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What is Boolean Search? | Zoek Job Site

Boolean Search is a type of search that allows users to combine keywords with ‘modifiers’ or ‘operators’ to limit, widen or define results. There are three main modifiers: ‘AND’, ‘OR’ and ‘NOT’. Brackets, quotation marks and asterisks are other tools used when performing a Boolean Search. All are used in combination with primary keywords in order to fine-tune a search for quicker, more accurate results.

Boolean Search isn’t new. In fact, the basic principles were conceived by an English mathematician called George Boole in 1847 as detailed in his book ‘The Mathematical Analysis of Logic. Yet, in the modern era, these laws have become the foundation stones for digital technology. In fact, without Boole’s work, Google may not exist in the way we know it today.

It’s a very important tool in recruitment for two main reasons: firstly, it gives candidates much more control during when searching for work on job boards and job sites, and, secondly, because it helps recruiters identify qualified candidates from a CV database much more quickly. Which means it can significantly speed up candidate acquisition.

Let’s take a more in-depth look at how the modifiers function within Boolean Search can help when searching for candidates.

Simplifying the recruitment process with modifiers

 Using the ‘AND’ modifier, as you might expect allows you to add multiple criteria in order to narrow your search results. So if you search a CV database using for ‘recruitment AND HR’, you will only access candidates with both ‘recruitment’ and ‘HR’ in their profiles. The more keywords you add using the ‘AND’ modifier, the fewer results you’ll get as you narrow the search criteria. However, those you do get will be increasingly more relevant.

‘OR’ allows you expand your results. This is useful when different words are used to say the same thing. A good example would be ‘recruitment OR recruiting’. Using the ‘OR’ modifier will allow all the combination possibilities to appear.

‘NOT’ is used to remove false positives. For instance, if you’re looking for developer and want to avoid C+ developers, you’d input ‘developer NOT C+’.

Refining your search with brackets, quotations and asterisks

As in mathematical equations, brackets prioritise certain words or phrases. So, entering ‘recruitment AND manager OR consultant’ is more generic than entering ‘recruitment AND (manager OR consultant)’. What’s inside the brackets is prioritised, so the bracketed search string will return any results containing ‘recruitment manager’ and ‘recruitment consultant’.

Quotations are used to search for an exact phrase. In effect, you’re telling the search to treat a phrase as a single keyword, so a search including ‘”recruitment manager’” would return only results with the full phrase as specified.

The asterisk function acts as a ‘wild card’ after your phrase in order to widen your search. It will look for all words connected to the stem that precedes the asterisk.

Find quality candidates with Boolean Search

 It’s clear to see just how useful these techniques when it comes to searching for candidates. Crafting effective commands can be tricky at first, but with a bit of practice, you’ll soon get to grips with the best ways to create search strings and see your use of Boolean Search become increasingly more complex. For instance, you may find it useful to use geographical phrases to search by location or deploy lesser known commands in order to further streamline the candidate acquisition process.

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