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

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.

Article Continues Below

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

This post previously appeared on

Shane Bowen is an accomplished Technical Sourcer & Full-Cycle Recruiter leveraging 10+ years of experience developing and executing innovative and scalable recruiting strategies in both agency and corporate environments, including Microsoft and Amazon. Shane has an unparalleled passion for all things Talent Acquisition and sharing his expertise with peers and the next generation of recruiting professionals. If you would like to connect with Shane, please reach out via the following: LinkedIn, Twitter @ShaneABowen or shane [at]


8 Comments on “Back to the Basics: How to X-Ray LinkedIn for Profiles Using Google

  1. Sooo…why do I need to use all of that? I can just search Google using the URL and encase what I’m looking for in quotations and yield the same result, right?

  2. Regarding example two (2), I would like to verify how the setup would look:
    OR inurl:com/in) -inurl:pub/dir “people you know” adding keywords as necessary of course, thank you…

    1. Hi Trish,

      The two options – (inurl:com/pub OR inurl:com/in) -inurl:pub/dir AND “people you know” – were not intended to be used simultaneously. Use either one or the other for best results.


  3. I don’t give up easily, so I will try posting this comment a second time. 🙂

    Nice concise and effective breakdown Shane!

    I always like to ask people if they prefer to X-Ray search LinkedIn directly, or search LinkedIn using the Advanced Search interface and then use Google or Bing to search specifically for people that are returned in LinkedIn results that are beyond their 2nd degree network.

    I personally prefer the latter, for many reasons, which I believe might be more eloquently articulated here:


    1. Hi Glen and thanks.

      It’s not whether I prefer one way or the other as that really depends on the situation. In a highly competitive Org. “AWS for instance” starting a search in LinkedIn will net me the same profiles the other 100+ recruiters have viewed and reached out too because LinkedIn has a rather strict algorithm that doesn’t seem to progress much, if at all. Example: I’ve run searches months after my initial search and the results are very similar and in some cases identical with the occasional addition of somebody who has recently updated their profile that now matches that search.

      In an effort to separate myself from the 100+ recruiters looking for the same profile, I’ll take it to the search engines as they will return a very different set of results and in many cases, profiles that have never been viewed by others from “My Company”- This has been a boon for getting a response as the candidate has not been inundated by InMails from anybody within my Org. There are obviously many reasons that account for this be it a less-than-ideal or outdated profile to name a couple.

      However, I do like to start my searches within LinkedIn and it’s only after I’m not satisfied with my results will I turn to X-Ray. I do find LI to be restricting at times as everything is verbatim where the SE’s will throw in some synonyms without the need for me to provide 5 variations a particular level, title or term. Although lately I’m noticing this to happen without my consent..:(

      P.S – It’s odd that I received no notification of comments posting. I would have never let this sit had I known so I do apologize for not responding sooner!


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *