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Supercharge your job search using Boolean logic

By Neil Dickins

09/04/2021

Boolean search, what is this?

Boolean logic is based on the work carried out by British mathematician George Boole. 

Basically, Boolean search is a way to make the search results you get when you type keywords into any search engine much more accurate. Boolean searches are a bit like the formulas you can create in Excel spreadsheets to perform a certain function. 

Once you understand the principles of how to construct strong Boolean search keyword groups, you can move your search for the right job to a whole new level of accuracy.

Why would I want to learn and then use Boolean search?

The power of learning how to use Boolean search is the accuracy you can get with search results. Recruiters (once they understand how Boolean logic works), can create highly effective job descriptions and ads. Of course, job seekers can also benefit as well. You can use Boolean searches to locate a highly focused group of vacancies, to ensure you only apply for the most appropriate jobs.

OK, I get that Boolean search is a more advanced way to search the internet, but how are Boolean searches created?

Boolean searches use several combinations of specific keywords. The main Boolean keywords are:

AND
OR
NOT

In addition, you can also use three other Boolean search symbols:

( )
“”
*

Basically, you can construct any Boolean search with just these six keywords and symbols.

What are the most important Boolean elements for job searching and how do I use them? 

As Boolean searching can get fairly complex I will introduce you to the most important elements to use when searching for a job.

These are AND, OR, () and “”.

AND

Ok, a “Buyer” is a fairly generic job title used across many companies but all these different companies are normally looking for Buyers with specific product experience. If you have specific product experience that separates you from the rest, like “electronics” then use the most basic of Boolean rules to bring those jobs to the top of the list.

Boolean search is:

Electronics AND Buyer

Only job ads that mention the word “Electronics” and the word “Buyer” will appear in your search

Now, not all companies will title the job role “Buyer” so what do we do if they use a different name. This is where we can introduce OR.

Our new search is:

Electronics AND Buyer OR Purchaser

This will search for jobs that mention Electronics and Buyer or Purchaser.

Remember, all Boolean elements must always be in uppercase.

The next two Boolean keyword elements enable you to make your search even more accurate.

()

The use of Brackets is really important as this can separate job title and skill sets/products so that search engines that are not as advanced in Boolean will clearly understand what you are looking for. For example our previous search of Electronics AND Buyer OR Purchaser can be interpretated as, I am looking for jobs ads that mention Electronics and Buyer or job ads that mention purchaser. 

Here is how the search should look using brackets:

Electronics AND (Buyer OR Purchaser)

Now you have told the search engine that, I am looking for jobs that mention Electronics and Buyer or Electronics and Purchaser. It keeps Electronics as the constant.

Lastly we have speech marks

“”

These help to search for exact phrases which is very important when looking for job titles that have more than one word like Category manager or Sourcing specialist. Using speech marks makes sure the phrase or job title you are looking for is accurate and actually in the job ad.

This is how it looks:

Electronics AND “Category Manager”

Now we can put it all together to help find that perfect job:

Electronics AND (Buyer OR Purchaser OR “Category manager” OR “Sourcing specialist”)

The other rules (NOT and *) previously mentioned can wait to another day :)

What if nothing comes up in my search results?

SIMPLE Just check your search! You have probably not closed the brackets or speech marks...

This way of searching for jobs will save you time and hopefully get you first in the queue for the right job.

Try searching for your perfect Supply Chain, Procurement or Logistics job using Boolean and see how you get on or get in touch with Niall Fearon on +44(0)118 907 3072 or niall.fearon@ic-resources.com.

N.B remember that recruiters and hiring managers also use Boolean logic when searching for candidates, so if your CV does not highlight your unique skill set or you are using unconventional job titles it will be harder to find you.

IC Resources are experts using Boolean logic. If you need help and support using Boolean techniques, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

 

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