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LinkedIn’s new Unified Search is interesting, convenient, and a pleasure to use. It’s also set up a lot like Facebook’s recently released Graph Search, with lots of autocomplete functionality and results that combine many kinds of information into a single personalized list of results.

“The results are always influenced by the composition of my network, who I’m connected to as well as who I am and what’s in my profile,” said Brad Mauney, LinkedIn product lead for identity products, in a recent interview with VentureBeat.

In order to make the new Unified Search as smart as possible, the team behind it considered content (like posts and groups) as well as context (who you’re connected to and what tasks you’re trying to accomplish with each search.

The result is an all-new search feature that shows all results grouped by companies, people, groups, posted jobs, updates, etc. It even allows you to search your LinkedIn inbox as part of the new, personalized search experience. All these different types of results are returned any time you start a new search; you can choose how to narrow it down.

You can also do a highly specific people search — perfect for finding those two or three or five leads who can get you exactly what you want, whether it’s a big sale or a new job — and you can save searches and get alerts when new results come up on LinkedIn’s radar.

Here’s a sneak peek:

“We think of identity as finding, connecting, and being found, and search is obviously part of that,” said Mauney. “Search has always been a core part of LinkedIn’s DNA … and it’s always been a social experience.”

As far as the product’s resemblance to Graph Search goes, it’s obvious the two teams (at Facebook and LinkedIn) were working separately but in parallel and that a more object-oriented approach to search (as opposed to a keyword/string-based search) is going to become the new normal.

“The way we’re going with search is very much intended to let our members navigate through a very complex system of things and relationships and be effective as professionals in terms of finding new opportunities, new candidates, new jobs, advice,” said Mauney.

“No two professionals are alike, and no two users on LinkedIn are alike. The graph aspect here and that we’re seeing evolving is intended to capitalize on that degree of personalization.”

LinkedIn also hopes to highlight some of the more active and exciting parts of its site and service, like its massive database of groups posts and its daily news sections.

“If you look at the direction we’ve been going recently, the products we’ve invested in like LinkedIn Today, LinkedIn News, and the influencer program, the quality continues to amaze me,” Mauney said.

“Imagine a LinkedIn where you go to the search box and search for entrepreneurship, and we know you’re looking for content and groups, and we want to drive you to the place where you’ll be most engaged.”

Wouldn’t you typically look to Google for a search on a wide-open topic like that? I ask.

“If you’re looking for the page-ranked version of ‘best,’ you go to Google,” Mauney explained.

“If you want to see what’s resonating with your network, if your LinkedIn network is good, LinkedIn is going to surface the best content. … Using your professional graph as a primary filter against the firehose of news and content that we’re being blasted with every day — it’s a very powerful thing.”

Image credit: kristaguenin/Flickr

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