People Search in SharePoint allows users to get information about people in the organization. Finding people and their competencies is one of the most used search features in SharePoint, and should be paid attention to. This blog post outlines three things you should consider to make the Out-of-the-box People Search shine.

1. Improving the Query rule “People name in Sharepoint Search”

One of the default query rules in SharePoint 2013 and SharePoint Online (SPO) is called People Name in SharePoint Search. What the query rules does, is that it adds people results when a user’s query matches the full name of a person. So, if you do a search for “Mikael Svenson” on the “Everything” search tab, you might get a people result that looks like this:


However, if you search for “Mikael” or “Svenson” by themselves the query rule will not trigger, and no people results will be displayed. It will only show people based on exact name matches and in large companies memorizing the full name of every employee can be difficult.

Using the full name makes this query rule a hidden gem that never reaches the surface. What most employees do is click on the People search vertical and make a follow-up search from there. Then they usually find the information they were looking for related to a colleague/person.
It is a known fact that many people are lazy and get irritated when they have to spend a lot of time finding the information they need. So why not give them a technological shortcut to their final destination by extending the people search logic for the Everything search vertical to allow partial name matches as follows:

  1. Go to your Enterprise Search Center (as an administrator) – Site Settings – Search Query Rules
  2. Select Local SharePoint Results (System) and click on New Query Rule
  3. Give your new query rule a name, e.g. “People Search on Everything tab”
  4. Click on Add Result Block and edit the following fields:search_example2
  5. Expand Settings and add a “More” link and your custom display template (based on Item_Person.html)
  6. Last, but not least, you should deactivate the default query rule People Name In SharePoint Search in order to avoid duplicates:


If you now go to the Everything search tab and search for “Trond”, you will get a people match like in the screenshot below. Voila!


2. Enriching people RESULTS

In the land of people search, content is king. To make your people search as good as possible you should strive to get your employees to take a few minutes and update their profile information. The screenshots below illustrate the difference between a two people search results. If Jane Moneypenny spent a couple of minutes and updated her profile picture, title, office, ask me about and about me fields, her result would be very similar to Mads Nissen’s.


Moreover, the icing on the cake is of course the hover panels. If your employees enrich their profile information, this will be displayed in the hover panels for the people results as presented below.



Therefore, in order to improve your content and the people search experience, my advice is to perform the following steps:

  • If you have valuable information about employees in Active Directory (AD), start by synchronizing this to your SharePoint environment.
  • Tell your employees to update their profile information on My Site. Encourage them to add as much information as possible.
  • Add custom fields/properties to user profiles in your company. Some examples here are people’s CVs, tweet streams and LinkedIn integration.
  • Configure the Search Results web part, expand Display Templates, and add the following fields to the Hit-highlighted properties (JSON) section:
    • “AboutMe”,”AccountName”,”BaseOfficeLocation”,”Department”,”Interests”,”JobTitle”,”Memberships”,”PastProjects”,”PreferredName”,”Responsibilities”,”Schools”,”Skills”,”WorkEmail”,”YomiDisplayName”

The effect of adding the new hit-highlighted properties are visualized in the figure below. The screenshot shows the people search results after a user has performed a search for SharePoint competency in the Oslo office:


3. Making your people search fuzzy

A colleague of mine (Mikael Svenson) has written a very detailed blog post about this already, but an important thing can never be said too many times. Making your people search fuzzy is especially important if your users’ primary language is a minority language – as happens to be the case for Scandinavians – then your SharePoint People Search can benefit of implementing this functionality.

“So what’s the fuzz about fuzzy search?” you might ask. Well, the motivation for using it in your enterprise search solution is to support phonetic variation of people names. For instance, when you hear the word “Mikael” – how can you tell if it is written Mikael or Michael? It is the same thing with Svenson. Is it written with one or two s-es?

The two screenshots below gives an illustration of how fuzzy name matching affects the retrieved results.


If you have any feedback related to this blog post, feel free to contact the author or use the comments field below. ​​​​​