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Recruitment and Boolean Searches

Boolean Searches

In the recruitment world being able to create Boolean searches helps you save money and source candidates quicker! In the wider world, we can use Boolean searches to help us find stuff online so with a little bit of knowledge you can make your life a lot easier when using search engines.

Where Does The Search Term Come From?

The search term Boolean originates from George Boole, an English mathematician in the 19th century, developed “Boolean Logic” to combine certain concepts and exclude certain concepts when searching databases. I thought I’d include that for those who like a quiz – unlikely but it could come in handy one day!

Most online databases and search engines support Boolean searches. Boolean search techniques are used to carry out effective searches, cutting out many unrelated documents and in the case of recruitment writing an effective string will help you find candidates.

Is Boolean Search Complicated?

Using Boolean Logic to broaden and/or narrow your search is not as complicated; in fact, there is a chance you are already doing it.

Boolean logic is just the term used to describe certain logical operations that are used to combine search terms in many search engine databases and directories on the internet.

Whether you use a job board or search across social sites, building effective Boolean searches will enable you to search, find and then target the best candidates for your requirements.

Nowadays many sites are free, so with knowledge of how to string searches, you can save yourself thousands of pounds on recruitment fees.

Using Boolean Logic and Boolean modifiers help you narrow or expand your keyword searches to help find results more closely related to the types of person you need to find.

Generally, the best modifiers to include are AND, OR, and NOT & quotes.

What do you need to know?


If you’d like to search for an exact phrase, you should enclose the phrase in quotation marks. The system will search for terms that appear in the order written within the quotes. You can use quotes to search for terms that include punctuation. You can use quotations marks in addition to other modifiers.

Examples include phrases in quotes, such as: “business analyst” “product manager” “graphic designer


The AND operator is used to join different kinds of concepts or different aspects of the search. If you are searching for profiles that include two terms, you can separate them by using the upper-case word AND. If you enter two terms without AND, the system will assume there is an AND between them. This type of search essentially narrows your results to the intersection of the two terms. Every result must contain both terms.

Examples include:


The OR modifier is used to join similar, equivalent, or synonymous concepts, in other words, different terms that mean the same thing.

You can use OR to broaden your search by connecting two or more synonyms. OR requires at least one of the terms joined by it to appear somewhere in the profile, in any order. Your search will return profiles containing one term, the other, or all. The more words you enter connected by OR, the more results you get.

Examples include:


If you would like to exclude a term from your search, type that term with an uppercase NOT immediately before it. Your search results will exclude any profile that contains that term. Examples include:

Can You Use Boolean Across All Search Engines, Directories And Recruitment Sites?

No, not all sites on the internet support Boolean search terms however most do. So, if you haven’t previously, you can now start to use Boolean in your everyday life to help you get information faster.


LinkedIn has changed the range of options which you have available to you, especially as a free user. Their end goal (it seems), is to push you over to using a paid package. All is not lost though, as you can still use boolean searches within the search box, to help you narrow down your candidates.

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