How to Use Boolean Search To Find Great CVs (With Examples)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 8 November 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

It's important to have a good search process for finding the right job candidates for vacancies. One way to optimise the search process is by utilising search strings. Learning how to perform a Boolean search can help you streamline the search process and make it more effective. In this article, we discuss what a Boolean search is, show you how to use Boolean search strings in the recruitment process and provide a few examples.

How to use Boolean search strings

It's important to learn how to use Boolean search to quickly find the best candidate for a job. A Boolean search is a search process that uses a mathematical operator to limit or broaden a candidate search on databases, such as applicant tracking systems (ATS), job portals or candidate relationship management (CRM) solutions. A mathematical operator is a symbol that calculates values, such as subtraction and addition signs. Here are the steps you can take to find job candidate information using a Boolean search:

  1. Include variances in search terms: Candidates often use both CV and resume, so include both search terms using the Boolean search string CV OR resume. The operator OR shows results that contain CV, resume or both.

  2. Search for words or phrases included in CVs: Besides just searching for CVs or resumes, consider searching for words commonly included in CVs, such as education, skills or professional experience.

  3. Cover different titles for the same occupation: Some professions have multiple titles, so it's important to broaden your search to include different titles for the same profession. For instance, you can use alternative titles such as programmer or developer for a web development role.

  4. Exclude irrelevant search results: To exclude search results not related to your search term, consider using the NOT operator. For instance, to avoid CV-related articles in your search results, you could exclude terms such as tips or templates to narrow down your search and make it easier to find the actual CVs you're looking for.

  5. Look for more information on specific job candidates: To learn more about specific job candidates, you can search their names in quotation marks and utilise Boolean operators to find the exact information you're looking for, such as their social media profiles or email addresses.

Related: Complete Guide to the Employee Recruitment Process

Boolean operators you can use in search strings

To use search strings to optimise the search process for job candidates, it's important to know the different Boolean operators. Here are some common Boolean operators you can use:

AND

The operator AND can help you broaden your search by including multiple keywords. For instance, you can use this operator when searching for an administrative assistant and clerk. Your search string can look like this: administrative assistant AND clerk. It's unnecessary to specify this operator when looking for potential candidates on databases or job posting sites. A space also works as the AND operator. Thus, typing administrative assistant-clerk can also give you the results you're looking for.

OR

When there are alternative wordings for the skill or role you're looking for, consider using the OR search string. For instance, if you're looking for an administrative assistant or clerk or graphic designer, your search query would look like this: administrative AND assistant OR clerk OR graphic designer. This Boolean search operator is also useful for identifying professionals who spell certain words differently. For instance, Photoshop AND Adobe AND graphic design OR Lightroom AND Photo Shop OR Light Room On Indeed. For more accurate results, consider using the pipe character (I) instead of OR.

Related: Tips From a Recruiter: Standing Out to Hiring Managers During COVID-19

NOT

The NOT operator is a great tool that allows you to limit your search to specific terms or phrases. For instance, if you're specifically looking for an administrative assistant or clerk but not a bookkeeper, your search query can look like this: administrative AND assistant OR creator NOT bookkeeper. Then the results that show up exclude the term bookkeeper from the search. On search engines, you may use the hyphen (-) rather than the word NOT. For example, you can search administrative assistant OR clerk -bookkeeper.

Parentheses

Parentheses can help you group several search strings into one candidate search. For instance, if you're looking for an administrative assistant who works in healthcare, your search query can look like this: administrative AND (clerk OR writer) AND (healthcare or health care) -bookkeeper -freelancer. This prioritises the search for an administrative assistant and then for an administrative assistant in the healthcare industry. This search string can also omit professionals working as bookkeepers or freelancers so that you can find job candidates interested in full-time roles.

Related: What Is an Administrative Assistant? (And How To Become One)

Quotation marks

Quotation marks can help you find the exact phrase that matches your search. Placing a specific phrase in quotation marks can help you narrow your search down and get results that contain the specific phrase. For instance, just the phrase administrative assistant without quotation marks can give you results with the terms administrative and assistant as separate words, but searches for "administrative assistant" results in exact matches to the phrase.

Asterisk

The asterisk works as a wildcard and is useful when looking for variants of a particular keyword. For instance, when searching for administrative support-related terms such as administrative assistant or administrative support officer or administrative secretary, consider using the asterisk symbol following the stem word "administrative sup*" or "administrative ass*". Keep in mind that while most job boards and ATS recognise an asterisk, some search engines may not. It's important to avoid placing terms followed by the asterisk within quotation marks, as it could result in exact matches of the phrase.

Related: How Companies Use Applicant Tracking Systems (With Tips to Pass Through Them)

Search commands for Boolean search process for recruitment on search engines

On search engines, you can use the following field commands along with the above-mentioned modifiers and operators to streamline the recruitment process:

inurl:

This operator can help you find results that have a specific term in the URL. For instance, if you want to search for members of the marketing team of various organisations, you can make your search string like this: inurl:"marketing team". This can provide you with search results with this term in the URL, but this can also generate results like How to Build a Strong Marketing Team. To remove unwanted terms and narrow down your search results, consider using other operators. For instance, inurl:"marketing team” –inurl:"how to".

site:

The site: field command is useful when you are searching for results from a specific site. This can be a great way to find professionals who aren't necessarily on professional networking platforms but have an extensive portfolio to share. Your search command can look something like this: site:hk.indeed.com web ("designer" | "developer"). This search command can tell search engines that you're looking for web designers or developers on the Indeed website.

Related: Headhunting: Definition, Differences From Recruiting and Tips

intitle:

You can use the command intitle: if you want to widen your search. This command can help you specifically look for words such as "CV", "resume", in addition to the keyword, such as "designer". Thus, your search string can look like this: site:hk.indeed.com intitle:CV (designer | developer). For each of these commands, start the search term immediately after the colon. Make sure there are no spaces between them.

Related: 15 CV Objective Examples (And How to Write One for Your CV)

Examples

You can use the Boolean search strings in several ways to maximise the recruitment process. The following are some examples of search strings to help you find the ideal candidate for an open position:

  • "social media" AND "web developer": This search can help you find professionals in both social media and web development. The quotations indicate that your search results cover the exact keywords or phrases, and the operator AND indicates that all search results cover both criteria.

  • design OR art: If you search using the operator OR, your results include "design", "art" or both, which allows you to find a graphic designer's CV.

  • (CV OR resume) AND "search engine optimisation": This specific search allows you to find results that contain the exact phrase and accounts for the use of the term "CV" or "resume". This widens your search to make sure you don't miss any potential job candidates.

  • ("content writer" AND CV) -examples: This search string, which uses the minus symbol to indicate the operator NOT, doesn't include "examples" on your search. It can help you avoid articles on CV examples and keep your search results focused on the real CVs for content writer candidates.

  • (programming OR coding) AND "web development": This search can help you find professionals with web development experience. It also accounts for various words candidates can use to describe their relevant work experiences. Professionals often use developing, programming, coding and other terms interchangeably.

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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