Back to the Basics: How to X-Ray LinkedIn for Profiles Using Google

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Jul 17, 2013
This article is part of a series called Tips & Tricks.

For many recruiters and sourcers, LinkedIn is at the top of the heap for places to find and engage prospective candidates. One of the most popular methods to do this is by X-Raying the site via search engines.

When X-Raying LinkedIn, we generally only want to target profiles, and for better or worse, there are several ways we can accomplish this. The following will help you understand and decide what works best for you as you search for LinkedIn profiles via Google.

First, we’ll start by telling Google that we only want to look at This is accomplished via the site: search operator.

Now we can start targeting profiles.

Option 1: (inurl:com/pub | inurl:com/in) -inurl:pub/dir

LinkedIn uses two directories (pub and in) for public profiles. Because of this, we’ll need to use the inurl elements (com/pub & com/in) to tell Google that we only want to see profiles in our search results. Additionally, LinkedIn placed their “directory” listings (dir) in the directory immediately following the (pub) directory so we have to tell Google to exclude that with (-inurl:pub/dir) or we take the chance of getting results that are not profiles but actually a page containing a list of them.

Tip: Precede the in and pub directories with (com/) and dir with (pub/) to prevent the exclusion of these terms that may exist in other areas of the URL.

Option 2: “people you know”

people you know” has become a popular alternative recently for targeting profiles because the phrase “search for people you know” is primarily only found on public profiles (logged out view). However the term “people you know” is used in other context throughout LinkedIn and not exclusive to profiles so it’s important that you have other elements in your search string that target profile content. “people you know” is also effective where advanced operators are not universal between search engines.

Tip: You must enclose the term (people you know) in quotes (“”) for it to be effective.

Option 3: ( | -inurl:pub/dir

This is certainly the most specific way to target profiles but it’s unnecessary to use two (site) operators when one will do.

It should be noted that X-Raying LinkedIn can be very effective, however, results appearing in search engines are only “public” profiles. Meaning, LinkedIn lets users control what information is viewable by the general public and search engines. Because of this, some profiles will not be indexed for you to search which is why X-Raying should be considered only one piece of your overall search strategy.

X-ray photo from

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This article is part of a series called Tips & Tricks.