Google is a great place to find out a huge amount about an employer or business client.
There’s a skill to everything and information-gathering is no different. If you have a hard time finding specific, detailed information on the Internet or want to get better at it, check out our guide for how to search effectively on the Google search engine.
When securing a job interview or even just figuring out which company to apply to, it’s not enough to just focus on your own talent and skills. You have to know whether or not what you have is what the employer would want, and sell your skills in a way that makes you sound like the right person for the job.
How do you do this? Research.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past five years, you’ll probably know that Google is the top search engine in the world. The reason why it doesn’t make sense to use other search engines (such as MSN, Yahoo! or Ask) anymore when they used to be quite good for search results, is that nowadays, most companies and blogs register themselves with Google first.
With the advent of search engine optimisation, more and more websites are following Google’s guidelines so that they can be picked up and ranked higher in Google’s search results for certain keywords, so you have a higher chance of finding what you’re looking for quickly, than if you used another older search engine. That said, Microsoft has recently launched Bing as a competitor to Google, so you can always try playing around with that to see if you get any different results to Google.
So how do you search? Be specific.
Keywords – Use specific keywords to find what you’re looking for. For example, if you want to search for career fairs and you know that more companies participate in job fairs in London, type in career fairs in London. If you want to make it even more specific, to find out about career fairs coming up this year, you could type in career fairs in London 2010.
Explicit phrase – Let’s say you want to find out what a career fair in London is like before you go, so you decide to search for people who have been talking about it on the Internet. A good way to do this is to search for a specific phrase. To do this, type into the search box, including quotation marks, “career fairs in London”.
Exclude words – To narrow down the number of results you get for a search, try excluding words. If you’re looking for jobs in the media industry, but don’t want to get into journalism, key in: media jobs -journalism. Make sure that there is a space after your keywords before the dash, but no space between the dash and the word you want to exclude.
TWO key phrases at once – If you know that you’re interested in jobs either in advertising or finance, you can now search for both of them at once. Type in jobs advertising OR finance, which will give you results for job sites with opportunities in both advertising and finance. Ensure that you capitalise the “OR” to make this search work.
News – So you’ve read that HSBC have been voted the top graduate recruiter for 2010 at the TARGETjobs National Graduate Recruitment Awards and you want to find out some interesting information to impress them with in your cover letter. Click the “News” function at the top of the Google search page. Then key in HSBC UK (since you want to know about UK-centric news) and click “Search News”. On the left hand-side of the results page, click “Past Month” to find out about recent developments or analysis that has been written about the company in the last 30 days.
PDFs – Sometimes useful titbits of information can come up in a corporate PDF document that has been uploaded onto a website. To search for the information quickly, click “Quick View” and then click “Plain HTML”. You should then be able to scroll quickly through the document until you find the highlighted portion with the relevant information you’re looking for.
Cache – Sometimes a useful bit of information comes up in a search result, but when you click on the website, the page has either been moved/deleted, or the site is down. There’s a useful way to get around this though, click on the “Cached” link under the main link address – it will show you Google’s record of the page when it was last working online, and you can take the information you need off it there.