Google and LinkedIn Speak Different Boolean

booleanstringsBoolean, Google, LinkedIn 1 Comment

Google and LinkedIn are two sites where sourcers spend most of their time. Both support Boolean search. Yet it works in very different ways.

For starters,

The search is not really Boolean (we can call it pseudo-Boolean).

Google finds synonyms to all terms entered without quotation marks. A search like backend java engineer -engineer returns results while “formally” it should not.

The order of words matters, too; Google attempts to interpret words following each other as phrases. Searching for a sentence from a public page even without the quotes will return that page on top.

Google also attunes the results on the perceived intent of the searcher based on the whole string. That is the definition of semantic search. Apple pie and Apple salary will show the results you expect.

If you want to control the interpretation, you can put keywords and phrases in quotes or use the Verbatim option. But in many cases, Google’s semantic features are trustworthy.

The same search on LinkedIn in Keywords also (unexpectedly) produces results: backend java engineer -engineer. When the Keywords contain a job-title-sounding sequence of words, LinkedIn interprets it as a title past or present and looks for similar titles. Unfortunately, LinkedIn’s interpretation may not match ours – and it is even less intuitive in Recruiter. For example, LinkedIn “thinks” that an Executive Assistant to CEO and CEO are “similar.”

So LinkedIn may add synonyms, but you can’t rely on it to do so as well as Google. LinkedIn Recruiter offers to select titles or sets of titles – but LinkedIn’s standardized values for titles, as well as companies, schools, skills, etc., are limited.

On LinkedIn, you want to avoid the interpretation and control the search using as many synonyms as you can come up with – sr OR snr OR senior, developer OR engineer OR coder, etc.

Choose to enter search strings vs. standardized selections. Text searches will perform better and are easier to adjust. Use our Boolean Builder tool to create LinkedIn-friendly strings (make a copy of the document).

Bottom line:

  • On Google, search simply.
  • On LinkedIn, use long Boolean search strings to cover every possibility in every field.

Are you guilty of using only LinkedIn when you search for potential candidates? Join us for the class Sourcing without LinkedIn – coming up shortly!




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