Three easy checks that will boost the accuracy of your X-ray search

Three easy checks that will boost the accuracy of your X-ray search

X-ray search is simply a recruitment jargon for Googling candidates in social networks and community websites. The method is particularly respected by recruiters as it allows to find great candidates on LinkedIn, GitHub, Stack Overflow "from the outside" - anonymously, without using social accounts and hence avoiding search limits and other restrictions. Another important advantage is that Google search is much more flexible and its results are often more relevant compared to social networks' own search engines.

A search query is central to any search and x-raying LinkedIn is not an exception. In this article we will discuss what makes a good X-ray search query and we'll share essential checks that will increase the accuracy of your LinkedIn Xray search.

1. Relevancy: are your search terms really relevant?

Let's say you are looking for a senior python developer - should you use the term developer or probably searching for engineer will do a better job? The answer apparently requires some research. Google Trends is clear about it: software engineer is twice as popular as software developer - in the U.S.


Note, however, that if you are from Argentina, Poland, or Canada - you'd have to search twice, because these two terms are equally spread in these countries. So you search once for software engineer, then for software developer, and join the results (exclude duplicates).

... And by the way, no one says software engineer on Malta πŸ‘‹ πŸ‡²πŸ‡Ή

You can also use Google Search to save some time:


Summing it up: do some basic research to make sure you are using most relevant search terms.

2. Query length: are there unneeded terms?

A general rule is: use as fewer keywords as possible. Two to four words should be enough.

According to online search statistics, 96% of online search queries in the U.S. contain 4 words or less:


Whenever you feel like you need a longer query, try to reduce it by using more relevant keywords or split your search into separate searches.

As for the order of words, it doesn't matter much - unless we consider long or complex search queries. By default, search engines "read" queries from the left to the right and attach more weight to the terms coming first. So, if you are looking for software developers in Portugal, the query software developers Portugal will perform better than Portugal software developers because the latter is relatively more likely to include irrelevant results. Again, the difference is ususally so small that you won't even notice it, but it's a good habit to start from the more important words.

3. Boolean operators: do you use them correctly?

To improve accuracy of your search you may want to include additional terms, you may include alternative words or phrases by using "OR" term, you can use quotes to find exactly matching combinations of words, and you can also use "-" in front of words to exclude the results containing those words.

Inclusion and exclusion of words

By default, almost any search engine only returns documents that include all of the words in the search query. In Google and Bing search, the words can be separated by either space symbol, "+" symbol or the boolean "AND" operator. In Lead Beagle, you would simply use space.

The exclude (-) query term restricts results for a particular search request to documents that do not contain a particular word or phrase. The exclude term is useful when a search term has more than one meaning. For example, the word "architect" could return results about either architecture or software development. If you were looking for documents about architecture, you could exclude documents about software development from your search results by using the exclude query term: architect -software

Exact match

You know that you can do "exact match" search by surrounding the combination of words with quotes. But keep in mind that "exact match" does literally what it says, so the search of LinkedIn profiles with "open to new opportunities" in their titles will disregard profiles with "open to work" in their title.

Using the OR term

If you want to find any of the words from your query, you can use boolean OR. But first ask yourself if you really need it, because it's usually better to go without it - do several separate simple searches instead of an OR search.

To use the OR term, you should insert it in uppercase letters between the words you are searching for. The query Argentina OR Brasil would return results containing at least one of those two words. The results may also contain both words.

So how to use boolean OR correctly? These examples will help you build better boolean search strings:

Search for Argentina or Brasil: argentina OR brasil

Search for vacation and either Argentina or Brasil: vacation argentina OR brasil

Search for vacation and one of Argentina, Brasil or diving: vacation argentina OR brasil OR diving

Search for vacation and chocolates and either Argentina or Brasil, with the least weight being given to diving: vacation argentina OR brasil diving

Search for vacation, diving and fishing in documents that also contain either Argentina or Brasil: vacation argentina OR brasil diving fishing

Search for vacation and one of Argentina or Brasil and also search for one of diving or fishing: vacation argentina OR brasil diving OR fishing

Search for exact phrase "vacation in argentina" or "diving in brasil": "vacation in argentina" OR "diving in brasil"

Using parentheses for grouping keywords

If you do that - remove them right now. Google does not read them and so doesn't Lead Beagle. Split your query into separate searches instead and combine the results. For more details read this discussion on the Google support forum.

Wrapping it up:

  1. Use as relevant terms as possible
  2. Limit your query to two-four terms
  3. Use boolean opeartors correctly

Bonus hint

If you do non-English X-ray search in Lead Beagle, you can improve the accuracy by changing the locale of your spreadsheet: File > Spreadsheet settings.

Changing the document's locale in Google Sheets
Changing the document's locale in Google Sheets

Stay safe - search from home!

πŸ‘‹ Contact us on any matters.

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