Boolean Search In Recruitment: 11 Operators to Know

[Banner] Boolean Search In Recruitment 11 Operators to Know

Boolean search is a method of searching that uses Boolean operators. These operators allow you to combine keywords and phrases to create more complex queries than using just one keyword or phrase.  This type of search can be used to narrow your hunt for the perfect candidate, focusing on specific skills, job titles, experience, or other keywords related to the position being recruited for. 

For example, if you are searching for an applicant with skills in both Java and Python, then your boolean query would be “java AND python”. If you were looking for someone who has worked at Google or Facebook then your boolean query would be “google OR Facebook.”  

Boolean Search in recruiting can help recruiters save time by only viewing relevant candidates with specific qualifications or experience.

Basic operators

1. AND

AND operators are used to combining two or more conditional expressions so that all of them must evaluate to true for the entire expression to be considered true.

It is used in recruitment to include multiple keywords to broaden your search.

For example, you can use this operator when looking for a web developer and android developer. The search string would look like this:

  web-developer AND android – developers

2. OR

The OR Boolean operator uses the word “or” to compare two things and tells you what can be found in either of them. When you want to specify alternatives for a desired role or skill, use the OR operator. For example, you could be looking for a marketing executive or sales executive, or retail executive. In that case, your search query would look like this:

  marketing executive OR sales executive or retail executive

3. NOT

The NOT operator is a helpful tool for narrowing down your search results to particular keywords. The typical use of the NOT operator is to exclude a keyword from a search string. If you want to find a specific type of role, such as an AI engineer or machine learning engineer, but not a data analyst, a search will not return results that include “data analytics” in your query. Your search query would be something like this:

 AI engineer AND Machine Learning Engineer NOT Data Analyst

4. Parentheses ()

Brackets maintain groupings and indicate priority. Parentheses work in boolean searches just like they do for math – giving preference to what is within them. For instance, if you are looking for an engineer and developer who develop software programs, then the search query would be:

  software AND (engineer OR developer)  -jobs -hiring

The parentheses surrounding the engineer and developer indicate the search engine to first execute the query, then eliminate all results that do not include software.

5. Quotations “”

Quotation marks are a great way to find the exact phrase in your search. For example, if you search for the phrase python developer, it will give you search results for both “python” and “developer.” But, when using quotation marks with “python developer,” only exact phrase matches are found.

  “Machine learning engineer” -jobs – hiring

6. Asterisk (*)

The asterisk operator is a handy way to broaden your search when you know there are multiple variations of a root word.  It is used as a wildcard to find multiple words or phrases of a particular word. Put the symbol after any keyword.

For example, searching for programming, searching for “program*” will yield results such as programmer, programming, programming language, programer, programming paradigm, programming software.

Advanced operators

7. URL: and SITE:

The URL: or site: operator can be used to find specific websites that are at home or linked to your target candidates, such as LinkedIn. Do not include a space between “site” and the domain, such as linkedin.com.

When searching for a specific website, it is important to start with just the basics. Then add back the operators one by one in order of precedence so that you can try and concatenate your list of results.

site:Linkedin.com software AND (engineer OR developer)

8. Intitle: / Intext: / Inurl:

You can expand your search by using the “intitle:” command to specifically look for words such as resume, CV. If you are searching for a web designer your search string will look like this: site:linkedin.com intitle:resume (web designer). 

The inurl command is handy for finding specific words or phrases in a particular domain. You can build your search string like this: inurl:”web developer team”

The intext: operator does the same thing as intitle: but it searches within the body text of a web page, just like the “inurl:” operator does within the URL.

9. TILDE ~

The tilde (~) operator is used to expand your search results when including criteria that can be described in several ways.

If you are looking for resumes, not job descriptions when sourcing applicants. You don’t have to exclude candidates who have a CV or course life. Instead, you can add the tilde operator to your search string to include the application document.

 artificial intelligence AND ( machine learning engineer OR computer vision engineer) AND ~resume

10. Filetype:

The operator searches for specific file formats when searching the web. When searching resume or CV documents, include the filetype: operator to limit results to only those with specific attachment formats. Since resumes can be linked online in a variety of forms, we will also use the OR operator to avoid excluding other resumes that may be in a different file type.

web AND (designer OR developer) AND ~resume (filetype:pdf OR filetype:doc OR filetype:txt OR filetype:docx)

11. Near

The NEAR operator is used in the Boolean search to show the proximity of two words. For instance, a job candidate might have keywords such as “senior” and “manager.” By including the word “near,” you can find all jobs that include both terms near each other.

The NEAR operator is also valuable for those who want to find employees with a specific skill set such as “iOS development” or “design.” To narrow the results, you can add the word “near,” such as iOS Development Near Design.

In this case, any company that has an employee who has both skills will be found on the list. Use parentheses to make sure that the NEAR operator is interpreted correctly.

software AND (engineer OR developer) AND ~resume -job -jobs -hire -hiring AND (iOS development NEAR design)


Webbtree is the best way to find the ideal candidate for your company. With our easy-to-use interface and search toolbox, you can access over 500 million candidates from platforms like Linkedin, GitHub, Stack Overflow, Xing, AngelList, Behance, and more in just a few clicks. 

By making use of boolean search, you can find qualified candidates with high accuracy at relative ease and speed. Webbtree Talent Source’s candidate search feature allows you to use boolean and keyword searches to find qualified candidates in your talent pool, with a user-friendly, hassle-free interface.

To make it easier, your queries can be directly input in the search toolbox and let Webbtree’s AI suggest relevant keywords for the same! Your search results will also be classified based on industry – automatically! You can try it out right now, right here!

Being able to contact a candidate is just as important as building a candidate database. For this purpose, you can make use of our free Chrome extension. This provides you with contact info for any candidate at the click of a button!

If you are looking for more, you can contact us to know more about our enterprise applicant tracking system solution, Webbtree ATS. Webbtree ATS comes with all of the aforementioned features and much more, including job board integrations, employee referrals, and a mobile-friendly careers site!

Webbtree is the leading sourcing tool that can help your company to find high-quality candidates for any position. With our Chrome extension, you can get the candidate profile with one click – contact info, work experience, social media profiles. If you need some advice on what tools will work best for your current hiring needs, contact us today.

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