LinkedIn Search

Using Google to Search for People in Specific LinkedIn Groups

Posted by | Google, LinkedIn, LinkedIn Groups, LinkedIn Search, x-ray search | 8 Comments

In this post, I am going to share with you the journey I took and the discoveries I made while investigating the answer to a Boolean search request for help I recently came across online about using -dir in a Google X-Ray search of LinkedIn. Some of you may enjoy and appreciate seeing my methodology, others will likely learn a thing or two about using Google to search for people in specific LinkedIn groups, and I’ll remind you of a few reasons why you can’t find everyone on LinkedIn using Google, Bing or any search engine other than LinkedIn’s.

Here’s the original search that was shared in the request for help:

site:linkedin.com “Front end developers group” (.Net |dot Net) Greater Boston Area) -dir -job -jobs -sample -samples -template -resume service -resume writers -resume writing

I was going to quickly answer with a cleaned-up search string, but what really caught my attention was that he was trying to target folks in a specific LinkedIn group.

Now, I have a LinkedIn Recruiter license and I don’t often X-Ray LinkedIn to find specific group members, so I poked around a bit on the topic and found this little gem posted by Balazs, my former partner in world sourcing domination, back in 2011:

Here’s the sample string Balazs offered: site:linkedin.com inurl:(in | pub) “logo Boolean strings” -inurl:dir

I used his search and noticed the total number of results  was very low (only 2 pages) and also that there were many false positive, non-profile results. It was clear that much has changed since Balazs wrote the above post nearly 3 years ago and that, among other things, “logo GROUP NAME” no longer works as it once used to.

LinkedIn Group X-Ray search 1

As such, I decided to take a look into one of the actual profile results and view the cached version to see what Google was hitting on.

Cached view option

Then I right clicked to viewed the page’s source:

Here’s what I saw after using CTRL-F to search for the word “Boolean:”

You can see that the the logo image is followed by the phrase “Boolean Strings – the Internet Sourcing Community logo.”

Here’s the specific piece of code:

<img src=”http://m.c.lnkd.licdn.com/media/p/8/000/2be/00f/059184c.png” width=”60″ height=”30″ alt=”Boolean Strings – the Internet Sourcing Community logo” />

So, in order to leverage that specific format/order of words, I constructed a quick search targeting the LinkedIn group that the person from the original question that caught my eye was trying to target, which was the Front End Developers group, using “Front End Developers Group logo” in the string:

site:linkedin.com “front end developers logo” (C# |.Net) “location * Greater Boston Area” 

Google estimates 83 results:

However, you should never pay attention to Google’s “About XX” results. If you click to page 2, you can see there are really only 11 results.

I then decided to check LinkedIn Recruiter looking for people who live in the Greater Boston Area and either mention C# or .Net, and, using LinkedIn’s brilliant Any Group functionality, I searched for members of the Front End Developers Group.

Surprise, surprise – I got 11 results:

However, while the number matches between Google and LinkedIn, the people do not.

Interesting, yes?

That opens up a whole different can of worms, so to speak.

Google is not an All Seeing Eye

Keep in mind that people have the option to not show the logo of a group they’re in on their LinkedIn profile.

LinkedIn Group Settings Visibility

If someone chooses not to display the group logo on their profile, then you won’t be able to use Google to find people in the manner demonstrated above presumably because the logo (and associated logo phrase) won’t be on their public profile. If it’s not there to be “seen” by Google, you can’t retrieve it.

Additionally, let’s not forget that:

1. Some people’s LinkedIn profiles are invisible to search engines which means you can’t X-Ray search them. People can choose to make their public profile “visible to no one” (see the image below for LinkedIn public profile content settings), meaning their profiles are not crawlable/indexable by search engines and thus cannot be retrieved.

2. Even if people choose to make their public profile “visible to everyone,” if they select “Basics,”  the only things that LinkedIn allows search engines to “see” are a person’s name, industry, location and number of recommendations. That means you can’t retrieve their profiles if you search for anything beyond their name, industry, and location. These folks could actually display group logos on their profiles, but searching for group logos won’t retrieve them because LinkedIn isn’t allowing search engines to “see” them.

3. Even if someone chooses to make their public profile visible to everyone and they don’t select “Basics,” they can still pick and choose from a long list of things that can or cannot be “seen” by search engines. Anything a person decides to not make visible can’t be found/retrieved with Google, Bing, etc., – this can include groups, skills, summaries, current and past positions, and more.

Another Way to X-Ray Search for and Target LinkedIn Groups

While writing this post, I stumbled across a specific question about how to use a Boolean search in Google to target members of a specific LinkedIn group. Lois Grimshaw responded to the question, and I noticed that she took a different approach than using the “GROUP NAME logo” phrase – she used “logo * GROUP NAME.” I added java to the search to get the results down to a more manageable number for testing:

site:linkedin.com “people you know” “logo * Ernst & Young Employees and Alumni” java

I scrolled to the last page of results to see that Google returned 461 results:

Googe X-Ray LinkedIn Group

I then decided to run the same search, but use my “GROUP NAME logo” phrase format, shortening it to “Young Employees and Alumni logo,” because there isn’t any other group that uses the same specific phrase, there is actually no need to include “Ernst &.” I also happen to be a fan of minimalist strings.

site:linkedin.com “people you know” “Young Employees and Alumni logo” java

That search returned more results – 496.

Google X-Ray LinkedIn Group

In case you were curious, I decided to also test this search format:

site:linkedin.com “people you know” “Ernst * Young Employees and Alumni logo” java – 480 results.

I then decided to check on LinkedIn using my Recruiter license – 735 results.

For the many reasons I listed above, I wasn’t surprised to find significantly more people using LinkedIn’s search than I did using Google.

Group Search: Asterisk vs. Straight Phrase

I decided to go back to my original Front End Developers group search and use Lois’s “logo * GROUP NAME” search approach to see how the results differed from my simple “GROUP NAME logo” phrase search:

site:linkedin.com “logo * front end developers” (C# |.Net) “location * Greater Boston Area” 

If you got to page 2, you can see that the search returns a total of 15 results, which is 4 more than my original search.

Works better, right?

Not so fast – in this case, using the asterisk allowed additional groups to get returned, such as the Chicago Front-End Web Developers group…

LI Group Logo 1

…and the Front End Web Developers – CA group.

LinkedIn Group Logo 2

One could argue that scooping up some additional groups is a good thing, and in this case, that is actually true (both folks live in Boston even though the groups are for locations other than Boston).

However, it’s easy to see that using the asterisk in a group-targeting search can have unintended consequences, and it’s not difficult to imagine scenarios in which irrelevant results could be returned.

Unique LinkedIn Group Name Search

Lastly, I’d like to point out that if the name of the LinkedIn group you’re interested in searching for is unique, you may not even need to use the word “logo” in your search.

For example – all 3 of these searches return 27 pages of results:

No mention of logo:

site:linkedin.com “boolean strings – the Internet Sourcing Community” “location * greater atlanta” “people you know” – 27 pages of results

“GROUP NAME logo”

site:linkedin.com “boolean strings – the Internet Sourcing Community logo” “location * greater atlanta” “people you know” – 27 pages of results

“logo * GROUP NAME”

site:linkedin.com “logo * boolean strings – the Internet Sourcing Community” “location * greater atlanta” “people you know”27 pages of results

The Boolean Search Bottom Line(s)

1. Be curious! Don’t just copy, paste and implicitly trust other people’s search strings – take the time to tinker with them to understand why and how they work (or don’t!), and to improve upon/simply them.

2. Don’t pay any attention to an Internet search engine’s estimate of the number of results on page 1- always navigate to the last page of results to get the real number, especially when comparing alternative search strings.

3. Always, always, always inspect search results below the surface and look for patterns to make sure your searches are working precisely the way you intended. If they’re not, it’s an excellent opportunity to learn by tweaking your searches and watching how the volume of your results varies and how your results get more or less relevant, and specifically why.

4. There are often many different ways of achieving the same search / information retrieval / sourcing goals – very seldom are Boolean search strings “right” or “wrong,” although there can be a wide variance in the volume, relevance and inclusiveness between seemingly similar searches.

5. The “GROUP NAME logo” phrase search works well for using Google to search for people within specific LinkedIn groups, and for unique group names, you don’t even need to use the word “logo” in your search.

6. You can’t find everyone on LinkedIn using Google, Bing or any search engine other than LinkedIn’s. One could argue that perhaps some of the best people on LinkedIn are unfindable via X-Ray search because, as highly sought after passive talent, they’ve taken steps to limit what, if anything, Internet search engines can “see.”

 

How to Find Military Veterans for Sourcing & Recruiting

Posted by | Facebook, Graph Search, How-To's, LinkedIn Search, Veteran Sourcing and Recruiting | 10 Comments

Military Veteran Hiring Career FairIn a similar vein to my recent diversity sourcing article, I wanted to create a resource for people looking to effectively search for and identify military veterans for recruiting.

While this posts focuses on the U.S. armed forces, I encourage folks from other countries to create and distribute similar searches to identify their own military veterans.

If you’re interested in all of the great things you can do for employer branding and talent attraction strategies for hiring veterans – you won’t find it here, because this post strictly focuses on the proactive online sourcing and identification of people who are either currently serving in or are veterans of the U.S. armed forces.

Read on to review:

  • An extensive military/veteran Boolean search I’ve constructed for use on LinkedIn, Monster, CareerBuilder, Dice, Indeed, your ATS, etc.
  • How to use Facebook’s Graph Search to find veterans, combined with gender diversity
  • Proof that Graph Search performs semantic search (very cool!)
  • Veteran population information and resources Read More

List of U.S. Location Phrases on LinkedIn

Posted by | LinkedIn, LinkedIn Search | 4 Comments

United States Puzzle MapLast week I was assisting a team in building an exhaustive sourcing strategy for identifying, contacting and pipelining a consistent and continual weekly flow of highly specialized software engineers and 13 other hiring profiles that all allow for nationwide relocation.

If you’ve never been faced with such a challenge – imagine sourcing the entire U.S. (or any large country) on LinkedIn.

How would you begin?

Aside from the fun of ensuring that all of the searches returned less than 1,000 results per search, or at most ~3,000 provided I was able to use facets to divide up the results into sub-1,000, mutually exclusive result sets, I had to think about how I would enable a team to methodically and systematically uncover every potentially qualified candidate in the entire United States.

I quickly abandoned the idea of trying to use zip code searches – it’s an impractical and poor approach for many reasons. Systematically searching all of the metro areas on LinkedIn is a better approach, ensuring maximum inclusion, as I am fairly confident that regardless of zip code, everyone rolls up into a metro area.

Of course, to accomplish this, it would be helpful to have a list of all of LinkedIn’s metro area location phrases so I would not have to ask the team to perform exploratory search and type in cities and see what LinkedIn brings up, or search a wide radius from specific zip codes and make note of all of the metro areas that appear on profiles within that radius.

I decided to ask the fine folks in my networks on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter if anyone already had built or possessed such a list.

A few folks quickly replied that if I did get such a list, they would be very interested in seeing it.

As it turns out,  only 1 person in my network produced a list – Zac Paeth, and he graciously gave me permission to share it with anyone who would benefit.

Thanks Zac!

LinkedIn Location Phrases

After some quick research, I can verify that this isn’t a 100% complete list (e.g., it doesn’t mention the “Pocatella, Idaho Area” – ha!).

However, it does have over 90 location phrases and it seems to have most, if not all of the major metro areas.

If you have a list that differs from this one and and you’re willing to share, please do!

How LinkedIn Search Actually Works

Posted by | LinkedIn, LinkedIn Search | No Comments

If you’re in sourcing, recruiting or HR, you no doubt search LinkedIn from time to time or perhaps even every day.

So why not gain a better understanding of how LinkedIn search actually works?

And what better way to learn how LinkedIn search works than from the Heads of Search Relevance and Query Understanding at LinkedIn?

Yes, you read that correctly – LinkedIn has folks specifically dedicated to understanding your queries in an effort to return the right set of results, emphasizing query rewriting, elaboration, and refinement.

Here is the LinkedIn Search Slideshare deck where you can learn about, among other things, LinkedIn’s contextual word sense and how LinkedIn deals with “keyword stuffers” and spammers.

[In]formation Retrieval: Search at LinkedIn from Daniel Tunkelang

If you would like to learn more about the LinkedIn search team looks at content, connections, and context, here is a fantastic Slideshare to review:

Content, Connections, and Context from Daniel Tunkelang

You may also learn a thing or two about how LinkedIn search works from their page dedicated to highlighting some of the search-related challenges they think about everyday:

Search at LinkedIn Main Page

LinkedIn Sourcing Ninja Webinar Recording now on YouTube

Posted by | LinkedIn, LinkedIn Search | One Comment

 

In case you missed my record-setting LinkedIn sourcing webinar on 6/4 (3,000+ attendees!), the fine folks at LinkedIn recorded the whole session and have graciously uploaded the presentation to YouTube, where you can find the Become a Sourcing Ninja: Earn your Boolean Black Belt with Glen Cathey video.

 

 

Be sure to change the quality to 720 for the best viewing experience.

Content covered includes:

  • Boolean search operators and query modifiers supported by LinkedIn
  • Beyond Boolean – asking better questions
  • Human-Computer Information Retrieval (HCIR)
  • Hidden Talent Pools
  • Diversity sourcing (gender demonstrated)
  • Agile Sourcing Methodology
  • Probabilisitic and Exhaustive Sourcing
  • Sourcing Capability Maturity Model
  • LinkedIn Signal
  • How to automatically find people who have just joined LinkedIn

 

Happy hunting!

 

100+ Free Sourcing & Recruiting Tools, Guides, and Resources

Posted by | Analytics, Artificial Intelligence Matching, Best Practices, Big Data, Bing, Boolean, Boolean Search Experiments, Boolean Search Tips and Tricks, Data Science, Diversity Sourcing, Email Verification, Extended Boolean, Facebook, Future of Sourcing and Recruiting, Google, Google Plus, Graph Search, Hidden Talent Pools, How-To's, Human Capital Data, Information Retrieval, Lean/JIT Recruiting, LinkedIn, LinkedIn Search, LinkedIn SEO, Moneyball Recruiting, Monster, Monster vs. Google, Myths and Misconceptions, Passive Sourcing and Recruiting, Predictive Analytics, Proximity Searching, Recruiting Technology, Referral Recruiting, Resume Aggregators, Resume Sourcing, Resume Sourcing vs. Cold Calling, Search Automation, Search Process, Semantic Search, Social Discovery, Social Media, Social Networking, Social Recruiting, Sourcing, Sourcing and Recruiting, Sourcing Automation, Sourcing Challenges, Sourcing Mistakes, Talent Communities, Talent Mining, Talent Warehouse, Training Sourcers and Recruiters, Twitter, x-ray search | 3 Comments

 

It’s been a LONG time coming, but I finally got around to updating my free sourcing & recruiting tools, guides and resources page where I now keep a current list of the best of my work all in one place for easy bookmarking and reference.

You can find it here on my main page:

 

Here is where you can find all of the best of my Boolean Black belt content all in one place - free sourcing and recruiting how-to guides, tools, presentations, and videos - be sure to bookmark it, and if you're feeling  friendly, tweet it, share it on LinkedIn and/or +1 it on Google Plus.  Many thanks!

 

Additionally, I thought I might as well put all of my best work all in one blog post as well – over 110 of my articles in one place for easy referencing!

My blog is a pursuit of passion and not of profit – if you’ve ever found anything I’ve written helpful to you, all I ask is that you tweet this out, share it on LinkedIn, like it on Facebook, or give this a +1 on Google.

Many thanks for your readership and support – please pay it forward to someone who can benefit.

Big Data, Analytics and Moneyball Recruiting

Big Data, Data Science and Moneyball Recruiting

The Moneyball Recruiting Opportunity: Analytics and Big Data

Human Capital Data is Sexy – and Sourcing is the Sexiest job in HR/Recruiting! 

Is Sourcing Dead? No! Here’s the Future of Sourcing

The End of Sourcing 1.0 and the Evolution of Sourcing 2.0

How to Find Email Addresses

How to Use Gmail and Rapportive to Find Almost Anyone’s Email Address

Social Discovery

2 Very Cool and Free Social Discovery Tools: Falcon and TalentBin

Talent Communities

The Often Overlooked Problem with Talent Communities

Lean / Just-In-Time Recruiting / Talent Pipelines

What is Lean, Just-In-Time Recruiting?

Lean Recruiting & Just-In-Time Talent Acquisition Part 1

Lean Recruiting & Just-In-Time Talent Acquisition Part 2

Lean Recruiting & Just-In-Time Talent Acquisition Part 3

Lean Recruiting & Just-In-Time Talent Acquisition Part 4

The Passive Candidate Pipeline Problem

Semantic Search

What is Semantic Search and How Can it Be Used for Sourcing and Recruiting?

Sourcing and Search: Man vs. Machine/Artificial Intelligence – My SourceCon Keynote

Why Sourcers Won’t Be Replaced By Watson/Machine Learning Algorithms Any Time Soon

Diversity Sourcing

How to Perform Diversity Sourcing on LinkedIn – Including Specific Boolean Search Strings

How to Use Facebook’s Graph Search for Diversity Sourcing

Social Recruiting

How to Find People to Recruit on Twitter using Followerwonk & Google + Bing X-Ray Search

Google Plus Search Guide: How to Search and Find People on Google Plus

Facebook’s Graph Search Makes it Ridiculously Easy to Find Anyone

How to Effectively Source Talent on Social Networks – It Requires Non-Standard Search Terms!

How a Recruiter Made 3 Hires on Twitter in Six Weeks!

Twitter 101 for Sourcers and Recruiters

Anti-Social Recruiting

How Social Recruiting has NOT Changed Recruiting

Social Recruiting – Beyond the Hype

What Social Recruiting is NOT

Sourcing Social Media Requires Outside the Box Thinking

Social Networking Sites vs. Job Boards

LinkedIn Sourcing and Recruiting

Sourcing and Searching LinkedIn: Beyond the Basics – SourceCon Dallas 2012

LinkedIn’s Dark Matter – Profiles You Cannot Find

How to Get a Higher LinkedIn InMail Response Rate

The Most Effective Way to X-Ray Search LinkedIn

LinkedIn Catfish: Fake Profiles, Real People, or Just Fake Photos?

LinkedIn Search: Drive it Like you Stole It – 8 Minute Video of My LinkedIn Presentation in Toronto

How to Search LinkedIn and Control Years of Experience

How to Quickly and Effectively Grow Your LinkedIn Network

How to View the Full Profiles of our 3rd Degree Connections on LinkedIn for Free

How to Find and Identify Active Job Seekers on LinkedIn

LinkedIn Profile Search Engine Optimization

Free LinkedIn Profile Optimization and Job Seeker Advice

Do Recruiters Ruin LinkedIn?

The 50 Largest LinkedIn Groups

How to See Full Names of 3rd Degree LinkedIn Connections for Free

How I Search LinkedIn to Find People

LinkedIn’s Undocumented Search Operator

Does LinkedIn Offer Recruiters any Competitive Advantage?

Have You Analyzed the Value of Your LinkedIn Network?

Where Do YOU Rank In LinkedIn Search Results?

What is the Total Number of LinkedIn Members?

Beware When Searching LinkedIn By Company Name

LinkedIn Sourcing Challenge

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

What’s the Best Way to Search LinkedIn for People in Specific Industries?

18 LinkedIn Apps, Tools and Resources

LinkedIn Search: What it Could be and Should be

How to Search Across Multiple Countries on LinkedIn

Private and Out of Network Search Results on LinkedIn

How to “Unlock” and view “Private” LinkedIn Profiles

Searching LinkedIn for Free – The Differences Between Internal and X-Ray Searching

Sourcing and Boolean Search

Basic Boolean Search Operators and Query Modifiers Explained

How to Find Resumes On the Internet with Google

Challenging Google Resume Search Assumptions

Don’t be a Sourcing Snob

The Top 15 Talent Sourcing Mistakes

Why Boolean Search is Such a Big Deal in Recruiting

How to Become a World Class Sourcer

Enough with the Exotic Sourcing Already – What’s Practical and What Works

Sourcing is So Much More than Tips, Tricks, Hacks, and Google

How to Find, Hire, Train, and Build a Sourcing Team – SourceCon 2013

How to Use Excel to Automatically Build Boolean Search Strings

The Current and Future State of Sourcing

Why So Many People Stink at Searching

Is your ATS a Black Hole or a Diamond Mine?

How to Find Bilingual Professionals with Boolean Search Strings

How to Best Use Resume Search Aggregators

How to Convert Quotation Marks in Microsoft Word for Boolean Search

Boolean Search, Referral Recruiting and Source of Hire

The Critical Factors Behind Sourcing ROI

What is a “Boolean Black Belt?”

Beyond Basic Boolean Search: Proximity and Weighting

Why Sourcing is Superior to Posting Jobs for Talent

The Future of Sourcing and Talent Identification

Sourcing is an Investigative and Iterative Process

Beyond Boolean Search: Human Capital Information Retrieval

Do you Speak Boolean?

Is Recruiting Top Talent Really Your Company’s Top Priority?

Sourcing is NOT an Entry Level Function

Boolean Search Beyond Google

The Internet Has Free Resumes. So What?

How to Search Spoke, Zoominfo and Jigsaw for Free

Job Boards vs. Social Networking Sites

What to Do if Google Thinks You’re Not Human: the Captcha

What if you only had One Source to Find Candidates?

Passive Recruiting is a Myth – It Doesn’t Exist

Sourcing: Separate Role or Integrated Function?

The #1 Mistake in Corporate Recruiting

How I Learned What I Know About Sourcing

Resumes Are Like Wine – They Get Better with Age!

Why Do So Many ATS Vendors Offer Such Poor Search Functionality?

Do Candidates Really Want a Relationship with their recruiter?

Recruiting: Art or Science?

What to Consider When Creating or Selecting Effective Sourcing Training – SourceCon NYC

The Sourcer’s Fallacy

Sourcing Challenge – Monster vs. Google – Round 1

Sourcing Challenge – Monster vs. Google – Round 2

Do You Have the Proper Perspective in Recruiting?

Are You a Clueless Recruiter?

Job Boards and Candidate Quality – Challenging Popular Assumptions

When it Comes to Sourcing – All Sources Are Not Created Equal

Boolean Search String Experiments

Boolean Search String Experiment #1

Boolean Search String Experiment #1 Follow Up

Boolean Search String Experiment #2

 

LinkedIn’s Voltron Search: What’s New and What’s Missing

Posted by | LinkedIn, LinkedIn Search | 6 Comments

 

Voltron by wayneandwaxIn case you haven’t heard, LinkedIn is rolling out a new search interface globally over the next few weeks.

If you’d like to read the official statements and press-friendly content about LinkedIn’s new search functionality, you can find read about the changes on LinkedIn’s blog, TechCrunch, Search Engine Land, Mashable, and PCMag.com. If you’re only going to read one – read TechCrunch’s – it’s the best of the bunch in my opinion.

However, if you’d like to know what a LinkedIn power user and sourcing/information retrieval geek thinks about LinkedIn’s new search functionality, you’ve come to the right place.

I’ve had access to LinkedIn’s new search interface and functionality for a week now, and I wanted to share with you my first impressions, discoveries, disappointments, concerns, and suggestions for LinkedIn.

 

LinkedIn New Search Interface complete

 

LinkedIn Search: New, but Improved?

LinkedIn’s Smart Query Intent Algorithm

Before I had access to the new LinkedIn search, I was excited when I first read about the concept of a “smarter query intent algorithm.” LinkedIn claims that the more you search for content on LinkedIn, the more the query intent algorithm “learns and understands your intent over time to provide the most relevant results.”

Of course, I’ve only had access to LinkedIn’s new search for about a week now, so I can’t tell how “smart” is has become based on the queries I’ve been feeding it. However, the issue I have with any query intent algorithm that claims to be able to provide me with more relevant results is that only the user can determine if results are “relevant” or not.

According to Merriam Webster, relevance is defined as “the ability (as of an information retrieval system) to retrieve material that satisfies the needs of the user.”

As such, by definition, only the user can truly determine or judge relevance. A search engine cannot ever truly “know” the needs of the user.

While I appreciate and applaud the intent behind an “intelligent query algorithm,” which isn’t dissimilar to what many have been trying to do for years when it comes to search, the best way to implement such a system is to incorporate a feedback loop for the user to tell the algorithm which results the user truly finds relevant, rather than relying on supervised or unsupervised machine learning or some other method based on which profiles are clicked vs. which ones are not, and/or perhaps time spent reviewing specific profiles.

I’d love to know exactly how LinkedIn’s smarter query intent algorithm works (I’d love to make it smarter!), but something tells me that’s not something they would disclose.

I’m not a fan of black box search algorithms – I like to know exactly why I get the results I do.

LinkedIn’s Suggested Searches

I was also excited when I read about suggested searches, because my mind immediately raced to thoughts of LinkedIn being able to suggest better queries or perhaps searches other people had run for similar terms/people.

However, what LinkedIn is really referring to with regard to “suggested searches” is related to new unified search functionality in that if you type in a term or a title into the main search box on LinkedIn, you will see a list of options you can choose from, such as searching for related jobs, people, connections, groups, and skills.

 

LinkedIn New Search Product Manager

 

I’m not saying this isn’t cool functionality, it’s just that I have high expectations when someone makes a claim of “suggested searches.”

Customized LinkedIn Results

According to LinkedIn Product Manager Johnathan Podemsky, “No two professionals are alike on LinkedIn. This means even if you search for the same thing as someone else, your results will be customized to you,”  “LinkedIn’s search efforts are founded on the ability to take into account who you are, who you know, and what your network is doing to help you find what you’re looking for.”

This makes total sense based on the LinkedIn’s underlying fundamental concepts, but from a recruiting perspective – what if the best candidates aren’t within the network of the person conducting the search?

While Stephanie Mlot from PCMag claims LinkedIn’s changes put “…LinkedIn on a more level playing field with Facebook, which introduced Graph Search earlier this year as a way for users to sift through the network’s 1 trillion connections for more details about their friends,” I don’t agree. One major distinction is that a user can search for and find anyone using Graph Search – regardless of whether or not they are connected to them in any way.

Of course, LinkedIn does offer a solution for people who want the ability to search for anyone regardless of network connection – it’s called LinkedIn Recruiter.

However, if you’re searching LinkedIn for free, you’ll notice you no longer have the ability to sort all of the results of a search, which leads me to what’s missing from LinkedIn’s new search interface and functionality.

LinkedIn Signal

While LinkedIn Signal isn’t new – what IS new is that you no longer have to go to “News” on the top nav bar and click “Signal” – you can now simply click “Updates” on LinkedIn’s new search interface to instantly be taken to a Signal search for the keywords you’ve already entered.

 

LinkedIn New Search Signal with inset

 

Signal is one of LinkedIn’s most powerful and underutilized features. With the new and more prominent placement, I hope Signal will get the use and appreciation that it deserves.

What’s Missing from LinkedIn’s New Search

Curious to know what’s NOT included in LinkedIn’s new search interface and functionality?

A number of things.

Results Sorting

First and foremost, you can no longer sort your search results.

I always searched by keyword relevance when searching LinkedIn, because even with a large network, I am not so ignorant as to believe that the best people for any given position I may be sourcing and recruiting for are always going to be within my 1st or 2nd degree network, let alone my 3rd degree connections or within my LinkedIn network at all. If the best match to a search happens to be in my 3rd degree network, I’d like to see them come up on page 1 of the results.

Say goodbye to this if you’re using a free LinkedIn account:

 

LinkedIn Sort Search Results

 

LinkedIn’s sort by “relevance” option was a mix of network connection and keyword relevance. Based on my searches using LinkedIn’s new search interface, it seems that search results are sorted based on some combination of keyword relevance and relationship, as 1st and 2nd degree connections are returned early in search results and 3rd degree and group only search results come much later in ranking.

While you can still search specific layers of your LinkedIn network, there is no way to search for Group-only connections that are not also connected to you in the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd degree.

 

LinkedIn sort by connection

 

LinkedIn no ability to search group only connections

 

With a free account, the only way you can try and achieve anything close to searching solely by keyword relevance is an X-Ray search. Thankfully, you can still sort your results by keyword relevance within LinkedIn Recruiter.

The Ability to Run SUPER LONG Boolean Search Strings

I am sad to report that LinkedIn’s once-epic ability to run Boolean search strings of over 3,000 characters has come to an end.

That means you can no longer perform some of the interesting diversity sourcing searches I’ve detailed in the past, such as searching for all of the HBCU’s in a single search, or searching for the 354 most common female names in the U.S. over the past 4 decades to find 65% of all of the women on LinkedIn in a single search.

From my preliminary testing, it seems that you can get away with searches up to around 1,300 characters with spaces before you start to encounter LinkedIn just spinning and never executing your search. With a first name search, this is what 1,281 characters with spaces looks like.

Top 10 Facets

Also missing from the LinkedIn’s new search interface is the ability to see the top 10  results in each facet.

I can’t be the only person who found the ability to see the top 10 companies employing certain types of people in a given market, the top 10 markets for specific skills, or the top universities by skill to be valuable, can I?

Now free users are limited to the top 5.

 

LinkedIn Top 5

 

LinkedIn top 5 locations

 

Thankfully, you can still view the top 10 results in each facet in LinkedIn Recruiter.

 

LinkedIn top 10

 

Linkedin top 10 locations

 

Advanced Search Operators

Alas, Voltron has laid LinkedIn’s Advanced Search Operators to rest.

What? You didn’t know LinkedIn had Advanced Search Operators?

They may have been LinkedIn’s best kept secret for years, and you could do a number of interesting things with them, such as creating search agents.

Are you wondering why I referenced Voltron?

Take a look at the URL when you run a search in the main search box when using LinkedIn’s new search functionality: Voltron Federated Search

 

LinkedIn Voltron Federated Search URL

 

I’m assuming Voltron is the code name for LinkedIn’s new search and that “vsearch” also stands for Voltron Search.

 

LinkedIn Voltron Vsearch

 

Anyone care to (neither) confirm (n)or deny?

Mobile

Ingrid Lunden from TechCrunch called out the fact that mobile is missing from this LinkedIn search upgrade.

LinkedIn has claimed that extending new search functionality to their mobile apps is something that they’re looking into, but for now, the mobile apps only allow users to search people but not within other categories.

Mobile search is a big deal for LinkedIn – did you now that 19 people searches are performed and 41 profiles are viewed every second via LinkedIn mobile apps?

What About 3rd Degree Connections?

While there was a bit of early buzz that users searching LinkedIn with a free account would not be able to search 3rd degree connections, you can in fact still search for them.

While some early testing showed that it appears LinkedIn’s default was to only return results from your 1st and 2nd degree network, all of my recent searches appear to default to “All,” which includes Group Members and “3rd + Everyone Else.”

 

LinkedIn Default ALL

 

Search Anomalies

Thankfully, I haven’t run across too many search anomalies yet, but I did find a few I think you (and the LinkedIn dev team) will find interesting.

I ran a basic search and took notice of the top 5 companies represented:

 

LinkedIn Top 5 Company Search Anomaly

 

I then set about to see if I could use the -/NOT functionality to eliminate results from the top 5 companies in order to find the next top 5 (thus completing the top 10).

I started entering 1 company at a time in the current company field: -Microsoft, -IBM, -Cisco, etc.

This seemed to work quite well in removing those companies from the top 5, allowing me to explore the next 5 or more. But then I noticed that when I was excluding the company names in the current company field, the company names were being returned as positive hits and highlighted as keywords in the profiles. The same thing happens if I change it to -(ibm OR microsoft OR cisco).

 

LinkedIn Search Anomaly NOT company names show up in keywords

 

Hmm. That’s not good.

The same thing happens when I try to exclude a term from the title field. As you can see below, I am excluding the term “engineer” from the title field, and while the term is excluded properly in most cases, there are a few random results where “engineer” is in the current title – as with Kevin below, the word “engineer” also shows up as a positive & highlighted keyword hit in summaries, headline phrases, etc. It doesn’t matter if I use NOT, AND NOT either – I’ve tried all 3 ways and get the same results.

 

LinkedIn New Search NOT current title shows up as highlighted keyword hit elsewhere

 

This one is pretty strange – I ran a first name search for “Abigail” and got results with “Gail” and “Abby” on the first page.

 

LinkedIn search for Abigail returns Abby and Gail

 

I don’t know how much of a fluke this is, because I’ve tried other names as well as searched for companies and various I.T. keywords to see if LinkedIn is performing some kind of fuzzy matching but have yet to run into another instance where LinkedIn gives me terms other than the one I specifically searched for. Please let me know if you find any.

Also, it seems that the ability to search within groups from the main search interface is still being listed as a premium filter with the yellow “in” icon, yet I can search within groups with my free account. Maybe it’s actually free functionality now?

 

LinkedIn Groups Premium Filter

 

LinkedIn Groups Premium Filter 2

 

What I Would Like to See from LinkedIn Search

For quite some time I’ve been thinking about writing a post specifically about what I’d like to see from LinkedIn with regard to new search functionality, but I’ve never gotten around to it.

I’ll take this opportunity to at least highlight a few things I would suggest to the LinkedIn team:

  1. The ability to specifically search within the most recent work experience listed. One word: Massive. Can I get an “amen?”
  2. Stemming/root word/wildcard search. It would certainly be nice to not always have to construct massive OR statements, e.g., (develop OR developing OR develops OR development OR developed OR developer).
  3. Not only bring back the top 10 in each facet – but enable them to be expanded to the top 25. Expanded facets yield incredible market and competitive intel/insight with the click of a mouse.
  4. Ability to sort by keyword relevance not tied to relationship. If you can’t/won’t bring this back to LinkedIn for free accounts, at the very least, never get rid of the ability to sort by keyword only relevance in premium versions.
  5. Keyword boosting – enabling users with the ability to determine which keywords are the most relevant to them.
  6. Proximity search – enabling users to search for terms within a specific distance of each other, to achieve semantic search.

If you weren’t already aware, LinkedIn used Lucene for text retrieval, and Lucene is capable of wildcard search, variable term boosting, and variable proximity matching.

I wrote a post nearly 4 years ago titled LinkedIn Search: What it COULD and SHOULD Be – I suggest you take a look and also read the comments, because one of LinkedIn’s principle software engineers working on LinkedIn’s search engine at the time weighed in with some very insightful comments here and here.

What would YOU like to see added to LinkedIn’s search functionality?

 

Is LinkedIn Locking Down Public Profiles or Just Having Problems?

Posted by | LinkedIn, LinkedIn Search | 18 Comments

 

Have you noticed anything different about LinkedIn recently – specifically with regard to viewing 3rd degree profiles, searching for headline phrases, searching by first and last name, and using Google and Bing to X-Ray search for public profiles?

I have, and either I am encountering some serious and hopefully temporary errors, or LinkedIn may finally making serious moves to make it very difficult to find public LinkedIn profiles for free.

Let me show you what I’ve discovered so far, and please share back any additional findings, or simply let me know that I am the only one affected. Read More

What’s the most effective way to X-Ray search LinkedIn?

Posted by | Boolean Search Experiments, How-To's, LinkedIn, LinkedIn Search, Uncategorized, x-ray search | 9 Comments

 

I’ve recently come across some blog posts and some Boolean Strings discussions on LinkedIn that inspired me to go back and tinker with searching LinkedIn via Google and Bing.

For example, I continue to see people talk about:

  1. Whether or not you should use “pub” and/or “in” (e.g. site:linkedin.com/in | site:linkedin.com/pub)
  2. Whether or not you should use -dir
  3. Using country codes in site: searches
  4. Using different phrases to target public LinkedIn profiles – e.g., “people you know”

My first reaction when people are curious about the most effective ways of retrieving public LinkedIn profiles is to encourage them to experiment on their own first instead of looking for answers to copy and paste. Quite literally 99% of everything I know about sourcing (and recruiting!) I learned through being curious and experimenting.

People learn by doing, and more specifically by failing/struggling, and not by copying and pasting somebody else’s work. Read More

My SourceCon Presentation – LinkedIn: Beyond the Basics

Posted by | LinkedIn, LinkedIn Groups, LinkedIn Search, LinkedIn SEO, SourceCon, Sourcing | 2 Comments

 

I was honored to be asked to present at the Dallas 2012 SourceCon event – which turned out to be the largest SourceCon event ever!

When I was talking with Amybeth Hale back at the end of 2011 about what I’d like to present on, I asked if anyone had ever run a session solely dedicated to LinkedIn.

Now, I’ve been to every SourceCon save 2 (the first one and 2011/Santa Clara), I’ve spoken at 5 of them, and I couldn’t recall anyone delivering a LinkedIn presentation, and neither could Amybeth (for the ones I missed or sessions I did not attend).

That struck me as beyond odd, given how valuable a resource LinkedIn is for sourcing and recruiting.

What you see below is the deck from my “LinkedIn: Beyond the Basics” session, complete with YouTube videos.