Boolean like a pro with SEEK Talent Search

Boolean Search is the smarter way to search for candidates – making your candidate search more sophisticated, effective and targeted.

Using Boolean logic to broaden and/or narrow your candidate search is not as complicated as it sounds; in fact you might be doing it already.

Watch the video to learn how to use Boolean Search – in conjunction with the generic SEEK search filters – to get more targeted candidate matching.


What is Boolean search?

A type of search allowing you to combine keywords with operators such as AND, NOT and OR to limit, widen or define your search and return more relevant profiles. For example, a Boolean search could be "retail assistant manager" AND "Melbourne". This would limit the available profiles to only those candidates containing the key terms.



How to search using Boolean ?

Boolean search is not difficult. Firstly, there are only five elements of syntax to understand:



  • AND.

  • OR.

  • NOT.

  • ().

  • “ “.


By applying these appropriately, along with the keywords that connect candidates to your role, you’ll be presented with more relevant candidates, and also save you a lot of time in filtering through the profiles. This gives you the power to keep your search broad, while surfacing the best SEEK Profiles to the top of your results. Please note: it's very important to use capitalisation in these elements.




AND is the simplest function to apply. Any search terms that follow an AND command must appear in the result. For example, engineer AND "senior developer" will surface profiles that include both the word engineer and the phrase "senior developer". All profiles surfaced will include both and any profiles that have either engineer or 'senior developer'.




OR provides options into your candidate search. Usage of the OR command allows you to create a list of potential candidates for which only one match is important. For example, the following search would give you profiles that contain one or more of the stated words: 'hospitality OR mining OR manager'.




NOT is the command of exclusion. If there are closely related terms that mean very different things, then usage of the NOT command is extremely valuable. An example could be, 'architect NOT software architect'. This would give you profiles that contain the word architect, but leaving out any that use the phrase 'software architects'. This is particularly useful if you are operating in the construction industry.



“ “ – quotation marks

You will have noticed that we’ve already used the “” expression in our examples above and wrapped around particular keywords. These quotation marks are used to capture a phrase that is to be kept intact, in the precise word order stated. Not using “” around a phrase will mean that each word is treated separately, usually with an assumed AND in between each one. For example, management accountant would surface profiles that contain 'management' and 'accountant' but not necessarily in the same paragraph. “Management accountant” would surface profiles that only contain the phrase “management accountant”.



() – brackets

Using brackets is essential for complex search terms and it can be their application that causes the most confusion. Essentially, a clause within brackets is given priority over other elements around it. The most common place that brackets are applied by hirers is in the use of OR strings. Perhaps a good example would be company names. You may have a list of target companies from where you wish to find your talent and a candidate could have worked at any one (or ideally several) of them. You might initially construct a search command like this: Telstra OR Vodafone OR SEEK OR Microsoft.

When conducting a search using company names, take note that any large companies usually generate a large number of candidates. So if you wanted to find candidates who have attained managerial or director level, then you might consider using this command instead: “manager” OR “director”.

To combine both commands into one search, we use brackets to tell the search engine that these are separate conditions. In order to tell the search engine that we want to see profiles containing either 'manager or director' and also one of Optus, Deloitte, SEEK or Microsoft, we group them like this: (“manager” OR “director”) AND (Optus OR Deloitte OR SEEK OR Microsoft)

It makes no difference which order the two bracketed sections go; the same profiles will surface either way. So, that’s a whistle-stop guide to the very basics of Boolean searching. We have only scratched the surface on its usage, and there are manifold techniques that you can use to return even more relevant candidates.

To put Boolean into practice, play around with SEEK Talent Search – enabling you to search and connect with the right candidates from over 2.5 million SEEK Profiles, with 100,000 new CVs added monthly. The best way to extract value from SEEK Talent Search comes from applying specific search strings to find more relevant candidates matched to your role.


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SEEK Insights & Resources New Zealand

SEEK is the destination of choice for job-seekers and hirers in New Zealand, acting as the conduit between hirers looking to fill vacant roles and candidates looking for work across many and varied industries. SEEK's mission is to help people live...

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