What Boolean Search Operators Does LinkedIn Support? – A Sourcing Refresher

What Boolean Search Operators Does LinkedIn Support? – A Sourcing Refresher

Posted by Holly Fawcett, November 13, 2012

How do you search LinkedIn properly?

LinkedIn supports an array of Boolean search operators to help you to build really detailed searches for ideal candidates who fit all of the skills and requirements you have a need for.

These Boolean search operators are:

AND
OR
NOT (more commonly written as - )
(Parenthesis)
Quotations

LinkedIn also has unlimited term/character search query fields – which means that you can build the longest string you can possibly think of and it won’t cut you off. This is in contrast to pretty much every search engine like Google, Yahoo! and Bing (who’re limited to 32 words) and CV library or database on the market. This is a HUGE plus!

How do you use these Boolean search operators?

1. AND
The Boolean operator AND is used to look for something AND something – the word “sales” AND the word “manager” They can be anywhere on the page, but they both must be present. Writing out the AND operator is effectively becoming defunct, as it’s always assumed simply by typing a space between two words, as we would generally write anyway.

Example: sales AND manager

- Rules for using AND:

  • The AND must be written in capitals.
  • There must be a space either side of the AND, shown above.

2. OR
This is one of the most powerful Boolean search operators, and is used to look for something OR something – the word “recruiter” OR the word “recruitment”. When you’re looking to find synonyms of a term, like all the synonyms of the skill of a recruiter for example, we want the search engine to return back results that all generally mean the same thing. The most popular use of the OR operator is when looking for different ways of writing the same job title.

Example: recruiter OR recruitment

- Rules for using OR:

  • The OR must be written in capitals.
  • There must be a space either side of the OR, shown above.
  • Never combine OR queries with AND and NOT queries without containing your OR query with parenthesis/brackets. Refer to number 4 below for how to use them.

3. NOT
The Boolean operator NOT is used to remove a term from our search, so looking for something NOT something, effectively asking the search engine to show us pages which contain our wanted word but take away pages which have this unwanted word, like this: (I want to see pages with the word Java on them, but not pages that have the word Recruiter):

Example: java NOT recruiter

- Rules for using NOT:

  • The NOT must be written in capitals.
  • There must be a space either side of the NOT.

NOT, however is also becoming a little defunct, because it can also be written as a simple minus sign - . Differently from the rules for NOT, which must have a space either side of it, the minus must not have a space between it and the word you want to remove. Like this:

Example: java -recruiter

4. (Parenthesis)
These are really powerful too. They’re used to group together your OR terms together that you’d like the search engine to answer as a group. It’s also really handy for separating groups of terms that represent separate skills, but asking the search engine to search for them at once, meaning you only see results which satisfy all of your requirements in one go.

Lets see some examples:

(recruiter OR recruitment)

(manager OR head OR lead OR leader OR vp OR vice)

We can also look for both of those set of OR queries, when we bring both of them together like this:

(recruiter OR recruitment) AND (manager OR head OR lead OR leader OR vp OR vice)

So here, we’re asking the search engine to look for at least one term from the first set of brackets, AND at lease one of the terms in the second set of brackets.

5. Quotations
These are used to bring together two or more words that make up a phrase, or you wish to specify that these words appear side by side and in the order you’ve written. Remember when we were looking for sales AND manager in example 1 above, and we said these words will both appear on the page but they can be anywhere on the page? Well, if we put our quotations around them, we’ll specify that we want the phrase sales manager to be on the page side by side, and in that order.

Example: sales manager, software developer

Similarly, when used in combination with the NOT or minus sign to remove words, we can remove a phrase when it’s written in quotes too, like this:

programmer NOT “recruitment consultant
developer -”recruitment consultant

Here’s an example of using all of these Boolean operators in one go:

(recruiter OR recruitment OR “talent acquisition” OR sourcing OR sourcer) AND (manager OR head OR lead OR leader OR vp OR vice) -”chief executive” -director

Some tips for conducting Boolean searches within LinkedIn:

  1. Always, always, always use the LinkedIn Advanced Search button, never just plug your search query into the little search box in the top right corner.
  2. Write up your Boolean query on a plain-text programme on your computer like Notepad (or Textedit on a Mac), because when you use Word, it will add formatting to your text.
  3. Keep a master Notepad file of your Boolean strings, and copy and paste your strings from it to LinkedIn.
  4. If you come up with no results in your LinkedIn search, don’t give up – 9 times out of 10 it’s because you made a tiny error in your Boolean search. LinkedIn is a bit unforgiving, and if there’s one thing wrong it’ll break the whole search. Take a step back, examine your search line for line and ensure you’ve followed the rules of each Boolean operator.

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