LinkedIn Current Title Search: Internal vs. X-Ray

LinkedIn_Current_Title_Search_vs_Google_current_title_LinkedIn_X-Ray_SearchSo you know how to X-Ray LinkedIn, and perhaps you even know how to target current titles with an X-Ray string. However, did you know that you’re not finding all of the available matches within LinkedIn using this technique?

Did that get your attention? Would you like to know approximately how many people you might be missing when you run a current title X-Ray search of LinkedIn?

Unless you have a premium Linkedin account, you will likely have to resort to using an Internet search engine to X-Ray into LinkedIn to find and view profiles of people who are not in your network, and being able to search by current title can be extremely useful at times to reduce the number of false positive results.

While I am usually not a big fan of title searching, a large percentage of LinkedIn profiles don’t have any text entered for each work experience entry. As such, title searching becomes a necessary evil as anyone who creates a LinkedIn profile doesn’t have to enter anything in the “position description” field, but they MUST enter a company and a title.

In this post I will show you the discrepancy between identical current title searches conducted using LinkedIn’s search interface and an X-Ray string – and it’s HUGE! At the end, I also throw in challenge for you. Are you up to it?

The Search Criteria

For this exercise, I am going to target people with a current title of “Director of Accounting” in the “Greater New York City Area.”

LinkedIn Current Title X-Ray Search

Here is a “standard” Google X-Ray search string targeting current title: (inurl:pub OR inurl:in) -intitle:directory “greater new york city area” “current * director of accounting”

This yields 85 results at the time I ran the string.

Remember – the asterisk on Google is processed as a “fill in the blanks,” where it serves as a placeholder for any unknown terms. This can be 1 or more unknown terms (you cant nail Google down to a specific number on this).

In the case of the single asterisk, the current title X-Ray string appears to work because the asterisk “fills in the blank” of the bullet that separates the word “Current” from the actual title entered for the most recent position on the LinkedIn profile.


Are Two Asterisks Better Than One?

Because I am curious, I decided to see what using 2 asterisks yields: (inurl:pub OR inurl:in) -intitle:directory “greater new york city area” “current * * director of accounting”

That produced 98 results at the time I ran the string.

The additional results appear to come from instances where “Director of Accounting” is preceded by a word, such as Asst Director of Accounting, Executive Director of Accounting, Regional Director of Accounting, etc.

We’ll take those, thanks!

Are Three Asterisks the Charm?

Going one step further (hey, why not?), I decided to shoot for 3 asterisks: (inurl:pub OR inurl:in) -intitle:directory “greater new york city area” “current * * * director of accounting”

That yielded 105 results at the time I ran the search.

The results gained come in the form of Google taking some liberty in interpreting my search, actually altering the exact phrase of “Director of Accounting” with titles such as Regional Director of Finance and Accounting, National Director of Project Accounting, etc. At this point, we’re starting to mess around with the purity of the intent of the search. Close enough though?

Just to see what Google/LinkedIn made of it, I decided to shoot for 4 asterisks, which only returned 46 results at the time of the search. While we can see a few familiar and accurate results from the previous strings, you can also see things got messy, so shooting for 4 asterisks in this case brought diminishing returns, both literally and figuratively.

And Now for the Same Search Performed Inside LinkedIn

Using LinkedIn’s search interface, here is what I configured to find people with a current title of “Director of Accounting” using the zip code of 10001, and going out to a distance of 50 miles which should essentially cover the same area as the X-Ray location of “Greater New York City Area.”


Wait a minute – did I hear someone ask how I can I possibly know if a 50 mile radius of 10001 is equivalent to all of the people categorized by LinkedIn as being in the “Greater New York City Area?” I’m glad the question was raised!

It’s actually not equivalent to ALL LinkedIn profiles with a location of “Greater New York City Area,” but it’s pretty darn close. Let me show you.

When you run that search, you should get somewhere around 348 results. That’s over 3X as many results as our best X-Ray string!

Scroll down the left rail where you see “location” and click the “+” sign:


That shows us there are AT LEAST 348 people with “Director of Accounting” as the current title on their LinkedIn profile that are also classified by LinkedIn as living within the “Greater New York City Area.”

But wait – there’s more. I decided to push the radius out to 75 miles and then check the location details at the bottom of the left rail:


Yep – we’re up to 389 results in the “Greater New York City Area,” and you can see we just started to bleed over into surrounding metro areas recognized by LinkedIn.

You’re probably not surprised to find out that I decided to push the radius out to 100 miles just to see what happened.  As it turns out, we actually squeeze out 4 more search results (393 total) for a current title of “Director of Accounting” and a location of “Greater New York City Area.”


All LinkedIn Current Title Searches are NOT Created Equal

I’m sorry if I rattled your faith in X-Ray searching LinkedIn for current titles – but this little exercise has shown quite dramatically that all LinkedIn current title searches are not created equal.

I thought you should know that you cannot run a current title X-Ray search of LinkedIn and be confident that you’re finding most of the relevant results. In fact, it appears you’d be missing the majority of the available results!

The best “standard” current title X-Ray string returned 105 results for people with a location phrase of “Greater New York City Area,” whereas we were able to scoop up 393 results of people with a current title of “Director of Accounting” and a location of “Greater New York City Area.”

Can You Solve the Mystery?

So where ARE the missing  288 profiles, why aren’t they returned using the basic Google X-Ray current title search technique, and how can you find them?

I have some ideas. Do you?

If so, read LinkedIn Current Title Search: Internal vs. X-Ray Part 2.

  • gary cozin

    Glen – I’m quite curious to know why there is such a big diff as I use ‘both’ LI and xray for current titles so I’m sure not to miss any – however, my best guess is LI knows who you’re connected to & location which may factor into it – just a guess!

  • When I ran the search in both LinkedIn and Google there was quite a discrepency in the number of results. But, in LinkedIn if I sort by keywords rather than relevancy, it is obvious that LInkedIn is taking great liberties with the title I entered. The first person on the list is an Executive Director, HR & Accounting rather than a Director of Accounting which I think is why Google didn’t find it. I would say to get Google to find you more, you would need some “near” searches as well. Just my thought!

  • Medhavi

    Glen, great you have come up with this post. I wanted to ask you one question related to Linkedin search which I have been procrastinating for a while now. Linkedin is perfect with all the basic boolean operators like AND OR NOT; however it’s not taking quotes seriously. Along with “director of accounting” it is also giving results with phrases like “Director – Accounting”, “Director & Accounting”, “Director, Accounting”, “Accounting Director” etc. In short Quotes are completely ignored in linkedin search and thus the number of results is more.

    Do you have any updates or any solution for the same.

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  • April Hammons

    This is a very interesting example. The only problem I see is that even though you received up to 389 results on the LinkedIn search unless you have a premium account you will only be able to see (1) those in your network and (2) up to 100 results. The good thing is that you can then use a X-Ray string to find the profiles of any hidden results that are not in your network. My guess on the differences would be to agree with Kathy that you maybe receiving false positives in your LinkedIn search.

    Very interested to hear your ideas!!

  • PIck me PIck me!

    My answer is Linked in indexes with its RDBMS immediately as a new profile has been created. Granting LinkedIn a Instant Refresh.

    Google’s Xray is based off spiders and metatags keying and registering typically taking 45 days to index for most search and meta search engines.

    This would answer why more results come via linked in title versus xray due to indexing of web sites/profiles on linked in

    *** what do i win :) a trip to sourceCON next year?

  • This is interesting:-
    Here are the reasons:-

    1.) QUOTES:- Google will bring the 100% correct results for the phrase you write under QUOTES, it will not skip any word until they are any Special Characters like {%, @ etc) Also Google shows these phrases in the Same Sequence you write them in. Hence Google shows what you type under QUOTES.


    “Director of accounting” would be as is presented in the search results by Google. 100% same.

    Linkedin does not read for the words like (or, of , at, for, etc etc) and skips these words and then target only other left keywords.

    Same with this case:- “director of accounting”
    How Linkedin Searches> Steps:-
    searches DIRECTOR>> skips OF>> then searches ACCOUNTING (or opposite way, but the key is that Linkedin skips the words like “of”.)


    Now we know that from our current keywords “director of accounting” Linkedin does not work to search for ‘OF’ or any other words like {at, for, in , of} then why don’t we do something similar in our X-Ray String?? I give you a clue here:-

    The best string mentioned above:- (inurl:pub OR inurl:in) -intitle:directory “greater new york city area” “current * * * director of accounting”

    And here is the string which would work in Google so that we get the results the way Internal Linkedin Search shows:- (inurl:pub OR inurl:in) -intitle:directory “greater new york city area” “current * * * director * accounting”

    I have replaced ‘OF’ with an ASTERISK (*) which will help us to pull out the results including those words which are SKIPPED by Linkedin in an Internal Search. Key is that we are targeting whatever is in between DIRECTOR & ACCOUNTING.

    And the no. of result is 10 times more than the Linkedin Internal search result which was earlier more than our X-Ray Search. The no. of search result now is 12400, do you believe it? Please try this string out.

    This search string is targeting people who are at least a Director in Accounting (Including other titles, technologies, domains etc) You can edit the string to get more specific results.

    I hope It was fruitful research :)

    Yogesh Kumar,

  • Also Linkedin uses “greater new york city area” AND “new york city area” both, if you make a string and put them as following then it would give you more fruitful results:-

    ( “greater new york city area” OR “new york city area”)

  • @ Gary, Kathy, Medhavi, April, Josh and Yogesh – thank you for commenting with your thoughts! I must admit Yogesh’s angle may explain a large portion of the disparity in results between an internal LinkedIn search and an “identical” X-Ray search…nice work Yogesh!

    I posted a link to this article on the Boolean Strings network and a few LinkedIn groups, but did not get many ideas or attempts at figuring out the issue, and none of them were as thoughtful as those posted here. I plan on writing a follow up post to this article to delve into the disparity in results – stay tuned!

  • Thank you Glen for considering my answer as the best one, glad to hear from you. I am looking forward to see it getting published on other channels and your next challenge. I have discovered many hidden things about sourcing on various channels on web, it would be great if I can contribute to some challenges here.


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