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What is a Google X-Ray search?

X-Ray search, also known as Boolean search, is a method we use to locate highly relevant and precise results from websites by combining phrases, keywords, and symbols into the search bar. So, what is Google X-Ray? To put it briefly, it is the use of Boolean search strings on the Google search engine.

Google Boolean strings are commands that help you come up with targeted results by applying the so-called Boolean operators, for example AND, OR, and NOT (see the Table below). 

Google X-Ray is popular in recruitment, with Boolean search being a powerful tool for effective candidate sourcing. By putting together specific words and phrases, you can narrow down your search to a limited number of results and spot candidates with the preferable qualifications and skills.

Examples of information you can find using the Google X-Ray search

  • Contact details (e.g. phone number, email address)
  • Resumes and portfolios
  • Employees who work or have worked in a specific company
  • Academic degree and other certifications
  • Candidates from a specific location

What is a search string example on Google?

The Google search string should have all the essential keywords and symbols that’ll bring you accurate results. Here is a command example searching for a physical therapist with a degree in kinesiology:

(intitle:resume OR intitle:cv) “physical therapist” kinesiology (bachelor OR master OR degree) -job -jobs -sample -examples

This search string detects all the resume or CV files (intitle:resume OR intitle:CV) that contain the word ‘physical therapist’ and mention a degree in kinesiology. With the inclusion of the minus sign, you exclude sample resumes and job ads which will give you irrelevant results. To better understand the basic Boolean commands and symbols and build your own Google search string, see the table below:


Boolean operators Use Example
AND Results include all keywords linked with AND ‘developer AND android’
OR Results include either keyword or all of them ‘android OR mobile’
Minus symbol/- Excludes a keyword from your search (Mention without a space before the unwanted term)  -sample
Brackets () Group multiple search strings and set priorities ‘Project (manager OR coordinator)
Quotation marks “” Search for an exact phrase (Consider keywords in quotation marks as a whole word) “Customer service”
-site: Exclude a website from the search -site:pinterest.com


If you want to gain a thorough understanding of X-Ray search techniques to craft your own Boolean search strings, read our tutorial on Boolean search for recruiters 

Also, visit our library of Boolean search cheatsheets.

Want more definitions? See our complete library of HR Terms.

More resources:

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