Boolean AND Non-Boolean Search on LinkedIn

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Did you know that not all LinkedIn search fields accept Boolean AND-OR-NOT expressions and some have different syntax than searching by keywords? Understanding the correct syntax is critical is executing searches and interpreting the search results.

This is a quick overview of the variations in the supported search syntax in LinkedIn search dialogs. The three syntax variations are:

  1. Boolean search, supporting AND (implied), OR, and NOT, quotation marks for phrases, and parentheses for grouping statements
  2. Search based on typing in some characters that prompt for the possible variations to be displayed and selected: “prompt search”
  3. Search by a sub-string (non-Boolean): “sub-string search”

The Advanced search offers Boolean search in the fields on the left and “prompt search” in some of the other text-based fields.

The advanced dialog gives us a choice of Boolean search and prompt-search for the company names.  Clearly, each way of searching has its advantages.


The Boolean search syntax on LinkedIn is documented in a LinkedIn Tip Sheet (nicely formatted but, unfortunately, with several syntax errors in it – try to find them!)

The Find Alumni dialog offers “prompt search” in the locations, companies, and a few more fields, and Boolean search in the keyword section:

The search in Contacts is by sub-strings: below, you can see that the search for “bu” brings up both “business” and “buyer” in the titles.


For the advanced LinkedIn user, here’s a tricky question: what would the search for “university OR college” in the name of a school locate? See the screenshot below:

Are you aware of all the differences and opportunities provided in LinkedIn search dialogs? Do you use X-raying in Google to complement your LinkedIn searches? Come to my webinar this coming Friday to get a comprehensive overview of all the searching capabilities and taking advantage of them in your search for targeted professionals.

The first person to email me the correct answer to the “tricky question” above (explain how you got the answer) will get a free pass to the webinar.

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