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How Boolean Search can revolutionise the hiring process

June 13, 2013


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Anyone who uses search engines should be thankful to George Boole for inventing relational logical combinatorial systems for key search variables (key terms, phrases, and buzz-words).

All recruiters will know how to use Google Search, but many do not know just how powerful the Boolean operators are when it comes to drilling down a manageable list of query results.

How you use a Boolean search can determine how successful you are in sourcing job candidates within automated tracking systems (ATS) and resume databases.

What is a Boolean Search?

Boolean operators allow searchers to filter results by geographic locations, association lists, conference attendees, mailing list archives, and alumni organisations. The operators can target website content, internal browser groups (e.g. Yahoo Groups), find a range of numbers, and look for URLs within resumes of potential job candidates.

The most common Boolean operators are: ‘AND’, ‘OR’,  ’NOT’. You can substitute ‘AND’ with a plus sign (+) and ‘NOT’ with a minus sign (–).

Below are a few examples, with the key word (KW) and the Boolean string of operators (multiples separated by a | in the string) within parentheses. Use quote marks and paragraphs to keep filtering to a smaller number of results.

Why is Boolean search so important to online recruitment?

When searching for resumes on online, you can search for results with ‘resume’ in the key title (URL), words within the resume, the type of document attached, or even the title of the resume and the zip code in the resume.

Use operators and add Key words to the string to filter down further ((inurl:~resume | intitle:~resumé | ext:doc | ext:pdf | 30001..31999) +(KW +KW, +KW)) to find a Georgia-based resume for a job seeker with the KW key words in their resume. Do search for variations of terms in your Boolean search, such as: resume, resumé, curriculum vitae, and/or CV.

Digging deep into a targeted company’s digital playground.

Perhaps you are trying a little ‘industrial spying lite’ and want to contact an employee you know works within a company. Search for company domains for unique identifiers. For example this search is for an employee profile within a specific company website for their email address as well as some key terms possibly listed on their employee page or a resume database in the site (site:employee | | | +KW1 +KW2 +KW3). You may also see some employees names listed as the manager of specific departments – use their email extension addresses to search for more information.

Blogs as sources for independently placed Internet resumes.

Passive and active job seekers are opting to place their resumes on blogs as the market opens up to free or low cost platforms. WordPress and Blogger have massive numbers of users and job seekers have realised they can ‘get found’ via a search engine faster and easier by posting a ‘page’ or a ‘post’ on their blog with their resume – or even include a vlog (video-blog) about their capabilities. Search for resumes in blogs by using these operators. (inurl:~blog | intitle:~blog | site:NameOfBlogPlatform | site:WordPress).

Finding candidates in their industry ‘playground’ .

Trade associations, alumni organisations, and trade conferences are wonderful sources – especially for academic and trade related links to resume information for unique industries. Perhaps the most viable job candidate would attend the conferences, present papers, are members of trade associations or alumni groups. Search for a group to work your way to viable job candidates using these operators. ( | site:association | inURL:member | inTitle:member | +directory) or (“Conference Name” (directory | contact | speaker)) or “College Name” (inURL:alumni | inTITLE:alumni).

How can recruiters utilise its power? 

These simple Boolean operators used in search engines can power up recruiting searches to assist recruiters and headhunters in finding more, more viable, and more industry related skills-related and experienced candidates to present to the hiring manager. Whether you are a small business owner, a recruiter for a mid-size company, or an independent headhunter, using more focused Boolean Operators will get you ahead of the competition in the race for a ‘hot candidate.’

By Dawn Boyer

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