A Guide to Boolean Searching: A Big Deal in Recruiting


A Guide to Boolean Searching: A Big Deal in Recruiting


Hiring top talent is easy, but finding top talent is difficult. In fact, it’s unarguably one of the most difficult steps in the life cycle of a recruiter—what is left for you to do, after all, if you haven’t identified a potential talent yet in the first place?

Finding qualified talents for the post is only the tip of the iceberg, thankfully, there’s now a method that can make your life easier: the Boolean Searching.

What is Boolean Searching?

According to UAF Library, Boolean searching is “a system of showing relationships between sets by using the words ‘AND’, ‘OR’, and ‘NOT’.”

The term Boolean came from the inventor of the mathematical method himself, George Boole. Boolean search strings are recognized by search engines such as Google and Yahoo, as well as websites that include the said feature like LinkedIn.

Boolean searching is considered a big deal in recruiting because of its ability to refine your search, and ultimately, help you find better, more qualified candidates for the post. Executive search firms and job recruitment agencies alike use Boolean search strings, along with cold calls and referrals to find the talent that they’re looking for.

In a study conducted by BooleanBlackBelt.com, results show that Boolean searching prove to be the fastest method of finding qualified candidates compared to cold calls or referrals and job postings. While other techniques remain to be effective methods of recruitment, they are slower means of identifying talent and doesn’t provide control over candidates that Boolean searching can give you. Refined results mean better-qualified applicants, and better-qualified candidates mean time and effort saved on your end.


How to Do Boolean Searching?

There are a number of ways to modify Boolean search strings to give you finer results. But, to do that, you have to learn the basics first. Remember, Boolean searching runs on the following five elements of syntax:

  • AND
  • OR
  • NOT
  • “ “
  • ( )

1. AND

Use the AND operator to enjoin two keywords that you would like your results to both have. For example, if you’re searching for a candidate who has the keywords Marketing and Advertising in their profile. Type, “marketing AND advertising.”

Without the operator AND in your search, the database will be a list of candidates who either have Marketing or Advertising in their profile. However, by typing marketing AND advertising in your search engine, the database will now show you candidates who both have the keywords marketing and advertising in their profile.

Think about ordering fish AND chips. You don’t think about the waiter giving you those items separately, right?

2. OR

Use the OR operator to find a candidate who either has one of the keywords you are looking for. For example, are you searching for a talent who is either marketing, business, or an accounting graduate? To find the candidate who falls in either of these criteria, type “marketing OR business OR accounting.”

The database will pull up profiles of candidates with any of the following keywords in their profile. Take note, however, that by using the OR operator, you are also widening your search.

3. NOT

Use the operator NOT to filter your results. For example, you are looking for an engineer, but want to exclude software engineers in your results. To do so, type, “engineer NOT software.”

The database will exclude the second keyword then. By using the NOT operator in your search string, you can come up with filtered yet more relevant results.

4. Brackets ( )

As you would in a complex mathematical equation, you should use brackets to dictate the search engine which keywords and operator come together and what doesn’t. For example, you want to find someone who is either a technical or a business writer. To do so, type “(technical OR business) AND writer.”

Be careful in placing brackets in your search strings, though, as this can greatly affect the results provided by the search engine.

5. Quotation Marks “ ”

Use quotation marks to search for keywords that you would like to be interpreted as a single word. For example, you are particularly looking for someone with “Account Manager” as their job title on their profile. Then, you should type, “Account Manager.”

The database will then pull up a list of candidates with the said job title. Had you chosen to type ‘account AND manager’ or ‘account AND manager’ instead, you might have come up with some candidates who are either an “assistant manager” or “account director” in your results.

Boolean searching can inevitably save you time by giving you refined and relevant results. Experiment, but choose your operators wisely to hire top talent with the right Boolean search string in no time. Good luck with your sourcing!




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