If you pay for a Job Seeker Subscription you show up at the top of the list of APPLICANTS for a job, it does not influence the search result rankings when a recruiter is searching LinkedIn.
I think some of the confusion is from the way the marketing copy is worded:
* "Get special placement as a Featured Applicant"
translation: show up at the top of the list of applicants for a job, but its clear you paid for placement (ex: http://corcodilos.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/linked...)
* "Stand out in search results with a Job Seeker Badge"
translation: you get a badge next to your name in search results telling recruiters you are an activate candidate, I personally think the value of this is dubious (ex: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/22639568/Search___Linked...)
On the other hand, LinkedIn's targeting of job ads is embarrassingly poor in a way which is unlikely to benefit them financially. Generic job boards have an excuse for wasting my time with "Fluent German speaker required" jobs; a network that knows the languages I speak shouldn't.
Why? Is it that individuals have fewer companies to choose from, and are more likely to check the entire list regardless of ordering? Is it that employers are the active participants (searching for potential employees vs individuals who just show up in searches instead of searching and applying to specific jobs)? Is it just that employers have more spare cash, so charging them doesn't annoy them as much?
On the applicant side, if you can buy top position when applying for jobs posted on LinkedIn, why can't you buy position in the "searched" database? Is that "less ethical?"
LinkedIn is "a little bit pregnant." I've got no issue with job hunters doing what they can to get an employer's attention, but when LinkedIn starts "transparently" selling positioning to job hunters while it's charging employers for access to those applicants... well, like Richard Tomkins said in my column, you start looking like Lance Armstrong.
Bottom line: A headhunter gets paid to deliver the best candidates to a company. If the headhunter then takes money from a candidate to put her resume at the top, that's cheating. So why is LinkedIn doing it--openly and shamelessly?
Does LinkedIn identify the candidates on the top as having a "premium" membership?
Also, the "charts" were somehow important in the radio industry, so the law was that paid plays weren't supposed to affect the charts. What charts do we have for candidates here?
1. Company/Candidate are a great match for each other, everyone is happy. Both sides potentially willing to pay, though side with greater demand should carry financial burden.
2. Candidate is not the best fit, but wants Company's attention badly. Candidate is willing to pay.
3. Company is not the best employer for the candidates they want, but are willing to pay for access to those candidates anyway.
You want a system that monetizes the transaction of outcome 1, but does not try to facilitate transactions of type 2 and 3. Instead, the system should try to ‘coach up’ the participants in the later two transaction types and turn them into outcome 1 players.
Monetizing transactions 2 and 3, as this article points out that LinkedIn is doing, ultimately alienates everyone in the system, and strains the systems ability to complete successful outcome 1 transactions.
One may be able to monetize this ‘coaching up’ - an education focused, market information type of transaction - but when you monetize an outcome that is specifically harmful to half of your marketplace, you’re doing nothing but asking for trouble in the long run.
FWIW, we’re working on solving this problem with Mighty Spring (https://www.mightyspring.com). We’re a private tool, not a social network, focused on providing ‘Career Management’ services - something akin to Mint.com for your career.
In private beta now, but happy to expedite invites to the HN crowd, as we’re largely focused on helping software engineers and would love your feedback.