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 min read

One string to boole them all

Boolean and other search operators for recruiters: search for title, in sites, urls, pdf, other files and more

Boolean logic and search operators

When English mathematician George Boole invented Boolean logic in 1847, he might not have guessed that recruiters all over the world would be using his logic today to find candidates.

Recruiters use the Boolean operators AND, OR and NOT (-) before or in between keywords so they can specify their search strings and find the people they want.

Boolean logic works in most search engines, whether it’s Google, Yandex or Bing, or platforms like LinkedIn and GitHub.

For most search engines a lot of advanced operators work to specify the search in addition to the Boolean operators.

Each operator has its own function.

The power of search operators is demonstrated with the following example:

When you search for the following search string in Google for candidates you don’t really get the desired results, take a look;

linkedin sales representative saas amsterdam

What you get is a bunch of job boards, not what we're looking for!

But if you add some nice little operators the search looks like this;

site:linkedin.com/in intitle:"sales representative" saas amsterdam

In this search we only get LinkedIn profiles as results with people who have sales representative in their job title.

That’s more like it.

In this guide we’ll go through which operators there are, what they mean and how you can use them.

Basic operators

Some of the most frequently used operators are AND, OR and NOT. But also brackets ( ) and quotations “ ” are really helpful in targeting and structuring your search. The site: operator is one of the most useful operators to begin your search with if you are searching for profile results from specific platforms or websites.

Site:

Tells the search engine to look for results in a particular site. You can use this operator to look for candidates on websites and niche platforms where you know your target group is. You can use the domain name of a website (like linkedin.com) or more specific urls (like linkedin.com/in). You don’t have to include www. Or https://

Example 1

You want to find LinkedIn profiles only.

site:linkedin.com/in engineer

Example 2

You want to search niche platforms like Stack Overflow where you know your candidates have profiles and are active.

site:stackoverflow.com/users engineer

AND

Tells the search engine to look for keyword X AND keyword Y. Most search engines handle a space like AND, so you can choose to use a space between keywords instead of AND.

Example 1

You’re looking for an engineer that has as well Angular as Node.js in their profiles, so you use the AND operator (or a space) between those keywords.

site:nl.linkedin.com/in engineer JavaScript node.js

Example 2

You’re looking for a sales candidate that speaks Mandarin and lives in Amsterdam, so you use the AND operator (or a space) between those keywords.

site:linkedin.com/in sales mandarin amsterdam

OR

Tells the search engine to look for keyword X OR keyword Y. By adding OR operators you usually broaden your search because you allow more variations of keywords.

Example 1

You’re looking for an engineer that has either Angular or Typescript in their profiles because you assume some engineers will mention only either one of those. 

site:nl.linkedin.com/in engineer (Angular OR Typescript)

Example 2

You want to search for talent that has worked for leading tech companies. You want to look for talent that has worked for either Google, Microsoft or Amazon.

site:linkedin.com/in sales (Google OR Microsoft OR Amazon)

NOT (-)

Tells the search engine to exclude keywords, phrases or domains. In the case of Google the - is used in front of the keyword. In some other search engines NOT is used in front of the keyword.

Example 1

You’re looking for experienced professionals and not for interns, you exclude words like “Intern”, “Trainee” and “Summer Analyst”.

site:linkedin.com/in marketer -intern -trainee

Example 2

You’re looking for an engineer who is not focussed on leading a team but on coding, you exclude team lead profiles by putting the '-' in front of keywords and phrases like “Team lead”.

site:nl.linkedin.com/in engineer (Angular OR node.js) -"Team lead"

Quotations “ ”

Tells the search engine to search for an exact phrase. Keywords within the quotation marks should be occurring exactly as they are spelled and in the same order.

Example 1

You are looking for a growth marketer. You want to search for the words growth and marketeer in the same phrase. 

site:linkedin.com/in "growth marketeer"

Example 2

You are looking for people who indicate that they are open for work. You include the phrases “open to work” and “open for opportunities” to your string. 

site:linkedin.com/in "growth marketer" "open for opportunities"

Brackets ( )

Tells the search engine to group certain keywords so you can combine them and separate others. You can use the brackets ( ) to organize your search string with separate combinations of keywords. 

Example 1

You have three optional skills that you are looking for, you want to find the candidates who have either one of those. You include the optional skills as keywords between brackets separated by OR statements: (Keyword1 OR Keyword2 OR keyword3).

site:linkedin.com/in sales (saas OR fintech OR finance)

Example 2

You want to look for candidates from specific companies and separate those company keywords from other keywords that you’re using in the search string. So you include the company names as keywords between brackets separated by OR statements: (Company1 OR Company2 OR Company3).

site:linkedin.com/in sales ("open to work" OR "looking for opportunities") (microsoft OR google)

Advanced operators

Some operators are less often but can be equally powerful and help you make your search more targeted.

Intitle:

Tells the search engine to look for the keyword in the title section. What is seen as the title depends on the format of the website that returns the results. This can be for example the job title in a LinkedIn profile but the title can also be the title of a blog on a website. 

Example 1

You are looking for a candidate who is currently a sales executive in a company. You include the intitle: operator followed by “sales executive”.

site:linkedin.com/in intitle:"sales executive"

Example 2

You want to find team members that are presented on company websites. You use the intitle: operator to look for “our team” since that indicates a description of a page on a website that presents the company’s team.

intitle:"our team" cto

Inurl:

Works very similar to the Intitle: operator, but it searches for keywords in the url.

Example 1

You want to find resumes only. You use the inurl: operator to look for urls that have ‘resume’ or ‘CV’ in the url.

inurl:(resume OR cv) python r snowflake

Example 2

You're getting some results in your search that you don't want. They are related to blogs webpages so you decide to exclude the results coming from those pages.

intitle:"sales executive" "open for work" -inurl:blog

Filetype:

Tells the search engine to look for particular file types only. With the filetype: operator you can search for document files (like pdf and doc), data files (like csv and xml) and more. Here’s an overview of file types. Some file types work, others don't, which leaves some room for experimentation.

Example 1

You want to look for CV’s. Resumes are usually saved as pdf files. You include the filetype: operator followed by the file type extension, in this case pdf.

filetype:pdf intitle:(cv OR curriculum vitae OR resume) "sales executive"

Example 2

You want to find lists of attendees of an event that is related to your related domain. Lists are usually presented in excel formats so you include the xlsx as a file type in your search.

filetype:xlsx attendees sales conference

Asterisk *

Tells the search engine to include a wildcard in (part of) the search. This will search for variations of a keyword. 

Example 1

You want to search for manager profiles and realize there are a lot of variations on the word manager. You include manag* because this will pull results like: manager, managed, manages, managing, managerial, management, etc.

site:linkedin.com/in intitle:manag* engineering

Example 2

You want to search for profiles within a niche platform, in this case Kaggle, and you see that on every profile page there is something like “joined 4 months ago”. The number and months/years can obviously differ in every individual case so you can’t search for “joined 4 months ago”. You include the asterisk to search for all the variations “joined * ago”.

site:kaggle.com “joined * ago” amsterdam python

List with examples of search strings

Find engineers in Stack Overflow with Drupal knowledge

site:stackoverflow.com/users Engineer drupal (“ui” OR “ux” OR websites OR “landing pages” OR “crm”)

Find cloud engineers by x-raying LinkedIn

site:linkedin.com/in intitle:engineer AWS ECS Kubernetes Fargate (Grafana OR Kibana OR Cloudwatch) (Bash OR Python OR Ruby)

Find data scientists in Kaggle

site:kaggle.com “joined * ago” python "R" London

Find mobile developers in Amsterdam

site:nl.linkedin.com/in intitle:developer iOS Android (Flutter OR React) Amsterdam

Find growth marketeers

site:linkedin.com/in intitle:"growth marketeer" data (experiment OR iteration OR testing OR tooling)

Find business developers

site:ca.linkedin.com/in Toronto intitle:("sales development" OR "lead development" OR "inside sales") -government -corporate

Find lead front-end engineers

site:uk.linkedin.com/in intitle:engineer typescript node.js react (Docker OR Kubernetes OR Python) (Lead OR Manager) -london

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