- What is Boolean Logic?
- Types of Boolean
- The Boolean Operators / The Boolean Modifiers
- The Boolean Operators
- The Boolean Modifiers
- Basic Boolean Operators/Modifiers Explained
- Boolean search works based on logic
As a recruiter it is paramount that we endeavor (make an effort) to make our Web searches more sophisticated, effective, and streamlined. Effectively utilizing Boolean searching is the way we accomplish this goal for both online web searches and for archived resume/profile databases. In this session, we’ll talk about the origins of Boolean terminology, how Boolean search really works, and look at specific examples of this incredibly easy to use and logical search system.
Boolean logic is named after George Boole (1815-1864), an obscure nineteenth century English mathematician. Boole invented a new form of algebra in which values are either true or false. His binary logic is the foundation of digital circuit design and a part of the language of internet search engines. Don’t worry – you don’t have to remember high school algebra to make Boolean logic work.
Most online databases (Monster, CareerBuilder, Dice, etc.) and search engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc.) support Boolean searches. Boolean search techniques can be used to carry out effective searches, cutting out many unrelated documents and highlighting the information you need.
Types of Boolean
- () – Brackets/Parentheses
- “” – Quotation Marks
- * Asterisk (Wildcard Symbol)
- NOT – (sometimes AND NOT)
The Boolean Operators / The Boolean Modifiers
- “ “Quotation Marks
- ( ) Brackets/Parentheses
- * Asterisk (Wildcard Symbol)
BOOLEAN OPERATOR # 1: AND
AND is the simplest function to apply. Any search terms that follow an AND command must appear in the result. For example:
Engineer AND “Senior Developer”
Will give results that include both the word engineer and the phrase “Senior Developer”. All search results will include both, and any CVs that have either Engineer or “Senior Developer” (but not both) will not appear.
BOOLEAN OPERATOR # 2: OR
Use OR between terms to search for resumes that contain either word surrounding it.
Usage of the OR command allows you to create a list of possibilities for which only one match is important. For example, the following search phrase would give you results that contain one or more of the stated words:
Engineer or “Senior Developer”
Boolean Operator # 3: NOT (sometimes AND NOT)
NOT is the command of exclusion. If there are closely related terms that mean very different things, then usage of the NOT command is extremely valuable. An example could be as follows:
architect NOT “software architect”
This would give you results that contain the word architect, but leaving out any that use the phrase “software architects”. Very useful if you are operating in the construction industry.
The one major limitation with the NOT command is that it isn’t recognized by Google.
Boolean Operator # 4: NEAR
Returns pages in your search string with both terms within close proximity to each other on the page. Usually within ten words or less.
The “near” operator indicates that the search words you have entered must appear within a certain number of words of each other (usually between one and 20).
For example, a search for “ Sales near Management“ would turn up results in which the two words appear close together.
Boolean Modifier # 1: “ “Quotation Marks
Use “ ” (quotation marks) around multiple terms to search for resumes that include the term included in quotes. For example, “UNIX programmer” will return resumes that include that specific term, rather than separate occurrences of the two words. As You will have noticed that I have used the “” expression above in some examples already, wrapped around particular keywords.
Boolean Modifier # 2: ( ) Brackets/Parentheses
Using brackets is essential for complex search strings, and it can be their application that causes the most confusion. Essentially, a clause within brackets is given priority over other elements around it. The most common place that brackets are applied by recruiters is in the use of OR strings. Perhaps a good example would be company names. You have a list of target companies from where you wish to find your talent, and a candidate can have worked at any one (or ideally several) of them. You might initially construct a command like this:
IBM OR Oracle OR “Red Hat” OR Microsoft
These are all large companies though, so any search like this is likely to generate a large number of results. If you wanted to find just individuals who have reached Manager or Director level, then you might use the following command:
“Manager” OR “Director”
To combine both commands into one search, we use brackets to tell the search engine that these are separate conditions. In order to tell the search engine that we want to see results containing either Manager or Director and also one of IBM, Oracle, Red Hat, or Microsoft, we group them like this:
(“Manager” OR “Director”) AND (IBM OR Oracle OR “Red Hat” OR Microsoft)
It makes no difference which order the two bracketed sections go; the same results will result either way.
Boolean Modifier # 3: * wild card symbol
The asterisk can replace one or more letters at the end of a word. This might help you search for something that can be phrased differently.
Example: Develop* (would retrieve pages with the words Developer, Developing, Development etc.)
Although Boolean logic is a very effective tool to assist you with your searches. There are other factors you must keep in mind. The search terms you use are just as important as the Boolean logic. If a search is proving unproductive, maybe there are synonyms to some of the search terms? Are there different job titles for this position? Play with different combinations of search terms and see what results you get. It is not uncommon to have to run four to six different search term combinations to find the right resumes.
From my experience over the years I would say only about 50% – 60% of recruiters are aware of Boolean Logic and use it when conducting searches. Boolean Logic can increase your edge in terms of speed and efficiency of sourcing resumes online. Use it and your already putting yourself ahead of half your recruiting competition.
Here I will try to explain how to use Boolean operators effectively to extract most suitable profiles from resume database.
Here are two cases out of which I will take one and make an effective search string using Boolean operators. You can take the other case or think of a case on your own and try to use Boolean operators for it. This will help you learn it better.
Case 1: We are searching for candidates with Core Java and Multi Threading skills and Unix / Linux / Solaris platform experience but he should not have worked in telecom or networking domain.
Case 2: We are looking for Project Managers in insurance domain but he should have retail experience not institutional or corporate sales.
Here, I will take the 1st case:
If we put a search – Corejava AND multithreading, we will find profiles where all these words are mentioned i.e.: all the candidates might have worked on corejava, multithreading
Now the problem is – there may be many profiles where people would have written corejava as core java and multithreading as multi threading or multi-threading. We don’t want to miss any of them. So how do we accommodate them? Here OR function comes handy. We can change our search string to – (Corejava OR “Core java”) AND (multithreading OR “multi threading” OR “multi-threading”).
But we are looking for people who have worked either unix or linux or solaris platform. So now the string becomes (Corejava OR “core java”) and (multithreading OR “multi threading” OR “multi-threading”) and (unix OR linux OR solaris).
Now we are looking for people who have worked in core java, multithreading in unix/linux/solaris platform but he should not be from telecom or networking background.
So the search string we can use is (CoreJava OR “core java”) AND (multithreading OR “multi threading” OR “multi-threading”) AND (Unix OR Linux OR Solaris) AND NOT (telecom OR networking)
Now this is a strong Boolean search string which covers all the aspects of the case. Here the results will be lesser in number yet most relevant – exactly what we want.
As I told you earlier, only reading will not do. Take an example and try using the Boolean operators one by one. Look at the results and analyze them. You will find out the pattern very soon.
Whenever searching for any skill try to put all the alternatives a candidate could have used to mention that skills set i.e. (multithreading OR “multi threading” OR “multi threading”). This will make your search more robust.
USE NOT OPERATOR CAREFULLY: For example: You have mentioned NOT X where you don’t want people who have worked on X skill. Here the search will remove every resume where X is mentioned even once . As a result you may miss some people who have worked in your required skill sets and casually written X once or twice somewhere in there resumes. So before putting NOT operator, think of all the outcomes.
Boolean operators are not as complicated as they are thought to be. After all you have to learn only 5 operators. Remember how many formulas we used to practice in math class in school!
Portal or internal database have huge number of resume of all skill sets. So the key lies in finding the right resume quickly. Strong Boolean skill will help you achieve that.