Another interesting study to mull over today: College graduates understand and excel at Internet grazing, but are less comfortable or familiar with more traditional research methodology, including calling and talking to people, reading annual reports and scouring databases.
This gap is becoming apparent to employers who are impressed with their young hires’ online skills, but also concerned about their lack of more standard research competencies.
In a world where technology abounds, social networks buzz, and connectivity is as commonplace as electricity, graduates may post their resume on Monster, apply for a few coveted internships they have found on Vault, and hook up with some new housemates on Craigslist. As dating options diminish after college, they may find themselves browsing profiles on Okcupid.com. But once they settle into a new job, many of today’s graduates soon discover that the techniques that may have worked so well for finding information when they were in college are no longer enough. Other factors also figure into the equation for job success, such as teamwork and the ability to ferret out information beyond what they find on their computer screens. This transition is one of the greatest challenges new graduates face in the digital age.
In this study, we ask what happens to the information-seeking behavior of today’s college students once they graduate and enter the workplace. We explored this question from two perspectives: from that of the employers who hire graduates, and from the experiences of graduates themselves who join the workplace.
Among the study’s findings:
•. Employers placed a high premium on graduates’ abilities for searching online, finding information with tools other than search engines, and identifying the best solution from all the information they had gathered.
• Once they joined the workplace, many college hires demonstrated computer know-how that exceeded both the expectations and abilities of many of their employers. These proficiencies also obscured the research techniques needed for solving information problems.
• Most college hires were prone to deliver the quickest answer they could find using a search engine, entering a few keywords, and scanning the first couple of pages of results, employers said, even though they needed newcomers to apply patience and persistence when solving information problems in the workplace.
• A majority of employers said they were surprised that new hires rarely used any of the more traditional forms of research, such as picking up the phone or thumbing through an annual report for informational nuggets. Instead, they found many college hires—though not all— relied heavily on they found online and many rarely looked beyond their screens.
The report concludes: Overall, our findings from this exploratory study suggest there is a distinct difference between the information competencies and strategies today’s graduates bring with them to the workplace and the broader skill set that more seasoned employers need and expect. Moreover, we found the rapid-answer approach many college hires in our sample took for solving information problems hampered their ability to demonstrate the very research competencies employers we interviewed claimed to need most in the workplace. Nowhere was this divide between employers and graduates more apparent than when each group discussed its best strategies for solving information problems on the job. The employers we interviewed said they expected young hires to be patient but persistent researchers.
–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog