LinkedIn Sourcing Challenge – Can You Find Everyone?

So far, I’ve launched 2 LinkedIn sourcing challenges – Ruby and X-Ray Location False Positives.

The former had very strong participation as it was a little on the easier side (for some!). The latter had fewer participants, perhaps because it was more technical – but those who did participate did so heavily.

For my 3rd Linkedin Sourcing Challenge, I think I have one that is universally appealing because it requires no technical or advanced sourcing experience to participate, nor to win the challenge!

The Inspiration for this Challenge

Just the other day I thought back to the time when LinkedIn made a change that prevented average Joes and Janes with a free LinkedIn account from running a keywordless search to reveal the total number of LinkedIn profiles in a given country.

I really enjoyed being able to select a country, enter no keywords, and hit “search” to see all of the LinkedIn profiles in a given country – it was an easy way to get accurate LinkedIn stats per country, as well as to monitor growth.

Now, at least for those using a free LinkedIn account, when searching by country or “Anywhere” (searching all of LinkedIn), you have to enter at least one keyword to be able to see people from the “3rd + Everyone Else” relationship level.


Which got me thinking – perhaps there is some all-inclusive combination of keywords that you can string together in order to find the most, if not all of the profiles in a given country…or the entire world.

LinkedIn Sourcing Challenge – All Inclusive Results

Using LinkedIn’s search interface only, create a query that returns the greatest number of total results of in all of Linkedin (location: Anywhere), and comment on this post with your search string and the number of results.



Ideally, once you’ve settled on your search, copy the entire LinkedIn URL and shorten it using a shortener (such as and include it in your comment. That way, anyone else participating can simply click on your shortened link and instantly be taken to your search within LinkedIn.


Are You Up To The Challenge?

I especially like this challenge for a number of reasons:

  1. It’s not a technical challenge – it’s a creative, thinking, and experimental challenge
  2. The results returned by any given search can be confirmed by anyone and are thus irrefutable
  3. People will be able to rapidly build upon the ideas of others
  4. This challenge will reveal some interesting things and raise questions about LinkedIn’s profiles and search engine
  5. Someone will craft a search that returns more people than anyone else, and the “why and how” will be interesting!

By the way, because this is a pure keywords vs. keywords inclusivity challenge, even those of you with premium access to LinkedIn (e.g., LinkedIn Recruiter) can participate.

Unless, of course, you want to share your results via link or try to use a search string over 1,000 characters.


  • Dale

    I’m sure there will be people that will be able to beat this, however I thought I would go for the simple technique. I just put A into the search and came up with 13.5 million.

  • I’m sure there is much more sophisticated way of working this for a higher number, but I used “In to” as my keywords, selected “anywhere”, and came back with 14,140,547 results.

    What actually caught my attention was that I ran the same query 5 times to get that number, and each time it increased. I just ran it again and in the time it took to type this the number went up to 14,140,757 results.
    Am I seeing LI profile growth or is it just due to a technical element I don’t know about? IF its growth reflected (which I hope, because watching it is really neat), then the query that returns the highest number of profiles anywhere will likely change in time anyway with incoming profiles and new content… right? <-now reflects 14,140,801results

  • Dale – good idea but even when we add all letters i.e. a OR b OR c etc we still only get 22,538,906 results so 77.5 million short

  • To follow that thought the “Location” results are increasing as well, not just the total.

  • I assume that the majority of people do not complete their profiles.

    I am guessing that the information most likely to be on an incomplete profile is job title, company and education. With that in mind, I came up with this – maxing out the length of my search: More than 50 million profile –

    Half way there… will keep thinking :)

  • Joshua Jones

    @7Recruiter – Simply typing “in” yields the most results for me (14,141,862). I’ll have to play with this some more.

  • Here is a contest on all-inclusive keywords we ran in back December 2010 on the “Boolean Strings” network. It has lots of good suggestions with impressive numbers of results. The post has shortened links to search strings.

  • OK – I am late. But there’s still some work to do. Mine is – 14,552,559 results

    I think the key is to find right keywords that will appear mostly in profiles and use combinations in OR

    Let’s imporve on this….

  • Glen could you please share with us your own result? I’m sure you have tried this already:)

  • Did anyone notice about a limitation (indirect) LinkedIn has for number of keywords we can put in search box? It is not taking more than 60 words for me…

  • I couldn’t catch them all but I did find…..

    Pikachu, a Project Manager at Fangcan in China.
    Vulpix, a medical student in Romania –
    Mew, a marketing officer in England –

    Still no word on Jigglypuff or Charmander though.

    Gotta Catch ‘Em All someday! ツ

  • Congrats Katharine for breaking the 50M mark, which is no easy feat! While it’s not very difficult to get deep into the 40M range, crossing 50M is particularly difficult.

    To anyone else attempting to tackle this challenge, keep in mind that going for the most obvious keywords and titles may actually hurt you (or at least not help you) via overlap.

    Part of the trick is thinking of the most common yet mutually exclusive words and terms, which isn’t easily accomplished.

    Katharine, you are right in that a large percentage of people do not complete their profiles.

    For those participating in the challenge – at least one employer and one title is required to create a profile. While it is not required to enter education, various education terms can be particularly useful as keywords.

  • Victor – nice try. Not much of a point to “solving” my own challenge in less than 24 hours after posting it. :-)

    Ultimately, this is a challenge that may never be truly “solved” in that someone at any time in the future can produce a combination of keywords that returns more results than anyone previous – that’s why I love it!

  • Jan Ackerman
    52,186,549 results
    I borrowed from Katherine (who had a brilliant idea) and added some vowels…

  • Very nice Jan! When I click your link, I actually get 53,329,833 results – even more impressive!

  • Jan Ackerman
    56,272,686 results

    Me thinks I broke it – I keep getting the following message”We are currently upgrading the search engine. Search will be back momentarily.”

    Perhaps I have too many search arguments.

  • This gives me over 49,688,795

  • Luis Cupertino

    I limped to around 38M: and gave up.

  • I’m sure that you have something like personal result) Just wondering about number. 50M? 60M? 80?:)

  • Jan – congrats on being the current record holder for this challenge. I also often get the “We are currently upgrading the search engine…” message, which is obviously not true. :-)

    Do you mind posting the string of keywords for everyone to see?

  • Sarang – solid effort!

    What I’ve found is that many of the higher count keywords often overlap with others in the string, which prevents some keywords from significantly adding a net amount of results (overlap vs. mutual exclusion).

    So far, I haven’t seen anyone experiment with non-English keywords.


  • Tom Furlong

    In your keyword steam you had “OR OR” listed three times- is that a typo or a specific search command?

  • Tomasz Drabik

    Getting the same thing above a certain number of words

  • I got to about 48m and gave up….the return results are taking a while at this point. Huumm, where are the other 50m hiding? another language?

  • Tomasz Drabik

    When I hit 50mln the “We are currently upgrading the search engine. Search will be back momentarily.” message constantly appears when querying a new search. Nevertheless heres my 50,460,416

    What I thought of is to provide people who are not getting this message with some numbers on word search. It doesnt add up as of course results overlap but here goes anyway:

    university – 22,376,523 results
    manager – 16,599,945 results
    in – 14,200,614 results
    a – 13,544,879 results
    business – 11,048,244 results
    director – 7,540,636 results
    as – 7,151,683 results
    sales – 7,094,391 results
    owner – 6,908,653 results
    school – 6,832,128 results
    new – 6,750,928 results
    marketing – 6,476,941 results
    project – 6,451,149 results
    company – 5,083,041 results
    systems – 4,862,979 results
    international – 4,860,078 results
    IT – 3,984,548 results
    science – 3,858,296 results
    ltd – 3,849,304 results
    executive – 3,610,189 results
    president – 3,503,763 results
    information – 3,418,277 results
    e – 3,245,456 results
    computer – 3,214,654 results
    planning – 3,107,225 results
    product – 3,093,044 results
    specialist – 3,032,857 results

    Putting all of these together gave me 51,109,104 – still not enough. Maybe if someone can paste their big numbers we can together somehow reach a 60/70 + number :) Anything above 10 mil will boost the numbers. What i noticed 27+ words separated by “OR” is the max linkedin will process…

  • Andrew

    I’ve shamelessly bastardised some other searches but have a total of 38,777,754 with a string that doesn’t repeat any of the terms used in Jan’s 53,329,833 search.

    Trying to mix and match between the two but Linkedin seems to be struggling.

  • It looks like LikedIn has some difficulties with display more than 50M results.
    I’ve tried different fields and strings with the same result – We are currently upgrading the search engine. Search will be back momentarily.

    I also noticed that in Title field you can use much more words than in Keyword field. So here is my result – 54,307,525.
    I used 220 typical job titles or related words :)

  • I think I found right solution:) More details coming soon

  • Joshl74

    The best I was able to do is a little shy of 44m….trying to play with it…. However the search string I used is a bit long. I’m not certain if the symbols or some of the words even add much value.

    “music OR death OR funeral OR hair OR art OR country OR military OR officer OR adult OR child OR student OR great OR new OR best OR owner OR president OR ceo OR founder OR intern OR partner OR school OR leader OR vp OR director OR manager OR business OR web OR internet OR coordinator OR sales OR market OR hacker OR ninja OR comedy OR entertain OR capital OR assistant OR product OR manufacturing OR build OR teacher OR finance OR accounting OR fruit OR farm OR water OR life OR doctor OR law OR human OR 1 OR 2 OR 3 OR 4 OR 5 OR 6 OR 7 OR 8 OR 9 OR 0 OR ( OR $ OR # OR !”

  • Joshl74

    Actually it looks like the results are 46,552,743

  • kandula Santosh Kumar

    Ltd OR inc OR plc OR manager OR owner OR founder OR assistant OR consultant OR Specialist OR engineer OR director OR vice OR OR officer OR head OR OR expert OR programmer OR developer OR designer OR teacher OR recruiter OR university OR school OR a OR b OR c OR the OR or OR experience OR Location OR 1 OR 2 OR 3 OR Full OR Name OR Company OR studying OR education OR certification OR country

    I got around  58,368,527

  • I am able to get 59,668,277 results….


    Kandula Santosh Kumar

  • Here is the proof..


  • You-May-Know-Me

    64Million, I had to shorten several terms because Linkedin was taking too many refresh cycles to come up with an answer… The link below as it is had taken me about 4-5 refreshed on the browser before it loads

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