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The Recruiter’s Growth Hub.

Utilising Boolean Search to source talent.


Boolean Search has been around for over 150 years. It was invented by George Boole as a form of logic to define data and how it is used. It uses basic pairs of terms such as on/off and true/false to define what the data does and allows the user to interrogate the information to get their own relevant results. It is a branch of mathematics, but Boolean Search is found absolutely everywhere. It is credited with being the starter of the information age and most lines of code in computing contain Boolean terms to help them to define what the code does. If you know and use these terms in your searches then you can get better results every time. This makes searching faster and more accurate. This in turn saves time and money for your business. 

There are three main operators in Boolean Search and they can help you to define the searches you conduct. These are useful when you want to look for information or candidates when you are using databases, search engines, recruitment boards or any social network. By understanding and using Boolean terms in your search you will be able to get more accurate searches in a short space of time. These terms allow you to get to grips with the data in front of you and drill down into much more relevant results. This is all about making your recruitment more efficient. Let’s take a look at the main terms.

AND is the first term to grasp. If you are searching through potential candidates on a recruitment board then you will often see a large number of profiles. The long way to search through these is to look at each and decide if they fit what you are looking for. This can be time-consuming and tedious. Using the AND Boolean Search term will allow you to filter down the number of potential new recruits quickly and efficiently. If you are looking for someone in retail management that has managed in fashion retail then the search of “retail management” AND “fashion retail” will give you a set of results that ticks both boxes. The use of the term AND will interrogate the data for profiles that contain both search terms. You then have a much smaller group of potential applicants to sift through. When you use the tools available to make your life easier and make your work more efficient then you can save time and money while getting access to more relevant data. If you really want to drill down into the data more then add more ANDs and you can get a more filtered result. If you want a retail manager that has worked in fashion retail and has worked for Next, the search “retail management” AND “fashion retail” AND “Next” will give you those results.

The second Boolean Search term that you need to consider is OR. This, when added to your search, is more inclusive than the search term AND. Whereas for AND the profile needs to feature both terms, the OR search just needs one. In the modern world, some job roles are described differently by different companies. You may be looking for an Assistant Manager, but you know some rivals call it a Team Leader and others call it a Deputy Manager. To make sure that you get all applicants that have this role on their CV, you can search “Assistant Manager” OR “Team Leader” OR “Deputy Manager”. It is another way of using Boolean Search to make sure that you interrogate the data in the right way. It is a better way of searching on recruitment boards, on social media websites, on a database of candidates or on search engines such as Google, Bing or Yahoo. You can look through the information provided and see what other recruiters perhaps miss. If your competitor only searches for one of the job titles above, or focuses on one way of describing a particular skill or talent, they will miss out on recruits that you will find. The use of Boolean Search in this way will widen your pool of candidates and get you a better quality of applicants. This is essential to attracting and retaining the top Millennial talent. You can stay one step ahead of the rest.

NOT is the third term that you can use when interrogating data to get the results that you want. It is used to filter out certain parts of the results that you do not want to see. For example, if you are looking for someone to fill a vacancy in an investment bank, you might see a big pool of applicants if you just search for those in banking. You will most probably want to filter out all of those who work as bank clerks in high street banks. By using the search ‘Banking” NOT “Bank Clerk” you can filter out all those without the experience you require, leaving you with a more accurate list of people that could fill the role. NOT is a great way to eliminate any false positives. It allows you to say, ‘I want this group of people in my search results, but not this particular sub-group.’ It allows you to select some but not all of a particular group. When you are looking through results you want to make this process as efficient as possible. Use of the term NOT helps you along the way by getting rid of some of the results that you know are of no use to you.

You can use these terms in conjunction with each other to develop more complex and better-quality results for the searches you carry out. As you develop your competence and confidence in Boolean Search it can help to make you into the recruiter that stays ahead of the game. There are other useful terms that you can use with Boolean Search; the most useful of these are ‘’ and *. If you want a certain term to come up verbatim, putting it in quotation marks will give you results with only that precise phrase in. If you want a Search Engine Programmer then search for “Search Engine Programmer” and all results will contain this exact phrase. An asterisk, on the other hand, is a more inclusive root word search, which will return all results that share the same root word. So if you want a programmer of any type then searching “*Programmer” will bring you all types of Programmer. As you get more into this you will finds other terms and be able to combine the terms to get more accurate results for all of your searches. Your business gets better candidates because you are more able to identify better candidates. Whether you are looking to fill an immediate vacancy or add to your talent pool for the future then using a Boolean Search will give you the responses you want.

Booleans Search is a great tool to allow you to get the results you want from recruitment boards, social networking sites, databases and search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo. It is yet another string to your bow and uses simple logic to produce better results that save you time and money, as well as unearthing gems from the results that others just won’t find using traditional techniques. When it comes to attracting and retaining the top millennial talent you will want all of the head starts that you can get. If you understand and use Boolean Search then you can stay ahead of the game.

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