Narrowing down your list of potential candidates faster is always the goal as a recruiter, right? And not just because finding candidates faster is more efficient and cost effective.
More accurate candidate search results also mitigate frustration and lead to better hires. Likewise, posting more accurate job postings will attract more appealing candidates.
Using a Boolean search string when you’re sourcing refines the process of matching a business to an appropriate candidate. But doing Boolean well is not as simple as adding a few conjunctions to your key terms. Here are some Boolean recruiting tips for the year ahead.
What is a Boolean search?
You probably use more Boolean searches than you realize. Simply put, this is a type of search that allows you to combine keywords or phrases. For instance, you might search “Boston” AND “restaurants” if you’re looking for a place to grab dinner in the city. Boolean searches use language modifiers (usually called operators) like AND, OR, and NOT to refine what you’re looking for.
When it comes to searching for candidates, you may be looking on job sites or sifting through submitted resumes on an internal system. Boolean helps in both cases. When you search “copywriter” AND “manager,” you will come up with more writers who have management experience than if you conduct independent searches for each keyword.
Similarly, you want to remember Boolean search principles when you’re creating job titles and job descriptions. If you want to appeal to people who know both writing and SEO, you want to label your job posting with all applicable search terms. Will your available position come up when people search “writer” AND “SEO”? That’s the goal.
Boolean search operators recruiters should know
There are three primary Boolean operators used by candidates. The same operators will be useful to you as you sort through submitted applications or resumes.
Using “AND” in between search terms will deliver results that include both terms. For instance, if you’re looking for someone with experience as an accountant who knows Microsoft 365 products, you could search “accountant” AND “Microsoft 365” to find applicable resumes.
This Boolean operator is commonly used by candidates who are looking for jobs. When a potential applicant goes on Google or LinkedIn to find a position, they may search “graphic design” AND “creative.” You want to include as many applicable terms as possible in your description so you appear in search results.
This operator works when you want more flexibility. You might search for something like “marketing” OR “advertising” to cast a wider net for applicable skills. Many jobs have multiple, similar titles. Using the OR modifier saves you from having to make multiple individual searches. You can also put parentheses around these terms (editor OR proofreader).
When you’re crafting a job posting, brainstorm synonyms for your job title before you send it off. If you are looking for someone to do your company’s payroll, you may want to also use words like “bookkeeping” and “accounting” in your job description. This allows you to appear in searches where someone looks for “payroll” OR “bookkeeping.”
This operator helps you exclude things you don’t want. It’s especially helpful on job sites that contain both job postings and resumes. You can search “digital marketer” NOT “hiring” to eliminate confusion about what you want. In terms of searching candidates, you could look for “digital marketer” NOT “social media” to eliminate people looking for jobs in social.
Boolean search tips for 2022
In 2022, you want to refine your searches even more. As of August 2021, there were a whopping 1 million more jobs than job seekers in the U.S., making it even more critical that you advertise a company and its available roles specifically.
For the new year, Boolean recruiting tips include advanced Boolean techniques. On top of using AND, OR, and NOT in search considerations, you want to also keep the following tools in mind:
- Title search syntax. This tool allows you to find candidates on Google who have posted their resume online or have a professional website using certain keywords. For instance, if you want to find copyeditor websites, you would search “intitle:copyeditor AND intitle:resume”.
- Text search syntax. This is similar to a title search, but it searches the entire text of the website. You can search “intext:copyeditor AND new york” to find someone advertising their services on any page of their site.
- Asterisk. You may want to cast a wide net in 2022 with so much competition for the best candidates. If you use an asterisk after a search term, it will include all variations of the same word in your results. For instance, you can search “recruit*” to see results for recruiter, recruiting, recruitment, and similar terms.
- Tilde. The tilde ~ lets you find similar terms. Searching “resume~” will also return results for people who have posted a CV.
You can also combine the tools you’ve learned here for even more refined searches. Let’s say you want to find a candidate with software development experience, no management experience, and a master’s degree. You can search: software develop* NOT management AND master’s~.
How is Boolean search used in recruitment?
Boolean recruiting tips are necessary tools for expediting searches. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll realize how much time you can save. For recruiting, the two sites you’ll primarily be culling using Boolean are Google and LinkedIn.
Google tips: Google offers flexibility with Boolean. You can substitute AND with + and NOT with – to save time. It is also compatible with all of the advanced tricks we mentioned above.
LinkedIn tips: LinkedIn does not allow you to substitute words with + or – symbols. The tilde and asterisk won’t work to return similar terms. You’ll want to enter your Boolean searches in the Keyword field.
Why should recruiters master Boolean search basics?
Without the use of Boolean, search engines and websites may return way too many results. Becoming a Boolean pro will lead to better candidates and faster recruiting time frames.
Advantages of using Boolean search in recruiting
Recruiting without Boolean may result in wasted time and missed opportunities. You could use more resources per successful recruitment than necessary. The advantages of using Boolean operators are clear:
- Tailored searches to fill niche roles
- Ability to exclude certain candidates
- Lower recruitment costs per hire
- Faster recruitment process
- Easier to find local candidates
While Anna cut her corporate teeth on the product team at Airbnb, it was her early-stage startup experience that really introduced her to the world of recruiting. While she was growing the team there, she realized how painful, arduous, and challenging recruiting really is. That is, until you find a stellar recruiting team. Today, she leverages her deep recruiting experience as Betterleap’s co-founder and visionary.