Getting the Most Out of Your Applicant Tracking System Using Boolean Search

Posted by Lauren Collinson, Senior Communications Specialist on March 8 2016

When it comes down to best hiring practices, applicant tracking systems (ATS) can’t be beaten. Instead of spending your time sifting through résumés by hand, an ATS frees you up to pursue other tasks, like calling applicant trackingcandidates back and interviewing them.

As with all technology, you need to know how to use it well to make it work for you, rather than the other way around. Knowing how to enter keywords based on Boolean search operators is important if you want to really streamline your process and get the most from an ATS.

What are Boolean search operators?
Being able to find things on the Internet is an art, and using Boolean search terms are your paintbrushes—each allows you to paint a thin or wide line on the portrait. According to Computer Hope, they were created by George Boole, an English mathematician, and their most common uses are in programming and Internet searches.

ERE Media listed five types of Boolean search operators,and they are most helpful to operate an ATS with:

  • And
  • Or
  • Not
  • ( )
  • " "

Basically, a Boolean search term will create a true or false situation within the program. For example, if you’re looking for a writer with editing experience, you may type in writer AND “copyeditor.” What this does is set the ATS to look for and pull all résumés that have the word writer in them, but only if they specifically have the word “copyeditor,” as well. If the program finds both terms, the résumé will effectively read “true” and be returned to the ATS operator.

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If you want a long-reaching search, the OR term can cast a wider net. If you’re looking to hire someone within HR, your Boolean search may look something like human resource OR recruiter. This will pull any résumé that has either the word human resource or recruiter listed in it—even if it’s just one of those terms.

applicant trackingIt’s important to teach every recruiter in your company how to use Boolean search operators.

Perhaps you’re running a fashion magazine, but your job posting pulled many financial writer résumés for some odd reason. In this case, setting your ATS search parameters for writer NOT “financial” will exclude all résumés with the term financial in them.

Brackets are used for complex search algorithms. Should you need to use them, remember the old order of operations acronym, PEMDAS; parentheses, exponents, multiply, divide, add, and subtract. Putting brackets, or parentheses, around a search term will make it most valuable in a string of Booleans. ERE explained these are most commonly found with OR search terms.

Cut down recruiting time
The whole goal of an ATS is to cut down on the amount of manual work you have to do. Recruiters receive tons of résumés for each job listing and it can be difficult to look through them all. If you’re not using the program correctly, though, you’ll make even more work for yourself.

According to a Glassdoor study, 48 percent of small businesses feel as though there aren’t any qualified candidates for their job. While this could be true, it also could be they aren’t using every resource available to them. Master your Boolean search operators to gain total control over your recruitment process.

Tags: Applicant Tracking, Recruitment Process, HR solutions