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Recruiters spend hours browsing numerous resources and career sites to find the best-fit talent. Trying to narrow down the number of candidates for a position can challenge even an experienced recruiter. However, the Boolean search can help to waste less time and enhance the quality of a potential talent pool. Here you’ll find popular operators and some tips and requirements on Boolean search for recruiters. Stay tuned!

What are the origins of Boolean search?

It is a query technique applied to expand, narrow, or clarify search results. It is named after George Boole, an English mathematician and author of The Mathematical Analysis of Logic (1847). Boolean logic is a formal, mathematical approach to decision-making. Instead of the familiar algebra of symbols and numbers, Boole set down an algebra of decision states, such as yes and no, one and zero.

Web searches use Boolean logic for filtering results. If you look for “manager,” for instance, a search engine will have hundreds of millions of web pages that match. If you add the word “marketing,” the number drops significantly. This is because the search engine uses Boolean algebra, retrieving pages that match “marketing” AND “manager”. In other words, the web page must have all the terms to qualify. The advantage of Boolean logic lies in refining the sourcing results and benefits millions who browse the Web daily.

What is Boolean search in recruitment?

What is the essence of the Boolean search recruiting? You create a search query containing keywords and operators that contribute to your talent sourcing and increase its performance.

With the Boolean technique, you can specify:

  • location of the candidate;
  • job title;
  • company;
  • responsibilities;
  • education;
  • courses;
  • key skills;
  • period of experience in the position.
  • any other keywords that you find essential.

If you have decided on the applicant's characteristics, you should take care of the operators. They will make your query the most accurate.

Where to use Boolean search?

Boolean recruitment is applicable on any search engine (e.g. Google, Bing, search on Linkedin or other professional platforms) across the Web using specific keywords and operators. Also, there is no restriction on how many you use in one search string.

Essentially, a ‘Boolean Operator’ uses simple conjunctions to generate more focused results on search engines like Google by combining or excluding specific keywords within sourcing. As a result, using them is much more productive, streamlined, and targeted once you get the hang of them.

Basic Boolean search operators

There is a variety of Boolean recruitment operators. Here you can find the most common:

  1. AND

AND Indicates that all the listed words must appear on the page. It reduces the number of results in search results.

Example: Marketing AND Manager.

  1. OR

You can add OR between your keywords when hunting for several options in the search results. The OR operator extends your solutions and products one thing or another.

Example: Marketing AND Manager OR Officer. 

  1. NOT (-)

The NOT(-) operator means excluding some keywords. You can use NOT or the "-" sign if you want to miss out a specific result. Also, don't forget to use brackets.

Example: Marketing AND Manager NOT jobs; Marketing AND Manager OR Officer -jobs -vacancy.

  1. Parentheses ()

When using Boolean recruiting search, it is impossible to determine how a search engine will solve our equation. However, you can group multiple words and set priorities for search. Simply put, the keywords in parentheses take precedence over others. 

Example: Marketing AND (Manager OR Officer) -jobs.

  1. Quotations “”

You can use quotation marks to find exact phrases or when you have two or more words to keep together in search. This operator defines several words as one precise term, which allows you to make a more accurate search.

Example: “Marketing Manager”.

All of these operators can be used in Google/Bing/Linkedin sourcing. 

Advanced Boolean search operators

  1. filetype:

Mainly used in Google/Bing sourcing.

You can add this operator filetype: to your search to set out the attachment format. Job seekers attach CVs online in different formats, so you can also use the OR operator not to miss out on other qualified resumes of another format.

Example: “Marketing Manager” AND (Resume OR CV) AND (filetype:pdf OR filetype:doc OR filetype:txt OR filetype:docx). 

  1. url: and site:

Mainly used in Google/Bing sourcing.

You can use the operators url: or site: to decrease search results to particular websites where potential candidates can be on (e.g., social networks, professional online platforms, etc.)

Example: AND (“Marketing Manager” OR “Marketing Officer”) -jobs -vacancy.

  1. inurl:, intitle: and intext:

Mainly used in Google/Bing sourcing.

intitle: and intext serve as alternatives to the operator filetype:. They are necessary to look for CV pages or links on a website. The inurl: operator is helpful when looking for the appropriate URL-address.

Example: AND Marketing (Manager OR Officer) -intitle:jobs -intext:”job description”).

  1. NEAR

Mainly used in Linkedin/Google/Bing sourcing.

You can use the operator NEAR to look for specific words or phrases appearing next to each other in a document or on a website. It's a close search operator automatically sourcing for solutions containing keywords 1-10 words apart in the text.

Example: “Marketing Manager” NEAR “paid ad” -jobs.

  1. TILDE ~

Mainly used in Linkedin/Google/Bing sourcing.

You can apply TILDE operator to enlarge or diminish search results, depending on your use. Applying the TILDE operator you can include synonyms for the marked keywords.

Example: Marketing AND ~Manager; AND “Marketing Manager” AND ~resume. 

Some tips for using Boolean operators in sourcing

Thorough knowledge of Boolean recruiting operators and how to use them is only part of success. You have to apply them efficiently.

We've put together some tips to help make the Boolean search for recruiters more efficient.

  1. Change your Boolean search query regularly

The operators affect the comprehensiveness and efficiency of your results. We recommend adding many keywords and operators to your sourcing to get the most relevant candidates. However, multiplex search strings can not only assist you in finding the perfect talent but also exclude them from your search results by accident. Changing queries will help you to cover relevant candidates as much as possible. In this case, you can work in line with the iterative search method.

  1. Save successful Boolean search queries

Pay attention to the search queries that you apply mainly, giving you high-quality results. Keep these data to save time for future sourcing. 

  1. Record keywords variations

The more results you look over, the easier it is to define keyword options. For instance, job seekers may write "NodeJS" instead of "Node.js". Look for possible variations and apply the OR operator to cover all available options in the results. 

How to improve your search for candidates?

In a company constantly selecting candidates, a wave of CVs, responses, applications for new employees, emails and meetings cover the recruiter. In this flow, it is difficult to remember which candidate has already received an answer, is waiting for a decision, or hasn't replied to an offer. Therefore, experienced specialists automate the recruiting process to avoid getting lost in all this.

Here we’d like to introduce Axterior - online recruitment platform. With Axterior, you can find ideal candidates 23% faster. 

The professional recruitment software automates routine tasks you face in your daily work life, from talent pool maintenance to the hiring processes compliance management. Thus, you can find qualified candidates faster and use this time to build long-term relationships with potential employees. 

Also, you can publish vacancies on the auto-generated pages directly from Axterior and share it with candidates via unique links.


Boolean search for recruiters help you get the best out of every search query, and using them is not as difficult as it might seem at first glance. This technique minimizes the need for additional channels and increases recruitment efficiency. Use this correctly, and enjoy!

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