How LinkedIn Search Works

How LinkedIn Search Works

As we navigate the LinkedIn landscape, it’s not surprising to discover that the search for people is the number one activity. Human capital is the driving engine behind that search. LinkedIn works by helping us search for and find the connections we need most.

People join LinkedIn to network, make connections with others, and find optimal jobs. Companies use LinkedIn to bring in the best and brightest talent into their work arsenal. 

Optimally using the search bar on LinkedIn can open up and reveal the full spectrum of opportunities to be found. Learning how to do a proficient search is all about submitting the right questions into the search field.

Today we’ll explore all the ways you can optimize your LinkedIn search. We’ll go over strategies and techniques to help you find what you’re looking for.

What Does the LinkedIn Search Bar Do?

The LinkedIn search bar works by enabling you to search for a variety of things like people, jobs, companies, groups, schools, and posts. You can use the LinkedIn search bar on nearly every navigation tab, except for the Jobs page. This means that finding what you’re looking for is always at your fingertips and you never have to go forage around the platform to make a search query. 

As avid job seekers, we want to regularly sharpen our skills in utilizing the search bar. It may seem pretty straightforward, but subtle nuances can make a powerful difference in your search.

For instance, much like Google’s search engine, the LinkedIn search feature works by paying special attention to words in quotations. You can also separate search elements by the word OR.

In the sections below we’ll delve more deeply into various search strategies.

How to Do a Basic Search

For basic instructions on how to use the search bar, follow the steps below.

  1. On the main navigation bar, click on the Home tab and find the Search Bar. It is located on the top left of the LinkedIn webpage. How LinkedIn Search Works
  2. Place your cursor into the search box and enter your query. You will be given the option to choose a suggestion or click on the magnifying glass search icon. You can also just tap Enter on your keyboard.
  3. In the results screen, you can further refine your search via the various filters shown below. How LinkedIn Search Works

For a quick overview of how the LinkedIn Search Bar works, click here.

LinkedIn Search Strategies

Whether we are looking for the best jobs to suit our needs and lifestyle or we are wanting to network with other professionals, it is a good idea to do your search in a variety of ways. Consider the following methods. 

Keyword Search

How LinkedIn Search Works Doing a keyword search will pull up corresponding people, jobs, groups, posts, and other results that pertain to your query. You will want to list all relevant skills, subjects, and topics. Play around with your search, using a variety of word variations to see what brings back the most optimal results.

Helpful Tip: LinkedIn search pays special attention to words in quotations. You can also separate elements by the word “OR“.

Title Search

Be sure to enter your desired job title and include variations, abbreviations, and even likely misspellings. Even recruiters can make spelling errors on job postings. 

Title search example: If you want to work in the architectural industry you might type the following query into the search field: “Designer” OR “Draftsman” Or “Auto Cad Specialist” OR “Cad Engineer”, etc. Job titles are one of those things that can have a hundred different variations, depending upon the industry and individual company preference.

Broad Search

This involves listing all possible keywords or titles within the search. To do this special kind of search, include all likely variations, abbreviations, and synonyms in your query. You can do this for job titles, skill sets, industries, or even company names. 

Search Mining

Use this method to find popular synonyms. This will help you mine for keywords, terms, and skills; all of which you can add to your profile or use to expand future searches. 

To do this, enter a search term. When a variety of results come up, scan them to find other relevant and frequently used words that pertain to your industry. These words will help you streamline your profile so that recruiters can easily find you. 

For example, if you enter “design” into the Search Bar, you will find words like create, develop, draft, model, etc. If any of these mined words apply to your particular field of expertise, you can then add them to your profile and/or resume. Similarly, you can search for and investigate companies that are found by using these keywords. 

LinkedIn will also provide a list of popular searches.

Natural Verbiage Search

This search will pull up profiles that use related wording and industry phrases that are mentioned within profiles, descriptions, and resumes/CVs. Study other professional profiles to discover new phrases or descriptions that apply to your industry or desired job

With this search, it is important to have already expanded your network. You can only search the profiles of other professionals who are already within your network.

Advanced Search Options and Filters

Now that you know how to do a basic search, let’s explore some handy filters that can narrow down your results. After all, we don’t want to have to sit through thousands of results, much of which could be irrelevant to our query anyway.

In the free version of LinkedIn, when you type in a name, topic, or job title, you can search by the following filters. Under each filter, there are additional sub-filters. From there you can specify other details.

The LinkedIn search bar works best by incorporating the following filters. 

Filter by People

Whether you’re looking for like-minded professionals, recruiters, or colleagues, the People filter will help you find the person you’re looking for. Listed below are the available sub-filters that allow you to streamline your search even further.

    • Connections Tier – You can designate the kind of people you are looking to connect with. For more information, look here
      • 1st Tier – Will bring up people you are looking to Message
      • 2nd – Will enable you to Connect with those that come up in the search
      • 3rd – For more distant connections, you can pull up individuals you would like to contact via the Send In Mail option
      • Find out more about Tiers here
    • Locations – Find people or jobs within a particular region or location
    • Current Companies – Find people who currently work at a particular job or within an industry.
    • Past Companies – Find people who used to work for a particular company
    • Industries – Enables you to search for candidates (jobs or people) who are in a particular field or trade
    • Profile Language – The preferred language of an individual or job title
    • Nonprofit Interests – Enables you to find organizations or individuals that participate in nonprofit arenas
    • Schools – This filter includes universities and academic institutions for which the person may have attended
    • Groups – You can go into groups to search for professionals, colleagues, and even the kinds of companies you would like to work for. You can join up to 50 groups. That’s fifty different ways a recruiter can find you. You can also join subgroups. Take advantage of every opportunity to put yourself out there.
    • KeywordsBy entering the specific keywords you are looking for, the LinkedIn search feature will only bring back candidates that contain the specified keywords

Filter by Available Courses

When you use the Course filter for your search, LinkedIn works to bring up results related to your topic. From there you can enroll in helpful courses within LinkedIn. There are no additional sub-filters for courses.

Filter by Events

You can find events that pertain to your topic by utilizing the Events filter. There are no additional sub-filters for events.

How LinkedIn Search Works

Filter by Groups

This filter will allow you to find which groups pertain to your topic or interest. The Groups filter does not have any additional sub-filters.

Filter by Services

The Services filter will help you find professionals that offer a service related to your topic.

How LinkedIn Search Works

    • Service Categories – Offered services can include things like consulting, marketing, coaching, and the like
    • Locations – You can choose from a list of countries to find a service by region
    • Connections – Include 1st, 2nd, or 3rd tier connects in your results
    • Profile Language – Choose a service provider that speaks the best language for you

Filter by Schools

Find educational institutions that correspond to your topic or search query. The School filter does not have any additional sub-filters.

Filter by Companies

Using the filter by Company feature can help you find those employers that correspond with your search query.

    • Location – Choose the region where you want to work or find jobs within a particular region or location
    • Industry – Specify the industry in which you wish to work
    • Company Size – Decide the size of company you would like to work for
    • Job Listing on LinkedIn – Find specific companies that are also hiring
    • Connections – Companies will show up based upon a 1st tier relationship only

Filter by Available Jobs

The Jobs filter will assist you in finding career options related to your search query.

    • Sort by – You can look at jobs based upon the most recent or the most relevant postings
    • Date Posted – You can filter the results by the time a job was posted
    • Experience Level – Filter jobs based upon your experience level
    • Company – Find jobs within the companies you are looking for
    • Job Type – Specify the job you are looking for
    • Remote – Designate whether you are looking for local work or are open to remote work
    • Easily Apply Feature – Find companies that offer an easy upload of your information
    • Location – Choose your desired job location
    • Industry – Specify the industry you want to work in
    • Job Function – Describe the functions of the job that you wish to perform
    • Title – Check off listed job titles for which you are qualified
    • Under 10 Applicants – You can apply for jobs that have less competition
    • In Your Network – Find jobs that pertain to your topic and are also within your circle of colleagues
    • Fair Chance Employer – Find companies that are willing to hire those with a past criminal record
    • Salary – Search for jobs on LinkedIn that provide an income range that works for you
    • Benefits Package – Choose jobs based upon the benefits they offer

Filter by Posts

The Posts filter will provide you with an array of industry information, based upon the topic you enter into the search bar.

    • Posted by – Find your own posts or those from 1st tier connections
    • Date Posted – Find posts based upon the time they were published
    • Sort by – Choose top matches or filter by the latest releases
    • Author Industry or Company – Add industries that you are interested in

Why Sales Navigator Can Help You Up Your Game 

Sales Navigator is an optional and paid add-on. It is used by sales representatives. Yet even as a professional looking for a job or new clients, you can use SN to give you an added edge. If you’re a freelancer, SN will help you find the clients you’re looking for

Sales Navigator can enable you to find specialized professionals and niche companies. SN is like an expanded filter and search engine. You can streamline your searches and find specific people and/or companies. 

Sales Navigator lets you do the following, and much much more:

  • Add a Function
  • Add multiple Titles
  • Exclude unwanted job Titles
  • Include employee Seniority Level
  • Sort by Company Headcount
  • Search by Industry
  • Enter Keywords and consider the extra recommendations that automatically populate in the search field
  • Find people based upon Account Activity
  • Put together Custom Lists
  • Gather by Geography
  • Browse by Relationship (1st, 2nd, and 3rd tier connections)
  • Filter by Profile Language
  • Search by First Name

Sales Navigator helps you customize your filters for a more accurate search. Additionally, you can name and save your searches for future use. You can also save your leads.

Why Optimizing Your Profile Makes You More Searchable

The LinkedIn search option works both ways. We as professionals use it to connect with colleagues and/or job opportunities. Recruiters use the search bar to find the best talent. 

On this note, we want to make sure we are easy to find. When we are on the hunt for a new job, being available is just as important as actively looking.

To do this, put yourself in the shoes of a recruiter. If you were a hiring manager, what would you look for? How would you find the candidates you were looking for? It is in this mindset that you will want to fill out your profile, compose your resume, and do searches. 

A lot of people make the mistake of holding back on their profile. The majority of LinkedIn profiles are poorly articulated. What’s more, most people put very little information into their profiles. 

This is relevant because the way you use your account and the thoroughness of your profile will determine how you rank in LinkedIn’s algorithms. With this in mind, post often and stay active. Even more importantly, fully develop and create a robust profile. Equipped with this knowledge, you can stand out from the crowd!

Incorporate the following elements into your profile

Keyword Frequency

Let’s revisit keyword use. On your profile, using relevant keywords, ones related to your particular field of expertise, can help you show up first in a search query. The reason this matters is that recruiters may have hundreds of candidates to look at and sift through. If you’re near the bottom of the list, they may never make it to you.

To get to the top of the list, use relevant keywords in your Job Title, Headline, Degrees, Qualifications, Company Names (no abbreviations), your listed Skills, and your Name (it should include your credentials or degrees). For instance, your name can have MBA, Dr, MD, CPA, etc.

Additionally, many people don’t understand the importance of keywords and seldom put thought into their usage. Yet using the right keywords can make a huge difference in the amount of traffic you get to your profile.

Spelling, Grammar, and Abbreviations

Be sure to spell your job title correctly. If you misspell words, you may not show up in the search algorithms. Additionally, many recruiters will skip over candidates that do not bother to spell-check their profile. In fact, sloppy spelling can disqualify you from the job immediately. Employers see this negligence as poor attention to detail and as carelessness…which is a potential liability to the company. They may reason, “If the candidate can’t be bothered to spell correctly, what other areas are they careless in?”

Remember to use proper punctuation and word usage. How you write can be a direct indicator of your understanding, proficiency, and competency to perform the job. If you are poor at writing, be sure to have someone look over your profile.

Similarly, when using abbreviations, be sure to spell out the abbreviation at least once within your profile or resume. Never assume that a recruiter knows what your abbreviations stand for. 


Make sure you are searchable and easily found. Be sure to list relevant work skills, systems knowledge, and other terms a recruiter may enter as a query into LinkedIn’s search bar.

When filling out your profile, you will first want to consider what your immediate and long-term goals are. Then you can begin to develop a working strategy to gain success. Realize that finding the best jobs and making meaningful connections can take time. Don’t get discouraged and continue to regularly practice. Find out what works and what doesn’t. Allow yourself the grace to experiment and try new things. The important thing is to trust the process and focus upon your incoming success.

Related: How to Find Remote Jobs on LinkedIn


LinkedIn is a veritable goldmine of opportunity if you know where to look. This is why presenting yourself clearly and articulately will put you at an advantage among your peers. 

Spending a little extra time polishing your profile and searching a little deeper will turn up unique rewards that others simply fail to uncover. Set yourself apart by applying these strategies and techniques. 

As always, happy job hunting!

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