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LinkedIn Smart Search And What It Means For The Recruiting Process

The new LinkedIn Smart Search function and Recruiter interface, which were previewed last October, might bring in more paid customers, but they take some getting used to. The smart part of the equation doesn't feel so smart when search results are less than half, or sometimes even lower, than before. But the problem isn't the search, it's the way that searches are performed.

Used the right way, LinkedIn product market strategist, Matt Tague, says that it's a "game changer." It's designed to help fine tune searches, which could ultimately produce better and more relevant results. But it takes a specific approach and a watchful eye for pitfalls.

LinkedIn Search Syntax Change Confuses Some Results

The LinkedIn Recruiter upgrade was anticipated by many, but it was met with a thud when search results came back disappointing. Why would the same search that produced dozens of results now only produce one or two? BooleanStrings says that without a boolean search operator (and, or, or not), LinkedIn's smart search automatically lumps every keyword into one phrase. You'll notice that by the quotation marks.

For example, the words "sales marketing manager" were once treated by LinkedIn Recruiter as "sales and marketing and manager," and the results reflected that. Now, it's treated as "sales marketing manager." At least unless you specify otherwise by including boolean search operators. The new search reads queries differently, so it produces different results, even using the same words as before.

LinkedIn Says Searching is Now Easier

Once you get past the old way to search and start incorporating search operators, Tague says the new system will "take a lot of the busy work out of recruiting." How so? He explains that it lets recruiters perform more relevant and precise searches than before.

He goes on to say that unlike the last search incarnation, recruiters don't need experience in any industry to recruit effectively for it. If you know a qualified candidate, all you need to do is enter that person's name and the system will automatically generate a search based on that person's qualifications. Then you can find more people with the same. Pretty neat.

Smart Search Also Fills in the Blanks

If you know a great candidate, it's easy to find the right search terms. But recruiting is not always that simple. Sometimes all that you have is a job title. Tague says LinkedIn Recruiter Smart Search helps with that, too.

Type in the job title and the system will produce a list of the most common and relevant job skills for it. "The list of candidate results automatically updates in real time as they accept the terms LinkedIn Recruiter recommends," he explains. Without being an expert, you can still find who you're looking for without wading through candidates who aren't relevant to the job.

Caveat: nothing is perfect, and such is the case with LinkedIn Recruiter's new Smart Search. Perhaps the biggest snag, according to Boolean Strings, is that your old saved searches might not work properly now. Your search history might also be affected, with "entries that may or may not work as before."

But once recruiters get over the learning curve hump, LinkedIn is confident that this change will be for the better. It might be confusing now, and it might also make relied on searches ineffective. But it also puts a little more searching power in your hands. Of course, you have to decide if that is actually a good thing

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Chris Atkins

Chris Atkins is passionate about making marketing what it should be...a conversation no matter what the medium may be. Now, he turns his skills into valuable education pieces for Talent Acquisition professionals as the world of HR adopts the principals of marketing.

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