Using Boolean search in recruitment

Find the perfect candidate for your job vacancy

When you post a job on, you have the convenience of your job advert showing in the search results of jobseekers who are looking for a new role. But how can you get in front of passive candidates, who aren’t actively looking? 

Using a CV Search tool to assist you in finding the perfect candidate is a great and proactive place to start. This is because CV Search allows you to target people looking for work as well as passive candidates that fit specific criteria, helping you with your headhunting. But what happens when your search results are not as accurate as you would like them to be? 

Luckily, this is where Boolean searching comes in. Our search functionality can do the hard work for you, so you get the results that you need. Never used Boolean search before? Here’s a quick guide to help you get started and take more control of your hiring:


What is Boolean search?

Boolean searching is a structured search process that helps you to tailor your search. It allows you to limit, broaden or define a search to your specific criteria – giving you greater control over your results. This works by using particular operators (such as AND, OR, and NOT) to create a more advanced search string.


Why use Boolean search?

With over 13.1 million searchable CVs live on*, Boolean search can help you narrow down your results to ensure you find the very best candidate for your vacancy.

Boolean searching helps speed things up by minimising the number of irrelevant candidates that appear during your search, providing you with a much more efficient way to find more relevant candidates.

It is often used to find candidate CVs that contain specific skills, qualifications, experience or locations.  Your keyword search can also be used with a combination of filters such as ‘salary expectations’ or ‘sector’ to narrow down your results even further.


So how does Boolean search work?

You can tailor your search by using operator terms which are words and punctuation such as: AND, OR, “” or *. There is a 1,000 character limit for the keyword field so you can incorporate multiple operators and keywords in your search. 

To start using Boolean search, simply enter the following operators when conducting a CV search. For the ‘AND’ and ‘OR’ operators, we’ve also included their one-character version to help reduce the length of your longer search queries:


1. AND 

When to use – When you’re searching for a candidate and want to be shown CVs that contain multiple keywords. If a candidate’s CV only includes one of these words, their profile will not appear in the results. 

Your search criteria– ‘I want a developer who knows Javascript.’

Example Boolean search – Developer AND Javascript


2. OR 

When to use – When you’re searching for a candidate, and want CVs to include one of several keywords, but don’t need all to appear.

Your search criteria – ‘I want someone who is ACCA or CIMA qualified.’

Example Boolean search  – ACCA OR CIMA


3. “ “ marks

When to use – When you’re searching for a candidate and want CVs to include an exact phrase.

Your search criteria – ‘I want a Sales Manager.’

Example Boolean search – “Sales Manager” (Searching Sales Manager without quotations, for example, would return both Sales and Management candidates.


4. *

When to use – When you’re searching for a candidate and want keywords to start with a certain term.

Your search criteria – ‘I want an Administrator.’

Example Boolean search – Admin* (This will return all words which begin with ‘Admin’, for example, Administrators and Administrative Assistants).


5. ( )

When to use – When you’re searching for a candidate using multiple keywords, but want to group two or more sets of conditions in one query.

Your search criteria – ‘I want a Financial Accountant who is either ACCA or CIMA qualified.’

Example Boolean search – “Financial Accountant” AND (ACCA OR CIMA)



What if I want to perform a more advanced search?

Sometimes you may have quite a strict criteria for your search, but you’re not quite sure how to perform it in Boolean terms.

See below for a more advanced search string:

Your search criteria– ‘I want to find a Developer who has experience using .NET technologies, and has also performed coding in Objective C.’

Example Boolean search – Developer AND (.NET OR. NET) AND (ObjectiveC OR Objective C)


What if I run out of space and can’t complete my whole search?

Sometimes, you may find that some searches limit the number of characters you can enter in the keyword field.’s CV database has a limit of 1000 characters. However, there are tricks to help you around this.

For example, you can eliminate the spaces between operators and search phrases as these use up characters. You can also remove quotation marks in order to shorten the search phrase. See below, using our previous example to demonstrate this:

Developer AND(.NET OR. NET)AND(ObjectiveC OR Objective C)



You can take this even further. The AND function is assumed by Boolean when no operator is placed between phrases. Therefore in our example, we can remove these too and save an additional seven characters:

Developer(.NET OR. NET)(ObjectiveC OR Objective C)



See, who said using CV Search couldn’t be fun?


To find out how can help your business find the talent you’re looking for, call us now on 020 3510 9331, or contact your Account Manager today.



*Number of candidates registered on with CV Visibility turned on as of April 2022.