Monday, January 6, 2014

What is Boolean and How to Use it to Make Your Life Easier

What is Boolean?  Think of Boolean as a language to use when typing into any search engine.  You might be thinking, "I don't need to know that.  I can do a Google search right now.  It's not rocket science."  You might think it does not matter, but it is only because you do not know what you do not know.  If you are familiar with Boolean, then your searches will be much more effective and your results will be that much more useful for you.

You could take several classes on Boolean and still not know everything, so this post will just cover the basics and some of my favorites.  Here goes:

1.  OR - Let's say I am searching for a job.  To save time and avoid doing separate searches for all the different job titles I am looking for, I might type the following into Google - "human resources" OR recruiter OR "employee relations" OR "HR partner".  It basically tells Google (You can also use Yahoo or Bing) that results with any of those terms will work.  If you did not use OR, then it would default to AND, and give you only results that included all of those terms. Notice how I also used quotation marks around phrases.  I wanted the whole phrase "human resources".  Otherwise the results would just make sure the words human and resources were mentioned somewhere and in any order in the article.  (I know.  I cheated.  That was like 3 lessons in one, but I know how smart you are.  I did not think quotation marks and the default AND needed separate bullet points).

2.   - (minus sign) - Let's stick with the job search example.  Perhaps I am not looking for jobs at the Director or Coordinator level.  I am going for the professional/manager sweet spot.  I would add this to my previous search string (bolded in #1) -director -coordinator.  Make sure there is no space between the minus sign and your word.  Spaces are default ANDs.  Also be sure to use the minus sign and not the dash sign.

3.  inurl: - Let's say I only want results from a specific website or type of website.  Maybe I only want to search government websites.  You might do this if you are looking up a law or doing research and want to make sure your source is legit.
You would type this into Google:
Again make sure there are no spaces.
If you were looking for only educational websites you might type .edu
If you wanted to search for someone on LinkedIn and do not want to be limited by your connections, you could type
For instance if I wanted to find out who was in human resources at Qualcomm in San Diego, I would type in the following: "san diego" "human resources" Qualcomm
Go ahead.  Try it.  In LinkedIn, you are normally limited by your connections in regards to who you can see, but not with this trick.

Starting to see how Boolean might be useful?  Boolean is very specific though which is why I gave the above examples on separate lines.  I did not want you to confuse the period at the end of my sentence as part of the search string you would type into Google.  A simple period or space can throw off your Boolean search string and produce erroneous results.

I have used Boolean to search for gift ideas, when trying to remember titles of movies, or looking for local places to eat.  You name it, and you could probably use Boolean to make your search even better.  It's a great skill to have in the workplace or in the classroom.  As a student, it is invaluable to find great quotable articles and resources online.  As an HR Professional I often use it when recruiting.

Have you tried it yet?  Having any issues?  Please feel free to post your Boolean search strings below if you want help.  I would be happy to assist.

You might also enjoy:

team building MBTI
How to Use Myers Briggs 
networking what is a triad
What is a Triad?
Employee Assistance Program
What is an EAP?

salary negotiation
How to Ask for a Raise

strategic change initiative
What to do During Change


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