The 3 Problems with Boolean — And How to Overcome Them

How do you know your boolean searches are surfacing the right candidates? How do you know that you’re not missing a pool of potential?

Let’s examine three of the limitations of the Boolean keyword search and how qualifications-based screening can help you overcome them.

1. You don’t know who you’re missing with Boolean.  

Résumés are text-based and text is inherently messy. Imagine you have a particular skill in mind and you think it should be two words, but on many résumés and profiles, it turns out that it’s more commonly written as two words separated by a dash. In most Boolean query settings, you may not even match against these candidates, so you’re potentially missing out on qualified candidates just because you didn’t know all the common ways of expressing something. For instance, let’s say you are sourcing for an Account Executive role at an up and coming SaaS company.  If you strictly used the keyword “Saas” you would be missing out on the most common variants. By comparison, using “SaaS” as a qualification you”ll be bringing in candidates that express it in any of these alternative ways: “Cloud application”, “On-demand software”, “OpenSaaS”, “SaaSS”, “Saasworld”, “SasS”, “Service as a Software Substitute”, “Software as a secure service”, “Software as a service”, “Software as service”, “Software plus services”, “Software-as-a-Service”. Imagine having to manually expand each one of these terms in your query!

As I mentioned earlier, you need to anticipate common variants in order to yield the best Boolean search results. At Uncommon, we’ve already done the work of finding these variants, so no matter which one of the 20 variants of a skill or job title you’ve come up with, we’ll be able to match every one of them.

2. Boolean is slow & inefficient.

Let’s say you’re sitting down to run a Boolean search for a software engineer. You need to be aware of the complexity in job titles and brainstorm all the different variants—software developer, web developer, full-stack engineer, etc. It takes time and domain knowledge to come up with all these variations, and the result is a really long string. There’s also a time-consuming element of trial and error in this process. You have to iterate until you get a good number of candidates with the right level of skill, in the appropriate geographical area, and who meet any other criteria you’ve defined.

Qualification-based search is 4X faster than Boolean.

Uncommon created a much faster and more efficient workflow than keyword search. If you’ve ever used a site like Kayak, our technology is structured in a very similar way. You’re prompted to enter the role, experience, skills, industries, and other criteria. We studied the best-in-class recruiters and mirrored their thought process so that building a search is intuitive and straightforward. You can easily adjust your search and our technology will also make recommendations to you about other things you might consider as well.

When you see the number of candidates your search is yielding, you can easily and make adjustments to the criteria to broaden or refine the scope. This is so much easier than rewriting a whole Boolean string!

3. Boolean often requires deep domain knowledge of the role.

It takes time and experience to build a mental map of the most relevant search terms for any given role or industry. This puts certain groups of recruiters at a disadvantage. If you’re switching from recruiting in one industry to another (e.g. healthcare to tech) you won’t have the domain knowledge of a more experienced recruiter and may, therefore, be building Boolean search strings that are missing important keywords and missing out on finding great talent.

Qualification-based search democratizes recruiter domain knowledge.

One of the real powers of qualification-based search is that our machine learning has already done that work for you. Given a particular skill, industry, or role title, our models know tens of different variants so your reach as a recruiter is instantly much larger than it would be, and you don’t have to write these complicated Boolean queries to get the same result.

Whether you’re a staffing agency that fills a wide variety of roles, a brand-new recruiter, or someone who has switched industries, you can get the same (or better) search results than someone with deep-domain knowledge. Even experienced recruiters can benefit because you can express what you want in simple terms, and our machine learning will translate your search into a cloud that captures a much larger pool of talent than you’d find using expert Boolean. Come prove us wrong.

As a recruiter, you need to be thoughtful about how you spend your time—there are only so many hours in the day and a pressing number of roles to fill. The job market moves fast and candidates expect an efficient and empathetic experience with employers. Uncommon’s technology allows you to perform more efficient and effective searches, bringing you qualified candidates faster so you can focus on meaningful interactions.

Want to see Uncommon in action? Request a demo today!


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