What is Boolean Search?

Definition, guide to Boolean Search Operators, and FAQs.

Boolean Search

October 1st, 2019

Boolean Search is a search process that allows you to broaden, limit, and define your search options by adding Boolean Search Operators or Modifiers. With Boolean Search Operators, you will be able to find profiles and candidates that more closely match your requirements.

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Boolean Search Operators:

Operator

Definition

Example

Quotes

Placing quotation marks around a search term or phrase limits your search to that exact term or phrase. Without the quotes, your search engine may return all results that contain each separate word.

"project manager"

AND

Placing AND between your keywords will return results that only include both or all your keywords. This will limit your search results.

engineer AND "project manager"

OR

Placing OR between your search keywords or terms will broaden your search results by returning all possible combinations of your search terms.

engineer OR "project manager"

NOT

Placing NOT between your search keywords excludes the term after NOT from your search. Any result that has the search option you excluded will not show up in your results.

engineer NOT "project manager"

Parenthesis

Parenthesis can be used to combine other Operators for a more complex search. The keyword(s) within the parenthesis will be given priority. The example given returns results that contain both software engineer and software architect.

software AND (engineer OR architect)

Asterisk

The asterisk can be used for a root word, stem, or truncation. The asterisk is a time-saver so you don't have to write out long, complicated search terms. Most job boards will recognize the asterisk, but not all search engines do.

admin* = administration, administrator, administer, administered, etc.

FAQs:

For example: "project manager" AND engineer. This will limit all search results to include both the phrase "project manager" and the keyword "engineer" in each search result.

Read our guide to Boolean Search Operators.

What is Boolean search in recruitment?

A Boolean Search allows recruiters to combine keywords to broaden, limit, or define their searches to more closely reflect exactly what they are looking for.

Have a look at our list of Boolean Search Operators.

What are the 3 Boolean Search Operators used for Boolean searching?

  • AND.
  • OR.
  • NOT.

See our list of Boolean Search Operators for more.

Can you do a Boolean search on Google?

Yes. Boolean Search Operators can be used on just about any search engine. However, using Google rather than a job board will return search results not only for candidate profiles, but also for articles, webpages, and reports. It is important to note that not all search engines will recognize all Boolean Search Operators. For example, the asterisk is not supported on LinkedIn.

What is a Boolean string?

A Boolean string is a combination of keywords and phrases joined together by AND, OR, or NOT.

See our table for a guide on how to use Boolean Search Operators.

The asterisk can be used for a root word, stem, or truncation and will return any word that begins with root or stem that is truncated by the asterisk. Therefore, the asterisk is a time-saver so you don't have to write out long, complicated search terms. For example, admin* will return search options containing any combination of administration, administrator, administer, administered, etc.

Check out our guide on how to use Boolean Search Operators.

By placing the Boolean Search Operator NOT in front of the keyword or phrase you want to exclude. For example, searching for "software engineer" NOT architect will return search results that only contain the key phrase "software engineer" and will exclude all results that include the keyword "architect".

See our guide to Boolean Search Operators.

Does Boolean search work on LinkedIn?

Yes, but LinkedIn does not support all Boolean Search Operators, such as the curly quotation marks (only the standard, straight quotes are supported) and the asterisk.

What does putting search terms in quotations do?

Placing quotation marks around a search term or phrase limits your search to that exact term or phrase. Without the quotes, your search engine may return all results that contain each separate word. For example, searching for software engineer will return results that contain the keywords "software", "engineer", and "software engineer". However, searching for "software engineer" will return only those results that contain the phrase "software engineer" and will exclude all other results.

Have a look at our list of Boolean Search Operators.

Who invented Boolean?

The Boolean search method was invented by George Boole in the 19th century.