Boolean Search

Lashonda Tillis
Lashonda Tillis

Table of Contents

Did you know that there’s an online search method that helps you locate and narrow information? It makes it easy to locate, target, and identify desired results. Even better . . . it saves time!

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What Is a Boolean Search?

The internet is a vast place! Think about the number of unlimited web pages, databases, social sites, and more. If you work in talent, there are many techniques to obtain information faster and more concisely. This is called a Boolean Search.

A boolean search is a technique to search for information using an operator and keywords. Operators, also called modifiers, are terms such as AND, NOT, and OR. When used in a search, the results shown are limited to the information you’ve provided. Y. When performing a Google search, the information found online can be overwhelming. A boolean operator helps bring the results you are looking for by doing most of the heavy lifting for you.

Here is one example:

“California” AND “Georgia”

Using AND limits the search to those two states only. AND is typically used for two search terms. NOT excludes a specific item from your search. OR makes your search inclusive to the terms listed.

There are many other operators used in a Boolean Search such as:

  • Quotes “ “: Used for exact phrases like “director of talent”
  • Parentheses (  ): Combines operators for a complex search like (director of talent OR HR director)
  • Asterisk *: Used to search the root, stem or variation of a word, like admin* = administration, administrator, administer, administered

Why are Boolean Searches Important in Hiring?

  • Saves time. Boolean operators save time while bringing you targeted information that would normally take much longer if you had to browse multiple web pages.
  • Finds specializations. If you are seeking talent in specialized roles, using boolean search techniques can help you identify hard to find talent.
  • Searches within searches. Boolean logic can be used to search on multiple sites such as LinkedIn or Twitter. With a Google search, you can create a boolean string (or phrase) that provides results obtained from those sites.

Elements of a Boolean Search

Remember, a Boolean search contains a search operator and the specific term(s) you are seeking. It is important to be as detailed as possible to get the best results.


Keywords are the search terms the end-user is searching for. For example, if you were looking for “Benefits Coordinator” this would be your keyword (search term). Being as specific as possible with your keywords helps the search operators bring the best results.

Boolean Operators

  • AND: Includes both of your keywords
  • NOT: Excludes any keywords that follow “NOT”
  • OR: Includes any keywords you’ve listed

Tips for Effectively Using a Boolean Search

Be Descriptive

Make sure your keywords capture the information you are trying to obtain. If you are seeking talent for a role, use specific titles, certifications or geographic locations in your search.

Use Boolean Generators

Many sites have free boolean generators you can use to build a “boolean string” or search phrase. This is helpful if you routinely perform different searches. Two sites that are notable are Recruitin and Hireez online boolean builders. With these tools, you can input information about your search and the system generates a boolean string you can use on Google or related sites such as Linked In, etc.

Save Your Strings

Start a collection of your personal boolean strings. You can use them in the future and edit them as your talent search changes. Building a personal bank of boolean phrases can help you quickly organize which searches provided the best results.

Questions You’ve Asked Us About Boolean Search

What’s the difference between a boolean search and a boolean phrase?
A boolean search is performed by using a keyword(s) and operator(s) to locate information. A boolean phrase is the actual keywords and modifiers listed together to form a phrase that your search engine understands to locate specific information.
Do boolean searches work on LinkedIn?
Yes, you can use boolean operators on LinkedIn. When searching for specific roles, use operators for specific job titles or skill sets. If you are using a premium version of LinkedIn, such as LinkedIn Recruiter, you can use the search feature to add complete boolean phrases to enhance your profile search.
Can you do a boolean search on Google?
Yes, you can perform a boolean search on Google by entering your phrase (keyword + operator) to obtain search results.
Lashonda Tillis
Lashonda Tillis

Lashonda works in Talent Acquisition at Shopify, where she helps to fulfill the mission of making commerce better for everyone. In this role, she sources candidates for senior engineering roles in a variety of disciplines. When she isn’t working, Lashonda loves to spend time reading, enjoying family time, or expanding her knowledge of all things HR.

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