A sound understanding of Boolean search helps ensure that your recruiting searches don’t fall prey to the “Garbage In, Garbage Out” dilemma. You don’t have to be a master at Boolean (that’s our job at Dice), but you should know how to boss it around for your benefit.
We went through a sampling of search strings on Dice and concluded that a number of easy to implement actions can improve searches. Glance through these tips, try them out and add your own tips in the comments section.
Talk It Out
In the essence of speed, too many recruiters fail to have a face to face conversation with a hiring manager about the specific requirements for the position. If all the communication is done through email and request forms, you may not have a clear understanding of what experiences are predictors of success in the role.
What does this have to do with Boolean? Your conversation with the hiring manager will bring to light the details that can be used as modifiers for your searches. That gets us back to speed. You’ll save time by weeding out the candidates who are qualified on the surface, but lack certain industry knowledge or application of their skills.
Label Skills As “Must Haves” Or “Frosting on the Cake”
When performing your search, start with the “must haves.” If your initial search contains all of your requested skills, and the kitchen sink, you may jump over qualified candidates.
You then can use the “frosting on the cake” skills to assess the candidates you have sourced. This ranking of skills allows you to effectively use a mix of searches for the same hiring need.
For example, here is a search for a PHP developer that clearly shows the recruiter made critical decisions about the must have skills.
Translate Needs into Keywords
Technology hiring can feel like the Tower of Babel where everyone spoke different languages. The hiring manager wants someone to manage a J2EE platform implementation. However, you can’t find any J2EE professionals in the location of choice.
You turn to a friend who is a technology professional. He explains that many of his peers merely reference their experience with Java. He translates what the hiring manager is truly looking for – a Java developer with big company experience. So the following Boolean search would work.
Java and (“company-wide” or “enterprise-wide” or “enterprise edition”)
Note: On Dice, our tech-centric search engine recognizes that Java and J2EE are closely related and delivers both skills in results, but you should be careful when doing internet searches or using general job sites.
Plan to Experiment
Boolean allows us to modify searches a million different ways. You don’t have time for a million modifications, but you can test different searches. Try modifying a search with one of these variables:
- Target companies
- Industry experience
Compare the results of these modified search strings against broader strings. Based on the results, change other search strings you are working with.
By systematically applying these simple practices in developing and modifying search strings, you can make a big difference in your search results. Let’s all throw out garbage…in our searches.
Need more help? See Sample Boolean Search Strings.