Monday, September 14, 2009

X-Ray Searching LinkedIn

Most recruiters by now know the value of LinkedIn. What many recruiters (and non-recruiters) DON'T know is that it is actually quite easy to find the names of each and every contact in LinkedIn whether or not they are connected to you.

A primer:

Normally, you go in and do an advanced search on X,Y, or Z, and if the person is a 1st (directly connected), 2nd (connected to one of your connections) or 3rd (connected to one of your 2nd level connections) their full profiles will be displayed for your review. They will also be displayed if they are a member of the same group as you.

If they are not connected to you, their name will be kept confidential and you will get limited information about their background.

Since LinkedIn has some 40 Million users, there is a good chance that there are many many people to whom you are not connected. The old answer to this was to connect to as many people as you could. I still do this as an Open Networker (LION), I have nearly 2,000 direct connections, mostly to people I don't know.

LinkedIn, however, in an apparent effort to improve their standing in search results, makes a public profile available to the Google Bots. Finding them is easy! First, cut and paste a long string of text that you can see from the profile, usually I use their title and company (i.e. "Software Engineer at Digital River, Inc."). Then go to Google and type the following search string:

site:linkedin "Software Engineer at Digital River, Inc."

Make sure you enclose it in quotation marks, and every LinkedIn profile with that string will come up. If it is more than a handful, you can add other strings until you find the public profile (name included) that matches your private profile (name excluded) that you didn't previously have access to.

It won't have full information on it, but as recruiters, we only need names and employers to find candidates and hiring managers.

Happy hunting!

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