Reduced functionality and steep price increases have created expensive and/or time-consuming hurdles for those of you recruiting with a LinkedIn account. However, for those of you who still use LinkedIn or its paid Premium versions for social recruiting or discovering candidate data, it clearly continues to offer value when sourcing new talent. Reaping its benefits might not need to cost an arm and a leg though, let’s look at your options to determine the best account for your recruiting process.

Compare the different LinkedIn accounts

Depending on your most popular roles and your workflow, your only option may be a relatively more expensive LinkedIn package. Now, whether or not you need to spend the full $99.95 every month on the Recruiter Lite package is another story. Hopefully we can figure out another option that allows you to source just as effectively, without the additional costs.

Here are your LinkedIn choices…

Basic Accounts – free

With a Basic account, you can still receive unlimited InMails and connections. It’s nice to know that you’re not limited if you’re the kind of recruiter who is regularly getting pinged from hungry candidates.

The Basic plan allows you to save up to three searches. This feature, and the ability to save more searches with increased tiers, won’t be terribly useful if you are a regular Boolean search user who already saves your searches. You can also get weekly alerts on these saved searches if you want them. However, there’s not a lot of value there if you already have Google alerts set up for your regular roles.

Your search results are, unfortunately, limited when using a Basic account. To combat this, you can utilize X-Ray searches and the small amount of candidate data that shows up in meta descriptions, jotting down the names that impress you, and then looking up these names when you log back into your account. This process will help reduce your number of searches and keep you from reaching your commercial use limit prematurely. This tactic may only be a viable option for those who recruit on a smaller scale though. A specific number has not been released to determine exactly what the commercial use limit is before your search capabilities are thwarted.

Premium Career – $24.99 per month

Five InMails and online learning are really the only two unique features touted by this tier. It does have helpful features for candidates who are actively looking for a job, but really does not seem helpful to those on the other side of the recruiting game. This plan has the same search limitations as the Basic account. At its price, it doesn’t seem as though this plan has much to offer you.

Premium Business – 47.99 per month

The key benefit of this plan is that it offers unlimited 3rd degree search features and the ability to see who has viewed your profile for $47.99 a month. If you’re recruiting on a large scale, this is the least expensive option available (if you’re only interested in unlimited searches). This tier does not offer any additional search features to help you whittle down candidates, but you can easily use Boolean and semantic search practices to make up for that missing piece.

With this package, you’ll also receive:

  • 15 InMails
  • Access to LinkedIn’s online learning platform
  • Other company metrics


If you’re looking for a way to search for high volumes of candidates and don’t mind using Boolean search features, this may be your best/most affordable alternative to Recruiter Lite.

Sales Navigator – $64.99 per month

This plan offers unlimited browsing up to the 3rd degree, so it would be helpful for those who are currently throttled by limited search functionality. It also allows you to see who has viewed your profile and you’ll receive 20 InMails with this plan, but that’s not really a pull factor if you’re one of the many recruiters frustrated by their low response rates (16% anyone?).

This tier is sales oriented (as the name suggests) so there are a number of lead and prospect tracking features added onto this level that probably won’t be worth the additional cost for you.

Recruiter Lite – $99.95

It’s the most obvious fit for those willing to pay, but the price seems a bit steep. Here you have:

  • 3rd degree search features
  • 30 InMails, search suggestions
  • 14 search filters, candidate tracking features
  • Additional add-ons

It’s particularly costly when you consider that many of these features can be replicated (for free) by incorporating surface-level (and deeper diving) Boolean searches and a Chrome Extension for discovering and contacting new candidates.


We hope this breakdown saves you time and money. You might be frustrated with your LinkedIn account or the changes LinkedIn implemented over the last months, not to mention the constant hit it puts on your wallet. Just remember that your best option is out there, but it might not be the most obvious one.

Consider your choices and then weigh what’s most important to your recruitment process. Sourcing is an art and every recruiter can approach it in his or her own way. A cheaper LinkedIn plan, with the right combination of Boolean searches, alternative sourcing ideas and cheaper tools might be the right way for you.

Happy Recruiting!