As we get deeper into our search methodologies, we tend to forget about the “beginners” in sourcing. I posed a question on a LinkedIn group about preferences concerning xray searches. I got a response from a fellow group member wondering what xray is.  Here is my attempt to answer her question:


xray is targeting a site with a google/bing/search engine.

Here is a sample for google: inurl:pub | inurl:in “greater new york city” user experience designer -inurl:dir

Targeting the site mades the search an “xray” search. Try the same string and substitute for There are a few changes to the string since it was tailored for linkedin. “new york city” user experience designer

I hope I have answered your question!! Feel free to ask me if you have more. =-)


On 10/12/12 7:02 AM, XXX XXX wrote:
Hi Erin,

I am probably going to ask a very silly questions now but what is X Ray? I have a premium account form a long time again and just wonder if I am missing out on something as use this for searching a lot.

Thank you for your help and I hope you don’t mind the direct message.



I had a similar question on my blog recently.

I’ll try to give a bit of an introduction!

Let’s break down the two search strings I sent to my fellow LinkedIn group member:

First off, these are Google searches. There are different rules for each search engine. These strings may not transfer to Bing or Yahoo. inurl:pub | inurl:in “greater new york city” user experience designer -inurl:dir

1. We are targeting (xraying) LinkedIn by using the site operator, i.e.

2. I am further specifying my LinkedIn search for PROFILES (not job descriptions, companies, groups, etc) by using the inurl operator. This operator is unique to Google. “pub” and “in” are in the URLs of our linkedin profiles. If you have personalized your profile, it will have “in” in the URL. If you have not personalized your profile, it will have “pub” in the URL. Therefore, I use the parameter inurl:pub | inurl:in. The “|” represents OR. It is entered by pressing shift and the key above “enter” on your keyboard.

3. I am targeting the New York City area with “greater new york city”. This is also using the language of LinkedIn. I expect to see people that life in the Greater New York City Area. This phrase would likely not work well on a another site. The quotation marks indicate I am looking for this exact phrase.

4. User experience designer is the job title I am targeting in my search. I could easily add additional search keywords here. I would simply continue to list them: user experience designer wireframes css

5. The minus (-) feature removes results. Google will return directories of profiles on LinkedIn. These URLs usually have “dir” in them somewhere. Therefore, I am removing these by including -inurl:dir in my search. Other common removals are: -job -profile -jobs “new york city” user experience designer

1. I am targeting this time. I know from experience that resumes have the common link of This is much like targeting the “pub” and “in” in URLs on LinkedIn. You may have to do some due diligence on each site you xray to see what formats are conducive to your search.

2. I dropped the “Greater” in New York City. You may also want to include NYC or other ways people will write their location on the particular website you are targting.


Boolean, in general, is about trial and error. Write a search string and see what results you pull. Analyze those results and tweak your string to get more on target.

Xray search is simply a type of Boolean search. We are using the features of the search engine to target a website. When we target a website, we want to think about using keywords and phrases that are specific to that site.

Some sites can block search engine results. Best of luck to you xraying for candidates! Even LinkedIn gives members an option to “opt out” of search engine results.

If you have an account on the site you are targeting, you might also want to try logging out of the site before clicking on search results. Using LinkedIn, if you are logged in, it will notice you are a 3rd degree+ connection and only display limited information. If you log out and click on the same search result, you may be able to see much more information.

Check out our group on LinkedIn: Boolean Strings. You can post your  string for trouble-shooting and ask for advice on your search. It is very helpful!!

Feel free to post any questions you may have on my blog! I will do my best to answer or at least point you in the right direction!!

Peace, love, and sourcing!