How Boolean search makes life easy for HR

What makes this technique of searching so relevant and significant despite technological advancements?


How difficult is it to look for a needle in a haystack? Well, recruiters and HR professionals will endorse the aptness of this idiom when it comes to looking for the right talent. With the innumerable resumes that are available to choose from, shortlisting the best and then zeroing in on the ones you wish to hire, and that too within a limited time, can be a huge challenge. This is where knowledge of Boolean search comes in handy.

Now that digital recruiting tools are here to stay, Boolean search should definitely be of interest to HR departments—if they are not already using it— because it gives them a more concentrated search result.

What is it?
Boolean search is a technique with which you can search websites but limit your results. With the use of basic words called Boolean operators, that accurately define how keywords are related, you can get specific search results. Irrespective of technological advancements and the popularity of social-media platforms, the technique of Boolean search will be required by those in the hiring business to exercise control on their searches.

These Boolean operators— used on websites and databases and also most software — sift through the innumerable profiles and resumes that exist online, and sort them out. Boolean lets HR departments hold the reins when it comes to searching, instead of the control being in the hands of the developers of the search programme.
The most frequently used Boolean operators are: SITE, INURL, INTITLE, AND, OR and NOT.

With the SITE command you can limit the search to results within a single/specific website, for instance, []

With the INTITLE command, you can search for specific criteria in the page title.
With the INURL command, your search can be limited to characters in a particular website address. For instance, [], will return only CVs.

With the AND command, you can get the search to include more than one specified condition, and include all of them, for instance, [“editor” AND “Hindi language”]. In other words, the search result will include all your criteria. However, in Google, it exists by default between the terms that are searched.

With the OR command, you can widen the search for several terms [“proof reader” OR “editorial manager”]. OR has precedence over AND. It also includes more of the criteria specified by you in the search result.

With the NOT command you can narrow your search by deleting unnecessary terms [Editor NOT: job]. In Google, NOT can be replaced by ‘-‘.

Quotation marks are significant to restrict multiple terms. [“Hindi editor”] will throw up fewer results, but the quality of results will be much better than [Hindi editor] (without the quotes).

We have all typed out long sentences while searching on the Internet in the past. These used to help recruiters find the handful of resumes they were searching for. These long sentences called Long Boolean are not used anymore. However, Short Boolean, which is quite similar to active search, is still widely used. Short Boolean takes recruiters closer to their final results, and also lets them make changes.

However, with time, there have been updations in the Google search algorithms — Panda, Penguin, Hummingbird. These updations have transformed career site marketing. Therefore, it is essential for HR to keep this in mind while posting jobs, creating career portals, or investing in related software.

With Google focused particularly on recent results, Boolean has become even more important. Today HR professionals are involved in a mad race to obtain information from databases or software at a pace faster than competition. This cannot be achieved without expertise in searching the Web, which of course requires the Boolean technique.

So, as a recruiter, if you are on the lookout for an sales manager in a particular city, you know what your Boolean string should look like: (intitle:resume OR intitle:cv) (“sales manager” OR “sales head”) (Delhi OR DEL) -job -jobs -sample -templates.

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