LinkedIn Boolean Search explained [+5 string examples]
What is LinkedIn Boolean search?
LinkedIn Boolean search (or Boolean search, in general) is a query technique that combines words and phrases with the Boolean operators AND, OR, NOT, (), “”, to limit, broaden, or better define your search. It is used to produce more accurate and relevant results, and it allows you to navigate through appropriate leads while disregarding the unrelated ones.
LinkedIn Boolean search is logic-based, and it applies to specific LinkedIn, Sales Navigator, and Recruiter filters, all of which are listed below. However, it’s interesting to note that LinkedIn Basic and Premium Business filters don’t allow longer searches. If you try to apply a longer Boolean query, you will get the “No results found” message, which is not quite true. LinkedIn just wants to point out the benefits of investing in Sales Navigator designed specifically for handpicking leads thanks to its 29 Lead filters and its 15 Account filters, or in Recruiter with its 23+ filters designed for finding the finest talent for your business.
Boolean search works only if you follow these key instructions.
- The Boolean search operators AND, OR, and NOT must be written in uppercase. Example: content OR copywriting
- If your search term is composed of more than one word, it needs to go under quotation marks. Example: “content writer” AND copywriter
- If combining the Boolean search terms, use parenthesis to define your query. Example: (“content writer” OR copywriter) NOT “content manager”
The purpose of this blog is to cover the basics of LinkedIn Boolean search and to show you how to build Boolean search strings.
The Boolean search terms
Use the following 5 Boolean search operators to conduct your LinkedIn Boolean search.
The AND operator
The AND operator tells a search engine to find all people whose LinkedIn profiles include both terms.
For example, if you search for writer AND copywriter, LinkedIn will only bring back users whose profiles contain BOTH the term writer and the term copywriter.
The OR operator
The OR operator tells a search engine that you wish to find users whose LinkedIn profiles include either of the terms. Also, if there’s a LinkedIn profile containing both terms, it will appear in your results.
For example, if you search for content OR copywriter, LinkedIn will bring back users whose profiles contain EITHER of the terms or BOTH terms.
The NOT operator
The NOT operator tells a search engine what words to exclude from search results. Differently from other operators, it needs to stand before the term you wish to exclude. If you wish to exclude multiple terms, the NOT needs to be inserted before each term.
For example, if you search for content NOT copywriter, LinkedIn will bring back profiles containing the word content and it will avoid all profiles that contain the word copywriter. If you wish to exclude editors as well, you should compose your query as content NOT copywriter NOT editor.
Quotations are used in LinkedIn Boolean search when your search term is composed of two or more consecutive words that need to stay in a specific order. For example, if you wish to find content editors, but avoid content writers, your query would look like this “content editor” NOT “content writer”. If you don’t put the term composed of two or more words under quotation marks, the search engine will look them up as separate terms.
For example, content editor NOT “content writer” will bring back results that contain the word editor, the word content, and will avoid profiles with the word content writer.
This Boolean operator is essential for writing complex search strings that give carefully picked results. Namely, when including parenthesis in the Boolean search, the algorithm sees the string between the brackets as a query that needs to be solved separately and then in relation to other parts of the string.
For example, the query head AND (sales OR marketing) NOT (intern OR assistant OR communications) will bring back results of all leads who are either Head of Sales or Head of Marketing or Head Of Sales & Marketing but will exclude all people from the same departments that are interns, assistant, or hold the title of the Head of Communications.
Here’s a visual presentation of the Boolean operators for you to download.
LinkedIn filters that support Boolean search
LinkedIn, Sales Navigator, and Recruiter filters that support Boolean search are:
- First Name
- Last Name
- (Job) Title
The Boolean search works with the Keywords filter and is probably the most commonly used one. However, keep in mind that this search result can be very extensive and imprecise since the search engine will list all users whose LinkedIn profiles include that particular word somewhere on their profile (in their title, headline, posts, hashtags, skills, etc). On the other hand, when you use the Boolean search in one of the specific filters listed above, LinkedIn will apply Boolean search only to those sections of your lead’s LinkedIn profile.
The Boolean search produces the best results when combined with other filters.
How to prepare for Boolean search on LinkedIn
Before creating a Boolean string for your LinkedIn, Sales Navigator, or Recruiter search, make sure you define your hypothetical perfect search results.
Also, it is useful to save your Boolean search strings on a separate sheet of paper such as Google Docs or a Word document, just to keep a record of what you combined since LinkedIn filters cannot show longer queries in full.
Here are several questions you can answer to get you as close as possible to your desired results.
- What’s the typical job title of your Ideal lead?
- Is there a synonym or another name for the same or similar title of your Ideal lead?
- Are there any companies you would like to specifically target?
- Did your Ideal leads attend specific schools?
Sometimes to get what you want, you need to eliminate what you don’t want first.
- Are there any titles you want to exclude from your search? Typically, people exclude assistants, interns, etc.
- Are there any companies that you would like to exclude from the search? Maybe you are already talking to these companies, they are your competitors, or you wish to blacklist their employees for any other reason.
- Is there a particular keyword that could help you exclude a specific niche from your search?
LinkedIn Boolean string examples
Let’s set several Boolean string formulas that can help you understand the Boolean principle better and how to apply it to produce more relevant and precise results.
We will apply this formula in the Title (LinkedIn) or Job Title filter (Sales Navigator and Recruiter).
If you have a LinkedIn Basic or Premium plan, use this Boolean string to search and exclude several job titles at the same time.
If you have a Sales Navigator or Recruiter, you can also apply the employment period to your search. This is the main benefit of these plans, as Sales Navigator and Recruiter have an exclude option, and it’s not always necessary to exclude terms through Boolean search.
This is how the Job title filter takes into consideration different employment periods
- CURRENT: showing profiles that have either of the above positions listed as their current employment.
- PAST: showing profiles that have either of the above positions listed as their past employment, independently from their current position (meaning: they could be holding the same position at the moment as well, but not necessarily).
- CURRENT OR PAST: showing profiles that have either of the above positions listed either as their current or past position.
- PAST NOT CURRENT: showing profiles that have either of the above positions listed as past, but are not holding it as a current.
(Seniority OR Seniority OR Seniority) AND (Title OR Title) NOT (Seniority OR Title OR KeywordsYouWishToExclude)
(Head OR Chief OR VP) AND (Sales OR Marketing) NOT (Intern OR Assistant OR Consultant OR Growth)
In this case of LinkedIn Boolean search, the search engine will bring back the users whose LinkedIn profiles include either of the following terms:
- Head of Sales
- Chief of Sales
- VP of Sales
- Head of Marketing
- Chief of Marketing
- VP of Marketing
And it will exclude any profile containing the words - intern, assistant, consultant, or growth.
Use the Boolean search to target or blacklist leads from a specific niche industry.
Field of work AND (keyword OR keyword OR keyword) NOT keyword
“Medical Practice” AND (sports OR nutrition OR wellness) NOT injury
We used this Boolean string in the Keywords filter. This search should bring back LinkedIn profiles that include keywords such as medical practice and either of the terms between the parentheses (or all) mentioned somewhere on their LinkedIn profile. If a specific keyword is not your target, like injury, in this case, LinkedIn will exclude these users from the search results.
Additionally, to get an even more specific list of leads, we applied a simple Boolean search string to the Job title.
Title OR title OR title
“Sales specialist” OR “Sales Manager” OR “Sales Representative”
The following formula is useful for LinkedIn users since they don’t have the Seniority filter, nor they can blacklist leads based on different criteria. These filters are available to Sales Navigator and Recruiter plans.
Seniority AND (title OR title) AND keyword NOT keyword
Senior AND (“Software Engineer” OR “Software Developer”) AND Java NOT TomTom
This LinkedIn Boolean search is useful if your ideal lead’s job title can vary, but you want to include a seniority level, a specific skill (a programming language in this case), and maybe even exclude certain companies from your search.
This LinkedIn Boolean search will bring back users that hold or used to hold either one of these titles. Also, they need to have Java programming language mentioned somewhere on their page (this is where you need to see manually if they have it as a skill or they just mentioned it in a post or similar), and if they don’t work or that didn’t work for a specific company (in this case TomTom, or they never mentioned a specific company in their LinkedIn profile).
Use the Boolean string to be specific about the combination of titles that you are searching for in your ideal lead. As mentioned above, this type of Boolean string has different benefits depending on whether you are using LinkedIn, Sales Navigator, or Recruiter. LinkedIn filters don’t allow you to exclude certain titles nor have multiple entries when it comes to the Title filter. On the other hand, Sales Navigator and Recruiter offer additional options for choosing to which employment period you want this search to be applied.
Title AND (title OR title) NOT title
Owner AND (CEO OR “chief executive officer”) NOT Founder
For example, you’ve noticed that lots of Owners and CEOs are also Founders of their companies, but maybe these are not your target. You want to exclude companies where founders are Owners and CEOs at the same time.
Consider adding terms or jargon or simply keywords that are common for that particular industry in your Boolean search.
Seniority AND (title OR title) AND (Keyword OR keywordSynonym)
Head AND (Sales OR Marketing) AND (Saas OR “Software as a service”)
This Boolean search will bring back LinkedIn profiles whose users hold or held titles such as Head of Sales, Head of Marketing, or Head of Sales & Marketing, and worked in the SaaS industry, or simply mention Saas or Software as a service in their headlines, posts, about section, experience, etc.
We hope this short manual helped you gain a better understanding of the LinkedIn Boolean search and that it got you inspired to create Boolean strings of your own for LinkedIn prospecting and generating leads on LinkedIn.
We know that it could be intimidating a bit, but if you understand its main purpose and direction, and how to use it, a Boolean search should help you navigate search engines and databases beyond LinkedIn. It’s a skill for a lifetime.
And once you are satisfied with your search results, there are ways to speed up your sales process. Curious to know how? Test out Skylead, a LinkedIn automation tool and cold email software 7 days for free.