The curious case of the AND operator

It’s not the first time we are writing about the way search engines are changing their algorithms. The world of search is changing, and it requires recruiters to stay agile and continuously test their methods – a search that has brought fantastic results yesterday might be broken today.

AND on Google

Using Google, It has been our recommendation that you should not spell out AND anymore – a space will be interpreted by Google as the Boolean AND operator. Funnily enough, writing AND actually confuses the search engine. Sometimes it’s only the estimated number that gets wonky (and THAT number is wonky enough already), sometimes it messes up the results, and sometimes it just changes the order. As Irina Shamaeva called out, even writing the same keyword multiple times messes up the algorithm! Overall, to minimize the problem, the best bet is to avoid writing AND – just stick to the space.

AND on LinkedIN

We have now noticed that the recommendation on LinkedIn for a skilled searcher should be precisely the opposite. This is because LinkedIn’s algorithm is trying to help you with a semantic interpretation of your search query. Take a look at the search results for:

java engineer python

Now let’s change nothing else except the order, to:

python java engineer

A staggering loss of candidates, when the two searches should actually bring you the very same results.

Thankfully avoiding this problem is easy: if you write out the AND operators, LinkedIn will revert to the correct list of results.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

I can’t shake the feeling that sometimes it would be great if instead of all this “help” and algorithms trying to figure out what I want, the various search engines would just show me what I actually ask them to show me.

The unfortunate situation however is, that we:

  • Recruiters
  • Sourcers
  • People who search methodologically and intelligently

are in the minority. For everyday use, these algorithms help and their influence is a significant trend that will only speed up.

For now, don’t forget: write AND on LinkedIn, but do not write AND on Google. Logical!

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