Intelligence Software

I wrote this post about sourcing candidates through LinkedIn some time ago, but thought it is still very useful information and goes quite well with my current webinar series.


I ran a webinar on using LinkedIn to source candidates and integrating this with Intelligence. I’m writing this to provide further notes.

What LinkedIn is

150,000,000 people have created profiles. These tend to be professional people and, from a recruitment perspective, they are, more often than not, passive job seekers. In other words, they are not looking at recruitment advertising but are there to be found by you, the recruiter.

What Linked is not

A Linkedin profile is not a CV. It has not been written as a CV and generally, the person who wrote it was not actively job seeking. This may seem obvious, but from the point of view of searching profiles, it is often best to assume that the most obvious keyword may not be there. It is important to understand the difference between a LinkedIn profile and a CV you may obtain from a job board.

Searching LinkedIn

The most obvious way to search LinkedIn is through the site itself. In the top right of the home screen (once you’ve logged in) is a search box. Enter keywords, run the search to see what you find.
An improvement on this can be achieved by going to the Advanced Search screen (this is a link to the right of the normal search)
From the advanced search screen, you can specify that your keyword is specific to a type of information such as job title.

The basic search allows you to do more than a keyword search. For example, using the – sign in front of a word means that you do NOT want to find that word. Given that the biggest problem of internet searching is not about finding the right people but rather not finding the wrong people using “-“ searches is a great way to remove unwanted results.

Once you run a search you will see the list of results. This is often organized by your relationship (closeness of connection) to each of the people found. The more closely related you are, the more information you can get from their profile and the easier it is to send them messages. This is one of the reasons that it is good to have a very large number of connections.

Linkedin prevents free account users to see the full name of 3rd level connections. It also limits your ability to send messages to group connections. There are a number of ways these restrictions can be circumvented.

Search Engines

One aspect of LinkedIn is that its profiles are very well optimized for search engines. In other words, if you Google someone’s name very often it will be their LinkedIn profile that comes up first on the list. There is a public page for all profiles and this is what the search engines see. Very often it is possible to find more information on a profile if it is accessed through the public profile.
One very useful feature of LinkedIn is that the public profiles tend to have a web site address that is related to a region. So most public profiles for South Africans are on the site, in the UK it is and for Ireland the site is

X-Ray Search.

An X-Ray Search is a fancy name for using a search engine to search only one site. In effect, you can use the power of the search engine to perform a very precise search. To do this with Google or Bing simply use the site: operator followed by the site you wish to X-Ray. To search for public LinkedIn profiles in the UK for example simply type the following into the Google search box note that site is all in lower case and there are no spaces.

Google Vs Bing

Google and Bing are not the same. To demonstrate this, simply run the same search in both and you will see you get different results. It appears that for searching LinkedIn Bing is currently giving better results than Google in that there are much fewer poor results. That said it is generally a good idea to use both search engines and compare the results you get.

The operators used are also not the same. The site: operator works for both but there is no guarantee that this will work exactly the way you may like it to. Bing has some wonderful proximity searching (finding sites with one word near another one) which officially Google does not do at all. In actual fact, Google has some hidden/secret/undocumented operators that sometimes work and sometimes not. More on this another time.

Directory pages

As well as public profiles, LinkedIn also has lots of directory pages. These are the reason search engines love LinkedIn but they do get in the way of a search for a public profile. By adding to the search term however it is possible to remove the directory pages and so get a better result. Google has an operator inurl: this allows you to specify that the web address (URL) contains certain characters. As all LinkedIn directory pages have dir in their URL then adding inurl:dir to our search term will find all the directory pages. A minus sign can be used to change the search to exclude pages and so –inurl:dir will remove the directory pages from our result and leave us with the public profiles. –inurl:dir

NB; the –inurl:dir operator will not give good results on Bing. There are several ways that this can be achieved and probably the simplest is to use simply –dir –dir

To complete the search add in suitable keywords you may expect to see on the web page profile. To find recruitment consultants through Google for example try: –inurl:dir “Recruitment Consultant”

Click here to see what this looks like

If you would like to see a full list of Bing’s operators they can be found here.

For any South African recruiters reading this, I’ve found a great way to identify BEE candidates following an X-ray search. Simply click the images tab to see the LinkedIn profile photos.

I hope you have found this useful. For more sourcing candidates tips, please read my other blog articles and subscribe to my fortnightly webinar.

Posted in Social Recruiting