Boolean search strings cheat sheet (2023 edition for technical recruiters)

Jan 17, 202311 minutes read

Finding great talent isn’t easy, especially for technical roles. Most recruiters spend about a third of their workweek just searching for the right candidates to contact.

If you’re looking to source candidates faster and more effectively, one of our favorite techniques is Boolean Search.

Boolean search strings cheat sheet

We put together this comprehensive Boolean search strings cheat sheet with Boolean operator explanations, specific search strings for the most popular technical roles, advanced techniques for recruiters, diversity searching, and a Boolean operator FAQ.

Before we get into the article, are you working at a startup and worried about the current market instability? Want to see resilient TA planning and strategy in action? Join us on February 9th for our live webinar: “2023 Talent Acquisition Planning for Startups and Scale-Ups

Google search parameters

What are Boolean Search Strings and Boolean Operators?

Boolean search was first developed in the 19th century as a method of symbolic logic. In the present day, it is a type of search that allows users to combine keywords and Boolean operators (AND, OR, and NOT) to create more targeted and accurate searches.

A Boolean search string combines keywords or an exact phrase, and Boolean operators to find specific information from a search engine that wouldn’t be available by just typing in a single keyword.

boolean search strings

source: sourcecon.com

What is Boolean search in recruitment?

Sourcers and recruiters can save time and find candidates with the right skills more quickly by creating boolean search strings with relevant keywords and operators in Google or any search engine.

Here are the Boolean operators recruiters will find most helpful when searching for technical talent, with explanations and examples.

Boolean OperatorBoolean Operator UseExample Boolean Search Strings
ANDFor locating resources that contain two or more keywords Developer AND Python
ORFor locating resources that contain at least one of a list of two or more keywordsDeveloper OR Engineer OR programmer 
NOT-Excludes resources that contain a keywordPython NOT snake
Python -Monty
“  ”(quotation marks)For locating resources that contain an exact phrase “Data Infrastructure Engineer”
site:For located resources on a particular websiteBlockchain software engineer site:twitter.com
inurl:For locating resources that contain (a) keyword(s) in the urlinurl:resume
*For searching with unknown characters or wordsdevelop*
(returns developer, developed, development…)
(  )For creating more complex searches and nesting search terms(Python OR Ruby OR Node OR Go) AND (React OR Angular OR Vue)
boolean operators

source: librarydesignshare.com

Boolean Search Strings for recruiters to find 2023’s top tech roles

Now that we understand each Boolean operator, it’s time to put Boolean searching into action. Here are examples of Boolean searches that you can use to source software engineers, with all the most popular roles and specializations.

Software engineering talent

Check out these Boolean Search String examples for all the most common software development and engineering roles, from Java Developer to Data Warehouse Engineer.

Role / SpecializationExample Boolean String
Backend (Application)(application OR API OR microservices OR “server side”) AND (Python OR Ruby OR Java OR GO OR Node OR Scala OR C OR C++ OR C#) AND (Spring OR Rails OR Django OR Flask)
Frontend (Application)JavaScript AND (React OR Angular OR Vue)
Frontend (UI/UX)UI OR UX OR “user interface” OR “user experience” OR designer 
Fullstack (Application)(Python OR Ruby OR Java OR GO OR Node OR Scala OR C OR C++ OR C# OR Spring OR Rails OR Django OR Flask) AND (React OR Angular OR Vue)
Infrastructure or Platform (Cloud)“distributed systems” OR “cloud infrastructure” OR “cloud infra” OR (“cloud and infrastructure) OR “infrastructure as a service” OR IAAS OR (cloud AND platform) OR 
(AWS OR “Amazon Web Services” OR Azure OR GCP OR “Google Cloud Platform”) AND (Docker OR Kubernetes OR Jenkins OR Salt OR Ansible OR Puppet OR Chef OR Terraform)
Infrastructure (Data)(“data infrastructure” OR “data infra” OR “data architecture” OR “distributed systems” OR “data processing” OR framework OR “big data”) AND (Hadoop OR Spark OR Kafka OR Flink OR Storm)
DevOps / SREDevOps OR SRE OR “site reliability”
(Python OR Ruby OR Java OR GO OR Node OR Scala OR C OR C++ OR C#) AND (Docker OR Kubernetes OR Ansible OR Chef OR Puppet OR Salt OR Terraform) AND (AWS OR “Amazon Web Services” OR Azure OR GCP OR “Google Cloud Platform”)
Data / ETL (“Data engineer” OR “extract transform and load” OR ETL OR “data pipelines” OR “data ingestion” OR “data processing”) AND (Python OR Scala OR Java) 
Data Warehouse EngineerSQL AND (Bash or Python or scripting) AND (“business intelligence” OR SAS OR Tableau) AND (“data warehouse” OR “data warehousing” OR Redshift OR Snowflake OR Oracle)
Machine Learning (Python OR Scala OR Java) AND (Scikit-learn OR TensorFlow OR Pytorch OR Keras OR “machine learning” OR ML)
Embedded(embedded OR “low level” OR hardware OR firmware) AND (C OR C++)
Security(Python OR Go OR Java OR Node OR C or C++) AND (AWS OR Azure OR GCP OR Docker OR Kubernetes) OR (security OR TCP/IP OR firewalls OR Okta OR CyberArk OR Proofpoint OR Tanium)
GameC# OR C++ AND (Unity OR Unity32 OR Unreal OR Open3d OR game)
Mobile(developer OR engineer OR programmer) AND (mobile OR Android OR iOS OR Objective-C OR Swift OR Cocoa OR Cocoa-Touch OR SwiftUI OR XCode)
QA(tester OR QA OR “quality assurance” OR SDET OR “software development engineer in test” OR “test automation” OR “automation tester” OR “automation engineer”)
Individual Contributordeveloper OR SDE OR engineer OR programmer OR MTS OR “member of technical staff”
NOT (manager OR head OR director OR VP OR founder)
Java Developer(developer OR SDE OR engineer OR programmer OR MTS OR “member of technical staff) AND Java AND (Spring OR JSF OR Hibernate OR Struts OR Play OR Grails)
Python Developer(developer OR SDE OR engineer OR programmer OR MTS OR “member of technical staff) AND Python AND (Django OR Flask)
Web DeveloperHTML AND CSS AND (JavaScript OR AJAX OR “content management system” OR Drupal OR WordPress)
boolean search recruiter cheat sheet

source: techrepublic.com

Other common tech role Boolean String examples

Tech Recruiter(Recruiter OR recruiting OR recruitment OR “talent acquisition” OR TA) AND (technical OR tech OR engineer OR developer OR programmer) 
Customer Success Manager / Account Manager(“customer success” OR “client success” OR “account manager” OR “customer experience”) NOT head NOT director NOT VP
Business Development Representative“Business development representative” OR BDR OR “sales development representative” OR sdr NOT manager NOT lead NOT head NOT director NOT VP
Account Executive“Account executive” OR AE OR “sales manager” OR “sales executive” NOT director NOT VP
Sales Engineer(“sales”) AND (engineer OR developer OR programmer) AND (Python OR Java OR Ruby OR Go OR Node OR C#)
IT Support“it support” OR “desktop support” OR “tech support” OR “technical support” OR “it technician” OR “desktop technician” OR “help desk” OR “service desk” OR “systems administrator”
Developer Evangelist(“developer” OR “engineer” OR “programmer” OR tech) AND (“evangelist” OR “advocate”) OR (“developer experience” OR “developer marketing” OR “developer relations”)
Data Analyst(“data analyst” OR “business analyst” OR “project analyst” OR “data science” OR “data analytics”) AND (Python OR SQL OR R OR Scala OR SAS)
boolean search

Helpful tips for building better Boolean search strings

Mastered all the Boolean search terms and basic techniques? Here are some recruiting-specific tips and tricks for finding the best technical talent with Boolean strings.

Use your Boolean Strings in creative talent pools

Beyond resume databases and career pages, Boolean search can be used on many other types of platforms. In particular, recruiters should consider that:

Many software engineers who don’t market themselves on career sites can be found in online communities such as GitHub, the most popular place for maintaining code, and Stack Overflow, another popular gathering spot for discussing all things tech.

Social media websites such as Twitter and Discord are also great places to connect with software developers and engineers who are staying on top of the newest trends, learning new technologies and tackling complex projects outside of their day job.

Your Applicant Tracking System (ATS) is also a great place to search for relevant candidates you have previously contacted. Perhaps it just wasn’t the right time for a candidate to make a move, but now it is. Or, perhaps a candidate wasn’t a good fit for a previous role, but they are a great fit for a current role.

Use Boolean search parameters to target the right seniority level

When it comes to software engineering titles, there is a good deal of overlap and variance. Some companies call their developers “Software Engineer,” and others use “Software Development Engineer” (SDE) or “Member of Technical Staff” (MTS).

Another way in which titles vary from company to company is specificity. A backend developer, cloud engineer, and data engineer might all call themselves a “Software Engineer” on their online profile. Using as many variations of a title as possible will help you to ensure you aren’t overlooking potential candidates.

Once you’ve located profiles that could be a fit through Boolean search and a Boolean operator, consulting a resource like levels.fyi can help you to interpret what a given title at a given company might actually mean. For example, a Senior Software Engineer at Google could be a good fit for a Software Engineer V role at Facebook. 

boolean searching

Source: levels.fyi

On the other hand, company selectivity also matters. A “Senior Software Engineer” at a small startup might join a highly selective company such as Google at a lower level.

Experiment and practice to develop your Boolean searching intuition

While different websites such as Google, LinkedIn, GitHub, and Twitter all support Boolean searching, each platform has its own quirks and variations. For example, some search engines may correct misspelled keywords or automatically include variants, and others may not. The Boolean operator that is supported and the details of how each Boolean search term functions may also morph over time due to updates on each platform.

While you can check the help documentation for the specific search engine you’re using, ultimately, hands-on experience will give you an intuitive understanding of the most productive ways to combine Boolean operators and keywords and what you can expect to find through a Boolean string.

boolean search term

Boolean Searching FAQ:

Here are some quick answers to common Boolean Search, Boolean Operator, and Boolean String questions.

Is a Boolean search operator case-sensitive?

A Boolean operator (AND, NOT, OR)  is case-sensitive. However, keywords are not case-sensitive.

That means that “Python AND Spark” differ from “Python and Spark.”

However, “Python AND Spark” is the same as “python AND spark,”

Boolean search and advanced search are both used to refine and narrow down search results, but they work in different ways.

Boolean search allows users to specify the relationships between different terms in the search query, by using a Boolean operator to combine keywords. A Boolean string can be used in all different kinds of search engines to generate search results.

search strings

Advanced search, on the other hand, uses filters (date, file type, location…) and search criteria (“all of these words,” “exact phrase,” “none of these words,” “only results”) to generate a search result. It is generally a feature provided by the specific search engine being used and varies from engine to engine. 

boolean logic

Source: google.com

Here are some ideas for building Boolean search strings to target diverse talent.

Example Boolean search string abbreviations and Boolean operator: 

Techlatino OR “Latinas in tech” OR “Hispanic foundation of silicon valley” OR hfsv OR lulac OR “league of united Latin American citizens” OR “Hispanic IT executive council” OR “society of Hispanic professional engineers” OR shpe

Once I find candidates through Boolean Search, how do I know if they have the right skills?

Sourcing is hard, and technical sourcing for specialized, niche roles is even harder. That’s why we put together a technical recruiting cheat sheet with all the most popular tech roles and the skills and qualifications associated with each.

For further reading and information to upskill, you can check out our blog for guides to hiring all kinds of tech talent, from full stack developers to data scientists to DevOps to blockchain engineers.

Wrapping up the Boolean Search Strings Cheat Sheet

Boolean search is a critical, low-cost method for recruiters to save time and improve the quality of their talent pool, especially in specialized technical roles. We hope that you find this guide to Boolean search string mastery helpful!

If you’re learning about Boolean logic for the first time, you might not know that technology is your most potent tool. Artificial intelligence products today can help you streamline your sourcing processes and automate your Boolean searches.

boolean searches

At Celential, we have access to 15+ million technical candidates in our Talent Graph, and our AI-powered solution can identify accurate matches to job openings in minutes. If you use Celential, you will receive high-quality and engaged talent weekly with zero effort on your part.

With sourcing taken care of, your talent acquisition team’s time will be freed up to focus on excellent candidate experience, and closing hires more efficiently. 

We offer:

  • 3-Day average turnaround with warm talent ready for interviews appearing in your inbox or ATS in 1-5 business days.
  • 80% average acceptance rate of tech candidates for competitive, specialized roles like Full stack Developer, Backend Developer, Frontend Developer, Data Scientist, DevOps Engineers, Machine Learning Engineers, Blockchain Developers, Tech Leads, Architects, and Managers.
  • Instant flexibility to scale up and down your recruitment efforts as your hiring needs, role priorities, and budget shift during these uncertain economic times.

Schedule a call to find out how to receive tech talent for up to 50% less cost.

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