Corcodillos notes. Remember, first of all, that LinkedIn charges employers to post their job ads. Now they want to charge you for bumping you up in the search rankings. When Corcodillos questioned LinkedIn about this, the rep told him that employers have the option to turn the setting off.

As Corcodillos put it: “So I buy top positioning in recruiting results for $29.95 per month, and the employer has the option to render my payment a total waste. The only winner is LinkedIn….”

Alternatives to LinkedIn’s Paid Placement Offer

What do you do if the situation described above turns you off but you still want to get the word out to employers you’re interested in?

Start by making sure your marketing materials (resume, cover letter and, yes, your LinkedIn profile) are in top shape before you submit your information to any employer. Also, don’t rely too heavily (if at all) on the limited selection of jobs provided in a LinkedIn email. Conduct a proactive, diligent search for opportunities that currently exist or are likely to come up in the not-too-distant future; then prepare yourself to pursue those. Network actively and intelligently within your extended LinkedIn contact network to generate interest and gather information that will give your job search a boost and won’t cost you $29.95 to do so.

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