I remember when I first started sourcing and a more experienced colleague was attempting to teach me the different Boolean operators…I could not remember the differences between AND, NOT, and OR to save my life! I am such a visual person, I had to see it clearly on paper and used in real examples to finally wrap my mind around it.

For a recruiter or sourcer just starting out, Boolean operators can be so overwhelming and frankly, a little confusing. If you’re like me and need to see it to remember it, here are some great tips to get you started and hopefully understand how the different operators work together.


When you want to search for an exact phrase, put quotation marks around the entire phrase.

Example: "Java Developer"

If you search for this phrase, your search will only include results that have "Java Developer" in it. If you searched just Java Developer with no quotation marks, it will bring up all results that have the word java or developer, but the words may or may not be together.  


And is a great tool that will help you narrow your results if your original search comes up with too many choices. If you want to search for a profile which includes two specific keywords not in a particular order, you can separate those terms with the upper-case word AND. The more keywords you add, the lower results you will typically have.

(Note: If you enter two terms with a space between them, it will assume the space is the word AND)

Example: java AND python (same as: java python)


If you want to broaden your search to find more profiles, use OR to find results containing either one or both terms listed. The more words you enter connected by OR, the more results you will get.

Example: java OR python


If you would like to do a search but exclude a particular term, type that term with an upper-case NOT immediately before it. Your search will omit any result containing that term.

Example: java NOT coffee

You can also use the minus sign to omit words that you do not want in your results. For the above example, java -coffee would bring back the same results.


For a more complex search, you can combine terms and modifiers by using parentheses.

Example: java AND (engineer OR architect) ---> This will find both java engineers and java architects