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Boolean Search Secrets to Make You More Effective

January 11th, 2017 Comments off
Boolean Search Secrets to Make You More Effective

If you’ve been in the HR space as long as I have, you know the hardest part of recruiting used to be knowing how to find the people you wanted to hire. Recruiters often played the role of detectives who used ruses and telephone networking techniques to lead them to the candidates they wanted to interact with. The technology is different today but the basics of HR are still the same.

How Recruiters’ Jobs Have Evolved

Until the mid-1990’s, Boolean logic — the foundation of Boolean search — was the exclusive province of librarians, lawyers and software developers. As the World Wide Web emerged, Boolean search came of age as one of the primary tools of recruiters around the world. Boolean search involves using specific logic and special ‘operators’ to dig deeper into search engines like Google.

Today recruiters have access to an abundance of information about prospective employees using the leading search engines. Finding what they’re looking for involves being able to be specific enough.

Tips and Tricks You Can Start Using Now

Boolean operators can be used to narrow, expand or refine the results of a search query:

• OR means that the search results should include either of two terms. i.e.,
MBA OR Masters of Business Administration
The search results will include either of the two terms but not necessarily both. You can make long strings of OR to make sure that a large range of terms are included.
• AND means that the search results should include both terms. i.e.,
Java AND C++
All search results will include both terms.
• NOT means that the following term should be excluded from search results. i.e.,
Java NOT C++
The search results will include the first term and will exclude results that contain the second term.

In addition to these core operators, Boolean includes powerful modifiers

• Quotation Marks “__“ mean that the search engine should treat the words inside of the quotation makes as a single search term. The search query “baseball player” returns documents with those two words together. Without the quotes, the search results contain documents with those words anywhere, not necessarily next to each other
• Parentheses (_____) are especially useful with long strings of OR queries. i.e.,
(Java OR C++ OR Ruby OR JavaScript)
• Asterisk * (or Wildcard) allows the search to contain the stem of a word. The search develop* would return results with any of the following words: develops, developer, developers, development, developments, developing

Connecting With Candidates Using Search

When this all began, more than 20 years ago, using search to solve problems was a novelty. Back then, the notion of Boolean search referred to the use of terms like OR, AND or NOT to increase the effectiveness of a query. In the intervening years, all search engines have added advanced search capabilities that include a variety of terms and symbols to expand the effectiveness of the user.

Each database that you use to discover candidates will have some advanced search capabilities. They might include:

• Date ranges so that you can search only documents that emerged in the last month, last year or in a specific time frame.
• Document types so that you can specify PDF, doc, docx, xls or ppt for example. Search results will only contain these types of files.
• Specific domains: This modifier forces the search to only look at a specific domain. This is useful to search competitor websites.

Developing strong skills in search techniques makes the difference in the quality of recruiting results. The more a recruiter can unearth results from easily available sources, the more valuable he or she is to the organization. Boolean search techniques matter because they provide a competitive differentiation.

Are you doing what it takes to stand out from the competition?

Want to become a pro in the fundamentals of Boolean search? Check out our guide to learn how sourcing masters use Boolean to tap into talent across the web.