Search, by kjnnt and

Woohoo! Everybody Can View 3rd Level Profiles (Again)

Good news for LinkedIn users, especially those using the basic free account: LinkedIn has returned the ability for all users to see the full names and full profiles of 3rd level connections, with some undefined limits. The change was just announced January 6th (yesterday), and there are some other perks that go along with this announcement.

What this means is, when you do a search on LinkedIn and find a 3rd level connection, you can now:

  • View their last name (before you only saw their last initial),
  • Read their entire profile,
  • Add them to your Contacts list (you don’t need to be connected to do this),
  • Send them an invitation to connect,
  • View any links to their blogs, Twitter or other social media, if they posted them,
  • Click on any media links they added to their profile,
  • See their recommendations and endorsements.

The changes also mean you no longer have to resort to tricks and Google searches to view the same accounts on LinkedIn or to send them an invitation.

I have not actually tried to send an invitation to any 3rd level connections since the change, so I don’t know if there are any limitations on this or whether you are allowed to personalize the invitation. (Why would you try to send an invitation to a 3rd level person without introducing yourself? It’s like a stranger walking up to you on the street and asking to connect on LinkedIn.)

By the way, LinkedIn still needs to update their Help files to reflect these changes.

Not The First Time Basic Users Can See These Profiles

In one of LinkedIn’s announcements What’s changed with LinkedIn search?, they stated: “You’ll now be able to view full names and profiles for anyone in your extended network – 1st, 2nd, and 3rd degree – a level of visibility previously available only to paid subscribers.” Well, truthfully, basic account holders did previously have the ability to see 3rd level connections up until LinkedIn removed that capability a couple of years ago. LinkedIn’s supervisors probably didn’t bother to tell their newer PR staff that, though.

Limitations on their Generosity

There are some limitations on the number of searches and views you can do per month, but LinkedIn isn’t saying exactly what those limitations are, except that “With this change, every LinkedIn member can search without restrictions until they hit the commercial use limit for search in any given month.” What are those commercial limits? Are these limits on the number of unique searches performed or on the number of profiles viewed? This is so new that, chances are, most of the staff don’t even know yet.

Well, all LinkedIn is saying is, “Reaching the commercial use limit means your activity on LinkedIn is likely geared towards commercial purposes, like hiring or prospecting.” After that, you need to upgrade to a paid account. (See our Frugal Guidance 2 post, LinkedIn Updates and You — New Pricing Plans, on their new professional level accounts and their costs.) Once you exceed the limit, search apparently reverts to the older, restricted views. But the limitations are on a monthly basis. So if you do exceed the number of searches in one month, the counter resets on the 1st of the next month.

Clearly, LinkedIn wants to encourage their basic users to use search more and find enough value to upgrade to one of the paid accounts. Fair enough.

Other LinkedIn Search Announcements

In a different LinkedIn Blog post, Find People and Jobs Faster with LinkedIn Search, LinkedIn also gave a few more details on changes to LinkedIn search.

Fuzzy Search Terms

If you’re not sure of the correct spelling of a name, LinkedIn search finds alternate spelling for you. So, if you enter Kirsten in a search, you may also find results for Kristen and Krysten. This is actually not new, but may be handled differently on the back end.

Personalized Search Results

LinkedIn will also try to personalize your search results, apparently looking at your profile info and previous searches. If you look for job openings at your previous employer, or you’ve already done recent searches for jobs at another company, it appears that LinkedIn will give those companies higher ranking when doing a new job or people search.

Although LinkedIn calls these types of search results their “best-in-class search experience,” they may be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on how specific and careful you are in defining search terms. They may help beginning members who are not experienced in using LinkedIn’s search tools, but they also may confound those who have experience with Boolean search terms and know how to focus their search to find a small set of results.

Again, LinkedIn appears to have been gradually changing these results (or experimenting with them) for around a year, so this isn’t as dramatic a change as allowing you to see 3rd level connections again, but at least it is an acknowledgement of why you’re getting some of the search results you’ve been seeing.

As a result, search professionals (say in recruiting and sales) might feel forewarned rather than excited by the last sentence in the blog post, “And these changes are just a start – we look forward to sharing more exciting developments in the year to come.”

See also our earlier Frugal Guidance 2 post about LinkedIn search, where Frugal Guidance 2 has none other than Sherlock Holmes investigate LinkedIn search, in The Mystery of the Purloined LinkedIn Search Engine.


Search artwork is by “kjnnt” and

Frugal Guidance 2 -