Research skills in the workplace
Many employers value research skills in their employees, especially when it comes to research-oriented positions such as those in analysis and data management. Common research skills necessary for a variety of jobs include attention to detail, time management, and problem solving. Here we explore what research skills are, examples of in-demand research skills, how you can improve and use research skills at work, and how to highlight your research skills during the job search process.
Research skills defined
Research skills refer to an individual’s ability to find and evaluate useful information related to a specific topic. These skills include performing investigations, using critical analysis, and forming hypotheses or solutions to a particular issue. Research skills are valued by employers in various industries and are beneficial to employees in all types of positions. Having these skills is imperative to advancing your career as they directly relate to your ability to gain insight and inspire action in both yourself and others.
Why are research skills important?
Research skills are necessary for the workplace for several reasons, including that they allow individuals and companies to:
- Identify problems that are hindering performance or the ability to complete tasks
- Come up with viable solutions to those problems
- Evaluate resources and the best way to utilize those resources to promote increased efficiency
- Come up with new services or products
- Identify the needs of a company’s target customer to better meet those needs through products and services
- Stay up-to-date with industry trends and market demands
- Learn new ways of doing things to adapt and evolve to meet workplace demands
Research skills examples
Research skills encompass several different skill sets that work together to allow individuals to identify and interpret information and come to viable solutions. The most in-demand research skills in the workplace include:
Time management skills are essential when researching because they allow you to break down tasks into more manageable parts and effectively tackle each piece. Good time management skills include planning, setting goals, organizing tasks, delegating assignments, and prioritizing work duties. Examples of time management skills include:
- Stress management
- Managing appointments
- Meeting deadlines
- Resource management
Critical thinking refers to a person’s ability to think rationally and analyze and interpret information and make connections. This skill is important in research because it allows individuals to better gather and evaluate data and establish significance. Common critical thinking skills include:
Being an effective problem solver will increase your research skills by allowing you to successfully identify issues and come up with solutions to these problems. Good problem-solving skills to have include:
- Active listening
Communication is an important aspect of success researching because it allows individuals to share their findings with others in an easy-to-understand way. Common types of communication required when researching include report writing, data summarization, presentations, and interviewing.
Being detail-oriented is vital during the research process. Detail orientation is important in nearly any position, as most jobs require employees to follow specific rules or procedures set forth by the company. When researching, detail orientation ensures that you don’t miss important details and can make connections between things that would otherwise appear unrelated.
How you can improve your research skills
There are several things you can do to improve your research skills, including:
- Identify your objective. Before you start researching something, it’s important to clearly define your purpose for performing the research. For example, if you’re researching market trends, are you doing so to analyze the competition or to find out what types of trends your target audience is most drawn to? While you’re still researching market trends, these two objectives are very different and will dictate how you go about your research.
- Learn how to identify quality sources. Not all sources are created equal, and knowing how to recognize quality sources will support your research efforts and ensure your findings are reliable. Ensuring that the author of the source is an expert in that field and that the source agrees with other similar sources is a good way to verify validity.
- Practice good organization. When researching, you’ll likely come across various pieces of information. Practicing good organization techniques, such as using bookmarks on your Internet browser or printing out information and using a filing system, ensures you don’t lose important pieces necessary to draw viable conclusions.
Using research skills at work
Here are a few ways you can incorporate your research skills in the workplace:
- Prepare. Before you start a new project, take time to set goals and ensure you have everything you need to complete the research.
- Use various sources. Utilizing several different sources when performing research at work is a good way to ensure you find the information you’re looking for and that the data is accurate and agrees with other sources.
- Consult with coworkers. Comparing your findings with colleagues is an important part of the research process and ensures that the same information is being found and utilized across departments.
- Communicate. Practicing good communication is an essential component of the research process. Make it a point to regularly incorporate some form of communication into your daily duties, whether it be writing a progress report or sending an email with relevant research-related information included.
How to highlight your research skills during the job search process
You can highlight your research in the following areas when applying and interviewing for jobs:
On your resume and cover letter
Many employers look for candidates with strong research skills. You can highlight these skills in both your cover letter and resume. On your resume, including any research skills you possess that are directly related to the job in the skills section and in your work history descriptions. In your cover letter, choose one or two research skills, such as communication or project management skills, and mention them in the body of the letter.
In an interview
You can portray your research skills before you get to the interview by researching the company and the job position and coming to the interview prepared with insightful questions. During the interview, you can reference this research by offering answers that show you spend time delving into the organization and job title.