Boolean Search for Recruiters

Why Boolean Search?

Boolean Search is something every recruiter should have in their toolkit. Using it will save you time, and give you a competitive edge over other recruiters.

In this article, I’ll show you how to use boolean search to reach a hidden pool of candidates — for FREE.

What is Boolean Search?

Boolean search is the process of using logical operators in a search engine, to more accurately refine and target your searches. It can make the difference of getting 100 junk resumes, vs finding 100 well-qualified candidates.

The Basics — The Boolean Search Operators & Modifiers

There are 6 different main operators/modifiers that you will frequently use. I’ll break each of them down for you with examples.

The OR Operator

OR can be useful if there are several variations or spellings of a word.

Sales ( Agent OR Representative )

This will return Sales Agents and Sales Representatives

The Not Operator

NOT is used to exclude certain words that you don’t want results for in your query.

In Google, use a dash -instead of NOT

Sales NOT Management NOT Director  
Sales -Management -Director

The Parentheses Modifier

Parentheses will be used in almost all of your searches. They are useful for controlling the order in which your logic runs.

For example, based on the position of parentheses the following query can be interpreted several different ways.

Manager OR ( Sales AND Associate ) 

This query would return results for Manager or for Sales Associate

( Manager OR Sales ) AND Associate

This query returns results for Manager Associate and for Sales Associate

The FileType operator

FileType can be used to return only a specific type of file. For example, if you want pdfs you would use


For CSV files


This can be very useful for finding lists of email addresses, phone numbers, or resumes. Below is a list of several common filetype operators

filetype:csv filetype:doc filetype:pdf filetype:docx filetype:pptx

The Quotations Modifier

Quotations work great if you are looking for a specific word or phrase. It only returns results that are an exact match.

"Senior Sales Manager"

Returns results that contain that exact phrase.

The Asterisks Modifier

Asterisk can be very useful if you are looking for many variations of a word. For example the query market*returns marketing, marketer, marketers, etc

A common use of asterisks is to find an email of any domain. For example

"VP of Sales" ""

Will return results for

Advanced Searches

Try these examples in Google!

Great — I’m glad you made it this far. Now it’s time for 2 examples of multiple search operators put together to find something useful.

1. Find University Resume Books

filetype:pdf "edu" intitle:"Resume Book"
University Resume Books

You can add additional parameters like school name, year, major, to filter down results even more.

2. Find Resumes of Software Engineers that worked at Amazon

filetype:pdf OR filetype:docx “Software Engineer” “” “Amazon”
Software Engineers that worked at Amazon

This type of search is very useful if you are looking for resumes with specific work experience.

Secret Tips

Look for Typos

It’s common for someone to accidentally misspell something on their resume, which makes the candidates hidden for most recruiters. You can find these people by searching for the various common misspellings of words.

filetype:pdf OR filetype:docx "Software Enginer" ""

Multiple company variations

If you are searching by company name, you should provide multiple company name variations in your search.

If we were doing a search for a chemical engineer that has worked at Smucker

"Chemical Engineer" AND ("Smucker" OR "JM Smucker" OR "J.M. Smucker" OR "The J.M. Smucker Company")

Filter out bad results

If your query is returning job postings, you can filter out all results that have common job posting terms.

I like to append most of terms below to my searches, it helps filter out a lot of the junk results.

-apply -career -reply -send -opportunity -submit


I hope this article was able to help you become a better recruiter. If you have any questions or feedback, just leave a comment or email me at

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