Google’s Boolean search function is one of the most useful tools a recruiter can use. A Boolean search lets you combine keywords in your query in particular ways, with operators like AND, NOT, and OR, which work to get you more relevant search results.
For example, “Python AND Flask” will only return results that include both of those keywords, while “Golang OR Java” will give you all the results that have either keyword. OR is particularly useful to use with synonyms, like “engineer OR developer,” so that you’re not missing possibilities. NOT lets you restrict what appears in your results, so that you can exclude results with unwanted terms, such as “React NOT React Native” or similar situations. You can also use parentheses ( ) to group terms together and apply operators to the whole group and quotations “ ” when you want results that include an exact phrase.
There are lots of articles explaining Boolean operators online, and you probably have some familiarity with them anyway, so in this article we’ll be focusing on some functional examples of Boolean search strings that can help you find developers who may be willing to relocate.
Here’s a Boolean string we can use to find resumes that are publicly available:
In the first set of parentheses, we indicate what we’re looking for (in this case, a resume or CV). Then the next set of brackets indicates the file formats that we’re looking for, which are how candidates’ resumes are typically stored. Both of these use OR operators. The next part is our keywords, in quotes. These can be a particular technology, programming language, or a specific phrase, based on what you’re looking for. Finally, we use the “-” operator, which is the same as the NOT operator, to eliminate some irrelevant results—in this case, job descriptions or resume samples or templates.
Here’s another example string for finding potential candidates’ public resumes:
With the “inurl:” operator, we’re searching for specific text in a URL (the address of a web page). The operator “site:” can be combined with “inurl:” to look for a particular term within a specific domain.
With Google search, it’s also possible to combine Boolean operators with X-Ray search. Let’s look at a recruitment-specific example: looking for senior-level Java developers with badges or wards on a certain site, like stackoverflow.com. Here’s the string we could use:
Here’s one more functioning example:
This string will just search LinkedIn for Java developers located in a specific area, with a specific title. You can change the specifics in this example to suit your needs, so that you can find people in any location, with any title or keywords that you’re looking for to fill a specific role.
Another way to narrow a search down to a specific country on a site like LinkedIn, we can specify that country’s domain. For example, let’s look for a solution architect based out of Turkey who is proficient in Python or Java. Our search would look like this:
Again, the title in quotes can be changed as necessary, and other keywords can be added with additional operators. We can use the AND operator if we want to only find people that have listed all of our tech skill requirements.
If you don’t have access to LinkedIn’s premium features, you can still use Boolean search on the site by typing your keywords and operators directly into the search bar. Here’s an example:
In this string, we’re looking for anyone in Ukraine (except trainees and interns) who has Ruby knowledge. We also listed “RoR” because Ruby on Rails is the main Ruby framework, and developers often list RoR in their profiles instead of Ruby. We also excluded “TopTal” because it’s a freelance platform, and freelance experience isn’t what our hypothetical client is looking for. Any of these keywords or operators can be changed to suit your specific needs.
These examples all are fully functional, and you can use them as a starting point to create your own Boolean search strings to make your talent search easier.
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