January 17, 2011
Master LinkedIn's advanced search tips to get ahead of the competition
In a recent post, I talked about leveraging LinkedIn as a resource to help you identify both decision makers and competitors. To do that successfully, you have to get used to doing advanced search queries in LinkedIn's vast database. I'm going to give you a few scenarios below with specific examples to help you understand how to do this. If you're not technically inclined, it may seem a little daunting at first, but if you take the time to try these tips, you'll find that a wealth of information can be available to you in your job search.
Scenario 1: Research the Competition (Competitive Analysis)
Say you want to find competitor profiles to see how you stack up against them. If you're a writer, type in "writer" in LinkedIn's search box and you'll be presented with results that include "writer" in the profiles. If you're a project manager, however, you have to include quotes around your search terms to find "project managers," instead of just profiles with the words "project" and "manager."
Type in: "Project Manager"
When you search for project managers, you're going to get profiles from various backgrounds. To exclude the non-relevant results, use the NOT feature (i.e. NOT construction would exclude results containing project managers with a construction background.) It's important that you use the word NOT in ALL CAPS.
Type in: "Project Manager" NOT construction
Scenario 2: Industry Networking
What happens if you're trying to set up informational interviews at various companies and you want to target people you may not already know? Say you're a software developer, and you know from experience that potential hiring managers would have the titles "Engineering Manager" or "Software Development Manager," etc. You can use the OR feature of LinkedIn to display both results.
Type in: "Engineering Manager" OR "Software Development Manager"
Scenario 3: Research Decision Makers (Prospecting)
Now you see a particular job at Microsoft that intrigues you, and you're tempted to blindly submit your resume. Then you remember from my columns that companies like Microsoft can get as many as 900 applications, so you don't want to be just one of the masses. You know that if you can speak to the potential hiring manager, you can learn more about the job beyond the job description and that can help you better tailor your application.
In that case you would use the AND feature of LinkedIn. From our software development example, here is what you would do:
Type in: "Engineering Manager" AND Microsoft
This tells LinkedIn that I want to find all profiles that have the titles "Engineering Manager" and the term Microsoft.
There is one downside to the method I'm describing. LinkedIn will pull results from profiles that have the terms "Engineering Manager" and Microsoft, however, those profiles might not be current. These people could have worked at Microsoft in the past or held the title engineering manager at another company. In this case, you can use the advanced operators LinkedIn offers. You can find them all here.
So, if I need to find someone whose current title is "Engineering Manager" at Microsoft, I'm going to use the Current Title and Current Company advanced operators which are ctitle and ccompany. (Hang in with me here -- I'll show you how.) To modify the earlier search with this new addition:
Type in: ccompany:Microsoft AND ctitle:"Engineering Manager"
Now LinkedIn will display the relevant results, and I can reach out to these people to find out if they're the ones with the opening I'm interested in learning more about.
What you can do with advanced search is up to your imagination. Hopefully this gives you some inspiration and education to start digging deeper into the vast riches LinkedIn may hold for you as a job seeker.
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.
Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.
Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.
Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.
Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.
Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."
Paul Anderson helps professionals in transition find their desired employment.
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