There is an inside-joke within the programming community that most of their job consists of using Google and Stack Overflow to solve problems. This “joke” also applies to just about any technical related field. When a technical problem inevitably comes up at work, most people resort to seeking help from the "IT guy", since, after all, he is a computer genius, right?
Wrong! Most developers, support technicians, system administrators, and miscellaneous 'techies' are not actually 'know-it-alls' when it comes to their particular field. They aren’t employed just because they’re great with technology, it has a lot more to do with the possession of a skill that is rarer than you might think… The ability to use Google effectively! It turns out that the inside-joke is based on a lot of truth. Don’t believe me?
When I first started working as an "IT guy" for a relatively small office, I was shocked to be called a "genius" or "computer wizard" after helping my co-workers with their tech issues. I wasn't a genius; I was just using what I've learned throughout my many years of Googling. When I faced problems that I couldn't solve off the top of my head, I would often tell co-workers that "I would do a bit of research and get back to them." Even after basically explaining to them that I used Google, they were still impressed that I solved the problem. At first, this made me uncomfortable, as if I were an imposter computer guru. Eventually, I realized that other people in my position were doing the exact same thing.
The internet contains over a thousand petabytes (1,000,000,000+ GB) of data. Combing through all of this information to find a specific solution can be a challenge. So let's face it, using Google is a skill. Not everyone has this skill, but everyone can learn and benefit from it.
Since "Googling" is a valuable skill, it can certainly help you advance in your professional life. Although there isn’t (yet) a Google Search certification that you can put on your resume, this skill definitely worth mentioning if you’re interviewing for a technical role of any kind. So how do you become a better Googler? Here are a couple of tips.
Learn Google's secret search features
Although Google doesn’t advertise it, they offer dozens of different advanced search operators that help users narrow down search results. These features can come in handy when you’re searching for something very specific. Here are the three search term operators that you’ll use the most:
- Exact match (Quotation marks)
- Site-specific (“site:”)
- Specific word exclusion (dash/hyphen/minus symbol, quotation marks)
Below is an example of a search that uses all three of the above operators:
site:discoverpraxis.com "google" -"skill"
Executing this search will only list results from the website ‘discoverpraxis.com’ that include the word “google” somewhere in the post, but only if they do not include the word “skill”. It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the full list available operators, but mastering all 42 of them really isn’t necessary, since you will only use them on occasion. Besides, now that you know these features exist, more information on how to use them is just a Google search away!
Stop asking other people for help
This is super important. When a problem arises that you can't solve, or you need to learn something new, try your best not to ask anyone else for help. Do not post your question on a message board and do not ask your friend for assistance, even if they likely know what to do. Figure out what the issue is, or what it is you need to learn and Google it yourself. Somewhere in the abyss of information that is the internet, perhaps a tutorial is waiting for you, or someone else has had the same issue as you. You just have to find it.
To be a good Googler is to be self-reliant. By avoiding the help of others, issues might take longer to solve at first, but it will surely benefit you in your journey of mastering the art of Google.