Changing careers : how newcomers seek information in three types of career transitions




Frei, Seth Steven

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Workplace transitions are increasingly common as individuals move between jobs and occupations more frequently. Socialization literature looks at the process organizations use to help individuals meet their needs and acquire information about the new job (Kramer, 2010; Van Maanen & Schein, 1979). While many scholars study socialization, the most recent Handbook of Organizational Communication suggests nonentry-level newcomers are relatively unexplored (Kramer & Miller, 2014). To further understand the behaviors of nonentry-level newcomers, especially as mid-life and early-life career transitions grow more common, future research is warranted.

 This dissertation focuses on the information-seeking behaviors of organizational newcomers.  Using theory-based models of information seeking (Miller & Jablin, 1991; Morrison, 2002), this study seeks to further understand the behaviors of newcomers when changing careers.  This study focuses on three types of career transitions: (1) Occupational (Moving from outside the typical work progression to a new occupation); (2) Job (Changing jobs within the same field for the purpose of advancement or salary increase); and (3) Education to paid work (Transitioning from a full-time educational setting to full-time paid work).

 This investigation highlights a number of significant findings in information-seeking behaviors.  Across all three types of career transitions, the most common source of information is peers, the most common tactic is overt, and the most common communication medium is the internet.  Results suggested need for control over others, intrinsic motivation, and learning orientation were significant predictors of landline phone use for information seeking.  The study demonstrated coworker influence as a significant predictor of information seeking through the organizational intranet.  There was also a significant difference between individual use of third parties for information seeking between job transitioners and those making transitions from education to paid work.

 This study offers insights to both communication and management scholars who study socialization and information seeking, as well as human resource development practitioners.  These findings contribute to the socialization literature by further describing how individuals make career transitions at various life stages.  Additionally, these findings are helpful to practitioners who anticipate career transitioners into their workforce.  Taken together, these results facilitate both a theoretical and practical application of newcomer socialization in these contexts.


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