Using Your Hands vs. Boolean Builders

booleanstringsBoolean, LIR 7 Comments


My Dad was a simple man. For him, life was about figuring out what is right and wrong and then doing the right thing, which he expected of others – and didn’t hesitate to tell them. (Needless to say, I did many things wrong.) But, in his Partial Differential Equations, he was quite intuitive and subtle, often thinking and speaking in metaphors, as Mathematicians do.

I think Dad would have been able to appreciate an intuitive yet common sense approach to searching on the web as superior over “Boolean Builder” tools.

I would advise against Boolean-building tools. They seem attractive, there’s marketing angle to how they sound, and a long-lived tradition of (outdated) long OR searches that recruiters continue to share. Yet these automation tools are all ineffective; I can give you multiple examples using your favorite Builder and your current search. On a given search, they will have missed too many matching results and found too many false positives. Additionally, Boolean ORs are not a good practice on Google (see my latest post about it). A notion that Boolean Builders are for novices or busy, or non-technical people is a myth. It’s best to search “by hand,” and search on Google simply (and repeatedly).

“Boolean building” tools shift your focus to creating a “string” (or even “the string”) while your focus should be getting results, which you achieve by changing the searches all the time to get more and different data. I suppose there are exceptions, where you may need a long OR list of companies or schools to include. You can accomplish it by an Excel “OR” builder, but you would still need to review the list – to have the right coding, include abbreviations, etc. The output would be a string for LinkedIn because Google restricts you to 32 keywords.

Your comments are welcome (especially if you disagree)!

Please join my seven international friends and colleagues and me at the Online Sourcing Learning DayMay 6th! We already have over 100 participants – which we expect to double – from most US states, Canada, Mexico, many Europan countries, Australia, India, and are quite excited about it! If you have a team, please get in touch. I will be speaking on concepts like this one 🙂

Comments 7

  1. Well… 😀 as one that’s built a Boolean Builder recently… I agree with you, Irina, that search must be in constant adjustment and iteration and, therefore, there is no such a thing as THE perfect string.

    However, Boolean Builders can do two great things for you:

    1) come up with synonyms that may give you some new inspiration
    2) you can save parts of your evergreen/recurring search strings (patterns) and can even share with your teams (so it’s massive time-saving)

    I cannot tell you many times in my life I had to type into LIN this (recruiter OR recruiting OR recruitment OR….) when I was looking for a recruiter. The time-saving can be nice with these tools.

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      Don’t know, I might be low-tech 😉
      But LIR keeps a history of your searches and the latest one as the default, and I use that. But I rarely “save” anything on Google.

      Have you noticed that in every Google Boolean builder the search syntax is sub-optimal? I don’t know how to explain that.

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      2. You are right… Google search is less relevant with a Boolean Builder (except if someone is not familiar with the x-raying techniques). But again, and maybe because my background is heavily RPO-based, I’ve seen a serious need to save the best search patterns (think about these: job title variations, diversity search patterns, target companies, certain technical keywords (e.g. programming language synonyms) etc.) and that’s why I’ve created the Boolean Builder.

        I had a client in my past where the team had built a spreadsheet-based Boolean Builder for some 30-40 job profiles. It can be very helpful but you are right it should never kill experiencing with the searches.

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        I know you have the experience, but does it show that Builders are effective? Can you say it’s better to search with an RPO team or a few skilled sourcers? These tools teach you to stop thinking, and it’s a problem. And organizing a bank of strings (and keeping it up to date) is a headache people don’t need.
        To me, using Boolean Builders is like driving by the rules not paying attention to the traffic you see and hear. Or, making fine jewelry with an ax and saw just because you have them. 🙂

  2. I absolutely agree with you Irina! We may find cases where using a long string to exclude or include can be used. But in response to my friend Balzs I’d say that It makes no sense using long lists of synonyms when Google does that for you in a very unique way ❤️

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