How to Search LinkedIn for Diversity Sourcing

People Puzzle SmallIf you ever have a need to perform diversity sourcing, I’m going to show you a trick on LinkedIn that goes beyond the obvious and “everyone’s doing it” methods of searching for fraternities, sororities, specific universities, and of course groups, societies and associations.

Let’s say you were in need of identifying people with specific skills and experience that are also women (software engineers, CFO’s, etc.), and you’ve already tried the standard methods of identifying them. One tactic some people and organizations utlize is searching for common first names for women. However, with most search engines, you’re limited in the size of the search string you can run (sometimes as few as 100 characters!), so you can’t search for many names with a single search. Plus, limiting yourself to only the most common first names is, well…limiting.

While I’ve written about the fact that LinkedIn’s search fields appear bottomless (I have yet to find a limit to the number of characters/terms that can be entered and searched for), I don’t know of many people who try and take advantage of LinkedIn’s limitless search fields.

See where I might be going here?

Imagine if you could search for a large number of names at once – not just common names, but practicaly all names.

You could go to a baby names website (or any names website – take your pick, there are MANY), look up girl names, and build huge OR strings.

For example, here is a search for 385 girl names starting with C:

(Cade OR Cadee OR Cadence OR Cadrian OR Caelyn OR Cai OR Cailey OR Cailin OR Caimile OR Cairine OR Cairistiona OR Cait OR Caitlin OR Caitlyn OR Caitrin OR Caja OR Cala OR Calandra OR Calantha OR Caledonia OR Calendre OR Caley OR Calida OR Calista OR Calix OR Calixte OR Calla OR Callan OR Callia OR Callidora OR Calliope OR Callista OR Callisto OR Caltha OR Calypso OR Cambria OR Camelai OR Camellia OR Cameo OR Camilla OR Camille OR Camira OR Canace OR Candace OR Candice OR Candida OR Candide OR Candie OR Candra OR Candy OR Cantara OR Caoimhe OR Capri OR Caprice OR Cara OR Caragh OR Carajean OR Caralee OR Caralyn OR Cardinia OR Caren OR Carensa OR Carenza OR Caresse OR Carew OR Carey OR Carha OR Cari OR Carin OR Carina OR Carine OR Carissa OR Carla OR Carleigh OR Carlen OR Carley OR Carlie OR Carlin OR Carlina OR Carling OR Carlota OR Carlotta OR Carly OR Carmel OR Carmela OR Carmelita OR Carmen OR Carmine OR Carmita OR Carna OR Carnation OR Carnelian OR Carol OR Carolena OR Caroline OR Carolyn OR Caron OR Carreen OR Carrie OR Carrieann OR Carrigan OR Carrington OR Carryl OR Cary OR Caryn OR Carys OR Cascadia OR Casey OR Casilda OR Casondra OR Cassandra OR Cassia OR Cassiel OR Casta OR Castalia OR Catalin OR Catalina OR Catalonia OR Catarina OR Catava OR Caterina OR Cathay OR Cathee OR Catherine OR Cathie OR Cathleen OR Cathlene OR Cathy OR Catrin OR Catriona OR Cauvery OR Cayla OR Cayleigh OR Ceana OR Cecania OR Cecia OR Cecile OR Cecilia OR Cecily OR Ceinwen OR Celandia OR Celandine OR Celena OR Celene OR Celeste OR Celestyn OR Celia OR Celie OR Celina OR Celine OR Cerdwin OR Cerelia OR Ceres OR Ceridwen OR Cerise OR Chaitaly OR Chaitra OR Chalsie OR Chana OR Chanah OR Chance OR Chandani OR Chandi OR Chane OR Chanel OR Chantal OR Chantel OR Charis OR Charisma OR Charissa OR Charisse OR Charity OR Charla OR Charlee OR Charleen OR Charleigh OR Charlene OR Charline OR Charlot OR Charlotte OR Charmaine OR Charmian OR Charo OR Charu OR Chastity OR Chavi OR Chay OR Chaya OR Chaylen OR Chelle OR Chelsa OR Chelsea OR Chelsi OR Chelsia OR Chenoa OR Cher OR Cheri OR Cherie OR Cherilyn OR Cherise OR Cherish OR Cherlin OR Cherry OR Cheryl OR Chesna OR Chevonne OR Chhavvi OR Chhaya OR Chiara OR Chika OR Chilali OR Chimalis OR Chipo OR Chiquita OR Chitra OR Chitrangda OR Chizu OR Chloe OR Chloris OR Cho OR Choden OR Chow OR Chrissy OR Christa OR Christabel OR Christal OR Christea OR Christel OR Christelle OR Christian OR Christiana OR Christie OR Christina OR Christine OR Christmas OR Christy OR Chruse OR Chrysantha OR Chrysilla OR Chyou OR Ciannait OR Ciar OR Ciara OR Cicely OR Cicily OR Cilla OR Cinderella OR Cindy OR Cindylou OR Cinnabar OR Cinnamon OR Circe OR Cirea OR Cissy OR Claiborne OR Claire OR Clara OR Clarabelle OR Clare OR Clarice OR Clarinda OR Clarine OR Clarissa OR Claudia OR Clematis OR Clemence OR Clementine OR Cleo OR Cleomenes OR Cleopatra OR Cleta OR Cleva OR Cliantha OR Clio OR Clodagh OR Clodia OR Clorinda OR Cloris OR Clotilda OR Clove OR Clover OR Clymene OR Cochiti OR Cody OR Colenso OR Colette OR Colleen OR Colletta OR Collette OR Columba OR Columbia OR Columbine OR Concepcion OR Concordia OR Conncetta OR Connie OR Constance OR Consuela OR Consuelo OR Coorah OR Cora OR Corabelle OR Coral OR Coralia OR Coralie OR Corazon OR Corbin OR Cordelia OR Coreen OR Corentine OR Corey OR Corin OR Corina OR Corinda OR Corine OR Corinna OR Corinne OR Corliss OR Cornelia OR Cornelian OR Corona OR Corowa OR Corrine OR Cory OR Cosette OR Cosima OR Cossette OR Courtney OR Crescent OR Cressida OR Crisiant OR Crispina OR Cristin OR Cristina OR Cristine OR Cristiona OR Cristy OR Crystal OR Curissa OR Cuyler OR Cybele OR Cybil OR Cybill OR Cynara OR Cyndi OR Cynere OR Cynthia OR Cypriana OR Cyprien OR Cyrena OR Cyrene OR Cyrilla OR Cytheria OR Cyzarine)

Yes, LinkedIn can handle that 3800+ character (incl. spaces) search if you cram all of it into the First Name field:

Click to play video

All is Not Perfect

When you couple a first name search string of that size with a keyword and/or title search, I’ve found I sometimes get whitescreens – no results, but no errors either. I’ve also found that sometimes I get names that I definitely didn’t search for, such as “Chris,” when using the first name string I listed above combined with a keyword search. I’m not exactly certain what’s going on there (but I do have my theories…).

Although the huge first name searches definitely work (the size of the search string doesn’t prevent search execution), it seems to help to chop up the names searches somewhat when combining names searches with keywords and titles. Not only does it help with search performance, it also seems to help with relevance (less/no results creep into names not searched for). 

For example, here is a combination of 112 first names beginning with C and a keyword of “Java:”

Click on the image to view the video

One Step Further

Although the site I pulled the first names beginning with “C” from was somewhat of a mixture of nationality/ethnicity, you can certainly search for names from specific countries/ethnicities – Hispanic, Indian, Chinese – whatever suits your particular need.


Sourcing by name can and will yield some false positives – it would be impossible to be guaranteed to only be returning results of a specific gender or ethnicity. It’s also quite challenging to compile a 100% complete list of names – can you ever be certain you’re searching for them all? I think not.

However, given LinkedIn’s ability to process very long search strings, it is quite easy to search by large collections of first names that have a high probability of returning results of a specific gender and/or ethnicity/nationality.

One Last Trick

When searching LinkedIn for any combination of keywords and/or title, if you were in need of targeting gender – you can add (she OR “she’s” OR her OR herself) to your keyword string. 

While the keywords won’t highlight in your search results – they are most certainly there, and they are pulled from hits in the LinkedIn profile and the recommendations as well, where they are especially telling.

Of course, this technique is even more limiting than searching by first name and only finds a fraction of the total available results, but it can be used as a quick “first pass,” and it does have a high degree of specificity.

Happy hunting!

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  • Prashant Kitturkar

    Thanks for sharing this “How to Search LinkedIn for Diversity Sourcing”

    Great effort towards recruiting through Linkedin. I will really appreciate if we have more expert knowledge of Sharing would be done.

    In my view Linkedin is a best resource to get Specialized skills people and be in network of great people.

    Prashant Kitturkar

  • Adam

    Was so excited to see this post as diversity is a huge need for our clients. Go figure that the PAID LinkedIn Recruiter account DOES have a character limit.

    When I went to try it I found:

    1000 character max for keywords and 500 character max in the search field.

    I’m surprised that the free version performs better here.

  • Boolean Black Belt

    @Adam – I’m shocked to learn that premium LinkedIn accounts cannot leverage unlimited-length searches. Thanks for sharing!

  • Sanoop

    @Adam – yes that’s true. i use the corporate account and i cannot use more that 500 characters in the search field n 1000 in keyword. Such a shame!!

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