X-raying LinkedIn refers to the use of a site search targeting LinkedIn via Boolean search techniques. Beginners may be figuring out how to target LinkedIn, and Advanced sourcers may want to review techniques. I know that I currently do not use the same target site search I first began with!  Let’s get started!

The most basic target of LinkedIn with a site search is to include the following in you Boolean:



As you can see, we are picking up on “linkedin.com,” but we are not finding PEOPLE. While adding more search parameters will populate people results, it is not the BEST way to utilize x-ray.

We often are looking to target profiles ONLY. Profiles have a specific URL. When you first join LinkedIn, your profile URL begins http://linkedin.com/pub. You have the option to change this setting. If you customize your URL, it will begin http://linkedin.com/in. We use this knowledge to target profiles. (Please see instructions for customizing your profile at the end of this blog.)

When I first began x-raying LinkedIn, I used the following in my Boolean:

site:linkedin.com inurl:in | inurl:pub

Now, I find this approach has two main issues:

1. “inurl” is not supported by Bing, so your target strategy will have to change with search engines.

2. “in” is most definitely in URLs that are not profiles. After all, LinkedIN has “in” in it! India’s country code is “in”, so those URLs are getting more weight as well.

*Note: | = OR. It can be used by pressing “shift” and the “backslash” key (found above “enter”).


As you can see, we have mixed up the results a bit. LinkedIn’s country page for India is our 3rd result! We are still not hitting on JUST profiles, however.

My preferred method now is to use an OR in my site search:

site:linkedin.com/in | site:linkedin.com/pub


Now you can see we are SPECIFICALLY targeting profiles. I haven’t even entered in any keywords, and I am pulling profiles! Now, this search will also bring up DIRECTORIES. You can remove them with -dir, or some variation thereof. However, there is a discussion on the utility of attempting to remove directories. With some of LinkedIn’s new features, it may be to your benefit to leave the directories in your search.

I would like to briefly discuss a phrase search associated with your site search. First, you should ALWAYS be thinking about the page you are trying to bring up. Usually, we are thinking about how a potential candidate would phrase their experiences on a resume. “I have 5 years of experience.”  A very popular phrase used by sourcers is “people you may know.” This phrase is thought to appear solely on profile pages. Let’s take a look.

I am going to start with one of my site searches that was not specifically bringing up profiles and add the phrase to it.

site:linkedin.com “people you may know”


At this time, it does not seem to be explicitly targeting profiles. Let’s try it with the “inurl” search.

site:linkedin.com inurl:in | inurl:pub “people you may know”


The results actually look a little similar. Several months ago, I think this strategy DEFINITELY worked. However, LinkedIn is constantly changing their programming BECAUSE they know these strategies work! They want to force you onto their search features and hopefully get you to upgrade your account.

As LinkedIn makes these changes, the cached version of the page will also change. When you are searching using Google, you are actually searching cached pages. So, if this phrase is removed from profiles, it will slowly become inoperable as Google crawls the web caching pages.

There are other phrases that you can use. Like I said, just pay attention to what the page you are seeking looks like! Other phrases I would try are: “people similar to” and “people also viewed”. I feel like I see these on most profile pages.

A few points:

1. You also want to think about the amount of space you are using when choosing your site search. Sure, you can “site” this, “url” that, throw in a phrase. But how much of your allotted space are you taking up just to target the profile? You would rather be using that space to identify locations, key words, and skills.

2. Where in your Boolean should you put the x-ray portion? Beginning? End? Middle? Out of habit, I put mine at the beginning. But I really want to break that habit and put it towards the end. More on WHY in another blog.

3. Try out multiple methods. Like I said, I do not use the same site search for LinkedIn as I did when I first began Boolean. Find what works for YOU! Watch out for changes in your results. Something you found that works may change over time. ALWAYS be evaluating your results. What did the search engine pick up on? What seems to be falling by the wayside?

4. Once you have your results, you get to choose how to view them! Clicking on the link is often unsuccessful unless you are at least a 2nd degree connection. You can log out of LinkedIn while performing your searches, OR you can view the cached version of the profile:

Hovering over the result with your cursor will bring an arrow to the right side. Hover over THAT arrow. You can now see the “CACHED” option and possibly a preview of the profile.


Now, just in case you are new or want to make a change, here are some instructions on Customizing Your Profile:

Go to the “Profile” heading on your LinkedIn account and select “Edit Profile.”










Directly under your picture is your URL. Select “edit.”


This will bring up some options on the right side of the screen. Scroll down to the heading “Your public profile URL” and click on “customize your public profile URL.”


That will pop open this box:


Now you can customize.

I hope all of this is helpful. Let me know how YOU are targeting LinkedIn through Boolean searches!

Happy Hunting!