What is digital career literacy?

It has been widely acknowledged that digital literacy, the ability to find, use and disseminate information in a digital world (Payton & Hague, 2010) is a vital skill for students. The increasing role of technology in our culture and education has meant that more attention is being paid to how we might help students to engage with digital technology with the aim of preparing them for a highly digitalised world of work.

Digital career literacy is a sub-element of digital literacy. Hooley, Longridge and Staunton (2013) define digital career literacy as “the ability to use the online environment, to search, to make contacts, to get questions answered and to build a positive professional reputation…It is an interlinked set of technical skills and career management and employability skills”. (p9)

Why is digital career literacy important for student employability?

In an age where vast amounts of careers information is openly available online, the ability to navigate, critically analyse and synthesise digital information to support one’s own career development goals can play an important role in a student’s career success during and after study. However, while many students may perceive themselves as confident in their ability to use technology and social media for recreational purposes, the ability to critically analyse and utilise online information for career development purposes can take skill and guidance. The role of the internet in career is challenging for everyone, but it can be particularly difficult for young people with little experience of the labour market and older generations who are still adjusting to the fast-changing technological landscape.

Tertiary educators can play a key role in helping students to develop digital career literacy. This is because many students may seek career guidance from academic staff on topics such as finding and interacting with employers, building an ePortfolio, locating work opportunities and finding industry information, all of which is happening online. The need to incorporate digital career literacy in to education is aptly summed by Hooley, Longridge and Staunton (2013) who state that “it is important for academic departments to support students to think about their careers and to use the online environment wisely. In particular, it is important for academics to be aware of the opportunities and pitfalls that exist around the use of the new technologies that can support or hamper career building” (p2).

What frameworks exist to support integrating digital career literacy in to education?

Several frameworks have been published to illustrate the elements of Digital Career Literacy. One of the more recognised frameworks has been published by Hooley, Longridge and Staunton (Building online employability: A guide for academics, 2013) from the International Centre for Guidance Studies, University of Derby. Hooley et al (2013) propose seven elements of digital career literacy, known as the 7 C’s of Digital Career Literacy:

7 C’s of Digital Career Literacy


Changing describes the ability to understand and adapt to changing online career contexts and to learn to use new technologies for the purpose of career building.

Communicating describes the ability to interact effectively across a range of different platforms, to understand the genre and netiquette of different interactions and to use them in the context of career

Connecting describes the ability to build relationships and networks online that can support career development

Creating describes the ability to create online content that effectively represents the individual, their interests and their career history

Curating describes the ability of an individual to reflect on and develop their digital footprint and online networks as part of their career building

Collecting describes the ability to source, manage and retrieve career information and resources

Critiquing describes the ability to understand the nature of online career information and resources, to analyse its provenance and to consider its usefulness for a career.

Below is Hooley, Longridge and Staunton’s (2013) digital career literacy framework expressed in learning outcomes format:

  Learning Outcome Example Assessment
Changing Describe how changes in technology and the labour market can impact on an individual’s career. Articulate a positive attitude to change and lifelong learning in the context of career. Essay or extended blog post or series of blog posts.
Collecting Demonstrate competence in using a range of tools to find manage and retrieve (career) information and resources. Research based quiz questions which require students to record the tools that they used to find information as well as the information sources.
Critiquing Analyse (online career) information and resources and discuss their provenance, usefulness and relevance

in relation to identified career questions.

Identify and record reliable, unreliable, impartial and partial

careers information.

Connecting Demonstrate that they are able to build relationships and establish, manage and utilise a professional network to support academic study and career building. Establish a LinkedIn profile and connect with at least 10

meaningful connections.

Communicating Effectively articulate ideas in a range of different genres and communicate with a range of different audiences. Create a series of messages about your career aspirations

that are appropriate for posting in different environments

(Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn) and for different audiences.

Creating Create high quality online content in a range of media that relates to their academic study and career building. Set up an employer or client Portfolio (e.g. Pebble-pad, LinkedIn, website)
Curating Demonstrate a critical awareness of their digital footprint and articulate ways in which this might be enhanced to support their career building. Reflective assignment discussing and evaluating their digital footprint.


Hooley, Longridge and Staunton (2013) provide a detailed guide for academic staff around the embedding of digital career literacy in to higher education in their publication (link in “Further Resources”).

Other frameworks for digital career literacy can be found here:

 Further resources

  • Hooley, T. (2012). How the internet changed career: framing the relationship between career development and online technologies. Journal of the National Institute for Career Education and Counselling (NICEC)
  • Hooley, T., Hutchinson, J. & Watts, A.G. (2010).Careering Through TheWeb. The Potential of Web 2.0and 3.0 Technologies for Career Development and Career Support Services. London: UKCES.
  • Longridge, D., Hooley, T., & Staunton, T. (2013). Building online employability: a guide for academic departments.
  • Johnson, K. A. (2011). The effect of twitter posts on students’ perceptions of instructor credibility. Learning, Media and Technology, 36 (1), 21-38.