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How to: Find Currently Available Candidate Profiles on LinkedIn

LinkedIn-LogoPuzzle – how do you find LinkedIn profiles where we know the person’s not in a role at the moment? This has been the recurring theme of a significant number of emails to our strings email helpline in the last while. There IS a way to screen LinkedIn for profiles of people who’re not working (or haven’t listed a current role), but it’s not via LinkedIn.

LinkedIn’s own search fields are quite limited, and searching dates is not available, unfortunately. Similarly with searching for languages that people speak (the Languages filter is the language the profile is written in, not the other languages they speak), LinkedIn just don’t have the search capacity right now to filter by these essential factors.

Following on from a blog we wrote nearly a year ago on how to search LinkedIn for contract or temporary staff (available here), here’s two methods to search for unemployed or between-roles candidates who’re more than likely available immediately for your vacancies.

Method 1:

Via Google, conduct a search for your ideal candidate who’s between roles (in this example, we’ll use a vacancy for a qualified financial advisor from one of the main retail banks in Ireland – for your preferred country, just swap the ie. at the beginning of the LinkedIn URL for yours, example for the UK, for the USA, for France etc.) -inurl:dir -inurl:groups -inurl:jobs -inurl:title

(“qualified financial advisor” OR QFA)

(“bank of Ireland” OR “AIB” OR “irish bank” OR “permanent TSB” OR “Ulster Bank” OR “nib”)

(“September 2012” OR “October 2012” OR “November 2012”)


Copy and paste this entire search query above into Google and hit search, and see what comes up.

So what we’ve done here is look for a QFA or related synonyms to this term, the synonyms of the top retail banks in Ireland (note: “Allied Irish Bank” and “National Irish Bank” are both covered by the search term “Irish Bank”, so we’ve removed the individual write-ups of their names and saved ourselves precious words in our 32-term limited Google search), and we’ve removed the term “Present” by expressing it as -present. Each publicly available LinkedIn profile, when in a current role, has the word “Present” written on it. When we remove it, we’re seeing only public profiles that’re not showing the person with a current role.

By adding the most recent three months written as Month Year, eg “November 2012”, we’re asking for people who’ve got that term written on their profile somewhere (most likely will be the month in which they finished their last role). To be even more precise, we can look for this: -inurl:dir -inurl:groups -inurl:jobs -inurl:title (“qualified financial advisor” OR QFA) (“bank of Ireland” OR “AIB” OR “irish bank” OR “permanent TSB” OR “Ulster Bank” OR “nib”) (“september 2012 * months” OR “october 2012 * months” OR “november 2012 * months”) -present

Because a role is written bookended with the number of years and months that person occupied the role (note: “months” is always present, but “years” may not be), our search will be quite specific in looking for people who’ve finished up in the last 3 months as we’ve written here.

Method 2:

Using our Custom Search Engine available on our People Search page, which is freely available to use for any LinkedIn profile search you want to make, we’ve included a tab which you can now refine by “No Current Role”. While this is for the general population of LinkedIn around the world, you can refine it yourself by putting in your location as a keyword.

So, to use – simply click on our People Search page from our top menu, and write in your keywords (using our same example as above):

(“qualified financial advisor” OR QFA) (“bank of Ireland” OR “AIB” OR “irish bank” OR “permanent TSB” OR “Ulster Bank” OR “nib”) ireland

Click Search, and then filter your results by the tab “No Current Role (World)” and you’re done!

Feel free to use our People Search engine to search LinkedIn via Google where you don’t have to faff around adding loads of Boolean search terms (you can completely scrap out the whole site: and inurl: searches). It’s used by thousands of recruiters every day. If there’s a market we haven’t covered that you’d like us to, just let us know by emailing us at [email protected] and we’ll get on the case!

Troubleshooting: Why do I sometimes find profiles with current roles even after I remove “present”?

This phenomenon is a bit of a nuisance. There’s only one reason for it, and it’s this: when each person is creating their profile and adjusting their settings, they can select to opt out of a number of things, mainly that their profile not be made available to be crawled by a search engine. Each member can customise their profile content on a search engine, as the screenshot below shows, including unticking that their current positions or past positions be shown.

Customise Your Public Profile options on LinkedIn

When this happens, Google will show you a false positive result – the page it’s returning didn’t have the word “Present” on it in the publicly available version. However, if you open the search result when you’re logged into LinkedIn, you see the LinkedIn version of the person’s profile which will say they have a current role. As an experiment, try opening the search result when you’re not logged into LinkedIn (or right-click the result and open in a new Incognito window, if using Chrome as your browser). Is their current position shown? 99.9% of the time it won’t be.

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