Information is a necessary ingredient in any successful job search campaign. The more you know about a potential employer, an occupation or a geographic area, the better prepared you will be to present your qualifications and make informed decisions. Seasoned job seekers invest much of their time researching. It is far better to target a few well researched employers, than to saturate the job market with your qualifications. You will show a greater return for your efforts; your odds for success will be greatly enhanced as will the potential for securing satisfying employment.
Information and communication are the two fundamental features of the Internet. For nearly every topic there is information on the Internet. The challenge is finding the information. Effective Internet researchers learn to find specific information quickly and evaluate its validity. Mastering research techniques in general, and specifically using the Internet, is an extensive topic. However, these are valuable skills well worth your effort. Here are a few general guidelines.
Be Focused - Research using the Internet is not the same as surfing the Internet. It can be compared to taking a Sunday drive versus purchasing tires for your car. On a Sunday drive you can simply wander wherever the road leads. In fact, the less planned - the greater the adventure. On the other hand, you would not just wander around until you found a tire store. Surfing the Internet is a worthwhile activity that can have great benefits. But when using the Internet to research a topic you must have a focus, even if it's a loosely defined focus.
Develop a Research Strategy - Before you begin looking for information, develop a plan. Consider the nature of your quest and develop an effective strategy. Also, decide how much time you are willing to invest. Your topic will influence where you look. The World Wide Web, Newsgroups, Gopher Space, File Transfer Protocol, E-mail all require a different search strategy. Knowing roughly where your information might be found will help in developing your plan.
Keep Records - Whether it's bookmark files, text files or paper files, it is important to keep a record of your research. As you explore potential employers, industries and communities you will amass considerable information. Discard that which has little or only immediate value - then file and maintain information that you want to keep. Most every Internet newbie has bent to the temptation to bookmark sites without discretion. The result is almost always an unmanageable tangle of Internet bookmarks.
Set Goals - Goals will help you to keep on track and should be stated in quantifiable terms. "I'm going to spend the next hour looking for two potential employers who might need someone with marketing skills" is far better stated than "I'm going to look for jobs on the Internet."
Search Tools - Internet research is dependent upon the use of specialized search tools. Mastering these tools is critical to the effective use of the Internet. A list of some common tools can be found in the Search Tools/Directories section of the Minnesota Workforce Center Internet Directory. (http://www.des.state.mn.us/links/direct.htm).
Learning to use search tools is an important Internet skill. Along with the standard search tools and directories there are tools designed to search specific sites. The sooner you master the tools of the Internet the sooner you will begin to tap into the full potential of cyberspace. Reference sites to help you learn more about these tools can be found in the Internet Instruction section of the Minnesota Workforce Center Internet Directory. (http://www.des.state.mn.us/links/direct.htm).
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This page was last updated on April 17, 1997
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