Do you use the Faceted Search feature within LinkedIn? I do. It’s brilliant. You can carve up any search by filtering by current employer, location, education, connection level; you name it! In fact, I use it so much I realised at the weekend that I’ve gotten lazy. One of our Blue Belt grads, Joe Thornton of HRM Recruit, emailed me a query over the weekend about faceted search result. He was searching for a particular job title and had filtered by a target company using the faceted search. So it was with great surprise that he discovered that a candidate whom he knew for certain had that title in that company was not in his filtered search. Time for some investigation!
This morning, to prove the point, I did a global search for candidates on LinkedIn who had the current title “Accountant”. I checked the side of my search result for the faceted search filters and saw that the top employer within my search result was “Ernst & Young” with 3653 profiles. Normally, I would start working through a search by selecting companies from the faceted search field and start working through them. Having identified the problem with Joe’s search over the weekend, I decided to search for the same exact current title but instead of looking at all results, I chose to search for profiles who had listed the current employer exactly as “Ernst & Young” (yes, I included the quotations in the search). Surely there should be 3653 profiles? Not so, in fact we find that there are 3,749 results, an extra 97 profiles. So what’s going on?
When a LinkedIn user adds a current or previous position and enters their employer name, LinkedIn will immediately prompt them to select from one of the existing companies within its database. This links all of these users together as employees from this company and drives all of the information in that company’s LinkedIn Company Page. The thing is, you don’t have to select the company that is prompted, you can just keep going and leave the free-text version of the company name in your work history, un-linked to the company page.
In fact, the top profile result in my search was of an Ernst & Young employee who had written her employer name exactly as it is written in the official Ernst & Young Company Page on LinkedIn but it was not linked. If you click on an unlinked company name like this, it just opens up a new search result containing profiles that have this exact name in their employer field. What Joe’s email had revealed to me was that the faceted search filter only allows you to filter by people who have linked their employer (past or current) to an official LinkedIn company page. It won’t show the people who have just entered the free-text employer name without linking it. When I ran Joe’s original search again targeting the company name in the current employer field, along with the job title he had been searching for, there was his missing candidate. The official company page on LinkedIn for her employer contained 2 words; she had written the shortened, one word version of her company name.
If we take the Ernst & Young example and broaden our search to include a different way of writing the same employer name, “E&Y”, we end up with 3,803 results, a full 150 more profiles that our original faceted search result. The plot thickens!
So, what lesson can be learned from this example? Well, it’s apparent to me that to truly find all of the possible candidates that might be out there, you still have to put yourself in the LinkedIn member’s shoes and think about how they might have created their profile, the “mistakes” they might have made (think “pubic relations” and “quality mangers”) and never assume that everyone follows guidelines in the same way. The faceted search filter is still an excellent way of carving up a search but if you are going to filter by company or school, run a separate search that targets people in that company using keywords and alternative spellings/ acronyms to make sure you are not missing anyone else.
In the war for (someone else’s) talent, you can leave no stone unturned!