Recruiting Basics: Searching for Candidates on LinkedIn

In yesterday’s article, we’ve already established what it takes to lure in candidates with an amazing LinkedIn® recruiter profile. Today we’ll uncover how to search for potential candidates using the free search function in LinkedIn.


hocus-focus / iStock Unreleased / Getty Images

In the webinar Free LinkedIn Recruiting Tools: Yield More Qualified Interviews Using Ideal Search Strings, Calendar & Text Expander Tools, and More, LinkedIn expert Brynne Tillman, explains the importance of using the search function in LinkedIn. According to Tillman, this is the most important feature in the “Freemium” version of LinkedIn. Of course, you can pay for the premium version of LinkedIn, to have more access to top talent, but let’s just start with the basics and go from there!

Creating a Search String

In a perfect world, you would only be responsible for recruiting one role at a time, but let’s face it, that’s never the case! So, we’re going to pretend it’s a perfect world and show you how to create a search string for just one role. Once you’ve got the hang of it, you can modify your search strings based on the roles you’re recruiting for.
In the following examples, we’ll be searching for the role of Senior Vice President (SVP) of Sales and Marketing. Note that this can be searched for using multiple methods, but the most important thing you need to be aware of is the modifiers: AND/OR/NOT. Notice how they’re all capitalized? This is on purpose, because it tells LinkedIn exactly what to search for; if the terms aren’t in capital letters, LinkedIn won’t know what you’re asking it to do.

NOT ANDs OR Buts About It

Diving deeper into modifiers, by using these in your search strings, LinkedIn will be able to pare down the selection much easier and deliver better results.
When using OR in your search strings, this term will find people who have multiple titles that fit your search query. So, using the example, SVP of Sales and Marketing, if you search for Senior Vice President of Sales OR Marketing, LinkedIn will show you all the people who have Sales OR Marketing in their titles.
If you’re looking for candidates who have both of the terms “sales AND marketing” in his or her title, you’ll want to use AND in your search query. To take it one step further, if you’re looking for a Human Resources professional, but not one who specializes in benefits, you would search for Human Resources NOT Benefits. LinkedIn will then comb through all the job titles that do NOT have benefits associated with them.

You Can Quote Me on This

Tillman also explained the importance of quotation marks in your search strings. When searching for two or more terms, like Vice President, you’ll want to use quotation marks. Tillman says if you search for this term without quotes, LinkedIn will search for titles that feature “Vice” and “President.” The quotation marks will keep the phrase together, so you don’t end up with Vice Cops in your search results.
Parentheses are also helpful in the search string process. Just like with math, LinkedIn will perform an “order of operations,” per se, and search for the term that is in parentheses first. Keeping all these search tips in mind, once you’ve plugged the terms into the LinkedIn search bar, it’s now time to seed through all the potential candidates.
In part three of this article series, we’ll focus on communicating with candidates after you’ve found them through your LinkedIn search.