While teaching a LinkedIn class last night, I was reminded of a very useful feature on the site that I had completely forgotten about — and that most people probably miss, if they’re fairly new to the system!

The feature in question is the ability to save your searches on the Advanced People Search page.  Why is this so useful, you ask?  Because for most job hunters, there’s a very specific target audience you’re trying to reach, such as, let’s say, venture capitalists who focus on biotech companies or financial executives who work in the consumer products industry.  And while it can take a little trial and error to figure out the best search approach, at first, you’ll eventually figure out a specific combination that works well — and turns up a whole bunch of the exact kinds of people you’re trying to reach.  So the ability to save this search for future reference, versus having to remember it or retype it, is pretty handy.

All you have to do is run your search, then click on the “Save” button in the top right corner (see diagram below) and give your search a name, so that you permanently recall it, down the road.

What makes this feature extremely useful, however, is that once you save a search, you can then program LinkedIn to send you any NEW people who match your criteria on a weekly or monthly basis.  This is a very cool thing.  Let’s say you program the perfect search, turn up 27 names of great people to contact, and then rush off to network with these people and generate some leads.  What happens, though, if you then want to repeat this process a month later?  You’d run the search again and end up turning up virtually the exact same list of people you picked through before, wasting time and duplicating a ton of effort.

But if you’ve saved your search, as outlined above, you can then click on the “Saved Searches” tab at the top of the results screen and a new screen will pop up (see diagram below) that allows you to change the “Settings” of each search — and program them to deliver you any fresh results, automatically, on either a weekly or monthly basis.

An example of this technique in action?  I make it my business to know as many recruiters as possible in the Seattle area, to assist my client base, so I created a search using multiple criteria to find me just about every headhunter and staffing consultant in the local market.  Once I saved this search, I then programmed the settings to send me any NEW recruiter names on a weekly basis, so that I’d be notified any time somebody in Seattle landed a new recruiting or staffing job — or if any veteran recruiter finally decided to get with the times and join the LinkedIn system.  This saves me from having to scroll through the same old tired list of names, again and again, and provides me with some very useful data given what I do for a living.

So I just wanted to call your attention to this ultra-convenient feature, in case you missed it, and I honestly can’t think of too many job hunters (or sales people, or business owners…) who couldn’t put this functionality to good use.  Give it a try!