The Best LinkedIn Account for Recruiters

As part of my job I’m often asked by both in-house and agency recruitment managers for my advice around their level of LinkedIn investment. 

This is because the only readily available advice is from LinkedIn Sales Representatives or recruiters who have had prior exposure to Premium or Recruiter Products.

This article is intended to make the decision making process easier, by providing an independent review of the pros and cons of a range of LinkedIn solutions, based on my personal experience and feedback from Prominence clients. If your view on LinkedIn investment differs it would be great to hear your experiences in the comments.

My Personal LinkedIn Experience

I first utilised LinkedIn to recruit in 2009 (I know quite late on, but this was fairly early in New Zealand), in 2010 my employer purchased a number of Recruiter Licenses and I was fortunate enough to receive one. I used it off and on for around six months and then (stupidly) provided honest feedback that with the exception of InMail access I saw very little value in having a Recruiter account. Not surprisingly my Recruiter account was quickly transferred to someone else in my team!

In 2012 I got offered access to Recruiter again and happily accepted hoping to discover new features. For the next 12 months I regularly achieved my InMail allocation, accrediting many of my placements to LinkedIn, but still didn’t see much benefit beyond InMail.

Since leaving recruitment I’ve paid for a Business Plus account, primarily to avoid a variety of Basic plan restrictions but also because as I use LinkedIn regularly I feel paying a reasonable price for access is the right thing to do (although my goodwill eased a little when the price doubled early this year).

Typical Recruiter Approach

Over the last couple of years we have trained a range of in-house and agency recruiters. Nearly every client has invested in LinkedIn in a different way, including, making do with free accounts, sharing LinkedIn Recruiter (something LinkedIn has aggressively clamped down on), multiple Business Plus accounts or in a couple of cases providing every recruiter with a Recruiter license, with an annual cost that comfortably runs to six figures.

Forced Upgrade

Some of those who have resisted spending on LinkedIn have recently been forced to reassess their approach since LinkedIn introduced a Commercial Use Limit in January. This is largely because recruiters that have been utilising free accounts have now found their search activity restricted. There are several work-around options based on x-ray search such as custom search engines or products like Recruit’Em (free) or SourceHub (requires registration), but it is generally a lot more cost and time effective to give in and upgrade.

I suspect LinkedIn would like recruitment firms to upgrade their recruiters to either the Recruiter Lite or Recruiter Corporate packages, but these aren’t always most cost effective solution.

Recruiter Activity

When considering whether to upgrade your recruiters LinkedIn account, the most significant factor to assess is the current activity of each recruiter.

Utilising LinkedIn requires a different approach to job board / database sourcing. Recruiters have to search and cold-contact prospects rather than dealing with job applications and network connections that are largely warm relationships.  

Therefore it is my belief that if recruiters aren’t hitting the monthly Commercial Use Limit then they aren’t ready to have a Premium account. This doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be given an account, but before they are, they should be provided with training and support to become more search focused.

Upgrade Options

There are three LinkedIn upgrade options, Business Plus, Recruiter Lite and Recruiter. As a Recruitment Manager the logical choice would be one of the Recruiter products, but before making your selection review your business’s specific requirements.


If your business has no existing Applicant Tracking System (ATC) or Recruitment Customer Relationship Management (RCRM) platform then LinkedIn Recruiter is a logical choice as it can perform this function for you. The Talent Pipeline function also allows non-LinkedIn CVs or resumes to be uploaded.

If you invest in LinkedIn Recruiter for this purpose bear in mind that if your business grows to a point where is requires an ATS / RCRM then it is very hard if not impossible to take your data out of LinkedIn.

Data Ownership

As a recruitment manager, the quality of your recorded candidate interactions is a major contributor to the success of your business. However recruitment is a transient business, with most agencies accepting a level of turnover that would be frowned upon by almost every other industry. LinkedIn paid solutions are often seen as a way around intellectual property leaving with individual recruiters. This is because LinkedIn can differentiate work completed on Recruiter compared with regular accounts. Remember that even if a user has Recruiter they can still use their personal account.

The flip side of this is that having a Recruiter platform, could result in a large proportion of data being stored on LinkedIn rather than your company owned ATS / RCMS. Recruiter does provide a degree of ATS / RCMS integration but I have personally seen nothing more than a link to load the users LinkedIn profile.

Account Differences

The Recruiter packages provide a range of solutions designed to make a recruiter’s life easier. One of the most significant differences from Business Plus is the amount of InMails available. However if this is your main driver to upgrade you may be better off purchasing InMail packages ($100 USD for 10 InMails).

Outside of InMails the main benefits of the Recruiter packages are primarily in terms of organisation and time management. Recruiter Lite has Projects, Clipboards and Reports. Projects enable recruiters to group users together under specific headings, for example Project Managers in Sydney. From here you can see the amount of people contacted and those that have responded.  Reports show the level of LinkedIn utilisation, including the volume of searches, InMails and daily logins.

If these tools hold appeal the free and Business Plus accounts do have a much unknown contact management tool that can perform a very similar function to Projects. If you chose to use Projects or the free contact management tool, bear in mind that your data (such as notes and alerts) remains the property of LinkedIn.

The primary selling point of Recruiter is the visibility of user activity across all licenses. This is particularly useful to ensure the same candidates aren’t contacted by multiple recruiters, which could obviously be detrimental to your recruitment brand. In addition profiles can be shared and discussed on-platform with other recruiters or hiring managers.


Business Plus is significantly cheaper than Recruiter and Recruiter Lite but unlike these packages it can’t be transferred between users. Instead the Business Plus solution will remain with the recruiter should they leave. The best solution is therefore to pay for a monthly license (or have the recruiter expense it), allowing it to be cancelled at any time.

Recruiter Lite is significantly cheaper than Recruiter Corporate, but crucially it doesn’t have the enterprise team management function. If you are interested in how either of the Recruiter packages stack up against Premium, my experience has been that LinkedIn will generally offer an unpublished, discounted trial package. These usually require a six month subscription but in addition to the licenses they also tend to include some company page growth / brand marketing.  

Careers Pages

LinkedIn will often throw in a Careers Page and some brand marketing in with a volume of Recruiter packages, or they can be purchased separately. These pages are marketed as employment branding, but it is important to consider that the page is only as good as your business’s marketing strategy and content.


Purchasing LinkedIn Recruiter ensures your business has all the LinkedIn tools available and with the annual cost being roughly equivalent to one placement, it isn’t that expensive. That said if the recruiters aren’t utilising the above mentioned functionality then purchasing a Business Plus license and then spending the difference on other tools or marketing would provide greater benefit.

Before any significant LinkedIn investment I recommend first ensuring your business has an excellent ATS / RCMS, this encourages recruiters to get the most out of existing recruitment tools. It will also keep intellectual property on a company owned system. 

This article originally appeared on the Prominence Blog

About The Author

Chris has worked in the recruitment industry for 8 years, where he has been fortunate enough to spend considerable time getting to know the inner workings of three different recruitment sectors construction, technology and energy.

Most recently whilst recruiting high end technical professionals for the oil and gas industry in Houston, Chris was exposed to one of the most challenging labour markets in the world. The sourcing solutions he learnt to apply were far ahead of those that he had been exposed to back home, so he decided to return to New Zealand and share these insights with the local recruitment marketplace.

Now at Prominence Chris focuses on working with both agencies and employers to up-skill recruiters on social recruiting and also to advise on social employment branding. Through Prominence Chris also volunteers at tertiary education facilities to provide real world advice to students and career counsellors on how best to utilise social media for job search purposes.

Chris can be found on Twitter @findsouth

Views: 2626

Comment by Katrina Kibben on June 18, 2015 at 12:48pm

I can't help but read this and wonder "why didn't LinkedIn think of this?" Awesome as always, Chris. Thanks for posting. 

Comment by Ryan Leary on June 18, 2015 at 11:20pm
Chris - great breakdown and dead on.
Comment by Chris South on June 20, 2015 at 5:23pm

Thanks both, appreciate the feedback. 

Comment by Chuck Klein on August 4, 2015 at 2:11pm

I'm a one man recruitment company  - I have a Linkedin account called "Talent Finder" which is no longer offered but they allow me to keep.  It  costs $899.95 US dollars per year.   Should I be looking at other options?  I don't have an ATS.

Comment by Andrew Barker on February 10, 2016 at 11:36am

Very good summary, Chris.  I like the flexibility of purchasing InMail packages.  The response rate is so poor that I primarily use direct contact to talk to candidates - I'm impatient.  As a business development tool Linkedin is great.

Comment by Chris South on February 10, 2016 at 8:13pm

Cheers Andrew, your points are spot on. I believe LinkedIn have now stopped the ability to purchase InMails outside of their Premium/Recruiter packages, but I could be wrong here.


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