LinkedIn: Private vs. Out of Network Results

Posted by | February 02, 2009 | LinkedIn | 12 Comments

LinkedIn: Private vs. Out of Network Results

I recently wrote about how to leverage LinkedIn’s Advanced Search Operators and I commented on LinkedIn’s relatively new search interface. Aside from search options, one other somewhat new aspect of searching inside LinkedIn using their search interface is that you can now return some results that are outside of your network. These typically appear as results without a name, and instead say “private”

NON-PUBLIC PROFILES

When you find a private profile, in some cases, the user has actually decided to not publish their LinkedIn profile publicly to the web. If this is the case, you simply cannot find them via Google via the site:command.

Here is an example – using LinkedIn’s search interface, I ran a simple single word search – Java.  Here is an example of a result that is outside of my network:

As you can see – this person is not in my network, and the result shows no name, just a headline title. When I click on the title, this is what I see:

Taking unique information from this profile, let’s try and use the site: command on Google to x-ray LinkedIn and see if we can find this person.

site:linkedIn.com “greater atlanta area” java “bank of america” suntrust

It appears we can’t – there are no results. It seems that this particular person has made their profile private buy not publishing their LinkedIn profile to the web.

OUT OF NETWORK PROFILES

In other cases, some private profile results are simply people who are outside of your network – they haven’t chosen to not publish their LinkedIn profile to the web – but they still come up as “private” results because you are not connected to them. For example, here is another result from my basic single word search (Java).

As you can see, this person is not in my network, and there is no name listed. When I click on the title to review the profile, this is what I see:

Taking unique information from this profile, let’s try and use the site: command on Google to x-ray LinkedIn and see if we can find this person.

site:linkedin.com “Lead Java EE Developer” “Gloucester, United Kingdom”

Click here to view the result.

And when I click on this result, his complete profile comes up:

As we can see, this is definitely the same person from my internal-LinkedIn search that came back as a “private” result. Edward has not changed his profile to private using LinkedIn’s user and account settings - the only reason why his proifle came back as a “private” result is because he is out of my LinkedIn network.

CONCLUSION

All “private” results on LinkedIn are not created equal. Some are the result of LinkedIn users choosing to not publish their LinkedIn profiles to the web. Others are the result of users not being in your LinkedIn network, yet they have chosen to publish their LinkedIn profile to the web. An important distinction is that the latter can be found using the site: command/x-ray technique and an Internet search engine, whereas the former cannot.

UPDATE!

Although you can still use Google to X-Ray “private” LinkedIn profiles, Bing beat Google for the best and easiest way to search LinkedIn for all public profiles, whether they are in your network or not.

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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

    Here is something that is not really a boolean search string, but more of a “work around” for Linkedin that some might find helpful.
    Ever find someone in Linkedin after dong a search that has the right title but the name is listed as “private”? They are just out of your network. Here is something you can try.

    1. Bring up their profile in Linkedin. Note the URL at the top of the page.
    2. Copy the number series in the URL that is just after “viewProfile=&key=”
    3. Go to Google and type in Linkedin SPACE and paste the number
    4. Hit Enter

    In a high number of instances, this will bring up the profile with the profile holders name.

    Regards,
    Matt Kerr

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  • http://bestmindsearch.com Angelina Samano

    I tried your technique, didn’t work! Even the link you specified, didn’t get the same result….

  • http://bestmindsearch.com Angelina Samano

    Tried the other method, didn’t work either!

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

    Angelina – Edward may have edited his profile to longer publish it to the web. I wrote this post over 1 year ago – thank you for bringing this to my attention – I am going to have to modify this post to use another profile to demonstrate the technique. Rest assured, X-Ray searching LinkedIn using a specific and unique combination of terms from a profile that is outside of your network DOES work, provided the person has not altered their account settings to not publish their profile to the web.

    If there is a profile you would like me to “unlock,” please comment with a link to the search result you are not able to see. Thanks!

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  • S. Burson

    Worked fabulously for me–thank you so much!

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  • Alex

    Great article, I can get the profile, but how I can get the contact info? Email or phone.

  • Anonymous

    The private setting still posts a lot of information.   Shouldn’t “private” mean absolutely no hit on the name at all?   Moreover, what’s the copyright status of information a person posts on privately or publically owned sites like Linkedin?    Why would anyone in their right mind post their info on someone else’s site?

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