Use Boolean Searching to Simplify Job Hunting, Increase your Chances of Finding One

by Guest Author, Xolile Mtembu

Looking for a job seems to get harder every day.

From having to constantly update your CV to getting matches that do not suit your search on the internet, this whole process can be emotionally taxing. One way to deal with searches returning incorrect or irrelevant information is to use the Boolean method, according to job portals Reed and Indeed.

Boolean searching is a way to search for exactly what you need by using particular words and phrases known as “operators”. These can include simple words such as “AND”, “OR”, “NOT”, “AND NOT”, to combine or exclude keywords in a search. Quotation marks and other symbols can also be used.

So instead of getting a list of results during a search that are irrelevant to you, your searches will be specific and successful.

A search engine will only understand that you are using a Boolean search if you type the operators in capital letters, advises Indeed. “Some websites automatically eliminate conjunctions when performing searches, but writing them in capital letters indicates that they are modifiers for a Boolean search.”

Reed offers the following tips on how this process works:


You can use this when searching for a specific role and you want the job description to include multiple keywords. For example:

“I want a job as a developer which allows me to use Javascript”

Your search – Developer & Javascript


This can be useful when you want the job description to include one of a number of keywords but not all of them.

“I want a job as a software developer or web developer”

Your search – Software Developer | Web Developer

Quotation marks

This can come in handy when you want a job description to include an exact phrase.

“I’m looking for software developer roles”

Your search – “Software Developer” (Searching Software Developer without quotations, for example, could bring back a number of other development roles).

Asterisk symbol – *

Use this when you want your search to start with a certain term.

“I want to be an administrator”

Admin* (This will return all words which begin with “Admin”, for example administrators and administrative assistants).

Parentheses – ( )

If you want to group two or more sets of conditions together.

Example – “I am looking for web developer roles, specialising in Python or Ruby”

Example search – “Web Developer” & (Python or Ruby)


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About the author: Xolile Mtembu is a reporter for Independent Media in Durban, South Africa.

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