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Recruiters-Understand Boolean Strings for Talent Acquisition

Updated: Feb 7, 2023

Recruiters in the modern day and age must leverage every tool at their disposal to stay ahead of the competition.

One way to do this is by using Boolean strings to search for talent. Boolean strings are a powerful addition to any recruiter's arsenal that can help them find the right candidates quickly and efficiently.

In this article, we'll explain what Boolean strings are and how recruiters can use them in their talent acquisition process. We'll also provide examples of common Boolean search phrases so you can get started right away. Let's dive in!

What Are Boolean Strings?

Boolean strings are logical combinations of keywords and operators that allow recruiters to refine their searches. They make it possible to narrow down large data sets and query huge amounts of data quickly.

Boolean strings are strings of words and phrases connected with boolean operators that allow recruiters to quickly search for talent. By using these strings, recruiters can refine large data sets and narrow down their results to find exactly what they're looking for -- without having to manually comb through hundreds or even thousands of resumes and applications.

For example, if you wanted to search for a web developer with at least five years of experience in Ruby on Rails, you could use a boolean string such as: "web developer AND (Ruby OR Rails) AND 5+years". This would give you results containing all web developers who fit those criteria.

How Recruiters Can Use Boolean Strings

The main advantage of using boolean strings is that they allow recruiters to find exactly what they're looking for without too much effort. Here are some examples of how recruiters can utilize boolean searches in their recruitment process:

  • Search job boards for candidates with specific skills, such as: "JavaScript AND ReactJS"

  • Look up resumes with keywords related to the role, e.g.: "project management AND agile"

  • Locate potential candidates who have relocated recently by searching: "city A NOT city B" (this will show people who have moved from city A to city B).

  • Discover past employers or education institutions of potential hires by typing: "employer1 OR employer2 OR college"

By using boolean strings in these ways, recruiters can save time sifting through hundreds or thousands of applications and resumes, and focus more on interacting with suitable candidates directly instead.

Examples Of Common Boolean Strings

Here are some examples of commonly used boolean strings that recruiters can employ when searching for talent:

  • Find new graduates: "graduate OR recently graduated"

  • Identify applicants from certain countries: "location A AND NOT location B"

  • Unearth qualified professionals with particular experience levels: "skill X AND (3+yrs OR 4+yrs)"

  • Track down people who have worked at certain companies before: "(employer1 OR employer2) NOT current employer"

Using the right combination of words and modifiers is key when crafting an effective boolean string — so play around with different parameters until you find one that works best for your purposes!

Alternative Techniques for Searching and Sorting

Though Boolean strings are a powerful way to search for talent quickly, there are other techniques recruiters can use in addition to refining their results. Here are some of the most common methods used:

Natural Language Queries

Natural language queries allow recruiters to search for desired criteria by entering phrases as close to natural language sentences as possible. For example, instead of typing "JavaScript AND ReactJS" -- which would be a boolean string query --, you could just type "candidates with experience in JavaScript and React". This works because the search engine will recognize synonyms and closely related terms.


Wildcards allow recruiters to substitute one or more characters when searching for keywords. This can be useful when you want to broaden or narrow your results without having to list all the possible variations of a word (e.g., “color” vs “color”). The asterisk (*) is usually used as a wildcard, so if you wanted to find documents that contain either color or color, you could enter: “colo*r”.

Fuzzy Searching

Fuzzy searching (or approximate string matching) is another technique that can help recruiters find what they're after faster. It allows partial words or phrases to be matched against larger strings of text in order to get better results. For instance, if you wanted to find resumes that contain the word “programming” but also account for typos like “progromming”, you could use fuzzy searching via parameters such as Levenshtein Distance or Hamming Distance in order to achieve this.


Recruiters who utilize powerful tools like boolean strings for better targeting can often find great talent without having to spend hours combing through resumes and applications manually. With a few simple tips — as well as some useful examples — you should be able to refine your recruiting process considerably by employing this strategy.


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