You can now see 3rd tier LinkedIn profiles… but it’s not all good news!

LinkedIn have just announced some significant changes to the visibility of profiles found via a keyword search.

As you can see in the statement below, they have now made your third tier connections fully visible again.

3rd tier statement
This is great news for the vast majority of LinkedIn users apart from recruiters who do not have a premium account. The phrase ‘commercial use limit’ will no doubt sound ominous to recruiters who typically search LinkedIn incessantly.

So what exactly constitutes commercial use? 

LinkedIn are (as usual) being very secretive about the whole thing, so I thought I would do some testing from a basic account (non-premium) to see how many searches I could do before hitting the limit.

I conducted many advanced searches using a different keyword on each occasion. I only used the keyword field and on each search result clicked through to view just one profile each time.

3rd tier profiles were fully visible in these results.

After 40 searches without any restrictions I finally gave up! I didn’t even manage to reach the 30% warning!

This however was in contrast to a recruiter who told me that after two days of searching at a normal level of activity (they didn’t count the searches unfortunately) they hit the commercial use limit.

I suspect the reason for this is that the algorithm takes into account more than just the number of searches and probably includes profile views, multiple fields (such as job title etc) and possibly even advanced techniques such as inputting a Boolean string.

The bottom line is that this is a clear move by LinkedIn to force more recruiters (who now largely depend on LinkedIn for the majority of their candidate sourcing) into having to pay for a premium account. Premium accounts that were subject to a price increase at the end of last year!

What can we do to counter this?

As a responsible LinkedIn Trainer it would be wrong of me to encourage recruiters to break rule 2.1 of the user agreement but we might find many develop a sudden tendency to invent a phantom colleague (a professional version of Phantom friend!) called Mr Doe or Mrs Bloggs who, having just ahem… ’joined the company’ will need to set up a new account with its incumbent full visibility to assist their colleague with LinkedIn searches.

I think you know what I am getting at!

What else does this mean?

I believe this change will affect the way members use LinkedIn, specifically;

  • Less need to build large networks. Previously it made sense to connect with a wider range of people to ensure that more members were either first or second tier connections (and therefore visible).
  • Users will need to be more careful about searching and think twice about conducting a quick, potentially unnecessary search.
  • The number of premium members will not increase. I doubt the commercial use limit will incentivise too many upgrades whereas the visibility of 3rd tier may well encourage some premium account holders to downgrade.

As with all new features we will not fully understand the impact of these changes for several months. Please feel free to comment below or get in touch and let me know how this change is impacting your use of LinkedIn.

Mark Williams

Mark Williams (commonly known as ‘Mr LinkedIn) is widely regarded as one of the worlds top LinkedIn experts. Following a career spanning 20 years in the recruitment industry Mark set up ETN LinkedIn training in 2008. Since then he has trained thousands of LinkedIn users from a diverse range of industries and roles. He is also an accomplished keynote speaker, blogger and podcaster with his popular show ‘LinkedInformed' Mark’s passion for his niche subject shines through as he enthusiastically demonstrates why LinkedIn is such a key business tool.

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