In my search to optimize my linkedin searches I came across something interesting for recruiters/researchers that search internationaly. One of the great frustrations I personally have with Linkedin is that it only allows you to search one country simultaneously while for a lot of my jobs I really don't care where people are coming from. It now means that I have to run a search several times in order to make sure I have the maximum amount of candidates.

I can of course try and search through the search engine of Linkedin directly and see what it gives me but the results have not been optimal. If I add say (Netherlands OR Belgium) to my keyword search I get a lot of false positives simply because of people having those words in their profile. One of my favourite ways of searching Linkedin is not using linkedin at all, it's the all-mighty X-ray.

X-ray explained
Now, hopefully most recruiters are comfortable with x-ray but for the less boolean-gifted recruiters a quick explanation: x-ray is a Google search string that allows you to focus on one particular site. If I put in my Google search it will give me only results from.............right, LinkedIn! There are big advantages to x-ray over a LinkedIn search and that is that you really can see all of the public profiles on linked and you can actually contact them. Reason for this is that a) your search results is limited by the size of your network and b) LinkedIn allows you to see the LinkedIn profile if you come in through this back door where if you did a normal search it wouldn't allow you if that person was outside of your network.

Whenever you do an x-ray on Google don't forget to add inurl:pub OR inurl:in -intitle:directory in order to eliminate pages where such a groups and events. To further narrow it down add -inurl:updates. To give you an idea of the power of this string: it gives 30.200.000 hits. I would say much of the population of Linkedin

The international X-ray
For the more advanced recruiter that wants to search internationally there are some ways to limit the search to a specific country or some specific countries. Glen Cathey wrote an article about how to do this after I had contacted him about some international search he had done. To recap his research:

You can do a search on postal codes on Linkedin:

If you take a large city as say Amsterdam, The Netherlands you see that in the city there are several postal codes

Now if we do a search on Linkedin with the postal code 1000 in the Netherlands you will see that all of them have in their profile "Amsterdam Area, Netherlands". And with that "area, country" we can play.

My own research completes Glen's list and below a list of all the structures that are being used

"Area, France"
"Area, Germany"
"*, United Kingdom"
"Area, Switzerland"
Area, Belgium
Area, Netherlands
Area, Sweden
Area, Spain
*, Finland
Area, Norway
*, Russian Federation
*, Portugal
Area, Italy
*, Ireland
Area, Denmark
*, Austria

As you can see most countries in Europe follow the "area, country" setup except for the UK but what can you expect from a country where people drive on the wrong side of the road?

Now, let's say I need a user experience expert in the Netherlands? A what? Yeah, sorry but I had this search recently so might as well take that one. A search on "user experience" in the whole of the Netherlands gives me 1239 hits. I'm not going into how I can increase it by perhaps looking at other job titles, that is not the meaning of this article.

An x-ray on google (inurl:pub OR inurl:in) -intitle:directory -inurl:updates (”Area, Netherlands”) "user experience" gives me 2.510 hits. A lot better of course, way too many results and I would need to narrow it down but I've just doubled the number of candidates. Now this seams to work but if I'm searching for more countries I may run into the Google limit of 32 words in the boolean search. As well I've found that somehow not everybody has a region mentioned in their profile which would render the "area, country" string useless. In a niche market like UX I can't afford to lose out on a single candidate.

The Holy Grail of international x-rays
So here is what I've found and if I'm not mistaken nobody else has blogged about it. So here is my ticket to fame :-) LinkedIn has recently changed all the personal links on peoples profiles. Now, US-based profiles haven't changed and still are but as I'm based in Spain my personal link has changed to A check on other profiles gives that profiles in the UK now have, in Germany and the Netherlands I have not (yet) compiled a list of all the country codes but they seem to be following the standard country codes used globally. So wow, Linkedin has actually placed a country code in the personal links of all their members! Have I found the holy grail for international linkedin x-rays?

So before we bring out the champagne (or cava in Spain) let's test this. (inurl:pub OR inurl:in) -intitle:directory -inurl:updates user experience" gives me 2.990 hits. Not bad as it increases the amount of hits over the previous one because of the before mentioned fact that not everybody has a region in the profile but they surely have had to give their country when signing up. But we are still not there, what if, just imagine, what if the country code is only used in personal profiles and not on any other pages. That would mean we could get rid of inurl:pub OR inurl:in as thus save space. -intitle:directory -inurl:updates user experience" gives me exactly the same amount of hits as my previous search and that is just awesome! It really means that we can leave out inurl:pub OR inurl:in. But wait, wait, wait. What if we leave out -intitle:directory and -inurl:updates? user experience" again gives me the same amount of hits. AMAZING!!! We went from a pretty lengthy search string to this compact, easy to remember, easy to use search string! Just to be complete if you want to use this string for a multi country search you just put in OR OR etc).

So folks, run the following and bookmark it for your international searches: KEYWORDS". Change the country code and keywords and rock on!


There is so much more to get out of Linkedin by using an X-ray and now with this new search string you can actually very accurately search per country and profit of the larger network and accessibility of the x-ray search! And dear friends in the US, sorry but because you still have the original profile links you still need to use the full search string.

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