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The practical guide to X-raying LinkedIn in 2021: find candidates without premium features

With Google you can search anything, LinkedIn is no exception. This is how you can create targeted Google searches to find your LinkedIn candidate profiles.

What is X-raying and why use it

By X-raying LinkedIn you can search candidates without having to use LinkedIn paid search filters.

Many social media and professional platforms can be searched for candidates using a search string in Google. LinkedIn is no exception.

And there are many cases in which you can even find more search results using an X-ray search than with the premium account itself.

In this guide we’ll take you through the operators you can use to refine your Google search results of candidates.

How to X-ray LinkedIn

The most basic search string you can create to X-ray LinkedIn for candidates is:

site:linkedin.com/in

By using the site: operator you only search for search results from the linkedin.com domain.

And with the /in addition you only get profiles as results instead of also getting results like articles and groups.

To make the search more targeted you can include a couple of things in your search like Boolean operators, title keywords and country codes.

With those additions to your syntax you can end up with a more targeted search string, like this one:

site:ca.linkedin.com/in intitle:engineer "front end" (angular OR typescript)

And search strings can get even more complex: the standard Google search engine allows a maximum total of 32 keywords in your search string, the Google Programmable Search Engine (PSE) allows 500 keywords.

But to get to the search string that you need, it makes sense to break down the syntax in different parts first.

1. Adding Boolean operators to specify your search syntax

Google Boolean search strings for the recruiters use case are words you can use to connect your search words together to either narrow or broaden your search results.

The three basic Boolean operators are: AND, OR, and NOT (-).

For the people new to Boolean; it is important that you write these operators in capital letters, otherwise they won’t work.

AND: Tells the search engine to look for keyword X AND keyword Y. So if you’re looking for an engineer that has as well Angular as Node.js in their profiles, then you use the AND operator. Most search engines handle a space like AND, so you can choose to use a space between keywords instead of AND. Some examples:

site:nl.linkedin.com/in engineer JavaScript node.js

site:linkedin.com/in "sales executive" saas startup

OR: Tells the search engine to look for keyword X OR keyword Y. So if you’re looking for an engineer that has as either Angular or Node.js in their profiles, then you use the OR operator. By adding OR operators you usually broaden your search because you allow for more variations of keywords. Some examples: 

site:nl.linkedin.com/in engineer (Angular OR node.js)

site:nl.linkedin.com/in (engineer OR developer OR programmer) Angular

NOT (-): Tells the search engine to exclude keywords, phrases or domains. In the case of Google the - is used in front of the keyword. If you’re looking for an engineer who is not focussed on managing a team but on coding you can exclude words like “Team lead” and “Manager” by including  '-' in front of the keyword. Some examples:

site:nl.linkedin.com/in engineer (Angular OR node.js) -"Team lead"

site:linkedin.com/in "growth marketeer" -SEA -Advertisements

site:linkedin.com/in "saas sales" manager -intitle:"executive"

Boolean operators can be used in most search engines, including Google, Bing, Yandex but also platforms like LinkedIn and other social media platforms that support Boolean logic.

2. Add specific operators like intitle: to make your search more targeted

The intitle: operator lets you search in the current job title section of profiles.

You can use the intitle: operator to find job titles (like SaaS Sales Executive) but also for the companies the candidates work at (like Salesforce).

Here’s an example: 

site:linkedin.com/in intitle:"Sales Executive" intitle:"Salesforce"

In this case you will get results of candidates that are currently a Sales Executive at Salesforce according to their job title.

Take note that the intitle: operator does not search in the headline (the oneliner everybody has under their profile picture) but in the current job title.

3. Search for specific countries or regions

There are basically two ways you can include countries and regions to your search string: use country codes or include the required area as a keyword.

Use country codes

LinkedIn uses country codes in the domain name to distinguish between different countries. Good news for you, because this allows you to include these codes in your search string and find candidates from only those countries.

Here you can find all the country codes.

Add the country code that you need to your search string. 

For Canada the search string looks like this: site:ca.linkedin.com/in

Now you only get to see LinkedIn profiles from Canada in your Google search results.

Include an area as a keyword

You can include defined area names to your search.

LinkedIn has its own naming convention for countries, cities and regions. 

You have to take into account that in some cases a country, city or region has (a lot) of different ways of spelling or naming (for example Germany/Deutschland or Cologne/Köln).

It is good practice to include synonyms in your keywords if you know them.

The keywords will not be targeted to the location field in LinkedIn so it will also find results when the country, city or region names are mentioned anywhere in other fields like descriptions.

For Cologne the search string can look like this:

site:de.linkedin.com/in (Koln OR Cologne)

Combined X-ray examples to search LinkedIn

site:linkedin.com/in intitle:engineer AWS ECS Kubernetes Fargate (Grafana OR Kibana OR Cloudwatch) (Bash OR Python OR Ruby)

site:nl.linkedin.com/in intitle:developer iOS Android (Flutter OR React) Amsterdam

site:linkedin.com/in intitle:"growth marketeer" data (experiment OR iteration OR testing OR tooling)

site:ca.linkedin.com/in Toronto intitle:("sales development" OR "lead development" OR "inside sales") -government -corporate

site:uk.linkedin.com/in intitle:engineer typescript node.js react (Docker OR Kubernetes OR Python) (Lead OR Manager) -london

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