Topics: Candidate Sourcing, Online Recruitment Tools, Talent Sourcing

How Can Recruiters Use Boolean Search for Talent Sourcing?

Posted on April 25, 2022
Written By Aanchal Jain

Use Boolean Search and X-Ray Search for Talent Sourcing

Boolean search can be a savior for recruiters sourcing hard-to-find candidates with specific qualifications and skillsets. It allows recruiters to narrow their candidate search by using pre-defined Boolean search operators. It is a handy tool for sourcing candidates from online recruitment channels such as job boards, LinkedIn, and search engines like Google. Placing search keywords alongside the operators and modifiers helps create complex search strings that can quickly locate a range of relevant candidates.

Find out more about how recruiters use the basic and advanced Boolean search operators for talent sourcing below.

What is Boolean Search, and how is it used for Talent Sourcing?

Boolean Search, invented in 1847 by an English Mathematician George Boole, is a query methodology used to refine search results by narrowing or broadening the search. Boolean search has had a significant impact on the evolution of search engines such as Google. The Boolean search modifiers and operators are words and symbols used to carefully refine search results for specific keywords.

Talent acquisition specialists use Boolean search strings to identify and locate suitable candidates through online recruitment channels quickly. It works as an ‘Advanced Search’ function allowing recruiters to include, exclude and tag specific keywords with the help of Boolean search operators and modifiers.

6 Boolean Search Operators/Modifiers used for Talent Sourcing

Here is a list of six basic Boolean search operators and modifiers that every recruiter should know.

Boolean Search Operators help to improve your candidate sourcing tactics and are essential for creating a Boolean search string. They are written in all-caps and can be used as many times as required in the search string.

Boolean Search Modifiers help recruiters streamline their search and define boundaries for the keywords and operators.

  1. AND Operator

The AND operator allows recruiters to include multiple criteria in search results. When recruiters have multiple requirements for a candidate, they can use the AND operator and narrow down the search results.

For example, if the search string is ‘Recruitment AND Marketing’, the search will deliver results which include both the keywords and not those with just one of the keywords.

  1. OR Operator

The OR operator helps to expand the search results and includes one or more criteria in the search results. When the OR operator is used, the search shows results that have any one of the keywords or both keywords simultaneously.

For example, ‘Engineer OR Developer’ is a search string that will yield results for either Engineer or Developer, or both keywords together.

  1. NOT/ (-) Operator

The NOT operator is used to exclude the unwanted criteria from search results and helps to narrow down the recruiters’ search. When the NOT operator is used between two words, it excludes the second word entirely from the results. It will also omit the results which contain both words together. You can use the symbol (-) instead of writing NOT.

For example, ‘Software Engineer NOT jobs’ or ‘Software Engineer -Jobs’ will exclude any search results for job postings with ‘software engineer’.

Boolean Search Operators

OperatorUseExample
ANDResults include all the keywords connected with AND operator.Android AND iOS - Search Result includes Android and iOS
ORResults include either keyword 1 or keyword 2 connected with OR operator.Android OR iOS -Search Result includes either Android or iOS
NOT/ (-)Exclude keyword connected with NOT operator from the search result.NOT Windows/ -Windows – Search Result excludes Windows
  1. Bracket() Modifier

The Bracket() modifier is used to group different search strings with multiple operators. Bracket() lets you set priorities without changing the search query and comes in handy when conducting a complex candidate search.

For example, ‘Java AND (Developer OR Designer) -Jobs’. In this case, the search engine prioritizes the search for developers or designers. The search will show results for developers or designers, excluding those without java. The search will also eliminate all results for job postings.

  1. Quotation Marks “” Modifier

The Quotation Marks modifiers produce results with the exact phrase in your search. Writing two or more words between quotations means conveying to the search engine that all those words should be treated as a single keyword.

For example, a simple search for the phrase ‘content writer’ will include results for keywords ‘content’ and ‘writer’ and not necessarily both. Using the quotation modifier – “Content Writer”– will give the exact phrase match results.

  1. Asterisks * Modifier

The basic functionality of using an Asterisks* modifier is that it searches for variations of the keyword. The Asterisks operator helps broaden the search to include multiple variations of the root word or sometimes called the stem word. It is a wildcard entry and searches for all possibilities related to the stem.

For example, if you search for the root word ‘recruit*’, results will include searches related to all possibilities such as recruiter, recruitment, recruiting, etc.

Boolean Search Modifiers

ModifierUseExample
Quotation Marks “”Results include the exact phrase placed within the quotes.“Finance Manager” – Search Result contains Finance Manager as an exact phrase and not separate terms.
Wildcard/Asterisks*Results include all variants of the term. An Asterisk (*) must be placed at the end of a term or in place of a word.Recruit* - Search Result consists of Recruiter, Recruitment, Recruiting etc.
Parentheses/Bracket ()Results include specific variants grouped in brackets in a multiple search string.Recruitment (Lead OR Manager) – Search Result will include ‘Recruitment Lead’ and ‘Recruitment Manager’ terms.

Advanced Boolean Search Operators | X-Ray Search for Talent Sourcing

In addition to the basis Boolean search operators and modifiers, you can also use the advanced search functions for talent sourcing while recruiting. These are also known as field commands and help streamline the candidate search for recruiters. You can use the advanced commands to perform a targeted search on platforms such as LinkedIn, GitHub, and Monster. This type of targeted search is often called the X-Ray search.

  1. ‘intitle:’, ‘intext:’, or ‘inurl:’

This command is used to search web pages that include the keyword in their title (intitle:) or in their body text (intext:) or in their page URL (inurl:). Recruiters may use these commands to search for resume pages or links within a website. It is a handy tool for searching for online portfolios of candidates with links to their work and application documents. It produces the most refined search string for specific criteria, such as finding resumes.

  • Example- (intitle:resume OR cv OR vitae) Java Chicago -jobs
  1. ‘site:’

A type of X-ray search, the ‘site:’ search command helps recruiters look for desired candidates with the right skill set across specific websites. It performs a more targeted search by sourcing talent from niche professional websites. The command is followed by the URL of the website you want to search for candidates.

  • Example- site: linkedin.com
  1. ‘filetype:’

The ‘filetype:’ command narrows the search to a specific file format such as pdf. It would help if you also used the OR operator with this command since resumes and CV documents are linked online in various formats.

  • Example, site:linkedin.com resumes (filetype:pdf OR filetype:docx OR filetype:doc)

X-Ray Search

CommandsUseExample
‘site:’Search within the defined website domain.site:uk.linkedin.com “Finance (Manager OR Head OR Lead)” London -jobs
‘intitle: or intext:’Search for the specified keyword in the page title or page text.site:uk.linkedin.com intitle: (ACA OR ACMA OR CGMA) “Finance (Manager OR Lead OR Head)” London -Jobs
‘inurl:’Search for the specified keyword in the page URL.site:uk.linkedin.com “Finance (Manager OR Head OR Lead)” London -inurl:jobs -inurl:company

4 Advantages of Using Boolean Search for Talent Sourcing

You can easily find the best-suited candidates for challenging roles using the Boolean search logic. It helps recruiters improve the candidate pool and quality of hire as well as save time while sourcing candidates. Recruiters benefit from Boolean search-based candidate sourcing in the following ways:

  1. Exclusive Results

Boolean search helps to exclude unnecessary candidate profiles from your search. Recruiters use Boolean operators, modifiers, and field commands to filter out search results exactly according to inputs.

  1. Less Time

Boolean search yields faster results, and recruiters can identify well-suited candidates in lesser time. When you apply operators alongside keywords, you create search strings that can save you a lot of time and refine your search results with precise requirements.

  1. More Control

Recruiters can exercise greater control over their search by customizing their search string possibilities. There are unlimited ways of using Boolean operators to create search strings that allow recruiters to control the results tightly.

  1. Use Variables

You can define several variables to match right candidates with the job opportunities you are sourcing candidates. Boolean search gives you the freedom to use a wide range of variables as filters, such as location, education, experience, skill, compensation, and availability.

Transform Your Talent Sourcing

Boolean search allows recruiters to refine their search for job titles and requirements and easily find a niche talent pool. Talent sourcers at the QX Global Group are highly skilled at using complex Boolean search strings and can help you optimize your candidate sourcing activities and the overall recruitment process with outsourced solutions.

Book a Consultation

We hope you enjoyed reading this blog. If you want our team to help you resolve talent gaps, reduce costs and transform your business operations, just book a call.

Originally published Apr 25, 2022 02:04:46, updated Feb 05 2024

Topics: Candidate Sourcing, Online Recruitment Tools, Talent Sourcing


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