Researching the net for jobs

Before discussing what you need to research for your job education or career, some fundamental net issues need to be addressed.

Researching jobs, education, qualifications and careers on the net isn't that easy.

Information quality

Good information is required.

You must be absolutely clear about what information you need.

On the net, clarity is a rarity.

In the employment industry it's even rarer.

Some people think that clarity in the Human Resources field is non-existent, by definition.

Some career and academic sites seem to insist on providing virtual encyclopedias. There are strange links to things which have nothing to do with what you're looking for, and sidetracks which can waste days.

How you use your time matters.

It's easy to spend days on research, and find all the information has been duplicated on other sites. There are a lot of common elements in the same topics, and time has to be managed effectively.

Generally, if you find several sites which are essentially rehashing the same information, you have identified the basics.

There's no need to look further. You've got a lot to do, and more of the same doesn't add to your information.

Net searches

Because of the way search engines function, your searches will usually generate a lot of results, when you only need a few.

The information required for a career choice is :

Career overview (career path, job opportunities, salary information, industry and sector information)

Qualifications (colleges, accreditations, courses, fees, accommodation, time frames for qualification, course credits, etc)

This is itself a lot of information, and the net will give you more than you need.

It's important that you discriminate correctly between information you can use and information you can't use.

Organize your information

This is vital. The sheer amount of information, if it gets disorganized, can be chaotic.

Bookmarks/Favorites

  • Bookmark the sites and web pages you need.
  • Create a folder for your research on your internet browser.
  • Create separate sub folders for each category or entity, like colleges and their related information, or employers. (You need to decide the best way of organizing these folders and links, but the idea is that you can always find what you want when you need it.
  • Keep your bookmarks and folders in alphabetical order, it is simpler.
  • Get rid of links you no longer need. Only keep the essential materials.
  • It is possible to bookmark searches, too. You can reopen the search, and just refresh the search.

Finding and handling information, and making sure it's what you need

Basic rule: Go straight to your source.

If the information on a site isn't easy to find, just hit the contact link and ask the source where it is, and for a direct link.

Alternatively, if possible, ring and ask an adviser. 'I'm on your web page, and I can't findů.' is enough. They really should know, it's a lot quicker, and you can ask questions.

Make sure your information is current

The internet is full of old links. Check dates, always.

Information must be verified.

You don't want to be guessing about your information. Check out anything which isn't clear, the same way you'd approach information you can't find.

Do not spend hours trying to find information which may not even exist.

Site searches can help. If they don't, you may well be wasting your time. Site databases are of varying quality, and a site which is hard to search means you might be spending a lot of time on it.

Use the most specific possible keywords in your search.

Always use the word that identifies exactly what you're looking for. Names, locations, special technical terms, and other identifiers are always going to find something. Do not use general terms like clerk, accountant, or other things likely to produce millions of search results.

If you can't find information, don't beat your head against a brick wall.

Move on to your other sources. You can come back later if necessary, but not being able to find basic information on any site isn't a good sign.

Don't ignore other sources of information

This book is about using the internet, but a lot of links refer to books and other sources. Those sources can be very useful, because they're often the basis of material on the net.

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Researching on the net - Overview

Don't have blind faith in what you find on the net, ever.

Net sites are designed to look good, and so is their information, which can be no more than advertising for a product. A course in psychology may look terrific, and then turn out not to be accredited, and neither are the teachers.

Check things out, be critical of anything and everything. Look for confirmation of information.

Get advice, and get more advice, if and when you need it.

The original source of information is other people, and you will probably need a second opinion or more at some point about your information. Professionals and people in the field or industry are your best editors, advisors and critics. They can tell you if anything's wrong with your information about their areas of expertise, at least.

Make comparisons between sources.

The fact that two sources might contradict each other should get you doubting both of them until you can confirm the correct information. Some sources may deal with the same topic, and refer to quite different material than on others.

Which sources are useful?

Very important: Time and self management

You can see where the time and information quality factors are so vital in all of these cases. You're trying to get from A to B, and the internet can send you on a guided tour of the alphabet, full of typos, misdirections, and old links.

There's another situation here, and it's critical.

You only have so much time to get and use your information.

Everything about employment, careers and education works on time frames. Your information is only current for a certain length of time. It can, literally, be obsolete by the next semester. So you avoid wasting time, on principle. You really don't have the luxury.

That also means don't create a mess for yourself in the way you handle your information, which can waste more time than anything else. Get organized, and stay organized.

Use self discipline, and strict criteria:

  • Find out everything that needs doing
  • How to do it
  • When to do it
  • Making sure it all gets done properly, on time