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How to search talent in LinkedIn for free

LinkedIn is expensive, we know, so here are four ways of searching LinkedIn for free.

July 25, 2021
Yuma Heymans
June 17, 2024

Finding the right talent on LinkedIn doesn't have to be expensive. 

With a few smart search methods, you can effectively search for potential candidates without breaking the bank. 

Here are four practical methods to search LinkedIn for talent for free:

  1. Maximizing LinkedIn's free search
  2. Using Google to search LinkedIn
  3. Taking advantage of LinkedIn’s free trial
  4. Using alternative search engines

Practical guide to searching LinkedIn for talent for free

1. Maximizing LinkedIn's free search

LinkedIn’s basic search features can be quite effective when used properly. 

One way to enhance your search is by utilizing Boolean operators in the search bar. 

By using terms like AND, OR, and NOT, you can combine or exclude certain keywords to refine your search results. 

For example, searching for “Software Engineer AND Java” will help you find profiles that include both terms, making your search more targeted and effective.

Even though free users don't have access to all the advanced filters, you can still use basic filters such as location, industry, and connections. 

Filtering by location can be particularly useful if you're looking to hire locally or in specific regions. It’s also important to note that free users can view a limited number of profiles per search. 

To make the most of your searches, prioritize viewing the most relevant profiles first and consider saving profiles or taking notes on candidates of interest so you can follow up later without needing to perform additional searches.

Boolean search

Boolean search allows you to combine or exclude keywords using operators like AND, OR, and NOT. This technique refines your search to get the most relevant results.

  • AND: Combines keywords to find profiles containing all the specified terms. For example, “Software Engineer AND Java” will show profiles with both "Software Engineer" and "Java."
  • OR: Broadens your search by including profiles with at least one of the terms. For example, “Java OR Python” will display profiles that have either "Java" or "Python."
  • NOT: Excludes profiles containing the specified term. For example, “Software Engineer NOT Manager” will show profiles of software engineers but exclude those with "Manager" in their titles.

Basic filters

LinkedIn's free search includes basic filters that allow you to narrow down your search:

  • Location: Specify geographic regions to find candidates within a particular area.
  • Industry: Filter by industry to find candidates with experience in specific sectors.
  • Connections: Filter by connections (1st, 2nd, or 3rd degree) to leverage your network.

Profile viewing limits

Free LinkedIn accounts have a limit on how many profiles you can view per month. To make the most of this, prioritize your searches:

  • Targeted Viewing: Focus on the most relevant profiles first. Use Boolean search and filters to ensure you’re looking at the best matches.
  • Take Notes: Record key details about interesting profiles. This helps avoid repeated searches and maximizes your monthly quota.

2. Using Google to search LinkedIn (X-ray)

Another effective method to find LinkedIn profiles for free is by leveraging Google’s search engine, often referred to as an “x-ray search.” 

This technique allows you to use Google’s indexing of LinkedIn profiles to find candidates without being restricted by LinkedIn’s search limitations. 

To perform a LinkedIn x-ray search on Google, you can use specific search queries to find profiles. For instance, a search query like site:linkedin.com/in/ "Software Engineer" "San Francisco" will show LinkedIn profiles of software engineers in San Francisco.

Combining keywords and filters in your Google searches can further refine your results. This approach allows you to be very specific about the kind of candidates you’re looking for, which can save you a lot of time and effort.

Google’s search engine can be a powerful tool for finding LinkedIn profiles through a technique known as "x-ray search." 

This method bypasses LinkedIn’s internal search limits!

Search queries

To use Google for x-ray searches, format your search queries to target LinkedIn profiles:

  • Basic Query: Use the format site:www.linkedin.com/in/ (inanchor:"Job Title" OR intitle:"Job Title") "Location". For example, www.site:linkedin.com/in/ (inanchor:"Software Engineer" OR intitle:"Software Engineer") "San Francisco" will return LinkedIn profiles of software engineers in San Francisco.
  • Specific Keywords: Add skills or specific job roles to refine the search. For example, site:linkedin.com/in/ "Data Scientist" "Python" "New York" will target profiles of data scientists in New York with Python skills.

Refine searches

Improve the accuracy of your searches by combining different elements:

  • Job Titles and Skills: Use combinations like site:linkedin.com/in/ "Product Manager" "Agile" "Los Angeles" to find specific profiles.
  • Company Names: Add company names to your query to find professionals with experience at particular companies. For example, site:linkedin.com/in/ "Marketing Manager" "Google".

3. Taking advantage of LinkedIn’s free trial

LinkedIn offers a free trial of its premium features, including advanced search capabilities through LinkedIn Recruiter or LinkedIn Sales Navigator. 

While the trial period is limited to one month, it can be beneficial if used strategically. 

Before activating your free trial, make sure you have a clear plan. Identify the roles you need to fill and prepare a list of keywords and search criteria. This preparation will allow you to use the advanced search features efficiently during your trial period.

During the free trial, take full advantage of LinkedIn’s InMail feature, which allows you to message candidates directly. Craft personalized messages to engage with potential hires and build relationships that can continue even after the trial ends.

LinkedIn Premium offers a free trial that includes advanced search features, providing a temporary but powerful boost to your recruitment efforts.

Prepare your search

Before activating the free trial, plan your search strategy:

  • Define Roles: Clearly define the roles you need to fill and the qualifications required.
  • Keyword List: Prepare a list of keywords and phrases related to the job titles, skills, and industries you are targeting.

Use InMail

During the free trial, take full advantage of LinkedIn’s InMail feature, which allows you to message candidates directly.

  • Craft Personalized Messages: Personalize your InMail messages to increase response rates. Mention specific aspects of their profile and explain why you are reaching out.
  • Follow Up: Don’t hesitate to send follow-up messages if you don’t receive a response initially.

4. Using alternative search engines

In addition to LinkedIn, there are alternative search engines that can help you find LinkedIn profiles for free. 

These tools aggregate profiles from various sources, including LinkedIn, to provide a broader talent pool. 

Using such a search engine, you can search for candidates by job title, skills, and location, similar to LinkedIn. However, these tools often integrate with other platforms, potentially giving you access to profiles that aren’t available on LinkedIn alone.

By using alternative search engines alongside LinkedIn, you can compare search results and identify unique candidates that might not appear on one platform.

HeroHunt.ai is an example of an AI-driven tool designed to streamline and automate the recruitment process. Here's how to effectively utilize HeroHunt.ai for finding talent:

HeroHunt.ai search

HeroHunt.ai automatically searches based on your job description. You don’t have to use filters or booleans. HeroHunt.ai can recognize what it should search for just from natural language.

Autonomous AI recruiter

HeroHunt.ai offers autonomous recruitment capabilities through its AI recruiter named Uwi, which can automate the entire recruitment process:

  • AI-Powered Search: Uwi searches across multiple platforms, including LinkedIn, GitHub, and Stack Overflow, aggregating data to find up-to-date profiles from a wide talent pool​​.
  • Profile Screening: The AI screens profiles based on job descriptions and qualifications, providing a shortlist of candidates that best match your criteria.
  • Automated Outreach: HeroHunt’s AI Recruiter Uwi sends personalized messages and follow-ups to potential candidates automatically, saving significant time and increasing engagement rates. These messages are hyper-personalized using AI, ensuring relevance and a higher likelihood of response​​.
  • Verified Contact Details: HeroHunt.ai finds verified contact details for candidates, ensuring you can reach them directly and effectively​.

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