What is going on here? The operator NOT did not exclude – even highlighted – the word “recruitment.” I started running into this phenomenon a few weeks ago, but the output seemed random: sometimes, NOT was acknowledged, sometimes, ignored. Then I saw weird results without the NOT, but the NOT “deficiencies” was easier to illustrate on social media.
My share of “what is going on here?” on Facebook got 2.5K+ views and reactions; on LinkedIn – 41K+ views and climbing! Most commenters complained about intermittently seeing this too. Some suggested changing the syntax – but neither extra parentheses, quotation marks, nor the minus instead of NOT help.
In the LinkedIn thread, we heard from a LinkedIn manager that the keyword search in LinkedIn.com (including the business accounts) is not “Boolean” and should be used to find people you know. The unhappy “news” flew around various Facebook groups. It sounded like something Recruiters expect of LinkedIn, to be pushed into higher-paid products.
But I believe that what we are experiencing with NOT is not intentional (which means there is a disconnect between some managers and developers at LinkedIn; we have observed it before.)
Here is an example to prove my point: David Galley has the keyword “blending” in the About section of his profile. Compare these searches:
- david galley blending– currently no results (wrong)
- blending david galley – one result (as it should be.)
There are no Boolean operators in these searches. They should be identical. Why is the first one not working? I think, it is a bug (or bugs). There are other examples and variations of keyword searches that look odd shared in the two LinkedIn and Facebook streams above.
There are additional “circumstantial” signs (I watch a lot of British TV!) that it is not that LinkedIn wants us all to buy LinkedIn Recruiter by intentionally restricting search on LinkedIn.com:
- There is no “please upgrade” sign, just the wrong results
- There is nothing about it in the documentation
- This was such big news around FB because nobody has heard this, while there should be a promotion.
- You can see from the multiple comments that many have had a negative experience with search. Why would LinkedIn want this? They could have set the expectations.
So it seems to be an unintentional code change. The bad news is that, for now, we do not understand how exactly the search is broken. If we could guess the underlying mechanism, we could develop workarounds (as I have shared on this blog before). Before one of us figures it out (guesses are welcome! but it is not fixed by different syntax) or before it is magically fixed, expect your LinkedIn.com people search results to be imprecise.
P.S. I am only guessing and there is a chance I might be wrong, meaning that it is not bugs, and now searching in keywords on LinkedIn.com is heavily restricted on purpose. If so, it has been implemented in odd ways, either intentionally (built into the algorithm) or unintentionally (bugs), as seen from just these two examples above. And the help documentation claims that Boolean works.
Let’s hope for some sort of resolution.