Article main image
Apr 16, 2019
This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.

Building boolean strings is one of the first things that every sourcer should learn. No matter what the platform that you’re sourcing on, you’ll most probably use boolean to include many keywords for the same search.

If someone is new to sourcing and only learns about boolean from the internet, it might be intimidating to see the length of some boolean strings. One of the most extended strings I’ve ever used was when I was trying to find a female candidate for a particular role, and I decided to use the “first name method.” I needed to find a list of most common names in the country I was working for and I turned it into a boolean string.

Let’s look at Wikipedia’s list of Polish female names:

The list shows approximately 150 names. When I saw it, I imagined myself rewriting names one by one with “OR” operator between each, and what I said was: no way!

I thought to myself that there must be a smart way of building the super long string with excel. I tried, I did it, it worked.

Long “OR” strings with Google Sheets

Step 1. Copy the list and paste it to the sheet. In column A, that includes my data, it goes down and reaches 152 records.

Step 2. What I need to do is to clean it – remove rows with single letters.

Step 3. Then, in column B, in each row, I put OR (to be specific: space OR space).

Step 4. In column C I enter a function CONCATENATE, which allows me to merge texts that are included in column A and B.

Step 5. Because I used SPACE in column B before and after the operator OR, I’ll be able to merge the texts again in column D to build my final string.

Here is the outcome, from the cell D1:

Adelajda OR Agata OR Agnieszka OR Agusia OR Aleksandra OR Alicja OR Amanda OR Anastazja OR Aneta OR Ania OR Anka OR Anna OR Apolonia OR Asia OR Barbara OR Basia OR Beata OR Benedykta OR Bernadeta OR Bogdana OR Bogumiła OR Bolesława OR Bożena OR Bożenka OR Bronisława OR Brygida OR Cecylia OR Celestyna OR Czesława OR Dagmara OR Danuta OR Dobrosława OR Dominika OR Dorota OR Dorotka OR Edwarda OR Edyta OR Ela OR Eleonora OR Elżbieta OR Emilia OR Emilka OR Ewa OR Ewelina OR Ewka OR Ewunia OR Franciszka OR Gabriela OR Genowefa OR Gosia OR Grażyna OR Halina OR Hania OR Hanna OR Helena OR Henryka OR Hildegarda OR Honorata OR Iga OR Irena OR Iwana OR Iwona OR Iwonka OR Izabela OR Jadwiga OR Jadzia OR Jagoda OR Janina OR Joanna OR Joasia OR Jolanta OR Jowita OR Judyta OR Julia OR Justyna OR Kamila OR Karolina OR Kasia OR Katarzyna OR Kazimiera OR Klara OR Klaudia OR Klotylda OR Krysia OR Krystyna OR Kumiko OR Kunegunda OR Lena OR Łucja OR Magda OR Magdalena OR Malina OR Małgorzata OR Maria OR Marianna OR Mariola OR Mariolka OR Marta OR Martyna OR Marycha OR Maryla OR Marylka OR Marysia OR Marzena OR Matylda OR Melania OR Michalina OR Monika OR Nadia OR Natalia OR Oliwia OR Patrycja OR Paulina OR Renata OR Roksana OR Róża OR Stanisława OR Stefania OR Sylwia OR Szarlota OR Teresa OR Urszula OR Wanda OR Weronika OR Wiesława OR Wiktoria OR Wioleta OR Zofia OR Zuzanna OR Żaneta OR

Step 6. Remember to remove the operator at the end of the string.

You can use this method when you want to search for candidates that work in particular companies that you have listed or in the cities near the place the work is located.

Many criteria with many synonyms

The second situation in which I find Google Sheets helpful is when I have several criteria that must be included in my search, and I know that each of them has many synonyms.

This case is much more complicated because I need to include parentheses and quotation marks in my string.

This is how it looks in the sheet:

As you can see, I need parenthesis to separate ORs from ANDs and quotation marks to include criteria that consist of more than one word.

(Java OR JEE OR JSE OR J2EE OR J2SE OR JavaSE OR JavaEE) AND (JavaScript OR”Java Script” OR React OR Reactjs OR React.js OR Angular OR AngularJS OR ANgular.js OR “Front End” OR FrontENd OR Front-end) AND (Poznan OR Poznań OR Warszawa OR Wroclaw OR Wrocław)

I think that the Sheet is handy because editing it is easier than searching that one word that spoiled the whole search in the string.

I must say, I don’t like using boolean builders, even though I’ve tried many of them. Sure, they’re helpful, they generate synonyms for us; they always remember how to x-ray each website. But the outstanding ones are not free, and they have one huge disadvantage.

In my opinion, boolean builders turn off our brains, encourage us to stop thinking about what is included in search, which is a problem when you need to edit the string.

This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.
Get articles like this
in your inbox
The original publication for Sourcers, delivered weekly.