Hidden LinkedIn Interpretations

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LinkedIn’s Big Data puts the company in a unique position to create a system of organizations, job titles, skills, and the term relationships – which it used to have ambitious plans to do. I hope they will pick it up! But unfortunately, in the last few years, we are seeing somewhat weak and inconsistent attempts to figure out the data and provide intelligent, semantic search and browsing.

There are apparent LinkedIn limitations, such as:

  1. Commercial search limit for those with a free account – that is quite serious. (We know of a “hack” to overcome that, but it’s not available to everyone).
  2. Inability to search by a group membership and by a zip code and radius in premium accounts. (We know ways around that and will be teaching it shortly).

But I would say that the “worst” LinkedIn limitation, depriving us of matching search results or showing false positives, is its ongoing half-baked interpretation of our search terms.

If we search for vice president, should we expect LinkedIn to find VP and V.P. as titles? Let’s take a look at a few test searches.

The strange numbers of results above come from interpreting.

* a quote by the Python software language creator, Guido van Rossum.

Clumsy term interpretations that we are experiencing on LinkedIn happen because of the

“hidden limitations of underlying abstractions.”

that Guido is talking about. The software attempts to make sense of professional data and provide semantic search – at least a semantic “flavor.” But the interpretation is rarely obvious, has pretty much never been documented in LinkedIn’s Help, and the algorithms change a lot (they changed three times in the last month by my count – each time altering the search results for some queries).

To make its users even more confused, LinkedIn interprets our search terms differently, depending on the account – personal, Sales Navigator, or LinkedIn Recruiter. That results in mismatching numbers of search results across accounts. Sometimes, Recruiter gets more results (but not necessarily the results we want); at other times, the personal account (OR Boolean search) “wins.”

I do hope things will improve. In the meantime,

Changes to back-end algorithms affect all of us, while the changes are hidden from us.

Enough confusion! We’ll go over the hidden limits and straighten it out in the double-webinar “Overcoming LinkedIn Limitations” next Wednesday.




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