If you are like me and run a lot of searches on LinkedIn, eventually you are going to run into LinkedIn’s new commercial use limit. This is a new ‘feature’ that LinkedIn quietly rolled out in January 2015 as a way to reign in users who are overusing their free LinkedIn accounts. I just bumped into my limit yesterday and want to share my thoughts and offer a few ways to get around the limit.
When you reach the limit, this message box appears in your search results:
I did not even know that this meant and had to click through to the Learn more link to see what I had done. LinkedIn still offers up four results for your search, but that’s it. One nice “tongue-in-cheek” feature that I enjoy is that LinkedIn does personalize their error message to take out some of the sting. In any case, my search capabilites are serious limited until the limit resets at the beginning of next month.
When you click on the Learn more link, you are taken to a LinkedIn landing page whichexplains the new policy:
“As part of our ongoing efforts to make search on LinkedIn more relevant and powerful for you, we’re increasing the visibility of your extended network in search. You’ll now be able to view full names and profiles for anyone in your extended network – 1st, 2nd, and 3rd degree – a level of visibility previously available only to paid subscribers. Previously, you would have only seen the first names with last names obfuscated for some search results, but you’ll now be able to see full names and profiles of all results. This will help you find even more of the people you’re looking for, and get yourself found more in return.”
Essentially, LinkedIn is trying to migrate more power users onto a higher paid subscription account. When they use the term “Commercial”, they are referring to users who are using LinkedIn for recruiting or sales prospecting purposes – or what they assume are recruiting or prospecting purposes.
WHAT IS WRONG WITH LINKEDIN’S THINKING
No Quantification of Limit – LinkedIn has not identified how many searches are too many, and the limit may actually vary from person to person. This lack of transparency is very annoying and frankly wrong in my mind. LinkedIn says are that they warn you when you are within 30% of hitting your limit, but I either ignored or did not see that warning.
Job Seeker Premium Accounts Are Not Premium Enough – To make matters worse, I actually have a LinkedIn premium account, but I guess that is not enough. I am currently paying $29.95 per month for a Job Seeker premium account, and I still bumped into the limit. I guess the issue is that LinkedIn is assuming that the queries I run are for commercial purposes and not for background research on the jobs and companies I am interested in pursuing. LinkedIn obviously wants me to pay more for my ‘commercial’ searches.
GETTING AROUND THE SEARCH LIMITATION
Here is how you get around the search limit without buying a premium subscription:
LinkedIn iPhone or iPad App – For some unexplainable reason (to me), the search results for me are not impacted when I conduct a search using the iPhone or iPad LinkedIn app. Maybe I shouldn’t say this out loud, but it appears (for now) that you can search on your mobile or tablet device without running into the search limitation. If you are not using these apps yet, this is a good reason to give them a test drive.
X-Ray Search Technique – The other alternative is to use one of the X-Ray Search techniques. I wrote a post last year with a detailed explanation of how to use the X-Ray Search Technique to take advantage of LinkedIn’s public profiles. Public LinkedIn profiles include /pub/ in their URL, and around 90% of all LinkedIn profiles have a public profile which can be searched using Google or Internet Explorer search. Users can opt out of having a public profile, but you have to make a conscious choice under Privacy and Settings.
A simpler approach is to just start your query with “LinkedIn /pub” and then include your search phrases. For example, I was looking for LinkedIn users yesterday who work at PwC in the social media space and I used the following simple query for my search:
While this approach is not as convenient as using Advanced Search in LinkedIn, it does yield results and actually returns more results than you may receive via LinkedIn.
This new search limitation will definitely impact many in the recruiting, sales and marketing fields, and I am surprised that I have not seen more outrage at this policy. The bottom line is that you will likely have to start paying to access LinkedIn features that were previously free to use.
Let me know your thoughts on Commercial Search limitations and how you are addressing it.