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Why Use Boolean Search in Hiring

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Having the right candidate sourcing tools is an essential part of achieving your recruiting goals.   One such tool is Boolean search, a powerful search technique that allows recruiters to find the most relevant candidates for their open positions quickly. When used correctly, the Boolean search can significantly improve recruiting efficiency. But before we go into the benefits of adding Boolean search to your recruiting toolbox, let’s talk about what it actually is and how it works.

What is Boolean Search?

Boolean search is a type of search that uses specific logic operators to find more relevant results. These operators help with functions like combining, including, or excluding multiple keywords/phrases to create complex search queries.

For recruitment purposes, Boolean search can quickly identify the best candidates for a job by enabling filters with multiple layers of eligibility inclusion and exclusion.

What are the common Boolean searches, and how do they work?

The most common Boolean search operators are AND, OR, NOT, and parentheses. The AND operator allows you to narrow down a search by including two or more keywords. For example, if you were looking for a web developer with HTML and CSS experience, you could use the AND operator to narrow your search to include only those two skills.

The OR operator allows you to broaden a search by including multiple keywords. This operator is useful for when you want to include a variety of skills in your search, such as “web developer OR engineer.”

The NOT operator allows you to exclude certain words from your search, such as “web developer NOT Python.” This operator is helpful when you’re looking for candidates with specific qualifications and experiences but not with others.

The parentheses operator allows you to group multiple keywords together, such as “(web developer OR engineer) AND (HTML OR CSS).” This operator can be used to refine a search further and make sure that all the criteria you have listed is included in the final result.

How can Boolean search help me find candidates?

Sourcing with Boolean search means that you can target a very specific audience of candidates. It helps narrow down the talent pool to get closer to the candidate profiles you are looking for, saving time and resources in the long run. Boolean search also offers more advanced filtering capabilities, which means that you can tailor the list of potential hires according to the skills and experience that you require in a job seeker. It can also help streamline your recruiting processes with the following features:

Resume search

Recruiters can use Boolean search to search for resumes across job boards, social media, and other online sources using keywords related to the job they’re hiring for.

Social media search

Boolean search can also be used to search for candidates or professionals on social media platforms such as LinkedIn and Twitter. This is especially helpful with passive candidate hiring.

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Email search

Hiring managers can also use Boolean search to search for email addresses. Just using keywords such as “email” or “mail” along with the candidate’s name and/or job title can net tangible results in the form of candidate email addresses.

What are the benefits of using Boolean searches?

Boolean search is becoming increasingly popular with recruiters and hiring managers for its ability to locate and identify potential candidates with precision quickly. In simple terms, the core benefit of using Boolean search in recruitment is that it streamlines recruiting processes and helps maximize efficiency.

Some of the more intricate benefits of incorporating Boolean search into your recruiting strategy include:

Streamlines candidate screening process

Boolean search allows recruiters to quickly and efficiently narrow down the number of candidates needing to be screened by using specific keywords, operators, and parentheses. Allowing recruiters to focus on the most relevant candidates in terms of skills and qualifications can save a significant amount of time and effort in the overall screening process.

Increased visibility of candidate profiles

The right information at the right time is critical to achieving the right results. Boolean search allows recruiters to find the most relevant information about the right candidates faster compared to manually parsing each profile. This can include resumes, social media profiles, and email addresses, providing recruiters with valuable insights into a candidate’s qualifications, work experience, and even cultural fit.

Identification of passive candidates

Sometimes, a passive candidate (a professional who is not looking for a job) may be the perfect fit for a role, but it’s difficult to identify them in a vast talent pool. Certain Boolean search strings for recruiters can help find those passive candidates who meet the qualifications and skills criteria.

Creation of a talent pipeline for future recruitment efforts

Nurturing a talent pool can be highly beneficial and can help you develop a flexible, agile talent pipeline. For recruitment, Boolean search can also be used to help you create a curated pool of candidates for future hiring needs. If you use an ATS, Boolean search can also filter out candidates at different stages of recruitment and provides you with better control over your talent pipeline. This is particularly helpful in a Direct Sourcing recruitment model, which focuses on the curation of a talent pool using your own network of candidate resources.

Multi-platform sourcing capabilities

One of the main drawbacks of utilizing a singular job portal, such as LinkedIn, is that it limits candidate reach. By leveraging Boolean search techniques through a recruiting platform such as Arya Quantum, recruiters can expand their candidate pool by sourcing talent from a variety of sites, including Behance, GitHub, and Stackoverflow. This approach increases the chances of identifying the most qualified and suitable candidate for the role.

How Boolean Search compares to cold calling and referral recruiting

Boolean search, cold calling, and referral recruiting are all methods that can be used to find and recruit candidates.

Boolean search allows recruiters to quickly and efficiently search through a large number of resumes and online profiles to find candidates who match specific qualifications or experience. This is a big advantage over cold calling, which can be highly time and resource-consuming.

Referral recruiting, on the other hand, relies on the networks of current employees and their contacts to find potential candidates. This also works well and is a way to capitalize on your own candidate resources. However, it can be limited by the size and diversity of an organization’s existing workforce.

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While cold calling and referral recruiting still have their place in the recruitment process, it’s clear that Boolean search can offer a more efficient alternative when it comes to finding the right candidate.


A few tips for Boolean search in recruitment

First, familiarize yourself with the basic operators of Boolean search or Boolean strings to optimize your ability to create high-quality search phrases. You can also use a Boolean Search Generator. Below are few examples of other Boolean searches to try.


Type site:[domain name] “keyphrase” to find all pages/profiles that contain “keyphrase” on that domain.


Type “I work for” followed by the name of an organization as “at [company name]” and it will show you employees who work there.


Type “contains:” to find pages hosting documents like PDFs, PPTs, and more.

Using Boolean search in recruitment requires both time and effort to master. It’s important to understand that creating an effective search string may take some trial and error, and it’s important to be patient in refining the search process. So, start slowly and don’t get caught up in trying to create the perfect search string right out of the gate. Instead,  work on refining the search until you have the desired results.


Final thoughts

It’s clear using Boolean searches in recruitment can greatly enhance hiring efficiency by cutting down on time spent searching for potential candidates, automating mundane tasks, and uncovering hidden talent. But to truly maximize your recruiting potential, it’s important to use Boolean search in conjunction with a comprehensive AI recruiting tool such as Arya by Leoforce. Arya goes beyond conventional AI using more than 300 attributes to discover the talent most likely to succeed in the role you’re sourcing. And for today’s recruiters, finding the most compatible talent is half the battle. With built-in diversity options and market intelligence guiding the way, Arya can help you take your recruiting to the next level and beyond. Book a demo today and see for yourself how it works.



How does Boolean search work in recruiting?

Boolean search allows recruiters to use specific keywords and operators (like AND, OR, NOT, etc.) to broaden, narrow down or define the relevant candidates.

Can Boolean search be used to find passive candidates?

Yes, it can be! Boolean search can be utilized to locate passive candidates on various platforms.   

How can Boolean search be used to improve candidate screening?

Boolean search for recruitment can be used to improve candidate screening by enabling you to search for a specific combination of skills, qualifications, or experience. It also allows you to exclude certain keywords for even more sourcing efficiency.

Can Boolean search be used in conjunction with other recruiting tools?

Yes, Boolean search can be used with various recruiting tools like ATS, CRMs, LinkedIn, Indeed, etc.

How can Boolean search help with diversity and inclusion in hiring?

If you have a DEI hiring goal, then Boolean strings can be used to find specific under-represented groups or individuals from your sourcing platform.

Find more compatible candidates with Talent Intelligence.

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