LinkedIn's search platform aims to make it easier to find new employees, customers, business partners, and colleagues on the social network. Search results can now be refined by several categories, including name, company, school, and language. They can also be saved and made persistent for future reference (when a new employee at a user's company signs up, the search will be updated and the user notified) and tweaked to show only certain data fields in the results.
The new search engine also allows users to determine how LinkedIn calculates relevance, either by the degree to which the user is connected to a potential contact, by keyword or by a combination of degrees of separation and user recommendations. The search feature also improves a feature that shows exactly which contacts a user has in common with another user. Finally, the new search engine includes a spell checker and recommendation of names as the user types.
Last month, LinkedIn unveiled eight third-party and LinkedIn social Web applications that work as widgets inside LinkedIn's Web site. Those include Huddle online workspaces, Six Apart and WordPress blogs, Box.net file sharing, Google and SlideShare presentation sharing, TripIt social travel plans, Amazon reading list sharing, and a LinkedIn app that makes note of Twitter buzz about a member's company.
Then, earlier this month, the company laid off 36 workers in what it said was a pre-emptive move to stay ahead of the slumping economy, despite raising an additional $22.7 million in venture capital in October.
Meanwhile, Lars Hinrichs, CEO of Germany-based LinkedIn competitor Xing, announced he was stepping down Monday to pursue "new entrepreneurial challenges." The company's new CEO will be Stefan Gross-Selbeck, who currently heads up eBay Germany. Xing claims to be the top business social networking site in Europe, with more than 6.5 million members. LinkedIn has 30 million members worldwide.