Advanced Boolean Searches

by Ritch Lim

What has math to do with LinkedIn I hear you say, right? You can use brackets on top of the other 3 Boolean operators (AND, OR and NOT) you learned about in our previous blogs on how to find more candidates with LinkedIn. This article shows you how to get buckets of results by using brackets (or parentheses if you wish).

Does PEMDAS ring a bell? You know, the order of operations in math? Anyways, the goal is to make more complex advanced searches in LinkedIn to fine-tune your results. So, the next step is to add parentheses to the equation (pun intended J).

How does it work? Simply add brackets when you want to make group statements. Let’s assume you are looking for decision makers in the sales or marketing field. Then, a group statement would look like this: (marketing OR sales). In this case, you would be looking for anyone with a marketing or sales background. Now, if you combine this with (manager OR director OR VP), you will find a combination of people at these different levels.

So, what is the next step up? It is creating a combination of these two: (marketing OR sales) AND (manager OR director OR VP). If you type in this search string in the Title field in LinkedIn’s advanced search, your results will have people who are a marketing manager, a sales manager, a marketing director or a sales director. Also a VP of sales and a VP of marketing are included. If you think this is all, think again! It also includes a sales and marketing manager or a VP of sales and marketing and then some. You see, you are getting a lot more results than just typing in the separate titles!

By using brackets you can force a certain order in your searches. Again, in this particular example we are focusing on the field of expertise (sales or marketing) and then the level of a person in the organization (manager OR director OR VP level). Long story short: use brackets with separate groups of keywords and get combined results.

Handy? You bet!

Finally, just as in math, you can combine different levels of parentheses too! Here is an example: ((Chief AND Officer) AND (Executive OR (Operational OR Operations) OR Marketing) OR (CEO OR COO OR CMO)).

Remarks: as most of you will understand, the brackets used for Operational OR Operations are actually not necessary. I inserted them there to increase the readability for myself (sorting the different specialties and grouping operations in one). Also, the outer parentheses are strictly speaking not mandatory. Again, if you want to build on this for future searches, it might make sense to group them anyway.

Now it is up to you to start creating some smart strings and use brackets where appropriate and enjoy the bucket loads of results!


To your success,



Note: Brackets come in various shapes, types and names:

( ) [ ] { } 〈 〉 < >  || || 「 」

When I am talking about using brackets in LinkedIn, I am referring to the round brackets (the first pair J). More info about brackets and parentheses?

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