Updated: Aug 17
LinkedIn is the most powerful B2B sales prospecting tool in the world, but to get the most out of it you need to know how to use the full range of advanced search capabilities that are available to you. This article will help you understand three methods you need to know to get the most out of your LinkedIn search – filters, Boolean search and Xray search.
LinkedIn Search Filters
The most basic search function available in LinkedIn is the keyword search. The keyword search is a very useful ‘everyday’ search function – allowing you to search for people, companies, groups and more in one field – but it has obvious limitations. For someone trying to search for an advanced term – say, all CIOs in the Financial Services industry in Copenhagen, using a simple keyword search won’t cut it. This is where using search filters comes in handy.
To find search filters, start by clicking the search field on the LinkedIn homepage.
Then click on the ‘People’ tab in the drop-down below.
Then click on ‘All Filters’ at the end of the sub-tab.
You’ve now arrived at the search filters tab (Linkedin sometimes refers to it as "People Filters"), it should look like this:
LinkedIn has numerous filters that you can use to slice and dice your way through their database. They are:
If you’re particularly interested in searching for those CIOs in the Financial Services industry in Copenhagen, you would want to insert “Copenhagen” into the ‘Location’ field, “Financial Services” in the industry field and “CIO” in the ‘Job Title’ field. To maximize your search results, you’ll want to leave all the other filters blank and click “Apply” to start the search.
Location (Copenhagen), Industries (Financial Services), Title (CIO)
Tip: If your LinkedIn search returns more than 1,000 results, you will only be able to see the first 1,000 results (10 results per page * 100 pages). To workaround this limitation, we recommend that you narrow your search either by adjusting your search filters or using Boolean search.
Let’s say you want to run a new search targeting IT Managers in the Copenhagen area. So you fill in the LinkedIn search filters accordingly and run your search to find that LinkedIn has surfaced 2,200 profiles that match the criteria (looks good, right?). But as you take a closer look, you’re not happy with the results. Instead of returning just “IT Managers”, Linkedin has sprinkled your search results with irrelevant profiles – IT Development Managers, IT Project Managers and IT Change Managers – that you were hoping to avoid (see image below).
Your IT Manager in Copenhagen search is riddled with irrelevant profiles
Enter Boolean search. What’s does Boolean search do, you ask? Well, Boolean search allows you to use specific operators – AND, OR, NOT – to produce more relevant results. Let’s look at each of these Boolean operators in more detail:
AND: The AND operator requires two or more specific keywords to be present.
Example: Typing IT Manager AND Risk will only show people who have both IT Manager and Risk in their job title.
Tip: AND will narrow your search results. It’s best to use this operator if you have too many results for a given search term.
OR: The OR operator requires that only one of multiple keywords is present.
Example: Typing IT Manager OR Risk will show you people who have either IT Manager or Risk in their job title. This search is just as likely to show Credit Risk Analysts or Chief Risk Officers as it would be to show IT Managers.
Tip: OR will expand your search results. It’s best to use this operator if you have too few results for a given search term.
NOT: The NOT operator will exclude specific keywords from your search.
Example: Typing IT Manager NOT Risk will show you all IT Managers who do not also have Risk in their job title.
Tip: NOT will narrow your search results. It’s best to use this operator if you have too many results for a given search term.
“”: Quotation marks will show only an exact keyword match in your search.
Example: Typing “IT Risk Manager” will only show you people that have exactly “IT Risk Manager” in their job title.
Tip: If someone’s job title does not match your search term exactly, they won’t show up in your results (so make sure your spelling is correct!)
(): Parenthetical searches allow you to combine Boolean operators together to create more complex Boolean searches. A complex Boolean search is defined as a search that has 2 or more Boolean operators in it.
Example 1: Typing IT Manager NOT (Risk OR Security) would show you all IT Managers who do not also have either Risk or Security in their job title.
Example 2: To find people who have VP in their profiles, but exclude assistant to VP or SVPs, you would type VP NOT (assistant OR SVP)
Tip: While it is possible to perform complex Boolean searches without using parenthesis, it’s very easy to make mistakes this way. Unless you like to live dangerously, we strongly advise to always use parenthesis when performing complex Boolean searches.
Other Important Tips When Boolean Searching on LinkedIn:
The + and - operators are not officially supported by LinkedIn. Using AND in place of + and NOT in place of - makes a query much easier to read and guarantees that the search will be handled correctly.
When using NOT, AND, or OR operators, you must type them in uppercase letters.
LinkedIn don't support wildcard "*" searches.
Boolean search will work in the keyword field in Recruiter and Linkedin.com, and will work in the Company, title, and keyword field in Sales Navigator.
When handling searches, the overall order to precedence is: Quotation Marks -> Parantheses -> NOT -> AND -> OR
When you want to run a “Google search” on LinkedIn, you should always use Xray search. Because LinkedIn’s native search bar isn’t optimized for searching keywords that may appear in different parts of someone’s profile (example: the keywords Sales Trainer Singapore could be scattered across someone’s job title, location, endorsements, recommendations, etc.) and is biased heavily toward your 1st, 2nd and 3rd degree connections, keyword searching on LinkedIn will never return you the most relevant, objective results.
LinkedIn Xray search is a tool that’s designed to both search through LinkedIn profiles just like a search-engine and operate independently of your own LinkedIn profile. Thus, it’s able to overcome the ‘keyword scatter’ and connection degree bias issues that plague the LinkedIn search bar and deliver the most relevant results. Try it out by searching just like you would a normal Google search:
LinkedIn Xray Search
Want To Learn More?
If you're trying to develop a sales or marketing prospecting campaign targeting specific LinkedIn profiles but you're not sure how to get started or just need help optimizing your campaign, check out our Data-Driven Prospecting course or get in touch to see how we can help you use LinkedIn to generate more leads for your business!