How Web Crawlers Help Shape the Vocabulary of Job Skills

Thursday, January 4, 2018: 1:50 PM
Thurgood Marshall West (Marriott Wardman Park)
Norman L. Jones, Utah State University and Lumina Foundation Degree Qualifications Profile/Tuning Advisory Group
Robert G. Sheets, George Washington Institute of Public Policy
Behind every powerful internet search engine stands another set of computer programs, tools that scan the web for information, seek out particular words, and construct indices to direct users to the most useful and relevant sites. These programs are called “web crawlers.” There is a rough analogy between the work of web crawlers and a task that historical researchers commonly confront: developing useful keywords for the journal articles and book monographs they submit to editors. We certainly want others to read our work, and part of that process today involves more than writing a focused, clear, well-researched paper. Scholars also need to select carefully the very terms that will draw attention to their studies with viewers who browse the internet with databases and other search tools. Think of this keyword issue in terms of our students, their search for employment, and the language they need to use in order to draw attention to their knowledge and proficiencies. Are we helping students focus systematically on the key proficency words that will make their CVs, resumes, and LinkedIn pages resonate with potential employers? This presentation will explore the possibilities and challenges that web crawlers present for history graduates trying to move into private- or public-sector employment.