5 Underrated Boolean Search Operators For Recruiters

5 Underrated Boolean Search Operators For Recruiters

Every year, there are new, innovative developments within recruitment, whether it’s Google For Jobs, AI in recruitment or how to leverage the new social media platform to find better candidates. Consequently, it is very easy to become inundated with ideas about the “next big thing” and never actually implement new tactics to improve your day-to-day sourcing activity.

Boolean search has been around for a long time for a reason. By learning how to build relevant search strings, you can leverage your Recruitment CRM software, and most search engines, to find high quality candidates quickly. And, after all, no matter how much you research about the new social channels or AI, if you can’t consistently find high quality candidates for your clients’ open vacancies, you can bet they will find another agency who can.

If you are are new to boolean search, get up to speed with boolean search in recruitment and learn the 6 basic boolean search operators 

To supplement the basics of boolean search, here’s our quick guide to the 5 underrated boolean search operators that can help you optimise your search strings for even better sourcing results.

5 Underrated Boolean Search Operators For Recruiters

1. Tilde (~)

The tilde (~) is perhaps one of the most underrated boolean search operators but it can be incredibly useful to either expand or reduce your search results, depending on how your choose to use it.

In essence, the tilde (~) will include synonyms of the keyword used with it. For example a search such as ~jobs would include phrases such as jobs, roles, vacancies, openings etc. Or a search for ~CV would include CV, Curriculum Vitae, Resume, Portfolio.

It can also be used to reduce search results when used in conjunction with the NOT function or (-). For example:

~CV “Software Developer” -Jobs -Template

Boolean search Tilde
This search includes any synonyms of the word CV with the exact phrase Software Developer, and excludes the terms Jobs and Template.

Result: Three out of top four results were candidate CVs.


The near function is better known as a proximity search operator and allows you to search for related terms that appear near to each other i.e. within 1-10 words and in any order. For example, if you wanted to find results for administration that appeared near finance, you could search:

~CV Finance NEAR Admin* -Jobs -template

Boolean search NEAR

This will produce results of synonyms relating to CV with the words Finance within 1-10 words of Admin*, excluding jobs and template.

3. Filetype:

Specifying the filetype: in a search will often narrow down your search results considerably but can be a quick fire method of finding those elusive CV documents you’re looking for. For example:

~CV finance AND Manager Filetype: pdf -Template

Filetype 1

This search, although quite broad, did return four CVs on the first page of Google’s results. By having a look at what format your candidates give you their CVs, you can determine what filetype would be a valuable search for you. Some examples include:

4. & 5.  Site: & Inurl:

The site: and Inurl: search operators, also known as an x-ray search, allows you to search for particular skills within a specific site or URL. This is particularly useful for more niche websites such as github and stackoverflow for software developers, for example.

site:github.com developer AND London

Boolean Search Site and Inurl

The key to x-ray search is to know which sites your candidates will appear on specifically.

To get valuable results from Boolean search takes a little bit of trial and error but by practicing with different search operators and using the most relevant search terms, you can build specific search strings for every job vacancy.


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