Boolean Search: Every recruiter should know how to perform a Boolean search. With a few simple tricks, you can find your candidates faster and more accurately than before. In this guide, we share the basics of Boolean search that every recruiter should know. boolean search 

Why is Boolean search so important in recruiting?

Just imagine that within 30 minutes you find 10-20 interesting and suitable profiles that you can approach for your vacant position.

And by interesting and suitable we really mean profiles that fit your search, that have the necessary experience and knowledge. Wouldn't that be a big help? Candidates who are in or around the location you're looking for. Sounds crazy? But it isn't.

Welcome to the wonderful world of Boolean search in recruiting! 😊


Why should every recruiter know the basics of Boolean search?

Recruiters who are proficient in Boolean search can find suitable profiles to target in much less time. They can therefore build their candidate pipeline much more quickly and provide hiring managers with interesting candidates.

On average, only 12% of people are actively looking for a job. This means that recruiters need to proactively find and target passive candidates to fill their open positions.This is where Boolean search comes in.

What is a Boolean search?

Boolean search is an advanced method of online search. With the help of a Boolean search, recruiters can find better candidates faster.

You can apply the Boolean search to:

  • Search for candidates in search engines like Google, Yahoo or Bing
  • Search for candidates on social networks such as XING, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.
  • Searching CV databases such as Monster, Indeed, etc.
  • Search your own database.

All these sources are a huge collection of potential candidates. Instead of investing time and a lot of money in expensive job ads, start searching for suitable candidates yourself.

In short, Boolean search a combination of keywords (called operators) and symbols (called modifiers) to narrow your search and increase the number of matching hits.

Example of the use of Boolean search in recruiting

Still confused about this whole boolean search thing? 😕

With Boolean search, recruiters can find exactly what they are looking for.

Let's illustrate it with an example.

Let's say you are looking for sales representatives in Berlin. Enter in Google "Sales Representative Resume Berlin" one . What do you get?

A set of irrelevant results: Job ads, resume templates and samples, recruiter websites, etc.



This search is completely useless.

But what happens when you apply Boolean search?

Enter a very simple Boolean search string:


boolean search


Would you look at it now? 😮 You get almost Resumes only potential candidates. Pretty cool, right? 🙂


How do you perform a Boolean search?

Actually, it's quite simple. You go to Google, type in your keywords and add some additional words and symbols to get more relevant results.

These additional words (called operators) and symbols (called modifiers) form the basis of the Boolean search.

Three basic Boolean search operators

Boolean search operators are used to combine or exclude the keywords.

There are three basic Boolean search operators:

1. AND

If you add an AND operator between your two keywords, only results containing both keywords will be displayed in the search results.

boolean search


Useful Tip: You can enter an ampersand (&) instead of typing the word AND.

2. NOT

If you add the NOT operator between your two keywords , only results that contain the first keyword, but not the second, will be displayed in the search results.


Useful Tip:  You can use a minus sign (-) instead of typing the word NOT.

3. OR

If you insert OR between your search terms, you will get hits that contain at least one of the search terms.

boolean search


Useful Tip:  You can use a vertical bar symbol (|) instead of typing the word OR.

⚠️ Important note:

Each of the three Boolean operators mentioned should always be written in capital letters. Otherwise they will not work!

Three basic Boolean query modifiers.

Boolean search criteria modifiers are symbols that you can use to prioritize search terms and refine your search.

There are three basic Boolean search operators:

1. quotation marks

Quotation marks are used when searching for exact phrases that consist of more than one word.

For example: "Product Manager

2. asterisk

Add an asterisk at the end of your search term if you want to include all variations. Just replace the remaining letters with an asterisk.

For example : Recruit* = Recruiter, Recruiting, Recruitment

3. brackets

Use parentheses to prioritize this part of the search.

For example: Sales AND (Director OR Manager)


And now we wish a lot of fun trying and experimenting! :-)




Our offer for you in IT recruiting

If you want to reach the best IT professionals, contact us. indivHR helps to become even more successful in IT recruiting and to avoid common mistakes.

As IT recruiting specialists with many years of experience, we know exactly how to design the candidate journey so that you are always ahead of your competitors. So that you get the best employees.