Research Skills: Definition and Examples

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published May 17, 2021

Employers consider research skills essential. People with these skills help companies develop new products and services, identify the needs and wants of their customers, improve policies and procedures, keep up with changes and compete in their market. Knowing how to develop excellent research skills and highlight them for employers can make your resume stand out and advance your career. In this article, we'll discuss research skills, why they're important, types of research, some examples of commonly used research skills and how to develop and highlight them.

What are research skills?

Research skills help you find an answer to a question or a solution to a problem. They include the ability to collect information about a topic, review that information, analyze and interpret it to reach a conclusion. Research skills are essential for employees and can be applied to every role and industry.

Related: Analytical Skills: Essential for Every Job

Why are research skills important?

Research skills allow people to identify an issue or question, find information, evaluate that data for quality and relevance, extract specific details and identify a suitable solution. Employers appreciate employees with research skills because they:

  • Write effective reports

  • Evaluate competitors

  • Monitor changing technologies

  • Develop innovative new products

  • Find out what clients and customers want

  • Improve processes and procedures

Including research skills on your resume proves to employers that you can help their business adapt within an ever-changing industry.

Types of research

Research skills are important for several types of research:

  • Qualitative research: involves nonnumerical data like opinions

  • Applied research: identifies solutions to problems or finds answers to questions

  • Longitudinal research: focuses on how measurements change over time without altering variables

  • Field research: takes place wherever participants or subjects are

  • Laboratory research: takes place in a controlled setting instead of in the field

  • Comparative research: identifies the similarities and differences between individuals, subjects or groups

  • Causal or explanatory research: determines cause-and-effect relationships between variables

  • Inductive research: collects data to help develop a theory about a process or phenomenon

  • Deductive research: tests the accuracy of a hypothesis or theory through experimentation

Examples of research skills

Research skills refer to a collection of several methods and abilities that help you find information, review it and arrive at a decision. Research skills in the workplace include:

Searching for information

All research involves searching for credible information, analyzing it and using it to arrive at a conclusion or solution. The information you look for can help you complete projects and add value to the company. For example, you might look for information on how to resolve a company issue or identify your customers' needs.

Paying attention to detail

Paying close attention to detail is an essential skill in the workplace. Your job's responsibilities likely involve following policies and procedures outlined by the company. You'll need to know the details of those policies and procedures to obey them properly. Your job may also require you to record customer information accurately or check details like order numbers and addresses, which need to be exact. Paying attention to detail is an important part of the research process.

Read more: Attention to Detail

Taking notes

Note-taking skills involve summarizing the most important information so that you can reference it later. Knowing how to take good notes allows you to prioritize tasks, remember important information, organize your thoughts and stay focused. You'll need to take effective notes during training, in meetings and while researching. You can also take notes while conducting an interview to remember key questions to ask and note the candidate's responses. You can use a notepad, a computer or a note-taking app.

When you take notes, title your page with the date and subject of your research. Use bullet points and other formatting tools like numbers, indentations and bullet points to organize your notes for easy reference and highlight or flag key information such as dates, findings and contact information. Diagrams and charts can make your notes easier to read, as well.

Time management

Time management skills are the ability to break down projects into manageable parts, make a deadline-oriented plan and complete each section of the plan by a scheduled deadline. Time management involves planning, setting goals, organizing, delegating and prioritizing tasks. Strong time management skills can help you complete tasks on time, accomplish your goals and advance your career.

Problem-solving

Problem-solving involves handling difficult situations and overcoming complex business challenges. People who are good at problem-solving can break an issue down into its parts, think critically about each element, analyze the information and use that information to form an effective solution. They're self-reliant, and they can take care of most things without help. Having strong problem-solving skills will help you become a valuable asset to your company.

Communication

Communication skills are essential for letting other people know about the findings of your research. These skills refer to the ability to understand the information you receive and present it in a clear, easily understandable manner. Communication involves active listening, observing people's body language and speaking clearly. Employers often value and look for strong communication skills in candidates.

How to develop your research skills

Everyone has a natural ability to research. Whether you're looking for the best price on a product or researching a topic for a school project, you're using research skills. Follow these steps to expand on those skills:

1. Make an outline

When starting a research project, make an outline to guide you. Your outline should include the problem you need to solve and the questions you need to ask. It can include an idea of the information you'll need to find to arrive at a decision. You also need a plan for dividing your research project into manageable parts and a schedule that tells you when each piece of your project should be completed.

2. Know your sources

The internet has made finding information much easier, but not every source online is credible. Knowing how and where to find reliable sources and decide whether sources are credible is essential. To ensure you're gathering accurate information, verify information from one source by using another. Locate the original source of the information to verify its reliability.

3. Learn to use advanced online search techniques

Most search engines let you set advanced preferences to customize and narrow down your results. This way, you can find the information you're looking for from credible sources faster. For example, you can search by date to ensure your sources are recent and the information is up to date. You can also filter search results for news articles and academic papers.

4. Practice

One of the best ways to develop any skill is with practice. You can practice your research skills by creating small projects to work and exercise techniques in your spare time. For example, if you're planning a vacation, you can practice researching by looking at different activities, restaurants and the prices of hotels and transportation. If you're looking for a job, research information about different positions and companies that suit your skills.

Highlighting your research skills

Since research skills are so crucial to employers, highlighting them throughout the hiring process is important. Here are some tips for highlighting your research skills during each part of your job search:

Use keywords

Many research-related skills are also critical keywords that employers look for on your resume and cover letter. For example, many employers want candidates with skills like attention to detail, time management, critical thinking, problem-solving and communication. You can display these skills throughout your resume and cover letter by using these keywords in your summary statement and when you describe your relevant experience. Review the job description carefully to see which keywords you should use in your resume.

Read more: Words to Avoid and Include on a Resume

Mention your experience

In the experience section of your resume, make sure you mention your research skills, the titles of research projects you took part in and the dates of the projects. Even if you don't have conventional research experience, you can think about research skills that you used for related tasks. For example, you could talk about researching the best prices for office supplies to help your company save money. When possible, quantify your achievements with numbers and statistics.

Add a skills section

Creating a specific section for your skills is a great way to emphasize your research abilities. It can help you catch the eye of the hiring manager and secure an interview.

Read more: How to Write a Resume

Research the position

Before your next job interview, research the position, the company you're interviewing for, their products and the hiring manager. Being adequately prepared for your interview shows your interviewer that you can gather and analyze relevant information. It also shows that you're enthusiastic about the job. During your interview, you can showcase your research skills by mentioning the information you gathered when you answer interview questions.

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