Boolean search: How to find Sales Professionals on LinkedIn?

12 min read
Jun 1, 2022 3:48:20 PM

The year is 1980. You, our main character, are a newly hired HR professional at the beginning of your career at a large pharmaceutical corporation and are tasked with finding and hiring the department's new Commercial Manager. It will be your first big delivery, and you want to impress your managers. So you start with the basics: Advertise the vacancy in a newspaper ad and wait for the resumés to interview candidates. 🙂

But life is not that easy.😢 Which successful Sales Manager do you know that is looking for a job on newspaper vacancies? "Naive move", you think, and decide to go for a more aggressive strategy, which is trying to use your and your colleagues' network. Maybe it's more effective: you make a few calls, get to some names, ask your relatives, friends, friends of friends, but apparently every professional you contact is either too busy to answer you, or is already satisfied with their position and has no intention to change. You are at a dead end. Pause.

Cut. It's now 2022.

In this other timeline you are a professional self-employed Headhunter. You receive vacancies and looks for qualified professionals to fill them, earning a commission on hiring. Your main search database is LinkedIn, and now you have the opposite problem of our friend from the 1980s: In a simple search for a profile, it's normal to come across, for example, ten million compatible people. Hence, you need to keep browsing the results pages and handpick 🙄 which professionals are worth approaching. 

In addition, you are often competing with several headhunters working in exactly the same position as you, searching on the same place, and a promising profile may have already been approached and refereed by the competition.

In short, young hunter, your targets are practically infinite, you only get points if you hit first, and there's no way to know if someone else has hit the one you picked until you hit them too. Did you understand the drama?

In this target shooting, we begin to identify two distinct profiles of hunters. The most inexperienced (or less informed) usually work with a machine gun: "3 million professionals, well, if I approach 10,000 this week, I'm sure I'll get some qualified"

Machine Gun Hunter

The second hunter profile, however, usually uses tools that make their search more assertive, less operational and more agile. Just like a Sniper, who can see the perfect target from great distances, analyzes all the variables and always hits the target, the experienced Headhunter has an almost secret knowledge in the recruiting world: The Boolean Search.


(Hey, while the action movie metaphor has been a lot of fun to write, now it's time to get back to our focus on recruiting techniques.) 😎

Boolean Search

What is Boolean Search, then? In short, it is a way to make the search process more assertive by using logical elements to better filter the results. I won't dive too deeply into the theory because my friend Arthur has just made a super in-depth content on the topic, explaining its origin and the function of each Boolean element. Pause here, go there and enjoy its content, and then come back for us to do the practical part. I'll be waiting for you, ok👍?

Enjoy Arthur's Content

Pratical part

Let's remember the context: The year is 2022, you are a self-employed headhunter who does your searches on LinkedIn, and one day you receive in your email a notification of some open positions in a start-up called 3 Brothers and 1 Nephew, who is in the process of building a sales team from scratch (click for the full story).

The following vacancies then opened:

  • Sales manager
  • Sales Development Representative (SDR/BDR)
  • Account Executive (Closer)
  • Sales Account Representative
  • Sales Support Analyst
  • Sales Enabler

As you're confident that you'll be able to find people to fill the vacancies, you signal your interest, get approved, and start your Hunting.

Step 1: Do your homework

Before we start venturing into the shenanigans and stunts that the Boolean search allows us to do, it's necessary to do the obvious. There's no way to jump to the hard level without going through the easy one, right? So, your first step will be to search LinkedIn for the name of all the positions as they were advertised:

  • Sales manager
  • Sales Development Representative
  • Account Executive
  • Sales Account Representative
  • Sales Support Analyst
  • Sales Enabler

LinkedIn will now fetch all profiles that have any of the keywords you've entered, in any order, whether it's job title, past experience, description, anywhere. Typically, you'll get a zillion results and many won't have much to do with what you're looking for. We need to improve this search.

Step 2: Try using quotes

  • "Sales Manager"
  • "Sales Development Representative"
  • "Account Executive"
  • "Sales Account Representative"
  • "Sales Support Analyst"
  • "Sales Enabler"

Once you put quotes in the terms, you force LinkedIn to consider only those exact keywords in the exact order you typed in its search results. There is no variation, that's it. The upside is that your search will now return more assertive results, with more spot-on job titles, but the downside is that you miss the opportunity to find people with the profile you are looking for if their job title is a variation of the one you searched. For example, Sales Manager is the same as Commercial Manager, but your search above will only return results for Sales Manager. 

So what to do about it? 🤔

Step 3: Use "OR"

The element "OR", when added to a search, adds all the keyword variations that you request to the results. It's like you're asking LinkedIn to return in the results all entries that have Sales Manager OR Commercial Manager. It's a way to expand your search.

Here in this step, I suggest you really take some time trying to map all the possible variations of names or acronyms of the positions you're searching, because this will help you receive a greater number of profiles close to what you're looking for. It's also worth remembering to add gender variations to ensure you're doing an inclusive search.

Another point is that many people, even in Brazil, usually use the names of their positions in English. So it's worth adding these keywords in English too. Although you are expanding your number of results, by continuing to use quotes, you do not lose the objectivity you seek. Let's see how it goes:

  • "Sales Manager" OR "Commercial Manager" 

  • "SDR" OR "BDR" OR "Sales Development Representative" OR "Business Development Representative" 

  • "Closer" OR "Account Executive" OR "Salesman" OR "Saleswoman" OR "Sales Representative" OR "Sales Consultant" OR "Sales Executive" 

  • "Account Representative" OR "Sales Account Representative" OR "Customer Relationship analyst" OR "Customer Retention Analyst" OR "Customer Success Analyst"  

  • "Support Analyst" OR "Sales Support Analyst" OR "Customer Service Analyst"

  • "Enabler" OR "Sales Enabler" OR "Sales Enablement Analist" OR "Sales Enablement Specialist"

Step 4: Specify more with "AND" and "( )"

With the keywords we've worked on so far, you'll get an extensive base of profiles that have or have had contact with the sales positions on our vacancies list. However, to be even more specific, it would be interesting if you could find people who have experiences closer to the requesting company's market. The start-up 3 brothers and 1 Nephew, our requestor (which I recommend, again, you get to know the full story in this article), is a tech start-up that sells a subscription platform (Software as a Service - SAAS) for other companies (B2B business model, Business to Business). What if we could filter only profiles that have contact with these technologies? That's right, baby, Boolean Search. 😎

The parentheses "()" are elements that organize our sentence and allow us to make groupings (you will understand better in practice) and the "AND" acts as an exclusion operator, that is, it tells LinkedIn that only the keywords X that ALSO contain keyword Y will return in your search results. Let's go to the examples:

  • ("Sales Manager" OR "Commercial Manager") AND B2B AND SAAS

  • ("SDR" OR "BDR" OR "Sales Development Representative" OR "Business Development Representative") AND B2B AND SAAS

  • ("Closer" OR "Account Executive" OR "Salesman" OR "Saleswoman" OR "Sales Representative" OR "Sales Consultant" OR "Sales Executive") AND B2B AND SAAS

  • ("Account Representative" OR "Sales Account Representative" OR "Customer Relationship analyst" OR "Customer Retention Analyst" OR "Customer Success Analyst") AND B2B AND SAAS

  • ("Support Analyst" OR "Sales Support Analyst" OR "Customer Service Analyst") AND B2B AND SAAS

  • ("Enabler" OR "Sales Enabler" OR "Sales Enablement Analist" OR "Sales Enablement Specialist") AND B2B AND SAAS

Analyzing what we did:

By using these keywords, we are telling LinkedIn that all search results for the terms in parentheses, which are those name variations that we had previously mapped, should ALSO have the term B2B and ALSO the term SAAS in their profiles.

Here, two points are worth highlighting:

  • Did you realize the function and importance of parentheses? Without them, the AND operator would not know which terms to appropriate and the search would return an error.
  • Just to give you an idea of the power of these exclusion terms, our search for Commercial Manager without the terms B2B and SAAS returned 7.5 million results on LinkedIn. When we added AND and restricted it to those who have already worked with B2B and SAAS, we had 75,000 as an answer. In other words, we were 100x more specific. 😱


Step 5: Your Freestyle Moment

In the life of a headhunter, you often need to draw on your experience and market knowledge to get the most promising profiles for your nominations. As we have already said, you may be working simultaneously with other hunters for the same vacancies, and if you all follow the same path, even using the Boolean search resources that we are practicing here, the same profiles end up being approached several times and promising profiles that are not very search-optimized lose the opportunity to be found and referred. And for that, we have to use our creativity.

This is the moment when we start our boolean acrobatics. Let's get back to sales positions.

Sometimes people describe the position they are in with more generic names based on seniority. An SDR, for example, can describe themselves as Junior Commercial Analyst and a Closer can identify themselves as Senior Commercial Analyst. It is worth considering this in the search keywords:

("Sales" OR "Commercial") AND ("analyst")

Note that the keywords are described in a different syntax (or phrasing). This is on purpose for you to see that there are different ways to search. In the case above, we are telling LinkedIn that all profiles that have a combination between the terms in the first group in parentheses and the second group in parentheses count as a result. This will return to us several profiles, such as:

  • Sales Analyst
  • Commercial Analyst

Our research does not prohibit additional terms in the positions of the results, the only requirement is the combination that we delimited between the two parentheses. Therefore, you may also receive results such as the ones below in this same search:

  • Senior Sales Analyst
  • Junior Sales Analyst
  • B2B Sales Analyst
  • Inside Sales Analyst
  • etc.

Oh, and maybe you're looking for a profile, but then there's a specific type of entry that "dirty" your results. Example: You are looking for a Senior Business Analyst to act as a Closer, but your results return several Junior Analysts, which are outside of what you are looking for. To solve it you do this:

(("Sales" OR "Commercial") AND ("analyst")) NOT ("Junior")

"Hello LinkedIn? Send me profiles that have Commercial Analysts, Sales Analysts or any other combination of these terms BUT TAKE OUT EVERYTHING THAT HAS JUNIOR IN THE NAME"

*Notice here that I used two parentheses to adjust the hierarchy of the groupings:

(("Sales" OR "Commercial") AND ("analyst")) NOT(

Did you feel the power of NOT? 🚫

More Stunts


Sometimes you also don't need to search for the exact position to find a professional who has the profile you are looking for. It may be that there is a profession that has similar characteristics and that can serve, for example:

  • A person with an SDR profile can be a billing analyst, a telemarketer, someone who works with pre-sales or in a call center, or even (amazingly!) a headhunter wanting to change areas;
  • A person with a closer profile may have been a salesperson, even an SDR when younger in their career, an outside salesperson, etc.;
  • An Enabler, who is the person who trains and optimizes the processes of the sales team, may have previously been a teacher, a pedagogical consultant, a sales manager, etc. You understood the logic.

Also look at past experiences and descriptions of profiles. It could be that a person is not performing the role you are looking for now, but has held a similar role in the past or states in their description their intention to seek something along these lines in their next steps.

Another tip is to add in the search terms the most used tools in the day to day of that function for which you are Hunting. In the case of sales, we have customer management software, popularly called CRMs (Customer Relationship Managers). Many candidates add the CRMs they've used to their profile to signal that they've had experience with that specific tool. Examples: Salesforce, Hubspot, Pipedrive, Pipefy, RD Station CRM, etc. You, as a Hunter, can then find profiles based on these keywords as well.

There are no limits. Your creativity is what will define how many successful profiles you will refer. 

The icing on the cake

In addition to all these Boolean Search techniques, LinkedIn also offers a filter bar to help you narrow your search even further. I'll share a screenshot for you to see:

At this first level, you can filter search results by more general categories. Generally, as Headhunters, we usually click directly on "People", because we are looking for profiles to indicate, and access a second level of filtering:

Now the magic happens: In addition to ALL the keyword filtering process that we practiced above, you can still filter the remaining profiles by a few categories:

  • Connections: It's like how close that person is to you on the social network. They can be in your personal network (1st degree), in the network of a friendship (2nd degree), in the network of friends of friends and so on (3rd or +). The cool thing about being a Headhunter is that over time you start to accumulate thousands of connections with different people, and this optimizes this area of ​​the search.
  • Locations: This one is simple, filter by Geolocation. Want applicants from just a specific city, state or country? That's when you use this filter.
  • Current Company: You can also filter people by the company they are currently working for. It can be useful if you need to refer people from very specific industries.
  • All filters: In addition to the most obvious ones above, you can use several other filters that are hidden in a list that appears when you click on this button: Previous company, sector, if it is a connection of a specific person, educational institution, language, among others. others. Check it out.
After all these tools, it's easier to get out of machine gun mode, isn't it?

Still with me? 

After this dive into Hunting strategies, we are back in the 1980s. You, a novice recruiter, are stuck with the lack of options and decide to ask your managers for help. After reporting you difficulty finding profiles, they end up referring you to the only option left: an Executive Search consultancy. It costs a fortune, it takes time, but they, the Big Boys of Recruitment, will end up finding this manager for your company. It hurts in the pocket, but the ending is usually happy.

Fortunately, it is now 2022, and these executive search consultancies are no longer the only option.

You are now part of the largest global network of headhunters called 99Hunters. It is a start-up that connects companies that need to hire qualified professionals (such as our example, 3 brothers and 1 Nephew) with independent headhunters like you. Then, they ensure that the vacancy is filled with the most suitable profile.

Another point is that for the process to be agile, up to 7 headhunters can work simultaneously in the same vacancy, so companies receive more indications to interview very quickly. You, as a headhunters, receive an infinity of vacancies straight in your email inbox and can work several ones at the same time, without worrying about promoting your services to get clients, because the vacancies are already sent to you. In addition, you have access to trainings that the 99Hunters team prepares so that you are always up to date with market trends.

In fact, 99Hunters, with this model, has a much lower cost than traditional consultancies. That's why when people ask you for recommendations on active recruitment solutions, you'll not even think twice. Show them this button:

let's talk

Oh, and one last thing: Did you like Boolean Search? So I have news for you: It doesn't just work on LinkedIn, you can use it on Google and most websites and apps that have a search bar. It's very useful for different moments of life besides recruitment!

It was a pleasure to dive into another topic with you. See you in the next post!

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