The one skill you can’t do without

Boolean search is not some kind of magic word, but it essential knowledge that all recruiters need to know so they can use it when they are searching for candidates. If you are recruiter and you’ve never heard Boolean operators, it’s time to start learning the basics! Most online databases and search engines support Boolean searches and you can use it for effective searches.

Boolean logic covers the operators AND, OR and NOT. The name Boolean comes from mathematician George Boole.

Boolean searches allow you to combine phrases and words using these operators and they will help you to define your search, help you to limit the search, or widen the search.

If you are just starting with Boolean you can use some Boolean tools. These tools will help you to create search strings much faster.

There are tools that will build the search strings for you, but some of them only help you build strings for single sites, like LinkedIn or Facebook.

Some tools like or tool from Jobvention help you to create search strings for sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and many other sites. But if you know how to create Boolean stings without these tools, your will need only one tool: Notepad.

Boolean operators


Using AND narrows a search by combining terms. In the search you will have results that use the search terms you specify. If you are looking for a sales person who is Japanese and form Tokyo, the basic string could look like this:

Example: Sales AND Japanese AND Tokyo

Note: By default, search engines interpret a space to mean AND. But not every search engine or database does it.


Using OR will help you to broaden a search to include results that contain either of the words you type in. Also it is a good idea to use OR when there are several common spellings or synonyms of a word.

Example: Designer OR artist

Note: If you use OR in a Search Engine then, you will get pages that mentioned one or more of these words.


Using NOT will narrow a search by excluding certain search terms.

Example: salesman NOT travel
This will help you to find all profiles and/or pages without word Travel.

Note: Google was using NOT for some time, but Google no longer recognizes NOT. But you can still use the minus sign (-) to exclude terms from your search.

Don’t forget:

It is important to use the capitalize letter when you using Boolean operators with a search engine like Google. Google recognizes “and” and “AND”. (if you typed Sales Manager without quotes it assumes Sales AND manager). But Google does recognizes “OR,” but not “or.”

More commands:

Quotation Marks:

Use quotation marks to search for an exact word or set of words. Quote marks surrounding two or more words tell a search engine to look for all those words. And if you use the OR operator you can create long strings

Example:  (“account manager” OR “account executive” OR “business developer” OR “key account” OR “pre sales” OR “salesperson” OR “salesman”)


Brackets will help you to organize the keywords in your string. Put similar keywords used in OR statements inside a set of brackets.


If you are looking for a sales person in IT in London or Liverpool, the string could look like this:  (“sales” OR “account manager” OR “account executive” OR “salesman”) AND (“software” OR “applications” OR “information technology” OR “application”) AND (“London” OR “Liverpool”). But this one is only example.


Put a dash before a word and that will exclude the word from a search. Dashes are used sometimes instead of NOT operator

Example: designer -art

There are more operators and search commands like these ones:

intitle:  This searches for your keyword in the title of a webpage.

site: This allows you to search for web pages from one particular website. Some people call this X-raying a website. The site: operator also returns an estimated count of the number of indexed pages for the domain that you type.

Example: Developer

The list of commands is bigger, but you can find more info on the internet.

And do not forget, that search engines like GoogleYandexBaidu and Bing can be a valuable addition to your candidate sourcing toolbox. A good Boolean string can help you find interesting candidates for your openings even if the person is not on LinkedIn, but he could be on Twitter, GitHub etc. You can use the tools like or just use your brain and skills to create your search strings in Notepad.

I have only mentioned A few things about creating Boolean search strings. There are many more Boolean search techniques that you can use.