Boolean search in recruitment – do you know how to use it? Recruitment is one of the most important processes connected to human resources management in the organization. Contemporarily, when time and speed of reaction are the indicators of competitive advantage, sourcing is one of the most frequently used methods of recruitment. Souring is a procedure of active searching for qualified job candidates, which broadens the pool of potential applicants and shortens the recruitment process.

Boolean search in recruitment – table of contents:

  1. Boolean search in recruitment
  2. Boolean search operators
  3. Practical application of Boolean search in HR
  4. Benefits of Boolean search
  5. Boolean search in recruitment – Summary
  6. Check out our video about how to use Boolean search in recruitment

Boolean search in recruitment

With the help of internet browsers, such as Google, as well as the search and filtering tools for different databases, the recruiters can identify, reach and build relations with individuals that meet certain criteria. The effectiveness of sourcing increases the usage of logical operators, so-called Boolean operators, that allow further specifying of search parameters.

Boolean search operators

The basis for the operation of Boolean search is the set of logical operators such as: and, or, and not. These operators come from Boolean algebra, which is a fundamental concept used by all major programming languages. George Boole was an English mathematician, who in 1847 described developed his algebraic method in logic.

Currently, most of the database searches are based on Boolean logic, which allows us to set the parameters by combining terms to exclude or include some of the results. The Boolean operators are placed between keywords. They can be used jointly and their combination makes the search more accurate.

Operator AND – narrows down the search to the exact phrase. In the Google browser AND can be replaced by space. For example “architect AND landscape” can be exchanged with “landscape architect”. The result of the search will contain the results related to both phrases.

Operator OR – broadens the search results and returns all possible combinations of both keywords. For example “architect OR developer” will result in pages with one, the other, or both phrases.

Operator NOT – is used in case, when we wish to exclude the term from the search. For example “architect NOT landscape” will show all the architects, but not landscape architects. NOT operator is not supported by the Google browser, where it has to be replaced by the “–“ (minus) sign.

There are other signs useful during the search as the parentheses (brackets) or quote marks. The parentheses allow combining operators into more combined, multi-component searches. The example can look as follows: (architect or designer) AND (landscape or interior).

The quotation marks allow the search for the specific, precise phrase. For example, the search for “landscape architect” will show the results with this exact phrase. The same search phrase used without the quote marks shows the individuals that have both words on their profiles but not necessarily written jointly.

The additional operator that facilitates the recruitment is the connector SITE, which allows the usage of the link to the specific website or social media portal. The name of the site is entered after the operator which looks this way:

Boolean search in recruitment.

Practical application of Boolean search in HR

The usage of logical operators by the recruitment teams speeds up the search for the right candidates with the desired qualifications and skills to a considerable extent. The main condition is the accurate setting up of the search criteria that match the competence profile. In case of the necessity to employ the landscape architect one can use the following operation scheme.

  1. Searching for a specific position should exclude initially all the job offer pages, which are not relevant to this process. One can use the NOT operator (or minus sign). The search will take the form: “NOT job” or “– job”.
  2. A valuable source of information about a specialist is their CV, hence this document should be included among our criteria. Additionally, the wording used in CVs can be used as well, for example, “experience in landscape design”. It is sometimes useful to include the names of portals that collect and publish CVs as well.
  3. In case of the search for the architect is worth expanding the search to similar terms or words, one can add the phrase: “OR designer”. 
  4. It is worth adding phrases that are related to the required competencies to narrow the results of the search. The exact phrase could be: “AND landscape”.
  5. If there is a need to search for the specific work experience then it should be classified and added as the search criterium as well.
  6. The last important factor that should be considered during the search is the residence of the potential employee. If the work in question is not remote, but stationary, we have to narrow our search to one city or localization.

Benefits of Boolean search

Finding the right candidate for the specialist post, or the one that requires high competencies is not easy. Usually, the individuals that have the required skill search for jobs themselves and get many interesting job offers. It is worth narrowing down the search to the less popular portals, which is possible with logical operators. Based on the results one can build a database of talented and valuable candidates, which can be used in the future and save much time that is usually needed in each recruitment process. Moreover, it is worth grasping all the possibilities provided by technology, especially if the tools used are free and easy to use.

Boolean search in recruitment – Summary

Boolean search is not a difficult tool and can be used practically by anyone. It is intuitive, logical, and effective. All one has to do is enter the search phrases accompanied by simple logical operators. Thanks to this search method the results received are accurate and meet precisely the search criteria. One should remember that the records in results are limited to the individuals that placed their CVs and portfolio on social media platforms, portals, or websites. The Booleans search speeds up the procedure of recruitment and is the first necessary step of the selection process.

Check out our video about how to use Boolean search in recruitment:

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Boolean search in recruitment. 6 important practical applications of Boolean operators and modifiers nicole mankin avatar 1background

Author: Nicole Mankin

HR manager with an excellent ability to build a positive atmosphere and create a valuable environment for employees. She loves to see the potential of talented people and mobilize them to develop.