August 14, 2022

Sourcing nice candidates is half the battle of recruiting. To be able to rent the very best individual for the job, it is advisable to establish, interview and pique the curiosity of the appropriate folks. It’s no simple feat, both — recruiters spend 13 hours on common sourcing candidates for a single function.

Utilizing Boolean search in recruitment can to save lots of time and enhance the standard of your candidate pool, in the end rising the standard of your subsequent rent. On this article, we’ll cowl 11 important Boolean search operators and 5 tricks to success.


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Desk of Contents


What’s Boolean Search in Recruitment?

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Boolean search is a question methodology that’s used to broaden, slim or refine search outcomes. It was invented by George Boole, an English mathematician and writer of The Mathematical Evaluation of Logic (1847) and it has considerably influenced the evolution of the search-engine large, Google. 

In recruitment, Boolean search helps to shortly and successfully find ultimate candidates for open roles. Just like an “Superior Search” perform, Boolean search operators — phrases and symbols — mean you can embody, exclude and tag particular key phrases to rigorously refine your search outcomes. Finally, the objective of utilizing Boolean search in recruitment is to hone in on broad subjects — equivalent to job titles or necessities — to establish a fascinating, area of interest candidate pool. 


Finally, the objective of utilizing Boolean search in recruitment is to hone in on broad subjects — equivalent to job titles or necessities — to establish a fascinating, area of interest candidate pool.


Utilizing Boolean search operators to create a posh search string, recruiters can find a variety of related candidates. In doing so, you reduce sourcing wants and enhance the effectivity of your recruitment course of


Benefits of Boolean Search in Recruitment

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We perceive that as a tech recruiter in a extremely aggressive trade, your bandwidth is already at or shortly approaching capability. So earlier than you dedicate the time to studying new sourcing methods, let’s assessment among the benefits of Boolean search in recruitment.


  • Quicker. It’s estimated that recruiters can establish 20-60 well-suited candidates for a given function per hour
  • Value-effective. Job boards are nice for networking, however they don’t at all times cater to a particular subject or trade and might price a reasonably penny. This implies recruiters need to individually sift by means of unqualified or irrelevant resumes to seek out the appropriate candidates. Boolean search makes it simpler to hone in on a particular set of candidates with out having to pay a month-to-month subscription payment. 
  • Extra management. With a conceivably limitless variety of Boolean search string prospects, recruiters can rigorously customise how they supply candidates and management the outcomes.
  • Energetic recruiting technique. When you can’t essentially get away from posting job openings, it’s considerably of a passive recruitment tactic. You’re assuming that the appropriate candidate will come to you, which is good, however much less attainable for younger firms simply getting began. Boolean search permits recruiters to actively supply candidates with out draining their assets.


6 Fundamental Boolean Search Operators Recruiters Ought to Know

To begin creating advanced Boolean search strings to enhance your sourcing techniques, there are six important operators it is advisable to know. These can be utilized as many instances as essential in a search string and ought to be written in all-caps. In any other case, they are going to be interpreted as a part of your search string key phrases, not as a Boolean search operator.


Operator #1: AND

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Performance: Consists of a number of standards in search outcomes

When to Use It: Use the AND operator to slim search outcomes primarily based on a number of necessities. 

Clarification: Should you’re trying to rent a brand new software program engineer, you’d use the AND operator to seek for software program AND engineer. The outcomes you obtain will embody each “software program” and “engineer.”  

Boolean Search Instance

Boolean Search Instance: AND operator


Operator #2: OR

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Performance: Consists of a number of standards in search outcomes

When to Use It: Use the OR operator to develop your search outcomes. 

Clarification: Your developer function continues to be vacant. You’re accustomed to the software program engineer vs. developer debate, so that you broaden your search outcomes through the use of the OR operator to seek for engineer OR developer. This may generate a outcomes record that features both “engineer” or “developer.”

Boolean Search Instance

Boolean Search Instance: OR operator


Operator #3: NOT or ()

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Performance: Excludes undesirable standards from search outcomes 

When to Use It: Use the NOT or () operator to slim your search outcomes by omitting undesirable standards.

Clarification: Maybe some of the widespread and sensible makes use of of Boolean search in recruitment is together with the NOT operator to get rid of job postings; you’re on the lookout for candidates to fill open roles, not a job seeker on the lookout for a brand new place. To get rid of job postings and descriptions out of your search outcomes, embody a number of of the next operators in your search string:


  • NOT job; -job
  • NOT jobs; -jobs
  • NOT rent; -hire
  • NOT hiring; -hiring


Use the () operator when looking out on Google or LinkedIn, eradicating an area between the minus image and the key phrase. 

Boolean Search Instance

  • software program engineer NOT job
  • software program engineer -job
Boolean Search Instance: NOT / – operator


When looking out in Google utilizing this Boolean search string, chances are you’ll discover a jobs widget. Scroll previous the widget to seek out the outcomes that match your Boolean search standards.


Operator #4: Brackets ()

Performance: Group search phrases and prioritize operators 

When to Use It: Use the brackets operator to incorporate a number of operators with out altering the search question. 

Clarification: Brackets preserve groupings and point out precedence. Let’s say we’re on the lookout for both a software program engineer or developer. Since engineers specialise in varied disciplines — chemical, mechanical, biomechanical, and many others. — and builders are sometimes related to development, it’s essential we embody software program in our search string. 

With out the brackets operator, the search string would seem like this: software program AND engineer OR developer NOT jobs. On this instance, the search engine doesn’t know which search to prioritize. Together with brackets round engineer OR developer alerts to the search engine to carry out the engineer OR developer question first, then get rid of all outcomes that don’t embody “software program,” and all outcomes referring to job, jobs, rent or hiring.

Boolean Search Instance

  • software program AND (engineer OR developer) -job -jobs -hire -hiring
Boolean Search Instance: Brackets () operator


Operator #5: Quotations “”

Performance: Seek for actual phrase

When to Use It: Use the quotations operator while you need outcomes that embody a precise phrase. 

Clarification: That is in all probability the search operator you’re most accustomed to. We frequently use it after we’ve misplaced monitor of the supply for a quote we like or when we have to discover the identify of a music we solely keep in mind a line or two of. 

Nonetheless, when performing a Boolean search in recruitment, solely use the quotations operator when you find yourself assured within the actual phrase you’re on the lookout for. In any other case, you’ll unintentionally exclude a big pool of viable outcomes. 

Boolean Search Instance

Your staff has determined that they’re on the lookout for a software program engineer, not developer. To refine your search outcomes, replace your search question to the next: 

  • “software program engineer” -job -jobs -hire -hiring
Boolean Search Instance: Quotations “” operator


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Operator #6: Asterisk *

Performance: Seek for variations of a root phrase

When to Use It: Use the asterisk operator to broaden your search outcomes when there are a number of variations of a root phrase.

Instance: To vastly develop your search outcomes for a supervisor, looking for manag* will pull outcomes like: supervisor, managed, managing, manages, administration, managerial, and many others.

Pay cautious consideration to the place you truncate the foundation phrase as together with an additional letter will modify your outcomes. For instance, looking for handle* will get rid of managing from the unique record.  

Boolean Search Instance

  • software program AND (engineer OR developer) -job -jobs -hire -hiring AND manag*
Boolean Search Instance: Asterisk * operator


Pattern String: Boolean Search in Recruitment

Now, let’s put these six operators to make use of and work backward to decode this search string.

  • software program AND (engineer OR developer) -job -jobs -hire -hiring AND manag* AND (“Ruby on Rails” OR Ruby)
Pattern String: Boolean Search in Recruitment

Our first two operators — software program AND (engineer OR developer) — describe the function we’re on the lookout for: a software program engineer or software program developer. We would like people who meet this important requirement and who: 


  • Have administration expertise, however don’t essentially have “supervisor” of their title: AND manag*
  • Have expertise working with Ruby languages: (“Ruby on Rails” OR Ruby)


We additionally wish to get rid of all job postings for related roles: -job -jobs -hire -hiring


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5 Superior Boolean Search Operators

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As soon as you are feeling assured in your capability to carry out recruitment searches utilizing the six primary Boolean operators, develop your expertise utilizing the next 5 superior search features. Observe that until the operator is proven in all-caps, it doesn’t must be capitalized in your search string.


Superior Operator #1: Tilde ~

Performance: Seek for synonyms of a phrase

When to Use It: Use the tilde (~) operator to develop your search outcomes when together with standards which may be described in a number of methods.

Clarification: When sourcing candidates, you’re desirous about resumes, not job descriptions. Nonetheless, you don’t essentially wish to exclude candidates who’ve a CV or curriculum vitae. Add the tilde operator to your search string to incorporate all three utility paperwork inside your search outcomes.

Boolean Search Instance

  • software program AND (engineer OR developer) AND ~resume -job -jobs -hire -hiring AND manag* AND (“Ruby on Rails” OR Ruby)
Boolean Search Instance: Tilde ~ operator

Simply by including the tilde (~) operator, we already see extra relevant, candidate-driven outcomes.


Superior Operator #2: NEAR

Performance: Seek for two phrases that seem inside 1-10 phrases of one another in outcomes

When to Use It: Use the NEAR operator to incorporate a broader matter in your search outcomes with out unfavorably limiting them to a precise phrase. 

Clarification: If you’d like your software program engineer candidates to have expertise in internet improvement, use the NEAR operator to incorporate outcomes that debate internet improvement and aren’t restricted to “internet improvement” precisely. 

As we mentioned earlier, “develop” has many variations. To incorporate outcomes equivalent to “internet developer” or “developed a number of internet pages,” use the asterisk operator on develop*. Embrace brackets to make sure the NEAR operator is interpreted correctly.

Boolean Search Instance

  • software program AND (engineer OR developer) AND ~resume -job -jobs -hire -hiring AND manag* AND (“Ruby on Rails” OR Ruby) AND (internet NEAR develop*)
Boolean Search Instance: NEAR operator


Superior Operator #3: filetype:

Performance: Seek for ends in particular file codecs

When to Use It: Use the filetype: operator when looking out your ATS or the online for resume or CV paperwork.

Clarification: Embrace a filetype: operator in your search string to restrict outcomes to solely these with a specified file attachment that comprises the opposite operator standards. Since resumes may be linked on-line in varied codecs, we’ll additionally use the OR operator to keep away from excluding different certified resumes which may be in a distinct file sort.

Boolean Search Instance

  • software program AND (engineer OR developer) AND ~resume (filetype:pdf OR filetype:doc OR filetype:txt OR filetype:docx) -job -jobs -hire -hiring AND manag* AND (“Ruby on Rails” OR Ruby) AND (internet NEAR develop*) 
Boolean Search Instance: filetype: operator


Superior Operator #4: URL: and web site:

Performance: Seek for outcomes inside a particular web site

When to Use It: Use both the URL: or web site: operator to slim your search outcomes to web sites which are dwelling to your goal candidates, equivalent to social media platforms or networking websites. Don’t embody an area between the operator and area, as in: web

Clarification: Because you’re on the lookout for a software program engineer, you possibly can slim your search outcomes to solely resumes from identified developer web sites, equivalent to 

When sourcing throughout the complete web, you’re positive to seek out candidates who meet your acknowledged standards. Nonetheless, when looking out a particular web site, you’ll possible have to pare down your search string to only the fundamentals to begin. Then, add operators again on one after the other so as of precedence to whittle down your record of outcomes.

Boolean Search Instance

  • web software program AND (engineer OR developer) AND ~resume -job -jobs -hire -hiring
Boolean Search Instance: web site: operator


Superior Operator #5: intitle: / intext: / inurl:

Performance: Seek for outcomes with key phrases inside the title (intitle:) or physique textual content (intext:) of an internet web page, or inside the URL (inurl:).

When to Use It: As an alternative choice to the filetype: operator, use the intitle: or intext: operators to seek for resume pages or hyperlinks inside a web site, or use the inurl: operator to discover a related URL. 

Clarification: Usually, job seekers create on-line portfolios with hyperlinks to all their work and utility paperwork. Whereas there’s often the chance to obtain a file, resumes and CVs are sometimes uploaded as an internet web page with “resume” or “CV” within the title. 

Utilizing the intext: operator performs the identical perform as intitle:, however inside the physique textual content of an internet web page, simply because the inurl: operator searches inside the URL. 

Boolean Search Instance

  • web (inurl:resume OR inurl:CV) software program AND (engineer OR developer) -job -jobs -hire -hiring
Boolean Search Instance: inurl: operator


As you possibly can see from the photograph above, our most refined search string has yielded solely resume outcomes that meet our specified standards. Now, we are able to consider every resume with confidence, figuring out that these candidates can be related to our search.


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5 Ideas for Utilizing Boolean Search in Recruitment

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Creating and testing new search strings is vital to hone your expertise and benefit from Boolean search methods in recruitment. As you become familiar with the operators we’ve mentioned, use the next 5 suggestions to enhance your outcomes.


1. Use candidate personas

Making a customized candidate persona for each open function offers you the knowledge it is advisable to recruit the appropriate folks. Work with hiring managers to differentiate job must-haves from nice-to-haves. Doing so will make it easier to refine your Boolean search strings and precisely slim your outcomes. 


2. Recurrently modify your search string

Know that the extra operators you add to your search string, the narrower your outcomes develop into. Whereas advanced search strings will shortly make it easier to establish your ultimate candidate, chances are you’ll unintentionally get rid of certified people out of your expertise pool. Minimize or add operators as wanted to regulate your search outcomes.


3. Report profitable search strings

As you proceed to make use of Boolean search strategies, make word of search strings you utilize most often and that yield high-quality outcomes. Preserve these strings available to save lots of time on future searches. 


4. Preserve an inventory of spelling variations

The extra outcomes you assessment, the extra readily you’ll acknowledge spelling variations in your key phrases. For instance, candidates could write “Energy Level” as an alternative of “PowerPoint.” Preserve monitor of spelling variations you discover and use the OR operator to incorporate all identified variations inside your outcomes. 


5. Concentrate on false positives

False positives — outcomes that look correct however aren’t — are widespread in Boolean search. Irrespective of how particular and complicated your search string is, an irrelevant end result could discover its means into the combo. Fastidiously seek the advice of every end result and confirm it meets your necessities.


Utilizing Boolean search in recruitment is a low-cost, extremely efficient strategy to sourcing candidates. The extra expertise you have got crafting Boolean search strings the higher your outcomes can be. Minimizing your time spent sourcing candidates can drastically minimize down in your cost-per-hire and scale back the cost-of-vacancy for open positions, so it’s value your time to grasp Boolean search strategies.


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