How Would You Search for these Positions on LinkedIn?

One of the things that has always struck me as extremely odd with regard to sourcing is the fact that there appears to be so little sharing of Boolean search strings.

While one can find basic search string examples in training materials and in various sourcing groups online, I know plenty of sourcers and recruiters that have never seen another person’s production search strings – those used to actually fill positions.

Why do you think that is? I have my ideas, and I’d like to know yours.

I believe there may be several contributing factors:

  1. Some people just don’t save their searches. If I were a betting man, from what I’ve seen over the past 15+ years, I’d wager that the majority of people don’t save their search strings. If they’re not saved anywhere – you severely limit any sharing opportunities to live, in-the-moment situations that may or may not ever present themselves.
  2. It simply never occurs to some people to share their searches with others – unless someone specifically asks, why would someone?
  3. Plain old insecurity. Some folks might not want to share their search strings with others because they are afraid theirs are somehow “wrong,” inferior or inadequate.
  4. The belief that their Boolean search strings are somehow their “secret sauce” and that in sharing their searches might somehow expose their competitive advantage.

What do you think?

How Would You Search for these Positions on LinkedIn?

Are you up to the challenge of sharing some of your searches with a global audience of talent acquisition professionals? I will be performing a hat trick this year at LinkedIn’s Talent Connect event in Las Vegas– I’ve been asked back to present for the third time on how to effectively source potential candidates on LinkedIn.

During these sessions I show examples of my own searches. This year, in addition to my searches, I’d like to provide a number of examples from the global sourcing community. I believe there is much to learn from sharing search strings – it’s very similar to sharing recipes.

Provided there are no syntax errors, search strings are not “right” or “wrong,” and there is no single “best” search string, just as there is no single best recipe for anything.

Remember – all searches “work.” As long as you are pleased with the quality and the quantity of the results, your search is sound – so don’t be nervous, be confident!

If you’re game, take a look at the 4 jobs below that I mashed up from some random Indeed searches and comment on this blog post with a search for one or more of the positions. You don’t have to have any experience in sourcing for similar roles – so don’t let them intimidate you if you are unfamiliar with the positions.

I’d argue that when it comes to sourcing, you don’t have to have any prior experience with a specific role to be effective in sourcing for it, but that’s a whole blog post in and of itself.

Here are some basic guidelines to participate:

  • I’m looking for the search criteria you would use if you were searching LinkedIn using LinkedIn’s search interface – not X-Ray searching via Google or Bing
  • If it’s material to your searches, specify whether your searches are for the free version of LinkedIn or one of the premium versions
  • Specify the fields and facets you’re leveraging (e.g., keywords, title & company [current and past, current, past, past not current], company, industry, groups, etc.)
  • For the purpose of this exercise, location is irrelevant, so there is no need to specify

If you’re a shy sourcer and would rather not take credit for your work and let the world know who you are – that’s 100% cool with me. I understand why some of you might not want to identify yourself. You are totally free to leave your searches anonymously.

On the other hand, if you’re particularly proud of your searches, let me know – I’d be happy to give you credit if I used one of your searches during my presentations. Maybe your manager  or even you will be in the audience when I share it – how cool would that be?

Position #1 Loan Processor


  • Reading and reviewing financial documents in order to make sound financial decisions
  • Working directly with underwriters and loan officers to understand the financial picture of the customer
  • Working with FHA/VA and Conventional loans
  • Interacting with loan officers to coordinate the approval process and make it as efficient as possible

Required Experience

  • 1-2 years of recent loan processing experience
  • Track record of success in working with FHA, VA and Conventional Loans

Position #2 Substation Engineer

The Substation Engineer will be required to provide design, specifications and construction documents.  The position requires a strong interest in power systems and design of electrical high voltage substations. Primary Responsibilities

  • Perform electrical design and calculations for various electrical power, communication and control systems involved with electrical substation projects
  • Gather all pertinent information of projects and document scope of each project and prepare material lists, plan, elevation and detail drawings for substation projects


  • Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering with emphasis in Power Systems
  • Minimum 4  years of substation design experience
  • Professional PE registration is preferred
  • Knowledge of National Electrical Safety Code (NESC) is required and knowledge of Rural Utility Service (RUS) requirements desired

Position #3 User Interface Designer

Define user model and user interface for new and existing platforms and applications. Analyze and translate user feedback and business requirements into onscreen hand-held device and web user interfaces. Duties include: Visual design for internet search company consumer facing products. Construct visual design language in a project, set the directions team members should consider to develop and launch products, and apply ideas that team agreed to pursue to the product by understanding the comprehensive system of the service. Design company’s consumer facing products. Collaborate with cross-functional product development team and present ideas and designs. Present the user interface visually so information is easy to read, easy to understand and easy to find. Create designs which promote products and features so users understand what they are getting and what the benefits are. Requires degree  in Visual Communication Design, Graphic Design Human Computer Interaction, or equivalent. Also requires background in visual design and interaction design for user experience; creating UI design systems and prototypes (HTML, CSS, JavaScript, PHP); designing portal sites and creating UI screens; and designing online promotions, mobile applications, and web applications.

Position #4 C# Developer


  • Develop new applications and convert legacy applications from MS Access to C# winforms & web services.
  • Ongoing development, maintenance, and support of the above-mentioned application once the initial version is deployed.
  • Maintenance and support of several existing C# winforms, Windows service, and command-line applications.

Requirements 5-8 years of experience with the following technologies is required:

  • C# winforms & web services development using Visual Studio
  • Interacting with external web services and performing data manipulation
  • Information storage and retrieval with Microsoft SQL Server
  • Microsoft Access w/ Visual Basic for Applications (needed for porting functionality from a legacy applications)

Let the Search String Sharing Begin!

As I write this, my spider sense is telling me I probably won’t get that many searches in response to this post.

If I don’t, I’d bet that it would be primarily due to reasons #3 and #4 I listed at the beginning (insecurity or “secret sauce,” respectively).

However, I’ve tried to address both of those concerns – if you’re on the fence on whether or not you might throw your search strings in the ring, remember you can post them anonymously, and you can choose not to create searches for any of the 4 positions you routinely source for if you feel it will somehow betray your competitive advantage.

Care to share?


  • Karen

    Glen I’m shaking but I’m going to give it a go.. if you agree to critique them that is! stay tuned.. Karen (Researcher, Melbourne)

  • Shana Finney

    I came up with 73 results using the Title: Loan Processor past or present and my keywords were… FHA OR VA AND Conventional Loans (coordinate approval process). 1,835 results without (coordinate approval process).

  • Shana Finney

    Substation Engineer – The title I used was… “Substation Engineer” OR “Lead Substation Engineer” past and present and the keywords were… electrical design and calculations AND “NESC” AND (Power Systems) which resulted in 1 Result. When I took out “NESC” I received 13 results

  • Shana Finney

    User Interface Designer – The title I used was “User Interface Designer” OR “User Interaction Designer” OR “Interface Designer” OR “UI/Visual Designer” past and present and the keywords were… UI design systems AND Prototypes +HTML +CSS +JavaScript +PHP which resulted in 42 results. Visual Communication Design OR Graphic Design Human Computer Interaction (Prototypes +HTML +CSS +JavaScript +PHP) keywords resulted in 6 results

  • Kelly

    Glen – Regarding not saving searches or utilizing other saved searches, I would agree. I looked at our numbers for our Bullhorn users and Saved Searches are only being run 10% of the time in comparison to creating new searches from scratch.

  • Shana Finney

    I almost forgot the last one. I used C# Developer for title past and present. I used keywords “C# winforms” AND Access with Visual Basic for Applications AND Visual Studio with 7 results. Glen, I look forward to your critique.

  • Just took a quick peek at the substation engineer one for now. Here is my string, using free LinkedIn search – Keywords: (“electrical engineer” OR “electrical eng”) AND substation AND (“NESC” OR “National Engineering Safety Code”); Title (Current or past): (engineer OR eng). 55 results. I tried replacing ‘substation’ with (“substation” OR “sub-station” OR “sub station”), but got the same number of results.

  • PJ

    Loan Processor
    1). “loan process*” AND (“mtg” OR “mortgage” OR “mortgage servic*” OR “underwrit*” OR “calculate income to debt”) AND (“FHA” AND “VA” AND “conventional”)
    2). (“loan process*” OR “mtg” OR “mortgage” OR “mortgage servic*” OR “underwrit*” OR “calculate income to debt”) AND (“FHA” AND “VA” AND “conventional”)

  • Here’s my string for the UI Design position – Keywords: (“UI Design” OR “UI Designer” OR “User Interface Design” OR “User Interface Designer” OR “user interaction design” OR “user interaction designer” OR “human computer interaction” OR “HCI” OR “UI/UX Design” OR “UI/UX Designer” OR “UX Designer” OR “UX Designer” OR “user experience design” OR “user experience designer” OR “interaction design” OR “interface design” OR “interaction strategy”) AND mobile AND (“consumer facing” OR “consumer-facing”) AND NOT director AND NOT manager. 91 results.

  • Shana Finney

    I failed to remove the Directors and Managers. Good one Tara!

  • I’m not that experienced at this but here is what I typed for the UI Designer. It returned 208 results for the US and 14 for Australia…and I am on a free account. I did not specify current or past jobs.

    Title: (design OR designer) AND (“user interface” OR UI OR GUI OR UX)

    Keywords: (masters OR postgrad OR degree) HTML CSS JavaScript PHP

    With LinkedIn, the chances are that a lot of people do not list every skill so I think its important not to search for everything with ‘AND’.

  • I based this on semantics and ended up with: (“Electrical Engineering” OR BSEE)
    AND substation AND Design AND (Power OR Generator OR Generation OR Turbine OR

    This gave me 2,781 results with no location filter other
    than United States. They appear to be a
    majority of engineers out to at least page 16.

    I think the NESC
    experience is a little too common knowledge to include in the search as most wouldn’t include that on their profile.
    If you want to narrow it down even more specifically and expand the profiles you can view choose the industry and then the company and then a specific location. That should get you to a managable number.

  • Thanks, Shana!

  • Naveen


  • Pingback: Awesome Daily Links – 09-20-12 |

  • I don’t have a LinkedIn recruiter subscription and I am not a recruiter yet (still learning). I am curious to see what my string delivers: (“loan” AND process* AND “FHA” AND “VA” AND “conventional loans” OR “conventional loan”) OR (“loan” AND process* AND “federal housing administration” AND “veterans affairs” AND “conventional loans” OR “conventional loan”) . I went down the discussion and found better ones, but I want to see how far “out” I am. Thanks :)

  • bilal

    “Loan Processor” and (FHA or “ VA ”) and “Conventional Loan” and (“1 year” or “1.5 years” or “2 years” or “one year” or “two years”)

  • bilal

    “Substation Engineer” and (“National Electrical Safety Code” or NESC) and (“Rural Utility Service” or RUS) and (“electrical engineer” or bsee or((“bachelors of electrical” or “bachelors in electrical”) and engineering)) and (“power system” or “grid station” or “power generation” or “smart grid” or “power protection”)

  • Pingback: What Do Corporate Recruiters Want? We Asked Them - Jobscan Blog()