min read

Boolean Demystified

Many people are skipping around the internet making Boolean search seem like the most complicated tool to use for candidate sourcing and business development, but it is fact the easiest tool to use when the world stops overcomplicating it.

So lets break this down, Raccoon style!

Whether you are operating in a market dominated by active or passive candidates/clients, the critical piece of the puzzle is identifying the best person.

The biggest challenge you have is finding a sourcing technique that can be used across a HUGE pool of talent that exists within your in-house database/CRM or external platforms such as social networks (LinkedIn Recruiters, LinkedIn Sales Navigator, Xing, Viadeo etc), resume databases, professional directories and more.

Boolean search is the sourcing technique that works on ALL of the above platforms, and so many more!

What you probably do not know, is that you use Boolean EVERYDAY!

Let me elaborate!

Boolean search is an approach that is accessible to everyone; it's incredibly powerful and is something you already use every single day of your life (even if you are not writing it down).

Yes it's true. Every single day you are using Boolean logic to make simple decisions. Whether it is what you wear that day or even what to eat, you are applying logic to inform a decision.

Still don't believe me? Take your dinner for example.

* I want chicken or beef but I do not want fish Translated into Boolean: (chicken OR beef) NOT (fish)

* I do not mind if we have red wine or white wine. Translated into Boolean: ("red wine" OR "white wine")

* I want sticky toffee pudding for desert without the sauce. Translated into Boolean: ("sticky toffee pudding") NOT ("sauce")

You will notice that the Boolean translation in written form includes these terms ... AND, OR, NOT, " ", ( ). These are called operators and moderators, but ignore the geeky words for now and lets chat about what they do.

OPERATORS:

* AND is used when you want everything. For example, I want chicken AND beef.

* OR is used when I do not mind either. For example, I do not mind having red wine or white wine.

* NOT is used when you do not want something. For example, I do NOT want sauce.

MODERATORS:

* " " is used when words need to be grouped together to create an exact phrase. For example, "sticky toffee pudding"

* ( ) is used to group sections that need to be thought about together. For example, I want sticky toffee pudding but NOT sauce.

Now lets put this all together to create an example Boolean string ...

(("chicken" AND "beef") NOT ("fish")) AND ("red wine" OR "white wine") AND (("sticky toffee pudding) NOT ("sauce"))

OK that looks a bit overwhelming into chunks (you can do this in our chrome extension):

* (("chicken" AND "beef") NOT ("fish"))

* AND ("red wine" OR "white wine")

* AND (("sticky toffee pudding) NOT ("sauce"))

OK, so you may not be writing your instructions down in this way but your mind is automatically creating these instructions to enable you to form decisions like this EVERY SINGLE DAY, evidencing that anyone can create a Boolean string.

Not as hard as you thought right? 

Lets look at a work example for a technical recruiter

Picture this ...

You have received a new role to work on. You review the job description and qualify the opening with the hiring manager to fully understand their expectations of the potential candidate. The hunt begins.

You open your internal database and external platforms (Talent pools). The filter options are very specific and will potentially limit the results of qualified candidates. This will take up valuable time tweaking the filters to generate varying results of suitable profiles.

STOP.

Why not create a precise instructions, aka a Boolean string, like we did in the dinner example about but this time we create it in line with what the hiring manager is looking for.

Let me walk you through a recent example for a job we worked.

* What skills does the hiring manager NEED? Either agile, waterfall, scrum. AND PMP, project management professional, CAPM, CSM, Certified scummaster, Prince2, APM, associate in project management, PPM or professional in project management.

* What job titles are appropriate? project manager, project management, program manager, program management, programme management

* What job titles shouuld be excluded? Director, VP or Vice President

Lets put that into an instruction, aka Boolean string ...

("agile" OR "waterfall" OR "scrum") AND ("pmp" OR "Project management professional" OR "capm" OR "csm" OR "certified scrummaster" OR "prince2" OR "apm" OR "associate in project management" OR "ppm" OR "professional in project management") AND ("project manager" OR "Project management" OR "program manager" OR "program management" OR "Programme manager" OR "Programme management") NOT ("director OR "vp" OR "vice president")

OK that looks a bit overwhelming in a chunk, so lets engage Boo again to break this string down ...

* ("agile" OR "waterfall" OR "scrum")

* AND ("pmp" OR "project management professional" OR "capm" OR "csm" OR "certified scrummaster" OR "prince 2" OR "apm" OR "associate in project management" OR "ppm" OR "professional in project management")

* AND ("project manager" OR "Project management" OR "program manager" OR "Program management" OR "Programme manager" OR "Programme management")

* NOT ("director" OR "vp" OR "vice president")

So instead of hunting based on vague filters, you can now use Boolean strings that will help you identify candidates with the closest fit to the requirements.

Worried about missing out on potential candidates? Don't. You can edit these strings as you go to keep evolving and refining your searches (check out our tech that can help you do this in seconds).

So let's summarised what you now know, you Boolean prof!

Operators are used to combine or exclude keywords / phrases and include AND, OR, NOT.

* AND is used when you want everything. For example, I want chicken AND beef.

* OR is used when I do not mind either. For example, I do not mind having red wine or white wine.

* NOT is used when you do not want something. For example, I do NOT want sauce.

Modifiers are symbols you can use to organise keywords and include: " ", ( )

* " " is used when words need to be grouped together to create an exact phrase. For example, "sticky toffee pudding".

* ( ) is used to group sections that need to be thought about together. For example, I want (("sitcky toffee pudding") NOT ("sauce"))

Yes there are more operators and moderators out there but lets start with the basics and build from there.

Want to learn more? Check out our Smart Boolean Academy!

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