Boolean search in recruitment with search operators and active search

What is Boolean Search?

In this article we will provide you the information about Boolean search in recruitment with search operators and active search.

Although search engines are extremely popular, many people do not understand exactly how they work and end up finding ineffective results in their searches. In these cases, we can apply a strategy to find what we want more easily.

Mathematical logic, also known as Boolean logic , was created in the 19th century. But as it was very advanced for the time, mainly because it was a binary system, it was not used until the development of the first computers.

According to this theory, there would only be ones and zeros, which respectively mean false and true. Thus, to work with this type of value, it would be necessary to apply a logical operator.

Boolean search is the application of this logic to search systems, so that logical operators are used to narrow down searches and find the most equivalent information with the user’s intent.

In tools like Google, LinkedIn, Facebook and even Twitter, technology is advanced and it is possible to perform specific searches. This is positive both for recruiters and for the candidates themselves, as it simplifies the search for good professionals and also for quality vacancies.

First step

Thus, the first step when doing the research is to plan the search strategically, defining which characteristics you will prioritize when choosing a professional and which points can be better detailed.

An interesting tip is to use keywords related to the opportunity and requirements required by the company. Also, possible variations in job titles should be considered. A programmer, for example, can call himself a developer.

Therefore, when doing the research, include not only the role of the professional, but companies that operate in a similar way and whose employees can fit in with the culture of your organization . And, of course, keep in mind that your proposal must be more attractive for him to leave his current job.

Finally, you should ideally specify requirements, job title, and companies. That way, you’ll only see results that cover everything you’re looking for. Remember it may sound complicated, but with practice you will master the task.

What are search operators?

Below are the three Boolean search operators.


This operator is used to narrow a search. It is equivalent to the expression “with all the words”. In this case, all results displayed must contain one term and the other, for example, by typing “Analista AND BH”, you will have access to professionals who work as analysts in the city of Belo Horizonte.


The OR operator is used to broaden the search and means “with either of these words”, meaning the results can contain either one term or the other and not necessarily both. As an example, by typing “Marketing or Advertising”, you will find professionals trained in one of these two areas.


The NOT operator, on the other hand, means “without the word(s)” and serves to exclude one of the terms from the search, that is, it delimits the words that should not appear. On some systems, we find NOT/NO or AND NOT/AND NO. Here, by typing “advertising NOT journalism”, we can find all communication professionals who are trained only in Advertising and Propaganda.


But it is possible to have some variations in the results, such as when using quotation marks or parentheses.

Use of quotation marks for compound words: “ ”

When we search for a term in quotes, the results contain the exact phrase that was entered into the search engine. It can be useful when the person searched has a title with more than one word or when we want to group specific words. Thus, when typing “human resources analyst”, we are only looking for analysts who work in the human resources area.

Use of parentheses for grouping: ( )

If the search you intend to perform is very complex, you can use parentheses to combine terms in a way that is even clearer to the search engine. So, by typing “AND (senior OR full) programmer”, we are specifying that we need a full or senior level programmer, which means that an intern or analyst would not match.

How can Boolean search help with recruitment and selection?

Boolean search has numerous benefits for recruitment and selection. The main one is precisely to enable the recruiter to find the best professionals in the market, who really agree with what the company is looking for.

Another deciding factor is the time spent. If you don’t optimize your searches, it will probably take a few more hours to find what you want. Also, chances are you won’t find anything suitable.

Furthermore, the number of steps in the recruitment and selection process can be reduced. Like? Since you are the one who is going to look for professionals, there is no need to sort out dozens of resumes sent by candidates.

Therefore, it is essential that HR know the Boolean search and understand how it works. It is only after learning the concepts that you will be able to apply them masterfully and get good results.

What is Active Candidate Search? What is your advantage?

More and more, HR needs to act strategically , especially when hiring a new employee. This means knowing how to use technologies and taking advantage of the tools available to do a good job.

In general, the attraction of candidates in recruitment is passive. That’s because, most of the time, the company chooses to only publicize the vacancies and wait for the receipt of résumés and applications. For certain positions, it’s a good format and can attract hundreds of people.

However, a passive search can be inefficient and result in bad hires and can even increase turnover. So, to prevent this from happening and find the best professionals, you can do an active search.

Active recruitment, also called hunting , is the one in which HR goes after potential candidates, presents the opportunity, invites them to the process and, everything working out, makes a proposal. This is a very convenient strategy, because the final choice turns out to be better.

Also, promoting a vacancy in traditional channels will not necessarily reach the people we want, and this is because not all trained professionals are looking for new opportunities or are not even following the brand.

By inverting the strategy and actively seeking it out, you ensure a greater range of professionals and manage to add more competitive talent to the company’s bank, which consequently results in more accurate hiring.

How to do an active search?

As we explained, active search reverses the talent attraction process. Therefore, when you do it, you are the one who is going to look for a professional with the potential to work in the team . It may seem like a lot of work, but it’s not that difficult.

First, choose which search engines will be used to find the target audience you want to reach, always thinking about what channels they can be found .

In this step, you will also select the main terms related to the position. What information is essential? What features do they need without exception? So answer these questions before proceeding.

When you’ve already planned what to do, it’s time to use Boolean search to your advantage. Follow our examples and do your research! A tip is to use LinkedIn, the most popular professional network today, but also include other mechanisms in your strategy, such as Google and some social networks.

This is where you should be most careful, as you will need to analyze each professional individually and do all the screening, selecting those who appear to be best suited to take the position, checking their skills, academic and professional experiences.

The only limitation will be in relation to professionals who do not keep profiles and records online. As not everyone has a website and/or a complete professional profile on the networks, the recruiter ends up not finding these people.

On the other hand, there is the huge advantage of being able to contact potential candidates, who are working at other institutions and not looking for a job at the time, but who may be interested if the proposal is a good one.

deepen the knowledge

Did you understand what Boolean search is? Did you learn to use your operators in internet searches? Do you already know how it can help in the recruitment and selection process, as well as in the active search for new candidates?

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