As wonderful as the LinkedIn system has been, all these years, I’ve always wondered why the powers-that-be over there haven’t made certain little features available that seem like they’d be a piece of cake to add — and that would extend the usefulness of the tool (especially in the People search category) to a much greater degree.

Well, somebody must have been listening, since LinkedIn has finally added two simple “tweaks” to the search interface that I personally feel will help most people — especially advanced users — zero in even faster on some great networking targets when conducting a search.  I’d highly encourage all of you out there to try out these two features in the near future to see how they might be able to enhance your own search efforts:

Feature #1: Searching for People By Exact Degree

If you’re a regular LinkedIn user, you’ve already figured out that you’ll have more success, on average, reaching out to your 2nd Degree contacts (i.e. “friends of friends”) versus 3rd Degree ones (e.g. “friends of friends of friends”).  To date, however, you couldn’t tell LinkedIn to only show those individuals who were an exact degree away from you in a given search.  You’d instead receive a list of EVERYBODY in the system, by default, and then would have to sort this list and start filtering through your contacts, page by page.

Now, if you click on the “Try our new People Search Beta” option at the bottom of the People page, you’ll be able to use a new interface the site has designed that adds several helpful features — including the degree specification option, above, as well as the ability to screen people based on the number of Recommendations they’ve received, which is helpful, as well.  This is definitely a step in the right direction and I’ve already used both of these features, multiple times, in my own search efforts.

Feature #2: Customized Views of Your People Results

The next helpful feature that we just noticed was available on LinkedIn (not sure how long it’s been around) is the ability to customize the data view that actually comes up, once you run a People search.  In the “old” days, for example, the search results page listings would automatically show the number of connections each person had, which was useful in gauging who might be most responsive to your networking inquiries.  Then, suddenly, they eliminated that data from the results view.

Now, after running any People search, you’ll see a drop-down box at the top that has a choice called “My Customized View” where you can define the exact information you want to see for each person who shows up in your search listings.  This feature lets you choose to display or turn off up to 11 available fields of data in your listings.  So in my case, I turned the “connections” feature back on, as stated above, and I turned off a few fields like “past” (job history) since I’m usually more curious where somebody is currently working, at first glance, as opposed to where they’ve worked previously.  These view is then saved and will be the default view for any future searches you run, unless you change it.

Again, these two new features aren’t necessarily ones that I’d label as revolutionary, but they certainly help take the search capabilities of LinkedIn to the next level — and eliminate a few more of the frustrating “why can’t I…” aspects of the system that have been a blemish on this otherwise terrific tool over the years!