LinkedIn’s Advanced Search Operators

Posted by | January 26, 2009 | LinkedIn, LinkedIn Search | 22 Comments

IMPORTANT NOTE

Although LinkedIn’s advanced operators ceased to work properly for a period of a few months earlier this year, I am very happy to report that they are working again. Once more you will be able to harness LinkedIn’s search fields by hand coding your search strings and bypassing the search interface/fields.

LinkedIn’s Advanced Search Operators

LinkedIn has made some great changes to their advanced search interface recently, giving users the ability to take more control over the precision of their searches. I was specifically excited to see more options for location searching (10 mile – 100 mile radius), and the ability to search for current and/or past employers.

I was exploring LinkedIn’s site the other day and came across a chart buried at the bottom of the LinkedIn Learning Center page, and I was intrigued by the possibility of “hand coding” searches by entering LinkedIn’s advanced search operators directly into the “people search” search bar.

Here is the chart I found:

You can see that you can “hand code” searches using the above advanced operators and control most of the search fields/parameters that are found on the advanced search page interface, such as current company, past company, title, current title, past title, zip code radius, company, school, industry, interested in, and when people joined LinkedIn:

Location Searching

When I first experimented with the syntax for using the advanced operators for zip code radius searching, I ran into some problems and I contacted LinkedIn’s technical support for advice on how to make them work properly.

After 5 email exchanges (including links and screenshots and VERY direct/specific questions) that were comical to say the least (ignoring my question and simply telling me to use the advanced search interface, as well as not being aware of the advanced operators until I sent a screenshot), the technical support rep from LinkedIn finally concluded this: “The operators you are speaking of in our advanced people search are now provided for you in the drop down fields. These fields are provided to help narrow the search and make the process easier to understand. With the new search function inputting country: zip: and radius: is no longer acceptable.”

After not accepting this answer and continuing to tweak syntax, I am very happy to announce that you actually CAN accomplish zip code radius search using LinkedIn’s advanced operators. You’ll notice on the chart of operators that the zip: and radius: operators have dependencies – zip: is dependent on country:, and radius: is dependent on country: and zip:. For example, if you were searching for people in a 25 mile radius of Washington, DC, you could create a search like this:

country:”united states” zip:20001 radius:25

When using LinkedIn’s advanced operators, you enter them directly into the “Search People” bar at the top right of LinkedIn:

When you hit “Search,” you’ll get nearly 650,000 results of people on LinkedIn who live within 25 miles from the zip code of 20001.

If you don’t enter a radius: value, the search will still work – you’ll get a little over 922,000 results. Not sure exactly what LinkedIn is doing there, because a 35 mile radius produces about 777,000 results, and a 50 mile radius produces about 877,000 results. Testing other zip codes did not produce consistent results for me to try and guess the “hidden” radius value if you don’t enter one.

Also – it appears you can only choose the radius values of 10, 25, 35, 50, 75, and 100 miles when using the radius: operator.  If you try and use a different number, like 30, LinkedIn will produce results using the closest “valid” radius value.  In this case, when picking 30, I was trying to trick LinkedIn – it chose 25 instead of 35.

Combining Multiple Advanced Operators

Let’s look for people who currently work for Lockheed Martin, have a current title of manager, and live within 25 miles of 20001:

ccompany:lockheed ctitle:manager country:”united states” zip:20001 radius:25

Here is a snippet of the search results:

Let’s try another search. This time, we’ll look for people who have had the title of “auditor” at some point in their career (current and/or past), identify themselves as working in the accounting industry, have worked for Deloitte in the past, and live within 35 miles of 60605 in Chicago:

title:auditor industry:accounting pcompany:deloitte country:”united states” zip:60605 radius:35

As expected, the search works well. Here is a snippet of one of the results:

Combining Boolean Operators with LinkedIn’s Advanced Operators

You can combine “regular” search terms and Boolean operators along with LinkedIn’s advanced operators.  For example, let’s shoot for an Exchange admin/engineer with an MCSE, and a current title of engineer in a 25 mile radius of 94131 in San Francisco:

Exchange ctitle:engineer (admin OR administrator OR administration OR administer OR administered OR maintenance OR maintained) (server OR servers) (mail OR email OR messaging) (MCSE OR “Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer”) country:”united states” zip:94131 radius:25

Here is a snippet from one of the results:

Using LinkedIn’s Advanced Operators in “OR” Statements

Be careful when attempting to use some of LinkedIn’s advanced operators in OR statements. For example, here are two different ways of trying to search for people with a current title of 1 or more specific titles:

Exchange (ctitle:engineer OR ctitle:admin OR ctitle:administrator)

That syntax does not run – here is the message you get:

Taking a different approach: Exchange ctitle:(engineer OR admin OR administrator)

That synatx runs, but we can see from the results page that LinkedIn “sees” it differently that what the exact syntax would dictate:

LinkedIn appears to prefer enclosing the OR statements in quotation marks, like this:

exchange ctitle:”engineer OR admin OR administrator”

However, when you examine individual profiles, you will notice LinkedIn highlights past titles even though I specifically searched for the title terms using the current title operator of ctitle:. So using LinkedIn’s Advanced Operators in conjuction with OR operators isn’t an exact science, to say the least.

Sorting and Modifying Your Results

After you execute your “hand coded” search using LinkedIn’s advanced operators, you have the option of sorting the results by the usual values and you can also modify your search as you can if you had constructed your search using LinkedIn’s advanced search interface.

Conclusion

If you like being able to “hand code” Boolean search strings, it’s nice to know that we can effectively take advantage of nearly all of LinkedIn’s major search options/parameters (such as current/past company, current/past title, zip code radius, industry, etc.) by combining LinkedIn’s advanced operators with Boolean strings to get precisely the results we are looking for.

Although you can save searches via LinkedIn’s “save this search” feature – if you are using LinkedIn with a free account, you are limited to saving 3 searches. An added benefit of being able to craft complete search strings using LinkedIn’s advanced operators is that you can create your strings in Notepad or Word and save them for future use as well as quickly modify them (copy and paste a search, then change paramaters without having to retype the entire string).

If you enjoyed this post, I recommend you read my follow up post on how to use LinkedIn’s Advanced Search Operators as search agents.

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About Glen Cathey

Glen Cathey is a sourcing and recruiting thought leader with over 16 years of experience working in large staffing agency and global RPO environments (>1,000 recruiters and nearly 100,000 hires annually). Starting out his career as a top producing recruiter, he quickly advanced into senior management roles and now currently serves as the SVP of Strategic Talent Acquisition and Innovation for Kforce, working out of their renowned National Recruiting Center with over 300 recruiters. Often requested to speak on sourcing and recruiting best practices, trends and strategies, Glen has traveled internationally to present at many talent acquisition conferences (5X LinkedIn Talent Connect - U.S. '10, '11, '12, Toronto '12, London '12, 2X Australasian Talent Conference - Sydney & Melbourne '11, '12, 6X SourceCon, 2X TruLondon, 2X HCI) and is regularly requested to present to companies (e.g., PwC, Deloitte, Intel, Booz Allen Hamilton, Citigroup, etc.). This blog is his personal passion and does not represent the views or opinions of anyone other than himself.

  • http://www.talentintegration.net Matt Kerr

    Thanks for the post. LinkedIn is critical to my work – I’ve found their interface somewhat frustrating. Appreciate you taking the time to research this and share with others.

    Regards,
    Matt Kerr
    http://www.linkedin.com/in/mattkerr

  • http://www.rwstearns.com Gregory Pankow

    While I found your post on advanced operators useful (thank you), I’ve found the revemp of the Linkedin site to be a major problem.

    They now mix out of network listings on a search (useless since they contain no names) with my 3rd level connections (people who I will actually want to contact).

    This being the case, my search results have become much less useful and linkedin in general is getting close to useless….

  • Mary Gunn

    Greg,

    Unless there’s something I’m missing here…. you can check the box on 4th line up from the bottom left that says “Limit search to my network only”.

  • http://www.rwstearns.com Gregory Pankow

    Mary,

    If I click “my network only” and order by relationship, my search shows my 1st line connections first, then my 2nd line connections. IT WILL NOT SHOW THIRD LINE CONNECTIONS.

    If I choose to show all search results, it returns the above, then it mixes 3rd line connections and out of network connections (useless since they do not show names) and group members all thrown randomly together.

    Mixing 3rd level connections with out of network connections is a major problem.

    The new search interface is HORRIBLE. I don’t understand how anyone could find it better. My account is limited to 100 search results when it used to be 500. My associate’s PAID account which used to generate 500 now generates 300 (they want him to pay more for the same results now).

    Unless you are a large corporation that can afford their obscenely expensive “corporate solutions” account (which shows names for everyone), linked in has become almost useless.

    For larger searches I usually Xray linkedin with Google operators (site: command and inurl: command).

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  • georg

    great article.

    Do you know if AND operators can be used ?

    for example, search for all people who worked now or before at
    both company A and company B, wherein the company adv search line would
    have
    companyA AND companyB

    This does not seem to work to give expected results.

    Am choosing the current and past subchoice for the company names.

    Thanks.

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  • http://marketoneweb.com John X

    I’ve been working with the advanced operators in LinkedIn and I can’t get them to work.

    For example: ctitle:manager doesn’t bring back any results.

    LinkedIn doesn’t seem to be supporting these searches anymore – any info you have would be greatly appreciated – thanks – John

  • http://marketoneweb.com John X

    I’ve been working with the advanced operators in LinkedIn and I can’t get them to work.

    For example: ctitle:manager doesn’t bring back any results.

    LinkedIn doesn’t seem to be supporting these searches anymore – any info you have would be greatly appreciated – thanks – John

  • http://www.booleanblackbelt.com Boolean Black Belt

    LinkedIn appears to have dropped support for their advanced operators – it seems to have happened around the same time that they incorporated their “dynamic search refinements.” I’ve written them several times with no response. They need to take down their advanced search operator table in their Learning Center if they are going to abandon them. I’m very disappointed.

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  • http://twitter.com/iulia_sima Iulia Ana Sima

    I have noticed that the posts are 3 years old…I also
    tried to work – just now – with Boolean operator on linkedin, but I see from
    your answer Boolean black Belt that they don’t work anymore, is that true?

  • http://www.booleanblackbelt.com Glen Cathey

    Lulia – thanks for commenting! LinkedIn’s advanced search operators still work.

    Check out this link where I target a current title of engineer and a current company of Google:

    http://www.linkedin.com/search/fpsearch?type=people&keywords=ctitle%3Aengineer+ccompany%3Agoogle&pplSearchOrigin=GLHD&pageKey=fps_results

  • kbarhoover

    I’m looking for the syntax where I could search for a person began a position in a certain month. For example, I want all profiles where the ptitle is CIO and the time period is October of 2012. Possible?

  • Glen Cathey

    Not to the best of my knowledge, especially not with LinkedIn’s advanced operators

  • Lem

    Did a few tests with the “-” and “NOT” operators. Doesn’t seem to work. For example, ctitle:recruiter -ccompany:google still yields recruiters from google. Wondering if you (or anyone here) is aware of a way to exclude certain companies or job titles using this method.

  • Steve Chambers

    I’m looking for a way to reverse the sort order. Would like to see a list of who has the most shared connections but frustratingly the “Connections” sort order seems to be ascending not descending – so I see lots of people who have one shared connection! Has anyone found a way of doing this?

  • Megan Carty, automationtechies

    I cannot get this to work for me at all – I tried all your examples and a few of my own in both regular Linkedin searches and in Linkedin Recruiter – could their new algorithms make this kind of searching impossible anymore?