Avoid Search Paralysis: Use these Tools to Plan Complicated Searches

As a rule, investigators deal with complicated searches. Think about it, no one hires an investigator for information that’s easy to find! After years of running and managing investigations, I’ve developed the following three approaches to use before you begin in order to stay focused throughout the search and get you results fast and efficiently.

The first step is to figure out which approach is most applicable to your search. The minutes you spend figuring this out will save you a ton of time down the search-road. Nothing is worse than feeling like you’ve spent hours flipping through links and websites and getting nowhere.

The three are:

1)      Fill in the Box

2)      Tarzan Style

3)      Core Drilling

In this blog post, I’m going to cover FILL IN THE BOX. The others will be covered in following blog posts.

Fill in the Box

This approach works best for when you commit to looking at certain criteria. A background check fits this model well. Another would be making lists of items in a category (for example, computer software companies that have gone public in the past three years). It works best for any situation where you have defined parameters.

For these types of searches, keep a tight hold of those parameters and make a “box” with them.

The most important factors in your search are:

  • Make sure you are staying within the parameters;
  • Fill the entirety of your box.

Sounds simple. But it’s easy to get distracted by data that is outside your parameters.  So if you are looking for computer software companies that have gone public, don’t get distracted by how many mortgage companies have gone public (just kidding!).

But make sure your searches cover the entirety of your box. Let’s say you are looking for information about someone in Sacramento, California in the past 10 years. If you search the Sacramento Bee you would only be getting articles from the previous year. You would not be “filling the box” with this search.