Have You Retrained Your Team on LinkedIn Recruiter?

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The new LinkedIn Recruiter (LIR) has some interesting and useful features. Unfortunately, it also offers unique search syntax that is hard to remember or understand.

Here’s an example. Guess which job title search will provide more results:

  1. Software Engineer
  2. Software Engineer NOT Senior

If you said “1.”, you are wrong – it’s the 2nd search that will return more results, and here’s why. When we type (just) Software Engineer, LIR automatically assumes that we are searching for a phrase Software Engineer.” But if we use AND, OR, or NOT, it doesn’t assume so. Therefore, the first search will not return (for example) Software Development Engineers, while the second search – would. The search syntax is not intuitive and not consistent with the syntax used in personal and business accounts – and is also not consistent with what it used to be in Recruiter.

The above is probably the most confusing part of the new design; I have described it in a recent post – Beware of the “Smart” LinkedIn Recruiter Search Syntax Change.

Interestingly, the new LIR has kept the “true” Boolean in the keywords search (and also in the only available documentation). If you want to stay with the “normal” Boolean syntax in LIR, there is another opportunity to do that: within “Filters” in Projects, the syntax remained as it used to be. But using a project’s filters is not a very powerful way to search because the profile previews are short.

By now, unsurprisingly, we have heard from multiple recruiters that the search results are not what they expect them to be in LIR.

Additionally, the feature I liked, the toggle between a search dialog and the Search Insights is gone. The “Search Insights” is still there (though it’s now hard to find), but there’s no easy way to switch between the two views.

The new LIR has also lost the valuable display of the distribution of the search results along the facets, such as the current or past company, location, and more. I.e., if you enter some qualifications and want to know which companies employ your target potential candidates, this is no longer possible in LIR.

There’s a lot more your team needs to be aware of if you are LIR subscribers. Join me  – and many of your colleagues – tomorrow at the webinar “Mastering LinkedIn Recruiter” where we’ll go over all the necessary skills, knowledge, and productivity tips (many of which are not part of the help documentation) that you need to navigate the Recruiter.

(If you miss the webinar – no worries – the recording, slides, and support will be available on our SourcingCertification site).

10 Little-Known Strings to Mine Member and Attendee Lists

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Many Sourcers know how to locate lists of professionals in Excel format by using the operator filetype: and the typical column headings, such as name, title, company, and email. Indeed, by adding keywords to a search like filetype:xls name title company email we can find lists of professionals whose background we can further investigate to see if they match our requirements.

There, however, lots of other ways to search for lists, that we can come up with, based on creative thinking and common sense combined (which is always a good recipe for successful sourcing!).

It will be up to the reader to figure out why these strings work and how to adjust them to work for your cases – but it shouldn’t be hard. Here you go:

Sorted Lists

Updated Lists

Email Domains

Personal Names

Job Titles and Abbreviations

The possibilities are endless!

I will be sharing numerous ways to mine lists and professional profiles both from the Surface and Deep Web in the special repeat of our most-attended lecture ever – “Sourcing without LinkedIn” on July 27th – don’t miss it!

LinkedIn Network Trimming

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LinkedIn is automatically removing many connections between its members today, July 18th, 2016, following an email it sent to all “mega-connectors” (including me). A copy of the email LinkedIn has sent to mega-connectors about the Trimming Project can be found, for example, in these blog posts: Further LinkedIn Changes Agree Or Disagree ? and Why Is LinkedIn Blowing Up My Network?

Some members think that cutting connections is “Microsoft influence”, but I don’t think so; it will probably take a while for Microsoft and LinkedIn to finalize the deal. Reducing connections was not surprising, as the next logical move after recently stopping the largest networkers from growing networks further.

Before I proceed to write about today’s network reductions in more detail, let me say that I am not annoyed that LinkedIn is doing that. Consider these two points:

1. Our real-life connections with fellow professionals do not equal our LinkedIn connections, and, of course, we can keep them even if the computer-recorded ones are gone!

In the end, connections on LinkedIn amount to computer-stored information. “Connecting” and “messaging” functionality has provided ways to form and expand business relationships (thanks to LinkedIn!). It’s a tool that helps, but then it’s up to us to work and communicate with others in real life to each others’ benefit.

2. LinkedIn is a business making significant income from InMails, i.e. messages between the members who are not connected. It’s only natural that LinkedIn won’t want  “too many” connections between members.

(Additionally, due to recent functionality changes, larger networks on LinkedIn have lost their advantages. For example, now only a small percentage of mega-connectors’ connections – and “followers” alike – are notified of the posted blogs and status updates. Instead, posts that make it to everyone’s streams are the ones most commented on.)

LinkedIn has created and continues to grow the world’s largest social network for professionals. I see some current functionality problems and some desired functionality added as more important that cutting down connections. (I’ll write another blog about those.)

With all that said, let’s get to some details on the LinkedIn Network Trimming project.

There’s no way to estimate precisely how many mega-connectors (members with 30K+ connections) there was before today, but the number was probably at least in the thousands.

Connections that LinkedIn is automatically removing today are the ones mega-connectors have made more recently. This is unfortunate because the most recent connections have often happened around some latest business discussions.

With a connection is removed, here is what to expect:connection-removed

I.e., if you are a mega-connector – or recently connected to someone who is a mega-connector – you are losing all of each other’s contact information (phone numbers, physical addresses, Skype IDs, etc.).  The notes and contact info of the 1st-level connections, except for email addresses, is information that was never possible to export, so it is just gone. You also won’t be able to send messages to each other any longer; it will have to be InMails.

As an additional side effect of removing “extra” connections, expect everyone’s visible networks to become smaller. LinkedIn search results will show more anonymous results (those “outside of your network”) than before.

It’s a good moment for mega-connectors, “LIONs” to rethink how they want to proceed!

As a temporary “stay in touch” mechanism that I have shared with some of my connections, please “connect with me” here on the blog. Also please feel free to join our Boolean Strings Facebook Group.


P.S. Interestingly, someone has forwarded a LinkedIn Rep reply when he enquired about removing connections. Here it is:support


20 Strings to Track CXO Appointments and Resignations

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Clearly, we all benefit from staying on top of industry news, and that includes appointments of new C-level executives. Here are twenty (20) Boolean search strings to simply look those up on Google’s web and news search. I have used “cloud computing” as an additional key phrase for these examples.

  1. “cloud computing” “chief * officer” “will be replaced by *” (news)
  2. “cloud computing” appoints “chief * officer” (web)
  3. “cloud computing” appoints “chief * officer” (news)
  4. “cloud computing” “chief * officer” “steps down” (web)
  5. “cloud computing” “chief * officer” “steps down” (news)
  6. “cloud computing” “chief * officer” “retired after” (news)
  7. “cloud computing” “new chief * officer” (web)
  8. “cloud computing” “new chief * officer” (news)
  9. “cloud computing” names “as chief * officer” (web)
  10. “cloud computing” names “as chief * officer” (news)
  11. “cloud computing” “new role” “chief * officer” (news)
  12. “cloud computing” “become chief * officer” (news)
  13. “cloud computing” “joins * * as” “chief * officer” (news)
  14. “cloud computing” “new COO” (news)
  15. “cloud computing” names “new CIO” (web)
  16. “cloud computing” names “new CIO” (news)
  17. “cloud computing” “resignation of” (news)
  18. “cloud computing” “has resigned” (news)
  19. “cloud computing” “promoted to” chief (web)
  20. “cloud computing” announces “new chief” (web)

If we’d like to look up CXO appointments that have happened in the past, we can reuse each of the above templates along with a restriction on the date range. Example:

“cloud computing” appoints “chief * officer” (shows results up until the end of 2014).

If you are interested in Recruitment Research, check out Martin Lee’s comprehensive, highly praised presentation, coming up (for the second and the last time) on July 20th, 2016 – Recruitment Research – What, When, and How.

Wrong Search Results? Personalization vs. Relevance

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When we search for information – such as resumes or professional bios – on a site, the following factors affect our productivity:

  1. The site does have the desired info (say, it has some profiles that match a job description)
  2. The site’s search system allows to easily find the info
  3. When there are multiple search results, those shown first are the most relevant, i.e. satisfy our goals in search

In this post, I’d like to discuss search results relevancy (p.3 above) – on LinkedIn and outside of it. On LinkedIn, there is – and always has been, as the result of its design – a challenge for the system to “decide” which results to show first.

LinkedIn is often said to be a modern version of a job board, but there are, of course, multiple differences. What recruiters often overlook when searching for potential candidates on LinkedIn, is that the “top” search results may not match what they want to find. This is because recruiters play a dual role. First, they are the social network search system users who want to find profiles with the desired skills and experience, regardless of who is searching (like on a job board). Second, they are the social network members with filled out profile information and a given set of the 1st level connections. The latter role often negatively affects the search.

When a LinkedIn member searches for people, he or she may do so for the purpose of connecting; in this case, the similarity of the industries and skills, a close-by location, and existence of connections in common play an important role. However, when a recruiter is looking for potential candidates using advanced people search, their personal network ideally should not affect the results a whole lot.

We don’t know how relevance is defined; LinkedIn, over the years, continues experimenting and dramatically changing what to show as the “top” results, without providing much consistency in its approach. But we’ve seen, from experience, that LinkedIn always shows search results that are affected by the searching member’s profile and personal network. (LinkedIn Recruiter searches are affected by personal networks as well). Personalization creates a disadvantage for recruiters.

A long time ago now, we had several options for the order of search results; that helped to bring the best results to the top of the list. However, the different sorting functionality has long been gone from LinkedIn.

In search systems outside of the business social network (and other social networks such as Facebook), we have easier control of the search results relevancy. From searching in resume databases to X-Raying membership sites, we can expect the results of a well constructed search to match for requirements. Additionally, many search systems offer various sorting options – that also helps. (Indeed, Zoominfo, Github, and Custom Search Engines are just a few examples of sites that offer different sort order of the results).

Let’s explore the vast search world outside of LinkedIn. Please join me for the upcoming – and our most popular – lecture Sourcing Without LinkedIn – coming up soon, on Wednesday July 13th. As always, those who sign up will get one month of unlimited support. Don’t miss the webinar!





Beware of the Smart LinkedIn Recruiter Search Syntax Change

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If you use LinkedIn Recruiter (LIR) and have upgraded to the long-awaited new User Interface and Search – have you noticed that previously working searches no longer produce the expected results? The idea behind the redesign was to provide suggestions – for example, for job titles. It’s a good idea and should be of help, but…

Let me outline what has happened around the switch to the new UI.

LinkedIn has changed the search syntax – in LinkedIn Recruiter only. To illustrate how, let’s take a look at a search from a personal account (any, premium or not):

linkedin search - 1


The keywords are combined by default. The AND operator is assumed by default, as we expect it to be, as it works by now in most search systems, including Google, resume databases, and people aggregators. This is how search has worked in LinkedIn and LIR until recently. But it no longer works like that.

Here is what it looks like in LIR, when I enter the same search parameters (the window on the left):


Why did the same search get fewer results? The reason is, LIR doesn’t assume AND any longer. Instead, it surrounds your keywords with the quotation marks by default. (That is, unless you insert a Boolean search operator – AND, OR, or NOT). LIR runs a different search than it did before the redesign. Compare the search in the left and right windows, and you’ll see.

To get the results for (just) the keywords combined, now you would need to enter AND explicitly:


Bottom line:

AND is no longer optional in LIR; the quotation marks are added by default around keywords – UNLESS you use any Boolean operators (AND, OR, or NOT).

Are you aware of the change? Do you find this confusing? Please comment below.

Here are some of the consequences:

Your saved searches may be broken. Your search history, too, will have entries that may or may not work as before. The link “View the results in recruiter” when you search from a personal account will take you to the same results as in personal; but if you start editing a field and exit without changing, the results will be off.


Super-Connectors Are Blocked

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I would be glad if some of the positive predictions outlined in Martin’s post on the Microsoft-LinkedIn deal came true. But I doubt LinkedIn will change in any significant ways anytime soon. (I’d welcome some changes if you ask me.)

Looking back, we should be grateful to LinkedIn for its multiple innovations and new terminology in professional online activities. An interesting “unofficial” notion that didn’t exist before LinkedIn is “open networkers”, or LIONs, meaning, LinkedIn members who accept all invitations.

There has long been a controversy on the subject of accepting invitations. Non-LIONs think it’s best to connect only with the people they know. (It’s everyone’s choice, of course. To me, it raises the question of needing a global business network to keep in touch with people you know. 🙂 I’d think that an address book can do fine). LIONs, on the other hand, accepted all invites and grew their networks.

By the way, logically, it is thanks to LIONs that all LinkedIn members have larger networks.

LinkedIn advised against connecting with the people you do not know; but then, it didn’t prevent open networking from happening, allowing large personal networks. (Even some LinkedIn employees have connections whom they don’t know personally, based just on the numbers of connections.) The first complications happened when LIONs reached 30K connections. For years, at that mark, “accept” invitation button got broken; the button would show it worked, but nothing happened.

However, the “invite” button continued to function for the super-connectors even after the 30K barrier. Some super-connectors invited back the members who invited them (I did that); some, just gave up and connected with others only occasionally.

Well, here’s the news: all super-connectors with the largest networks (30K and up) are done connecting. Their “invite” functionality has stopped functioning as well. It shows that it works, but it doesn’t. If you invite them, expect nothing – they are not able to connect with you. Note that it’s not possible to identify whether someone whom you invite is in that “blocked” category. So if your LinkedIn invitation is not accepted, don’t take it personally.

Was stopping super-connectors from growing their networks further an intentional change on LinkedIn’s behalf? It’s hard to say. Maybe it was a side effect of changing some other software code.

Since that block happened a few weeks ago, I have received a few hundred invitations. I’d like to keep in touch with new connections, but I no longer have a way to do so on LinkedIn. So, I’m have set up a page on this blog to “connect” with those who would like to, keep in touch, and share sourcing content. Maybe, even connect on LinkedIn if the number limitations change! In the meantime, please feel free to subscribe to my blog.

What will the LinkedIn acquisition mean for sourcers? – by @MrMartinLee

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Author: Martin Lee 

The corporate tech chess game took an interesting and for most of us an unexpected turn yesterday as Microsoft bought LinkedIn in the biggest move yet. If you haven’t reviewed Microsoft’s conference call (or at least the slides), there are many answers to be found.


(image credit)

As sourcers, my partners and my first reactions were excitement. What will Microsoft bring to enhance how we find potential candidates? How will they integrate their technology into the platform? What else will they develop? How will the other big tech companies react?

Initially, we think you’ll see no significant differences as the deal undergoes regulatory approval, and LinkedIn finds its place within Microsoft. However, we predict there will be some exciting new integrations available by early 2017.

Here are some of our other predictions (just don’t hold us to them!):

Outlook is the most commonly used business email platform, giving LinkedIn an enormous opportunity to increase its user base. You’ll soon see the “Social Connector” features added back to Outlook, and possibly other platforms as well (one-click lookup from Skype, anyone?).

Speaking of Skype, LinkedIn already supports linking your WeChat account, and it would just make sense to add Skype to the list as well. Given LinkedIn’s pivot from email-style Messages to a chat-like interface, could Skype replace InMails and Messages entirely? We’re not sure, but we certainly hope so.

We may even see the end of “Premium” for regular LinkedIn accounts, with a purchase of Microsoft Office being all your need to gain full access to LinkedIn’s features. Eliminating the lowest subscriber tier would make sense from Microsoft’s perspective: the revenues are not significant, it would increase engagement with the platform, and of course, sell more Office seats as well.

Microsoft’s Dynamics CRM suite supports many powerful features for sales and marketing teams (enterprise and SMBs alike). It seems as though integration with Microsoft’s HCM offerings may be slow; Microsoft’s Satya Nadella indicated that the Dynamics team does not have the final say there. However, integrations between Dynamics and LinkedIn Recruiter could be a huge boost for companies (unwilling to lock their data into LinkedIn’s platforms) can finally use a single solution to manage their candidate engagement efforts.

Of course, there are many other opportunities for complementary integrations between the companies’ offerings: Slideshare could become the public face of Microsoft OneDrive. With the ability to easily upload, share, and quickly publish your slide decks, documents, and spreadsheets, they might compete with Google Docs. LinkedIn’s Lynda and Microsoft’s Yammer could provide a much-improved learning management and team collaboration platform.

With all of this additional data about users’ activities beyond the LinkedIn platform, LinkedIn could also provide improved search results based on behaviour. LinkedIn already “weights” search results based on our connections, shares, likes, and Messages. Now they could improve their search results with many new signals they haven’t had access to before. Interesting that they filed a patent only a few months ago based on this very idea (hat tip to Andy Headworth).

Finally, an anti-prediction. We do not think Microsoft will “block” Google from LinkedIn in favour of Bing. While Bing may be able to provide richer “knowledge graph” highlights at some point in time (we certainly hope so), Google remains the dominant player in search and search advertising. LinkedIn will continue to be X-Rayable for the foreseeable future, just like all of Microsoft’s other public web assets.

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The Best Way To Fight Inappropriate Content Is Not Engage

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Maybe Facebook is the next LinkedIn – at least, with LinkedIn Groups showing less engagement after the global group functionality change this year, we see raising interest in professional discussions in Facebook Groups. (Join our new group if you haven’t – Boolean Strings on Facebook.) Unfortunately, LinkedIn has duplicated some Facebook functionality and tweaked algorithms in a not-so-helpful manner if LinkedIn wants to stay on as a professional network.

Have you seen uninteresting and inappropriate images and posts dominating your LinkedIn stream? Here is why it happens. LinkedIn’s algorithm strongly favors posts and shares that get high engagement. Sure enough, if someone sees an inappropriate photo in their stream, they are tempted to say so in the comments. However, every comment adds strength to the share, so the most useless shares stay afloat! (There is also a Facebook Un-professional LinkedIn group where people share “that” type of content among other things – LinkedIn provides plenty lately).

The same is also true about LinkedIn publishing system’s algorithm. If a post gets some comments as soon as it’s posted, great, the post will continue to be shown to people in the author’s network, as long as the comments keep coming in. If there’s no “engagement” upfront, the post is left largely unnoticed. Previously LinkedIn notified everyone the author’s network about a new post – that is no longer happening. This switch in the algorithm puts the pressure to share posts and engage others on the author vs. LinkedIn – unless, of course, the author is a LinkedIn-appointed Influencer.

Take a note of it.



A Stellar Addition to Our Team!

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Photo: David Galley, me, and Martin Lee – from Oscar Mager’s Sourcing Summit Europe – 2015 album.

I am very happy to announce that my good friend and colleague Martin Lee is joining us full time as Head Instructor at Sourcing Certification and  Partner, EMEA & APAC at Brain Gain Recruiting.

Martin and I met at the second #trulondon event (very un-conference style) back in 2010, have stayed in touch, met at conferences (including all of Sourcing Summits in Europe) and training events, and collaborated since.


Martin is highly regarded as a sourcing thought leader in Europe. He has almost 20 years direct sourcing experience working with some of the world’s largest companies providing them with rare and difficult to find skills. He has trained inhouse and agency recruiters and advises global organizations on direct sourcing techniques with considerable experience in mapping target companies, competitor analysis and data mining. He sources globally with significant experience across EMEA & APAC with hands on experience of the differences in culture, tools and methods.

Before joining us at Brain Gain and Sourcing Certification Martin was VP, Head of Sourcing & Research EMEA & APAC at Kelly Services where he oversaw all sourcing and candidate engagement strategies. He understands the differences in recruiting across different countries and remains a hands on sourcer whilst consulting with Brain Gains customers on best practices. (I know the various country-based teams at Kelly will miss him!)

Welcome, Martin!


P.S. If you are an agency recruiter, check out our first upcoming joint webinar with Martin (just posted on our sourcing training site): How to Find Clients and Vacancies for Your Recruiting Agency.