Search engines are an important resource when looking for resumes, whether you’re searching on general search engines like Yahoo or Google or on resume specific job boards like CareerBuilder or Monster. To really make your search effective you need to remember Boolean Language. Boolean tools will help you create more effective and focused searches, producing resumes that more closely meet your requirements and also reducing the number of resumes you need to search through that miss the mark.

What is Boolean Logic?

Boolean logic is named after George Boole (1815-1864), an obscure nineteenth century English mathematician. Boole invented a new form of algebra in which values are either true or false. His binary logic is the foundation of digital circuit design and a part of the language of internet search engines. Don’t worry - you don’t have to remember high school algebra to make Boolean logic work.

The Boolean Operators

Boolean Operator # 1: AND
This term links two or more terms together in a search string. (Def. search string: A series of words linked and/or modified by Boolean logic used to create a search command for a search engine.) - will only return pages in your search that have both terms.
Example: pharmaceutical AND chemist

Boolean Operator # 2: OR
Returns all pages in your search string that include either term.
Example: pharmaceutical OR biotechnology

Boolean Operator # 3: NOT (sometimes AND NOT)
Returns pages in your search string that have the term that precedes it but not the term that follows it.
Example: chemist NOT biologist or chemist AND NOT biologist

Boolean Operator # 4: NEAR
Returns pages in your search string with both terms within close proximity to each other on the page. Usually within ten words or less.
Example: research NEAR chemist

An important tip to remember is that Boolean operators must always be CAPITALIZED. Search engines read lower case letters as both upper and lower case, but the reverse is not true.

Example: pharmaceutical AND research or development (Error. Boolean operator “OR” is typed in lower case. Because it is lower case the search engine reads the word “OR” not as a Boolean operator, but as a search term like pharmaceutical, research and development. This will produce incorrect search results and will also increase the amount of the time it takes for the search engine to complete the search.)

The Boolean Modifiers:

Boolean Modifier # 1: “ “quotation marks
Returns pages in your search string with an exact phrase.
Example: “sr. research chemist”

Boolean Modifier # 2: ( ) parentheses
Helps define a subset of a search, making it more accurate. Example: chemist AND (new jersey OR nj)

Boolean Modifier # 3: * wild card symbol
Wildcard symbols retrieve pages with keywords with the same root word.
Example: chem* (would retrieve pages with the words chemical, chemist, chemistry etc.)

Although Boolean logic is a very effective tool to assist you with your searches. There are other factors you must keep in mind. The search terms you use are just as important as the Boolean logic. If a search is proving unproductive, maybe there are synonyms to some of the search terms? Are there different job titles for this position? Play with different combinations of search terms and see what results you get. It is not uncommon to have to run four to six different search term combinations to find the right resumes.

From my experience over the years I would say only about 40% - 50% of recruiters are aware of Boolean Logic and even less use it when conducting searches. Boolean Logic can increase your edge in terms of speed and efficiency of sourcing resumes online. Use it and your already putting yourself ahead of half your recruiting competition.

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