Six Ss of Search

This week I wanted to focus on a lesson I learned some time ago from Russ Haynal. Whether you are specifically studying European labour markets or more generally looking to research new markets or economics conditions for your firm. The temptation is just to jump on Google and go. The strategy that Russ sets out can make you much more effective. As I have adapted it, it has six steps.

Step 1 – Spell it out

Write down any buzzwords, acronyms and abbreviations that you could search for. The words you write down become the basis for keyword searches later on. For example; a search for contingent work in Europe might involve the following terms; temporary work, temp jobs, recruitment agency, MSP ("Managed Service Provision"), VMS ("Vendor Management Systems"), etc. Don’t forget that our lexicon of terms can help.  Think “who” would be likely to produce or publish the information you are seeking? We set out some of the academic sources in our last blog, but what about organizations like the ILO and Eurostat or associations like CIETT and their associate members.

Step 2 – Strategize

Apparently Google currently has an 85% share of the global search engine market but there are other tools you can use. Think about what tools would be best to use for each of your specific search terms. Tools like Zanran which I discussed in a previous blog. Consider their different strengths and weaknesses. So important is this step that I will return to it in a later blog.

Step 3 - Search

Get online, execute your search and use the advanced search features. If you are using Google don’t forget the Advanced Search function, have a look at their Tips for Search and sign in and set up your preferences. As well as staying focused, set a time limit. If you have not found what you are looking for in 15 minutes rethink your strategy, don’t just keep following links.

Step 4- Sift

Got 1,120,000 results - stop and read, before you click and waste time. Scroll up and down the entire first page, and determine which are the most promising links based on the descriptions. Think about how you might further focus your results by using the advanced features and take note of new information that you will use in future iterations of your search. Lastly, set your browser to open links in a new tabs or windows, so you don’t lose your original search.

Step 5 – Save

As Russ says, when you discover a great site, be sure to save this discovery, or you are doomed to repeat the search all over again. Methods of saving include:

  • Add a bookmark, and organize your bookmarks into folders/submenus
  • Save a copy of the page to disk using "file" --> "save as"
  • Copy and paste selected text directly from the web page into a word processing program. You may also want to copy and paste the URL into the word processor, so later on you will know where the page came from.

Step 6 –

Don’t forget that much of what you need will be on our site. Use the search function, which will be the topic of my next blog.


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