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At last, LinkedIn makes search more useful

Unified search -- by more than just one category -- is coming to LinkedIn.
Unified search -- by more than just one category -- is coming to LinkedIn.LinkedIn

LinkedIn may be the leading social network for professionals, but searching for information on it has been about as useful as looking for a needle in a haystack. And as Google knows, and now Facebook, that's no way to run a search engine.

LinkedIn said Monday that's changing, and users will be able to find information more quickly by searching for comprehensive results instead of by separate categories, such as people, companies or jobs.

There's also other improvements that will be rolled out starting immediately, including auto-complete for search queries and better advanced search with the use of filters like location, company and school.

You'll also be able to get suggested searches so, for example, if you type in a phrase like "product manager," you'll get search results for people or jobs related to "product manager," as well as a "preview of top results to help you find what you're looking for in one click," wrote LinkedIn product manager Johnathan Podemsky on the site's blog.

"Today, search on LinkedIn is getting even smarter and more streamlined. We’ve unified the search experience so you no longer need to search for people, companies, or jobs separately. Now, all you need to do is type what you’re looking for into the search box and you’ll see a comprehensive page of results that pulls content from all across LinkedIn including people, jobs, groups and companies."

With 200 million members in more than 200 countries, LinkedIn may not have the power of Facebook's 1 billion or even Google+, Google's social network which now has 343 million active monthly users.

But LinkedIn is the premier social network for job-seekers, and Facebook is increasingly gaining some pull in that area, at least according to a recent study done by Facebook in collaboration with Carnegie Mellon University. That study found that job-seekers who kept in touch with Facebook friends not only had more social support, but also the "likelihood of finding a job" increased as well.

Facebook in January unveiled its own major search upgrade called Graph Search that will make it easier to for users to search for information about each other. Graph Search is still being rolled out.

Podemsky wrote that 5.7 billion "professionally oriented searches were done" using LinkedIn last year.

"No two professionals are alike on LinkedIn," he wrote. " This means even if you search for the same thing as someone else, your results will be customized to you. LinkedIn’s search efforts are founded on the ability to take into account who you are, who you know, and what your network is doing to help you find what you’re looking for."

The "new smarter search" starts rolling out to members immediately, he said, and should be available to everyone in the "coming weeks."

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