LinkedIn Current Title Search: Internal vs. X-Ray

LinkedIn_Current_Title_Search_vs_Google_current_title_LinkedIn_X-Ray_SearchSo you know how to X-Ray LinkedIn, and perhaps you even know how to target current titles with an X-Ray string. However, did you know that you’re not finding all of the available matches within LinkedIn using this technique?

Did that get your attention? Would you like to know approximately how many people you might be missing when you run a current title X-Ray search of LinkedIn?

Unless you have a premium Linkedin account, you will likely have to resort to using an Internet search engine to X-Ray into LinkedIn to find and view profiles of people who are not in your network, and being able to search by current title can be extremely useful at times to reduce the number of false positive results.

While I am usually not a big fan of title searching, a large percentage of LinkedIn profiles don’t have any text entered for each work experience entry. As such, title searching becomes a necessary evil as anyone who creates a LinkedIn profile doesn’t have to enter anything in the “position description” field, but they MUST enter a company and a title.

In this post I will show you the discrepancy between identical current title searches conducted using LinkedIn’s search interface and an X-Ray string – and it’s HUGE! At the end, I also throw in challenge for you. Are you up to it?

The Search Criteria

For this exercise, I am going to target people with a current title of “Director of Accounting” in the “Greater New York City Area.”

LinkedIn Current Title X-Ray Search

Here is a “standard” Google X-Ray search string targeting current title: (inurl:pub OR inurl:in) -intitle:directory “greater new york city area” “current * director of accounting”

This yields 85 results at the time I ran the string.

Remember – the asterisk on Google is processed as a “fill in the blanks,” where it serves as a placeholder for any unknown terms. This can be 1 or more unknown terms (you cant nail Google down to a specific number on this).

In the case of the single asterisk, the current title X-Ray string appears to work because the asterisk “fills in the blank” of the bullet that separates the word “Current” from the actual title entered for the most recent position on the LinkedIn profile.


Are Two Asterisks Better Than One?

Because I am curious, I decided to see what using 2 asterisks yields: (inurl:pub OR inurl:in) -intitle:directory “greater new york city area” “current * * director of accounting”

That produced 98 results at the time I ran the string.

The additional results appear to come from instances where “Director of Accounting” is preceded by a word, such as Asst Director of Accounting, Executive Director of Accounting, Regional Director of Accounting, etc.

We’ll take those, thanks!

Are Three Asterisks the Charm?

Going one step further (hey, why not?), I decided to shoot for 3 asterisks: (inurl:pub OR inurl:in) -intitle:directory “greater new york city area” “current * * * director of accounting”

That yielded 105 results at the time I ran the search.

The results gained come in the form of Google taking some liberty in interpreting my search, actually altering the exact phrase of “Director of Accounting” with titles such as Regional Director of Finance and Accounting, National Director of Project Accounting, etc. At this point, we’re starting to mess around with the purity of the intent of the search. Close enough though?

Just to see what Google/LinkedIn made of it, I decided to shoot for 4 asterisks, which only returned 46 results at the time of the search. While we can see a few familiar and accurate results from the previous strings, you can also see things got messy, so shooting for 4 asterisks in this case brought diminishing returns, both literally and figuratively.

And Now for the Same Search Performed Inside LinkedIn

Using LinkedIn’s search interface, here is what I configured to find people with a current title of “Director of Accounting” using the zip code of 10001, and going out to a distance of 50 miles which should essentially cover the same area as the X-Ray location of “Greater New York City Area.”


Wait a minute – did I hear someone ask how I can I possibly know if a 50 mile radius of 10001 is equivalent to all of the people categorized by LinkedIn as being in the “Greater New York City Area?” I’m glad the question was raised!

It’s actually not equivalent to ALL LinkedIn profiles with a location of “Greater New York City Area,” but it’s pretty darn close. Let me show you.

When you run that search, you should get somewhere around 348 results. That’s over 3X as many results as our best X-Ray string!

Scroll down the left rail where you see “location” and click the “+” sign:


That shows us there are AT LEAST 348 people with “Director of Accounting” as the current title on their LinkedIn profile that are also classified by LinkedIn as living within the “Greater New York City Area.”

But wait – there’s more. I decided to push the radius out to 75 miles and then check the location details at the bottom of the left rail:


Yep – we’re up to 389 results in the “Greater New York City Area,” and you can see we just started to bleed over into surrounding metro areas recognized by LinkedIn.

You’re probably not surprised to find out that I decided to push the radius out to 100 miles just to see what happened.  As it turns out, we actually squeeze out 4 more search results (393 total) for a current title of “Director of Accounting” and a location of “Greater New York City Area.”


All LinkedIn Current Title Searches are NOT Created Equal

I’m sorry if I rattled your faith in X-Ray searching LinkedIn for current titles – but this little exercise has shown quite dramatically that all LinkedIn current title searches are not created equal.

I thought you should know that you cannot run a current title X-Ray search of LinkedIn and be confident that you’re finding most of the relevant results. In fact, it appears you’d be missing the majority of the available results!

The best “standard” current title X-Ray string returned 105 results for people with a location phrase of “Greater New York City Area,” whereas we were able to scoop up 393 results of people with a current title of “Director of Accounting” and a location of “Greater New York City Area.”

Can You Solve the Mystery?

So where ARE the missing  288 profiles, why aren’t they returned using the basic Google X-Ray current title search technique, and how can you find them?

I have some ideas. Do you?

If so, read LinkedIn Current Title Search: Internal vs. X-Ray Part 2.