This report looks at the qualitative findings about the information-seeking behaviour of today’s college graduates as they transition from the campus to the workplace.
Included are findings from interviews with 23 US employers and focus groups with 33 recent graduates from four US colleges and universities, conducted as an exploratory study for Project Information Literacy’s (PIL’s) Passage Studies. Most graduates in our focus groups said they found it difficult to solve information problems in the workplace, where unlike college, a sense of urgency pervaded and where personal contacts often reaped more useful results than online searches. Graduates said they leveraged essential information competencies from college for extracting content and also developed adaptive information-seeking strategies for reaching out to trusted colleagues in order to compensate for what they lacked.
At the same time, employers said they recruited graduates, in part, for their online searching skills but still expected and needed more traditional research competencies, such as thumbing through bound reports, picking up the telephone, and interpreting research results with team members. They found that their college hires rarely demonstrated these competencies.
Overall, our findings suggest there is a distinct difference between today’s graduates who demonstrated how quickly they found answers online and seasoned employers who needed college hires to use a combination of online and traditional methods to conduct comprehensive research.