Use Google With Caution

Nancy Anderson
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The Internet is a wonderful tool when you need information. Nowadays, a simple Google search collects a myriad of informational sources, presenting them to you within a second. Theoretically, it should be easy to find the answer to almost any question. Unfortunately, however, it's rarely as simple as that. Conflicting information, biased source materials and more work against one another to befuddle even the most dedicated job seeker.

Google searches depend on a specific set of algorithms, which are optimized and updated regularly. Though Google's methods are officially shrouded in mystery, the company's intentions remain the same: to give the Googler a set of valuable search results. The problem is, a set of robotic algorithms doesn't have the power to differentiate between a reliable and an unreliable source.

When you perform a Google search, the results you get are based on your keywords' presence in certain Web pages. So, if you search, "cover letter writing techniques," you get a list of web pages with those keywords in them. Some of those pages might be blog posts based solely on an unqualified writer's opinion. Others might be related to a Harvard study conducted on various cover letter writing techniques.

Conflicting information can present a challenge if you need accurate advice. Which source do you trust? Is it better to base your letter-writing technique on anecdotal evidence or a Harvard study? It's certainly a conundrum. After all, choosing the wrong technique could hurt your chances of making an applicant shortlist.

The initial links on a Google search results page might seem like reasonable candidates for factual advice. This isn't always so, however. Sometimes, the very first result on page one is a heavily biased opinion piece. Outdated pieces often also make it to the top of the list and offer little to go on. Meanwhile, generalized advice can be maddening if you need specific information about a topic.

Sometimes, the Google search engine produces more questions than they answer. If you Google search a particular issue and get thousands of conflicting results, you might end up deviating from your initial query. Hours spent on additional questions do not always equate to progress.

Adverts can also present a problem as you Google search. If you're easily distracted, you may end up clicking on an ad or two, or three, as you try to find information. After all, Google ads are cleverly positioned to draw you away from your primary goals. If you're on a strict deadline, advertisements can be a real time suck.

If you intend to use a search engine to look for career advice, be prepared to sift through a lot of questionable information in your search for the truth. Go into the Google search process with a clear understanding of the differences between biased and unbiased sources, and try to keep yourself on track as new questions emerge.

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