How to Search for Top Students and GPA’s on LinkedIn

Posted by | August 16, 2011 | How-To's, LinkedIn Search | 6 Comments

Have you ever wanted or needed to search for top students of people who have achieved high grade point averages in high school or college?

While GPA is relatively unimportant to many employers – to others, a high GPA is indicative of a person’s ability to achieve results in an unstructured environment (no one is there making you go to class or study for your exams), which can provide clues to self-management capability and the drive to excel.

Some employers simply won’t hire candidates for certain roles without a specific GPA or higher, with few exceptions (e.g. Google).

Regardless of your personal philosophy on the (in)significance of GPA’s, a grade point average is an objective measure of performance and achievement, and one of the very few that can be found on a resume or a social media profile.

LinkedIn Profile Search: Caveat Emptor

Before I show you how to specifically search for and target GPA’s when searching for people in LinkedIn, you must always bear in mind that most people who create LinkedIn profiles typically do not fill them out as they would if they were writing a resume.

That means that the majority of profiles you come across won’t actually have a lot of depth and detail with regard to their experience as well as their education, including GPA.

However, it does appear that more and more people are beginning to see the value in leveraging their LinkedIn profile much as they would a resume, and most people who graduate with honors tend to mention it on their resumes.

Additionally, LinkedIn is making a big push towards students and recent college graduates with Career Explorer, new profile sections designed for students, and their student job portal, and most students and recent grads who have achieved a high grade point average in high school and/or college see the value in promoting their achievement.

With that in mind, always remember that there are people who actually have what you’re looking for, but simply don’t mention the things you’re searching for – aka Dark Matter.

Searching for GPA’s on LinkedIn

While it would be nice if LinkedIn supported numrange search like Google (3.50..4.00), or even root-word/stem search like most job board resume databases (3.5* OR 3.6* OR 3.7*), LinkedIn doesn’t support either search functionality.

As such, you’ll need to actually type out each and every specific GPA within the range you would like to target.

Wow.

I know – that can be A LOT of numbers.

But, lucky for you, I’ve done the work for you (at least for the range of 3.5 to 4.0), AND – LinkedIn can process the longest search strings of any search interface/engine I have ever used.

That means you can enter this string into the keyword field on LinkedIn when searching for people and you’ll get results mentioning high academic acheivement (graduating with honors/GPA of 3.5 or higher, in this case):

(GPA OR “G.P.A.” OR “Grade Point Average”) (“cum laude” OR “3.5″ OR “3.6″ OR “3.7″ OR “3.8″ OR “3.9″ OR “4.0″ OR “3.50″ OR “3.51″ OR “3.52″ OR “3.53″ OR “3.54″ OR “3.55″ OR “3.56″ OR “3.57″ OR “3.58″ OR “3.59″ OR “3.60″ OR “3.61″ OR “3.62″ OR “3.63″ OR “3.64″ OR “3.65″ OR “3.66″ OR “3.67″ OR “3.68″ OR “3.69″ OR “3.70″ OR “3.71″ OR “3.72″ OR “3.73″ OR “3.74″ OR “3.75″ OR “3.76″ OR “3.77″ OR “3.78″ OR “3.79″ OR “3.80″ OR “3.81″ OR “3.82″ OR “3.83″ OR “3.84″ OR “3.85″ OR “3.86″ OR “3.87″ OR “3.88″ OR “3.89″ OR “3.90″ OR “3.91″ OR “3.92″ OR “3.93″ OR “3.94″ OR “3.95″ OR “3.96″ OR “3.97″ OR “3.98″ OR “3.99″)

Yes – that actually fits in the keyword search field.

Surprised? You shouldn’t be. I’ve written about this a few times – with a free account, LinkedIn seems to have no limit to the number of characters you can enter into the search fields.

In fact, I’ve crammed 6 pages of text into a LinkedIn search and not only did it fit, there was room for more! LinkedIn search team – you get BIG bonus points for this!

Searching for Latin Honors

Notice that I included “cum laude,” which is a Latin honor for distinguished academic achievement.

“Cum laude” is also embedded into each of the most common higher honors of magna cum laude and summa cum laude – so searching for the base phrase will return all three. While the percentages (e.g., top 2%, 5%, 10%, etc.) or specific grade point averages required for each level of academic honor can differ from university to university, they will typically cover the range of high “B” to 4.00 grade point averages.

I have come across some profiles that do not mention a specific GPA, but do mention 1 of the 3 Latin honors, so I decided to throw “cum laude” in to catch those people.

The next step would be to search for people who mention “laude” but do not specify a GPA (notice the minus sign):

“cum laude” -(GPA OR “G.P.A.” OR “Grade Point Average” OR “3.5″ OR “3.6″ OR “3.7″ OR “3.8″ OR “3.9″ OR “4.0″ OR “3.50″ OR “3.51″ OR “3.52″ OR “3.53″ OR “3.54″ OR “3.55″ OR “3.56″ OR “3.57″ OR “3.58″ OR “3.59″ OR “3.60″ OR “3.61″ OR “3.62″ OR “3.63″ OR “3.64″ OR “3.65″ OR “3.66″ OR “3.67″ OR “3.68″ OR “3.69″ OR “3.70″ OR “3.71″ OR “3.72″ OR “3.73″ OR “3.74″ OR “3.75″ OR “3.76″ OR “3.77″ OR “3.78″ OR “3.79″ OR “3.80″ OR “3.81″ OR “3.82″ OR “3.83″ OR “3.84″ OR “3.85″ OR “3.86″ OR “3.87″ OR “3.88″ OR “3.89″ OR “3.90″ OR “3.91″ OR “3.92″ OR “3.93″ OR “3.94″ OR “3.95″ OR “3.96″ OR “3.97″ OR “3.98″ OR “3.99″)

There’s about 400,000results globally.

Why Not Search for 4.00?

You also probably noticed I did not include 4.00 in the range of numbers. I originally did, but in testing the search string, I found that it produced too many false positives mentioning the 4.00 scale and a GPA that did not in fact meet my GPA criteria of 3.5x or higher.

For example:

 

 

 

However, the downside to leaving 4.00 out is that it will potentially miss those who did achieve a perfect 4.00 on a 4.00 scale and did not mention any Latin honors on their LinkedIn profile. I’ll leave that choice to you.

The LinkedIn GPA Search in Action

To narrow the results down a bit, I will add “software engineer” as the current title, and also add “Java” to the keyword search, searching globally.

Java (GPA OR “G.P.A.” OR “Grade Point Average”) (“cum laude” OR “3.5″ OR “3.6″ OR “3.7″ OR “3.8″ OR “3.9″ OR “4.0″ OR “3.50″ OR “3.51″ OR “3.52″ OR “3.53″ OR “3.54″ OR “3.55″ OR “3.56″ OR “3.57″ OR “3.58″ OR “3.59″ OR “3.60″ OR “3.61″ OR “3.62″ OR “3.63″ OR “3.64″ OR “3.65″ OR “3.66″ OR “3.67″ OR “3.68″ OR “3.69″ OR “3.70″ OR “3.71″ OR “3.72″ OR “3.73″ OR “3.74″ OR “3.75″ OR “3.76″ OR “3.77″ OR “3.78″ OR “3.79″ OR “3.80″ OR “3.81″ OR “3.82″ OR “3.83″ OR “3.84″ OR “3.85″ OR “3.86″ OR “3.87″ OR “3.88″ OR “3.89″ OR “3.90″ OR “3.91″ OR “3.92″ OR “3.93″ OR “3.94″ OR “3.95″ OR “3.96″ OR “3.97″ OR “3.98″ OR “3.99″)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When I ran that search I got 1,039 results - here’s one example so you can see it works quite well:

One thing to keep in mind is that if you copy and paste the GPA string above and have any issues with the results, it may be due to the quotation marks. You can always use Notepad or even Word to change any curved quotation marks to the proper quotation marks if you have any issues.

LinkedIn Top Student Search Anomlies

When examining the search results, I noticed a number of anomalies.

#1 LinkedIn sometimes highlights single, non-GPA numbers throughout the profiles.

#2 Although I searched specifically for the title of “Software Engineer” using LinkedIn’s title field, I still got results with the single words of “software” and “engineer” highlighted throughout the profile and not just in titles. LinkedIn search team – this should not happen.

#3 Some results would have the word “a” highlighted by itself throughout the profile.

#4 In many cases, the actual GPA, as well as the mention of “GPA” or “Grade Point Average” were not actually highlighted, although they matched the search criteria.

For example:

I am not surprised by some of the anomalous results – many search engines have trouble when it comes to searching for numbers, especially those including decimals, and search terms including punctuation such as periods (e.g., G.P.A, B.S., etc.).

The Results

In spite of the anomalies mention above, from the random sampling of results I took, the GPA search worked quite well, with few false positives:

Targeting Specific Universities

Taking this GPA search approach one step further, you could combine it with targeting specific colleges and universities.

For example, I took the same GPA search from above, included “Java” in the keyword field, searched for a title of (engineer OR programmer OR developer), and looked for profiles of people who graduated from one of these schools:  (harvard OR Duke OR Yale OR MIT OR UCLA OR Berkeley OR Dartmouth OR “Brown University” OR Princeton).

Click on the image to be taken to the LinkedIn search results.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not surprisingly, Google has the most results.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As you can see, the search works quite well:

Sweet!

LinkedIn X-Ray Search

The other way you can search LinkedIn for people with specific GPA’s is to leverage an Internet search engine such as Google and perform an X-Ray search of LinkedIn profiles.

While this approach comes with the intrinsic limitations of the inability to precisely control many of LinkedIn’s search fields/parameters (location by zip radius, current company, etc.), it does afford you the ability to leverage Google’s numrange search and you can view any public profile, whether they are in your network or not.

For example, here is a Google X-Ray search of LinkedIn targeting profiles in the N.Y. metro area that mention java and 1 of a few common titles (developer, programmer, engineer), that also mention a GPA from 3.50 to 4.00. site:linkedin.com (inurl:pub OR inurl:in) -dir java (engineer OR programmer OR developer) (GPA OR “G.P.A” OR “Grade Point Average”) 3.50..4.00 “location * greater new york city area”

Click here for the results.

Although you will get some false positive results, you can see that using Google to X-Ray search LinkedIn for top students and using Google’s numrange search functionality for targeting GPA values works quite well!

Final Thoughts on Searching by Honors and GPA

While some people will never have a need or the desire to search for potential candidates by GPA, others do and will – and it’s nice to know that you actually CAN reliably search by specific GPA ranges in LinkedIn with relatively few false positives.

You or your organization may not be degree and/or GPA “snobs,” but there are more than a handful of Fortune 1000 companies who notoriously are.

Plus, if you ever find yourself searching for recent grads and/or junior level folks, you could search for high GPA’s first to narrow your results down if you’re getting too many.

The choice of if, how, and why you apply this LinkedIn GPA search is up to you.

Beware, however, that in attempting to target numbers – specifically those including punctuation such as decimals - in a search can produce false positives. For example, certain information technology applications/products have a 4.0 version. Additionally, the searches I created above do not take into account universities that have a scale that goes beyond 4.0 (I’ve seen some that go to 6.0 and other values).

As always, happy hunting!

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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.

  • Stev

    Some very fine schools are using a 5 scale…

  • Steve

    Dang it Glen, I missed that last paragraph in your tome. I need to swithc back to caffeine…

  • http://booleanstrings.ning.com/profile/ChrisPenny Chris Penny

    “3..5 scale” gpa OR “grade point average” college OR university site:linkedin.com

  • Van

    Totally appreciate the information you provide – Thank You

  • http://www.facebook.com/jturnberg John Turnberg

    Great post Glen.  I had an issue with a 2000 character limit when I was searching for colleges (MIT does not give the same results as Massachusetts Institute of Technology, as just one of too many examples) in LinkedIn Recruiter?  LinkedIn just resets the page and seems to block it immediately.

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