The Most Important Research Skills (With Examples)

By Sky Ariella - May. 17, 2021
Skills Based Articles

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The need to efficiently find the answers to lingering questions extends across virtually all industries. Research plays an essential role in business development and enhances preparedness. Regardless of your position and field, having strong research skills can make you a more competitive applicant.

As an example, consider all the typical positions in a restaurant, and the specific research roles each employee might conduct to make the business run successfully.

There is:

  • A restaurant manager looking for a new vegetable vendor and trying to find the best local deal

  • A head chef researching a compatible sauce to serve on that weekend’s house special

  • A hostess organizing information for seating and reservations

  • A waitress searching flavor notes of wines on the drinks menu

Everyone functions cohesively together to gather relevant information and analyze how to use it to better the business. This example of a team utilizing research in the food industry can extend to many other professions as well.

What Are Research Skills?

Research skills are skills that help you target a goal, compile appropriate information, and relay these findings to other people. We’re taught to develop research abilities from early education, and that’s for good reason.

In academia, teachers requested answers to a series of topic-related questions in an essay. Similarly, your boss could eventually ask you to look further into a work-related subject or figure out how to solve a problem.

Hiring managers know that strong research is an invaluable tool for advancement, and are often very responsive to resumes that display these qualities well.

Why Are Research Skills Important?

Research skills are valuable for several reasons, regardless of your profession:

  • Competitor research. Knowing what your biggest competitors are up to is an essential part of any business. Researching what works for your competitors, what they’re doing better than you, and where you can improve your standing with the lowest resource expenditure are all essential if a company wants to remain functional.

  • Develop new processes and products. You don’t have to be involved in research and development to make improvements in how your team gets things done. Researching new processes that make your job (and those of your team) more efficient will be valued by any sensible employer.

  • Self-improvement. Folks who have a knack and passion for research are never content with doing things the same way they’ve always been done. Organizations need independent thinkers who will seek out their own answers and improve their skills as a matter of course. These employees will also pick up new technologies more easily.

  • Customer relationship management. Being able to conduct research on your customer base is positively vital in virtually every industry. It’s hard to move products or sell services if you don’t know what people are interested in. Researching your customer base’s interests, needs, and pain points is a valuable responsibility.

  • Saves money. Whether your company is launching a new product or just looking for ways to scale back their current spending, research is crucial for finding wasted resources and redirecting them to more deserving ends. Anyone who proactively researches ways that the company can save money will be highly appreciated by their employer.

Types of Research Skills

Experienced researchers know that worthwhile investigation involves a variety of skills. Consider which research skills come naturally to you, and which you could work on more.

  1. Goal-setting. Before you can carry out any type of effective research, you must know what it is you’re looking for.Goal-settingisa skill like any other. If you’re able to visualize the outcome you’re trying to achieve by putting effort into research, it’ll make it that much easier to form a path there.

    Goal-setting skills Involve:

  2. Data collection. When thinking about the research process, data collection is often the first thing that comes to mind. It is the nuts and bolts of research. How data is collected can be flexible.

    For some purposes, simply gathering facts and information on the internet can fulfill your need. Others may require more direct and crowd-sourced research. Having experience in various methods of data collection can make your resume more impressive to recruiters.

    Data collection methods include:

    • Observation

    • Interviews

    • Questionnaires

    • Experimentation

    • Conducting focus groups

  3. Analysis of information from different sources. Putting all your eggs in one source basket usually results in error and disappointment. One of the skills that good researchers always incorporate into their process is an abundance of sources. It’s also best practice to consider the reliability of these sources.

    Are you reading about U.S. history on a conspiracy theorist’s blog post? Taking facts for a presentation from an anonymous Twitter account?

    If you can’t determine the validity of the sources you’re using, it can compromise all of your research. That doesn’t mean just disregard anything on the internet but double-check your findings. In fact, quadruple-check. You can make your research even stronger by turning to references outside of the internet.

    Examples of reliable information sources include:

    • Published books

    • Encyclopedias

    • Magazines

    • Databases

    • Scholarly journals

    • Newspapers

    • Library catalogs

  4. Finding information on the internet. While it can be beneficial to consulate alternative sources, strong internet research skills drive modern-day research.

    One of the great things about the internet is how much information it contains, however, this comes with drugging through a lot of garbage to get to the facts you need. The ability to efficiently use the vast database of knowledge that is the internet without getting lost in the junk is very valuable to employers.

    Internet research skills include:

    • Source checking

    • Searching relevant questions

    • Exploring deeper than the first options

    • Avoiding distraction

    • Giving credit

    • Organizing findings

  5. Interviewing. Some research endeavors may require a more hands-on approach than just consulting internet sources. Being prepared with strong interviewing skills can be very helpful in the research process.

    Interviews can be a useful research tactic to gain first-hand information and being able to manage a successful interview can greatly improve your research skills.

    Interviewing skills involves:

    • A plan of action

    • Specific, pointed questions

    • Respectfulness

    • Considering the interview setting

    • Actively Listening

    • Taking notes

    • Gratitude for participation

  6. Report writing. Possessing skills in report writing can assist you in job and scholarly research. The overall purpose of a report in any context is to convey particular information to its audience.

    Effective report writing is largely dependent on communication. Your boss, professor, or general reader should walk away completely understanding your findings and conclusions.

    Report writing skills involve:

    • Proper format

    • Including a summary

    • Focusing on your initial goal

    • Creating an outline

    • Proofreading

    • Directness

  7. Critical thinking. Critical thinking skills can aid you greatly throughout the research process, and as an employee in general. Critical thinking refers to your data analysis skills. When you’re in the throes of research, you need to be able to analyze your results and make logical decisions about your findings.

    Critical thinking skills involve:

    • Observation

    • Analysis

    • Assessing issues

    • Problem-solving

    • Creativity

    • Communication

  8. Planning and scheduling. Research is a work project like any other, and that means it requires a little forethought before starting. Creating a detailed outline map for the points you want to touch on in your research produces more organized results.

    It also makes it much easier to manage your time. Planning and scheduling skills are important to employers because they indicate a prepared employee.

    Planning and scheduling skills include:

    • Setting objectives

    • Identifying tasks

    • Prioritizing

    • Delegating if needed

    • Vision

    • Communication

    • Clarity

    • Time-management

  9. Note-taking. Research involves sifting through and taking in lots of information. Taking exhaustive notes ensures that you will not neglect any findings later and allows you to communicate these results to your co-workers. Being able to take good notes helps summarize research.

    Examples of note-taking skills include:

    • Focus

    • Organization

    • Using short-hand

    • Keeping your objective in mind

    • Neatness

    • Highlighting important points

    • Reviewing notes afterward

  10. Time management. We’re, unfortunately, only given 24 measly hours in a day. The ability to effectively manage this time is extremely powerful in a professional context. Hiring managers seek candidates who can accomplish goals in a given timeframe.

    Strong time management skills mean that you can organize a plan for how to break down larger tasks in a project and complete them by a deadline. Developing your time management skills can greatly improve the productivity of your research.

    Time management skills include:

    • Scheduling

    • Creating task outlines

    • Strategic thinking

    • Stress-management

    • Delegation

    • Communication

    • Utilizing resources

    • Setting realistic expectations

    • Meeting deadlines

Other Helpful Research Skills

The definition of research skills is broad, and there are many traits that could help you in the research process. Consider some of the additional research skills below.

How to Improve Your Research Skills

The great thing about research skills is that many of us are practicing them each and every day. Any time you use a search engine to discover information on a topic, you’re researching. That being said, there are more proactive ways to start enhancing your research skills today:

  • Differentiate between source quality. A researcher is only as good as their worst source. Start paying attention to the quality of the sources you use, and be suspicious of everything your read until you check out the attributions and works cited.

    Be critical and ask yourself about the author’s bias, where the author’s research aligns with the larger body of verified research in the field, and what publication sponsored or published the research.

  • Use multiple resources. When you can verify information from a multitude of sources, it becomes more and more credible. To bolster your faith in one source, see if you can find another source that agrees with it.

    When you start running into contradictions and disagreements, you know that you need to continue your research until you arrive at a more definitive conclusion.

  • Don’t fall victim to confirmation bias. Confirmation bias happens when a researcher expects a certain outcome and then goes to find data that supports this hypothesis, while disregarding any sources that challenge or refute the researcher’s initial hunch.

    Be prepared for surprising answers and keep an open mind. Also, be open to the idea that you might not find a definitive answer. It’s better to bring someone (like your boss) the key points of your research and state that it didn’t lead to a definite plan of action rather than manipulate your results and provide the answer you or your boss wants to hear.

  • Stay organized. Being able to cite sources accurately and present all your findings is just as important as conducting the research itself. Start practicing good organizational skills, both on your devices and for any physical products you’re using.

    Sticky notes, dedicated folders, desk organizers, and a well-organized bookmark bar on your browser can all do wonders for keeping your research tidy.

  • Get specific as you go. There’s nothing wrong with starting your research in a general way. After all, it’s important to become familiar with the terminology and basic gist of the researcher’s findings before you dig down into all the minutia.

    Orienting yourself in a new topic is a valuable step that will keep you from becoming frustrated and working backward the whole time.

How to Include Research Skills on Your Resume

Research projects require dedication. Being committed is a valuable skill for hiring managers. Whether you’ve had research experience throughout education or a former job, including it properly can boost the success of your resume.

Consider how extensive your research background is. If you’ve worked on multiple, in-depth research projects, it might be best to include it as its own section. If you have less research experience, include it in the skills section.

Focus on your specific role in the research, as opposed to just the research itself. Try to quantify accomplishments to the best of your abilities.

For example, let’s pretend you work at a t-shirt company. Your team is doing research into your competition, and your responsibility is tracking the sales of women’s clothing. You can later include this project on your resume as:

Directed analysis into women’s clothing sale statistics for a market research project

Remember, your resume is about you. Every skill and experience you include should be about showing an employer what makes you an ideal hire.

Resume Examples Showcasing Research Skills

  1. Example #1: Academic Research

    Simon Marks

    767 Brighton Blvd.
    Brooklyn, NY, 27368
    (683)-262-8883
    SimonMarks@gmail.com

    Diligent and hardworking recent graduate seeking a position to develop professional experience and utilize research skills. B.A. in Biological Sciences from New York University.

    Professional Experience

    Lixus Publishing, Brooklyn, NY
    Office Assistant- September 2018-present

    • Scheduling and updating meetings

    • Managing emails and phone calls

    • Reading entries

    • Worked on a science fiction campaign by researching target demographic

    • Organizing calendars

    • Promoted to office assistant after one year internship

    Mitch’s Burgers and Fries, Brooklyn, NY
    Restaurant Manager, June 2014-June 2018

    • Managed a team of five employees

    • Responsible for coordinating the weekly schedule

    • Hired and trained two employees

    • Kept track of inventory

    • Dealt with vendors

    • Provided customer service

    • Promoted to restaurant manager after two years as a waiter

    • Awarded a $2.00/hr wage increase

    Skills

    • Writing

    • Scientific Research

    • Data analysis

    • Critical thinking

    • Planning

    • Communication

    Research

    Worked on an ecosystem biology project with responsibilities for algae collection and research (2019)

    Lead a group of freshman in a research project looking into cell biology (2018)

    Education

    New York University
    Bachelors in Biological Sciences, September 2016-May 2020

  2. Example #2: Professional Research

    Angela Nichols

    Experienced and enthusiastic marketer with 7 years of professional experience. Seeking a position to apply my marketing and research knowledge. Skills in working on a team and flexibility.

    1111 Keller Dr., San Francisco, CA
    (663)-124-8827
    AngelaNichols@gmail.com

    EXPERIENCE

    Apples amp; Oranges Marketing, San Francisco, CA
    Associate Marketer – April 2017-May 2020

    • Discuss marketing goals with clients

    • Provide customer service

    • Lead campaigns associated with women’s health

    • Coordinating with a marketing team

    • Quickly solving issues in service and managing conflict

    • Awarded with two raises totaling $10,000 over three years

    Prestigious Marketing Company, San Francisco, CA
    Marketer – May 2014-April 2017

    • Working directly with clients

    • Conducting market research into television streaming preferences

    • Developing marketing campaigns related to television streaming services

    • Report writing

    • Analyzing campaign success statistics

    • Promoted to Marketer from Junior Marketer after the first year

    Timberlake Public Relations, San Francisco, CA
    Public Relations Intern – September 2013–May 2014

    • Working cohesively with a large group of co-workers and supervisors

    • Note-taking during meetings

    • Running errands

    • Managing email accounts

    • Assisting in brainstorming

    • Meeting work deadlines

    Golden Gate University, San Francisco, CA
    Bachelor of Arts in Marketing with a minor in Communications – September 2009 – May 2013

    SKILLS

    • Marketing

    • Market research

    • Record-keeping

    • Teamwork

    • Presentation

    • Flexibility

Research Skills in a Job Interview

A job interview is itself a test of your research skills. You can expect questions on what you know about the company, the role, and your field or industry more generally. In order to give expert answers on all these topics, research is crucial.

Start by researching the company. Look into how they communicate with the public through social media, what their mission statement is, and how they describe their culture.

Also, pay close attention to the tone of their website — is it hyper professional or more casual and fun-loving? All of these elements will help decide how best to sell yourself at the interview.

Next, research the role. Go beyond the job description and reach out to current employees working at your desired company and in your potential department. If you can find out what specific problems that your future team is or will be facing, you’re sure to impress hiring managers and recruiters with your ability to research all the facts.

Finally, take time to research the job responsibilities you’re not as comfortable with. If you’re applying for a job that represents increased difficulty or entirely new tasks, it helps to come into the interview with at least a basic knowledge of what you’ll need to learn.

All in all, coming into a job interview with thorough research under your belt will help paint yourself as the ideal candidate.

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Author

Sky Ariella

Sky Ariella is a professional freelance writer, originally from New York. She has been featured on websites and online magazines covering topics in career, travel, and lifestyle. She received her BA in psychology from Hunter College.

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