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What is Boolean/X-Ray search and how to use it for recruitment?


X-Ray search also known as the Boolean search method was named after the Boolean logic which was developed by British mathematician George Boole in the 19th century. Nowadays, Boolean search is easily used to get clearer and more relevant results by entering the relevant commands with keywords into the search bar. The most used Boolean search commands are AND, OR, and NOT. By using these commands you can expand or limit your search depending on your need. Many people use Boolean search without being aware of it, it is an easy method to learn.


Recruiters also use X-Ray search operators to reach the most suitable candidate for a position. With this search method, recruiters can find a candidate who has the skills the position requires. For example, recruiters can find candidates who worked in a specific company, candidates in certain locations, and candidates with desired education levels more easily and faster. The Boolean search method can be used in many search engines such as Google, LinkedIn, and even Facebook.


AND

When you want to reach results containing two or more keywords, you can find the relevant results by applying the AND command and narrowing your search. For example, when you search for "machine AND engineer", you will see results containing both the words machine and engineer.

OR

The OR command allows you to expand your search by typing alternative keywords in the search bar. It is also used by recruiters to access all candidates who spell a term in different ways. For example, when you type “PowerPoint OR Power Point” in the search bar, you can find candidates who have written this word in both ways.

NOT

You can exclude certain words from your search with the NOT command. Instead of NOT, you can also narrow your results by typing the word you do not want to include in your search after the minus sign. For instance, while searching for candidates for a position to exclude the job ads of the position you can type "NOT advertisement" or "-advertisement" into the search bar.


Boolean Operators

Explanation

Example

AND

Provides related results for all keywords entered in the search bar with the operator

​“German AND Teacher”

OR

Results with one or more keywords entered in the search bar are obtained

“Dotnet OR .net”

NOT/ minus sign (-)

Excludes certain words from the search

“NOT Freelance” / “-Freelance”

Parentheses ()

Allows to group multiple search strings

“Content AND (Creator OR Writer)”

Quotation signs ""

Provides results that contain an exact phrase

“Human Resources”

-site:

Excludes a website from the search

-site:instagram.com

Boolean commands may not be the same in every search engine, so we recommend that you review the commands of the website you are searching for.


As a recruiter, learning the Boolean search method helps you increase your speed in reaching the right candidates, while as a job seeker, preparing your resume in accordance with this technique allows you to rank high in searches and attract the attention of HR specialists. If you want to be noticed by recruiters, you can contact us for our CV and interview consultancy service.



References


What is Boolean Search? - New York Public Library (https://www.nypl.org/blog/2011/02/22/what-boolean-search)


Sourcing on Google: Boolean search for recruiters - https://resources.workable.com/tutorial/source-google-boolean#


Boolean Operators: Parentheses - University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Library https://guides.library.manoa.hawaii.edu/c.php?g=105358&p=684347


What Is Boolean Search in Recruiting? Process, With Examples for Google and LinkedIn - https://www.spiceworks.com/hr/recruitment-onboarding/articles/what-is-boolean-search-in-recruiting-process-with-examples-for-google-and-linkedin/


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