Research skills are essential to employers because they help the company develop new products or services, identify the need and wants of their customers, improve what they do, keep up with changes in their industry and compete in their market. Knowing how to develop excellent research skills and highlight them for employers can help you in several ways throughout your career. This article discusses what research skills are, why they are important and how you can use them throughout your career.
What are research skills?
Research skills are our ability to find an answer to a question or a solution to a problem. Research skills include the ability to gather information about your topic, review that information and analyze and interpret the information in a manner that brings us to a solution. Research skills are essential for employees to have in most positions and industries.
Examples of research skills
Research skills refer to the collection of several separate skills that help you find and review information and arrive at a decision. Research skills in the workplace include:
- Searching for information
- Attention to detail
- Taking notes
- Time management
- Communicating results
Searching for information
All research involves the search for credible information that you can analyze and use to arrive at an answer or solution. In the workplace, the information you search for will likely help you complete projects and add value to the company. For example, you may look for information on how to resolve a company issue or identify your customers’ needs.
Attention to detail
Having the ability to pay close attention to details is often an essential skill in the workplace. Your job responsibilities will likely involve following specific policies and procedures outlined by the company, which means you need to know the details of those policies and procedures. Your job duties may also require you to pay close attention to the information customers give you so you can make a sale or resolve a customer complaint.
Note-taking skills involve the ability to gather the most important information being presented to you and summarize it in writing so you can reference it later. Knowing how to take good notes will help you in several ways throughout your career. You will need to take effective notes during training and meetings. You may also need to take notes during interviews, especially if you are the interviewer.
Read more: How to Take Notes
Time management skills refer to the ability to break down projects into manageable parts, make a deadline-oriented plan and complete each section of your plan by your scheduled deadline. Time management skills involve setting goals, planning, organizing, delegating and prioritizing tasks. Displaying strong time management skills in the workplace can help you complete tasks on deadline, accomplish your goals and advance your career.
Problem-solving skills refer to the ability to handle difficult situations and overcome complex business challenges. Problem-solving skills involve the ability to break a problem down into its parts, think critically about each element, analyze the information you find and use that information to form an effective solution. Having strong problem-solving skills will help make you a valuable asset to your company and can help you advance your career.
Communication skills refer to the ability to understand the information you receive and present information in a manner others can understand. Communication skills involve active listening, observing and speaking. Research skills require good communication skills to present the results of your research. Strong communication skills are often one of the most important skills employers look for in candidates.
How to develop research skills
Everyone is a natural researcher. Whether you’re looking for the best price on a product or researching a topic for a school project, you’re using research skills. Follow these steps to expand upon those skills:
1. Make an outline
The first thing you should do when starting any research project is to make an outline to help guide your research. Your outline should include a plan for the questions you need to research and the information you need to arrive at a decision. It should also include a plan for how you will divide your research project into manageable parts and a schedule detailing when each piece of your project should be complete.
2. Know your sources
The internet has made locating information more accessible, but not every source is credible. It is important to know how to find reliable sources and analyze information to determine whether or not it is credible. To ensure you are gathering accurate information, try to verify information from one source by using another. Locate the original information source to verify its reliability.
3. Learn to use advanced search techniques
When you are using the internet for research, most search engines allow you to use advanced search preferences to customize your search results. These search techniques will help you find the information you are looking for from credible sources more efficiently.
One of the best ways to develop any new or existing skill is to practice. You can practice developing research skills by creating small research projects for yourself to work on that can help you with a current life event. For example, if you are planning a vacation, you can practice researching different activities and prices of hotels and transportation. If you are looking for a job, you can practice researching information about different positions and companies.
Tips for highlighting research skills
Because research skills are so crucial to employers, it is also important to properly highlight these skills throughout your job search. You can display these skills on your resume, in your cover letter and during the job interview. Here are a few tips for how to highlight your researching skills throughout each part of your job search:
Research skills for your resume and cover letter
Many research-related skills are also critical keywords employers look for in your resume and cover letter. For example, many employers are looking for candidates who have skills like attention to detail, time management, critical thinking, problem-solving, communication and project management. You can display these skills throughout your resume and cover letter by using these keywords in your summary statement and when describing your relevant experience.
Research skills for the job interview
Before your next job interview, research both the position and the company you are interviewing for. Being adequately prepared for your interview is the first step to showing your interviewer you can gather and analyze relevant information. During your interview, you can display your research skills by using the information you gathered during your preparation to answer questions the interviewer asks. This shows the interviewer you can locate and analyze important information and communicate it effectively when presenting your research.