Ultimate Guide to Boolean Search

How to find relevant candidates in your talent pool?


The quest for finding relevant candidate for a job position has always been a challenge for recruiters. The sheer volume of resumes inundating recruitment databases makes sifting through potential candidates a formidable task. But with advanced search techniques, recruiters can easily navigate through all the information and quickly identify potential candidates. The Boolean search method is an extremely efficient strategy for recruiters to find the perfect match. It harnesses precision and specificity in their talent acquisition process, making it a key to unlocking success for recruiters seeking to navigate the labyrinth of resumes and unearth the most promising candidates.

What is Boolean Search?

Boolean Search is a method of searching, using words such as “and”, “not”, and “or”( so called Boolean operators), to limit, broaden, or define your search. Recruiters can confidently search for specific job requirements using Boolean search to efficiently narrow down the candidate pool.

A unique set of instructions for a specific type of candidate can help you find more relevant results. This is particularly useful when your current pool of candidates does not match those requirements.

Along with Boolean operators (“and”, “not”, “or”) there exist Boolean Modifiers. They are used to further expand, refine, and enhance a search. Boolean modifiers include the (parentheses) and  “quotation marks”.

Narrow the candidate’s search using Boolean operators “and”, “not”, “or”

  1. “And”

The Boolean operator “and” narrows your results by linking two terms together. You can use this function when you want results that contain two or more specific keywords. For example you are searching for candidate with “Java” and “JavaScript”. We are now asking the TalentSight database to search for all of the people who include both the word “Java” and the word “JavaSript” on their profile. After filtering out irrelevant results, a pool of more specific candidates has been identified.

  1. “Not”

The Boolean operator “Not” restricts your search by excluding the term directly following it. Use “Not” to exclude irrelevant search results. Remember to correctly order your keywords, as “Not” excludes the latter keyword. This operator is helpful in finding results with one keyword but not another. For example, we are asking the database to search for candidates who have the word “Java” in their profile, but to exclude any that also have the word “JavaScript” in their profile (also those who have both words in their profile). This means we are looking to find candidates who have only one specific skill – the first we wrote in the search bar.

  1. “Or”

The Boolean operator “or” widens your results by bringing up results that have one term or another or both. Using 'OR' broadens the search and enables us to find hidden talent, including individuals who have expressed their skills and experience in a unique way.

Boolean modifiers

  1. Parentheses – ()

To get the most relevant result, you can use parentheses to priorities your search preferences. Also, parentheses are used for complex searches. For example, to find people who have "VP" in their profiles, but exclude "assistant to VP" or SVPs, type JavaScript NOT (React OR Vue.js).

  1. “Quotation marks”

Using quotation marks in your search helps you to find exact phrase matches. For example, if you write “Java” in the search bar, you will get all candidates that meet only this requirement.

*Important Notes:

The + and - operators are not officially supported by TalentSight. Using AND in place of + and NOT in place of - makes a query much easier to read and guarantees that we'll handle the search correctly.

We encourage to use AND, OR and NOT in capital letters. But for convenience, we try to support case insensitive as well.

We don't support wildcard "" searches.*