LinkedIn Search: Controlling Years of Experience & Compensation

When searching any source for potential candidates, the ability to search by years of experience can be especially helpful in that years of experience can be correlated to current/desired compensation.

If you are recruiting for a position that pays a maximum of $85,000 annually, being able to first source people who are highly likely to be qualified for the role and willing to accept that compensation is certainly more efficient than sourcing and talking to a number of people who don’t have enough experience or for whom that compensation is unacceptable.

If you know that people with 5 to 7 years of overall professional experience in a certain role with specific skills in a given industry are generally in the $70,000 to $90,000 range for annual compensation, you would simply be working smart to try and first narrow your search results down to people who have that range of years of experience if that is what the position you are recruiting for pays.

As I’ve written and spoken about many times – appropriately deep and searchable human capital data can afford sourcers and recruiters the advantage of more control over critical candidate qualification variables than any other form of candidate identification, including referrals and job postings (social or otherwise), which offer very little-to-no control over any candidate variables (years of experience, education, specific responsibilities, industry experience, etc.).

With the ability to control candidate qualification variables such as years of experience and/or likely desired compensation, sourcers and recruiters can work more efficiently with less waste, more quickly identifying and contacting prospective candidates who have a high probability of not only being qualified, but also “recruitable,” and one of the critical aspects of a “recruitable” candidate is the probability of accepting an offer at a specific compensation level.

So let’s take a quick look at how you might be able to exert some degree of control over years of experience and thus current/desired candidate compensation when searching LinkedIn for talent using LinkedIn’s filters as well as using Google and Bing to X-Ray search into LinkedIn for those of you who do not have a premium LinkedIn account.

LinkedIn Talent Filters

If you have the appropriate premium LinkedIn account, you have access to LinkedIn’s Talent Filters – one of which is Years of Experience.

I like the tight arrangement of the “Less than 1 year,” “1 to 2 years,” and “3 to 5 years,” but I find “6 to 10 years” and “More than 10 years” are a little too broad for my liking and offer a much lower level of probabilistic control over likely current/desired compensation.

The Seniority Level premium filter isn’t nearly as helpful as the Years of Experience Talent Filter, primarily because it is title-driven, and hopefully you’re well aware of how problematic and non-specific many titles can be with regard to conveying anything highly useful in accurately identifying people by years of experience or true level of management.

Also, notice the gaping hole between “Entry” and “Senior.”

Google LinkedIn X-Ray Options

So, what to do if you don’t have access to the Years of Experience Talent Filter, or if you want to try and control years of experience more specifically than 6 to 10 years or more than 10?

Well, you can do what any self-respecting sourcer or recruiter would do – which is try to hack a solution together.

As I’ve written about recently, sourcing candidates via searching human capital data isn’t about Boolean search – it’s about Information Retrieval and it’s also an investigative and iterative process.

As such, we have to first start by identifying our information need, and then try to figure out how we can construct queries to retrieve results that meet that need.

If we are trying to find people who are more likely to currently be at or willing to accept compensation in a specific compensation range without the direct ability to search by compensation data (which simply doesn’t exist on LinkedIn, but does on major online resume databases), we are left to try an influence likely compensation via years of experience.

Without the ability to use a years of experience filter, or if you need to be more specific than “6 to 10” or “More than 10” years of experience, you have a few options you can use to try and control years of experience.

For example, you can use Google to try and target years of post-graduate work experience.

Here is a search attempting to target a mention of a Bachelor’s degree near the mention of the year 2004: -dir (java | j2ee) -recruiter (engineer | consultant | programmer | developer) “location * Greater Atlanta”  “(“BA” | ” B.A.” | “BS” | “B.S.” | “Bachelor” | “Bachelors”) * * * * * * 2004″

You can see that this works to some extent, without even having to open up individual search results.

Of course, there are false positives amongst the results as well, which are to be expected given what we are trying to achieve and how we are trying to achieve it. I recommend experimenting with the number of asterisks between the degree terms and the year.

Leveraging Google’s Numrange Function

You can also leverage Google’s numrange function when targeting mentions of years. For example: -dir (java | j2ee) -recruiter (engineer | consultant | programmer | developer) “location * Greater Atlanta”  “(“BA” | “BS” | “B.S.” | “Bachelor” | “Bachelors”) * * * 2004..2009″

Eliminating a Range of Years on a LinkedIn Profile

You could go a step further and try to eliminate any mention of any year in the 1990’s from appearing anywhere on the LinkedIn profile, as well as any mention of 2000, 2001, 2002, or 2003: -recruiter -dir (java | j2ee) “location * Greater Atlanta” “(“BA” | “BS” | “Bachelor” | “Bachelors”) * * * 2004..2009 ” -1990 -1991 -1992 -1993 -1994 -1995 -1996 -1997 -1998 -1999 -2000 -2001 -2002 -2003

If you’re not sure why I (or anyone) would want to eliminate mention of such a broad range of years on a LinkedIn profile – please let me know.

You may be wondering why I didn’t just try to exclude a numrange expression, such as -1990..2003. Well, that’s because it doesn’t work. I tried -(1990..2003) and -“1990..2003” and they didn’t work either. Then I tried NOT, and then I decided to get back to writing. :-) Let me know if you can find a way in which Google processes an exclusion of a numrange properly.

Also of note is that excluding some of those years/numbers can cause problems by eliminating some profiles we actually don’t want to because of non-year mentions such as “MS Office 2000,” etc.

Targeting Recent Grads

If you’d like to try and target recent grads, here is an example to try: -recruiter -dir (java | j2ee) “location * Greater Atlanta”  “(“BA” | “BS” | “Bachelor” | “Bachelors”) * * * 2011″ -1991 -1992 -1993 -1994 -1995 -1996 -1997 -1998 -1999 -2000 -2001 -2002 -2003 -2004 -2005 -2006

As you can see, this does work:

Not Targeting Education

Of course, you don’t even need to target education in an attempt to control a person’s years of professional experience by controlling what years do or do not appear on a LinkedIn profile: -dir (java | j2ee) -recruiter -answers -jobs (engineer | consultant | programmer | developer) “location * Greater Atlanta” 2000..2011 -1990 -1991 -1992 -1993 -1994 -1995 -1996 -1997 -1998 -1999

Bing LinkedIn X-Ray Options

In my opinion, Bing’s support of configurable proximity search is better than Google’s asterisk/wildcard search. However, the major weakness of Bing’s NEAR:X search functionality is that it doesn’t play nice with OR statements, which makes it difficult and/or impossible to accomplish what we have with the above Google searches in a single Bing search.

For example – even though the logic of this query is sound, it doesn’t work: -dir (java OR j2ee) -recruiter (“BA” OR “BS” OR “B.S.” OR “Bachelor” OR “Bachelors”) NEAR:7 (2000 OR 2001 OR 2002 OR 2003 OR 2004)

Bad Bing!

However, Bing’s NEAR:X works beautifully when targeting single terms: -dir (java OR j2ee) -recruiter “Bachelor” NEAR:7 2004


Final Thoughts

It is important to remember that we are trying to meet a specific information need – finding people with a certain range of years of post-graduate experience – in the hopes of exerting some control over the current/desired compensation of prospective candidates, using tools (Google & Bing) that were not designed specifically for doing so.

As such, none of the example searches I demonstrated above are perfect, and please keep in mind that the searches I illustrated are just examples from which you can build upon, experiment with, and tailor to your specific needs.

While the searches I used certainly work in some cases, in others they let false positives creep into results as well as eliminate people who actually do match our information need but cannot be returned in search results with the above queries (e.g., they do not mention the dates of their educational achievements, or they simply don’t enter them at all, which as far as I know is not a requirement to complete a LinkedIn profile) – these results are what I refer to as LinkedIn’s Dark Matter.

And finally – all of this playing around with mentions of college degrees on LinkedIn profiles has got me wondering why LinkedIn doesn’t offer the ability to search by minimum education level. Seems like a no-brainer, right?

Right after they add that as a premium filter, I think they should offer LinkedIn users the option and ability to privately specify desired compensation ranges for people who are actively and “passively” looking for the next step in their career, viewable only to those with corporate and professional recruiter licenses.

What say you?

  • Gary Cozin

    Interesting tips Glen, thanks. Irina recently posted a way to find yrs of expr of a certain skill also: 

  • Thank Gary! I did see her post, and I appreciate the technique – the only issue with targeting skills and years is that so few people actually use the skills section at this time that it isn’t a very high ROI tactic based on volume. From a sniper-search perspective, it’s a no brainer – although people can obviously inflate reality in the skills section. :-)

  • Always interesting thoughts you share here Glen. I would ask though, what about when a person does not designate the year of graduation or date range of time spent in college?

  • Amybeth – you don’t need to target a date of graduation…give this a whirl:
    -dir (java | j2ee) -recruiter -answers -jobs (engineer | consultant |
    programmer | developer) “location * Greater Atlanta” 2000..2011 -1990
    -1991 -1992 -1993 -1994 -1995 -1996 -1997 -1998 -1999

  • John Webster

    The term human capitol has become impersonal and misses the point. A resume can be built and the business model for being a team player leaves a lot to be desired when you consider that in most cases a yes man is preferred to someone who sees something wrong and tries to address it because? (insert your thought) Finally a personal one on one is a lost art in terms of finding the best person for the position. Three things I value are Integrity, Loyalty, and Humanity.

  • Diane Hibbs

    Love your tips!  You’re my kind of searcher.  Can you explain the parentheses (e.g. -dir (java | j2ee)?

  • Amazing, in fact Awesome, Thanks for sharing it Glen, I am highly curious to know about the  Quotation Marks you used with one word above like. BA, Bachelor.. Is there any specific reason you used them? Please suggest.

    Thanks again,


  • Google supports the + operator to forcibly include a specific term, but would allow you to do the same via single-word phrases. Not sure about Bing.

    However, if you want your strings to be reusable over multiple sites, going with the formatting practice that is most widely supported makes good sense from a best practices standpoint.

    Of course, it could also be an artifact from an automatic string generator, set to encapsulate all terms as phrases. :)

  • Glen,

    Always enjoy your stuff. As more people actually fill OUT their profiles, perhaps these more detailed searches will also increase in utility.

    There are just so many “junk” and duplicate profiles out there – found a guy with FOUR (all created in the last 20 months) all with nearly identical data and different #s of connections. Senior VP of organizational transformation overseeing a business intelligence / analytics team!


  • Diane – thanks!

    Although not always technically necessary on some Internet search engines, I like to keep my search syntax clean and consistent, so I always encapsulate my OR statements within parentheses. That section you pointed out is essentially asking the search engine for a mention of at least one of the following terms: Java, J2EE. Does that help?

  • When looking for candidates who recently graduated or yet have to graduatue, I love to add “2012 expected” | “2013 expected”. Linkedin automaticallly adds the word ´expected´ (or ‘verwacht’ in Dutch profiles) when someone adds an education he/she is still woking on. “informatica” | “informatiekunde” “2013 expected” | “2012 expected” | “2012 verwacht” | “2013 verwacht” “beiden kennen” “the hague” | rotterdam

    (never mind the dutch phrases)

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  • mitzimackó

    I might have some dumb questions, but it would be amazing if someone could help:
    -why do you need to start with that… stuff? What if I already type into linkedin? It’s not gonna work if I delete that part, why?
    -Also, what’s with those “-dir” and “-recruiter”? What do we need them?
    -And finally, what if I want the person to graduate in 2009, or 2010, or 2011, or 2012, how can I put them in all at once?

    Thanks a lot:

  • Glen thank you so much for your knowledge share. Every Recruiter should acknowledge your contribution. Thank you.

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  • Jort

    Hi Glen, 6 moths ago Gary stated an URL from Irina with a way How to find yrs of expr of a certain skill, and you comented on it, however the URL does not exist anymore..
    How you would write that search syntax? Would you mind sharing it?
    Many thanks!