What Are Information Literacy Skills? (With Tips To Improve)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 30 June 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Information literacy or the ability to identify, analyse and use information ethically has become increasingly important with the proliferation of information resources and rapid technological advancements. You can develop this skill through coursework, personal and professional experiences and interactions with technology. By developing and highlighting your information literacy skills, you can make yourself an ideal candidate and a valuable asset to any organisation. In this article, we define information literacy skills, explain their importance and discuss how to improve these skills.

What Are Information Literacy Skills?

Information literacy skills, also known as digital literacy skills are the ability to locate, retrieve, interpret and process information. Understanding and developing them promotes sustained learning and professional success. When you are information literate, you can use your abilities to discover information, understand its origins and value, use it to create and share knowledge and take part in community discussions. A person who is information literate can:

  • Determine whether there is a knowledge or information gap and the type of information required to fill it

  • Identify and access information resources

  • Plan and monitor the search for relevant information

  • Review and critically evaluate information

  • Present information in the right manner

  • Become familiar with the legal, ethical and social implications of using information

Examples Of Information Literacy Skills

Here are some common types of digital literacy skills:

Research skills

Research skills refer to the ability to find, access, gather, compile, evaluate, utilise and present information regarding a particular topic. These skills include conducting investigations, performing critical analysis and forming hypotheses or solutions to particular issues. Some of the research sub-skills employers look for in candidates include:

Problem-solving skills

Problem-solving skills involve taking corrective action to accomplish better results and improve performance. This involves defining the problem, analysing and generating feasible solutions, selecting the best solutions and planning the next course of action. With technology, you can improve your problem-solving skills by automating routine tasks, storing data for easy retrieval and improving data methods.

Related: Problem-Solving Skills: Definitions And Examples

Attention to detail

Attention to detail is the ability to accomplish and complete a task with a thorough understanding and concern for every element involved and to produce high-quality results. Being attentive in executing tasks often results in sustained productivity and efficiency. This involves staying organised, being observant, making checklists, limiting distractions and taking regular breaks.

Time management

An organised approach to managing your priorities and work commitments requires an understanding of time and task management. Time management skill involves utilising time efficiently and achieving your goals. This skill can help you allocate resources and accomplish tasks more efficiently. It can also help in analysing your workload, delegating tasks, prioritising and being more productive.

Computer skills

Computer skills refer to the ability to use a computer and related technologies effectively. It comprises software skills and hardware skills. Software skills are the skills that involve the ability to use computer programs, while hardware skills include maintaining and troubleshooting computer problems. Candidates with good computer skills in any workplace usually have expertise in the following tools and services:

  • Email services such as Gmail and Outlook

  • G Suite including Google Docs, Gmail Drive, Calendar and Sheets

  • Web browsers such as Chrome, Safari, Firefox

  • Microsoft Office 365, including Word, Excel, OneDrive, PowerPoint and OneNote

  • Operating systems, such as Microsoft Windows and macOS, Linux

  • Data science and analysis tools such as machine learning, data mining, data modelling, data management

  • Enterprise applications, including customer relationship management (CRM), e-commerce systems and enterprise resource planning (ERP)

  • Web development and programming languages such as JavaScript, Python, PHP

  • Devices and peripherals, such as routers, hard drives, cables

Related: Computer Skills: Definition And Example

Communication skills

Communication skills are the ability to communicate effectively with people. It includes verbal and non-verbal communication and communication through media. This life skill helps gain a deeper understanding of people and situations. Strong communication skills encourage the exchange of ideas, build trust and create the conditions for solving problems. Some of the communication skills include:

Active listening

One of the ways to be a good communicator is to be an active listener. Active listening involves being attentive to the listener and asking clarifying questions to facilitate proper understanding. Listening actively can help you understand and respond to what the other person is saying in a better way.

Empathy

Being empathetic means being able to understand and share the emotions of others. This skill is essential both in team and one-to-one settings. Having empathy for others in the workplace also helps to identify problems people face, find potential solutions and resolve conflicts.

Critical thinking skills

Information literacy involves developing critical thinking skills, which enhances the ability to access information and closely linked ideas. Critical thinking refers to making a reasonable judgment by evaluating observations, data, facts and research findings based on an objective analysis of information. Instead of relying on intuition or instinct, critical thinking involves identifying, analysing and solving problems systematically.

Related: 14 Essential Critical Thinker Characteristics And Traits

How To Improve Information Literacy Skills?

These skills are essential due to the rapid growth of information systems and resources. Depending on your job, a new learning course or your personal interests, you may focus on developing and improving skills relevant to your job or career. Here are the steps to improve your skills:

1. Learn to identify credible sources

An information literate person usually has the ability to recognise reliable sources. To determine if a website is trustworthy, check the credentials of the author and the source, assess the sources that the author cites and examine the date that the piece was written. Choosing a credible source is crucial to your research. This helps you support your arguments and findings with the right information. Always find out the author and how regarded they are in the field while reading an article. Find out what other articles they have published.

2. Understand copyright and fair use laws

Copyright laws usually deem someone's original content as their own intellectual property. Having an understanding of the copyright laws along with knowledge of plagiarism search services can help you obtain permissions before using someone else's works, use citations, learn how to use public domain content and protect your own intellectual property. This helps immensely during research and writing, which is a key part of information literacy.

3. Improve your logical reasoning

Logical reasoning helps in making rational decisions and finding solutions to problems. You can hone your logical reasoning by learning how to differentiate inferences and observation, It also helps you improve pattern recognition skills and understand the causes and consequences of everyday events. Having strong logical thinking skills helps you be more information literate by evaluating content across different disciplines.

4. Learn advanced searches

A key aspect of information literacy is knowledge of advanced search skills and the range of information sources. Most search engines offer advanced search options. By limiting the scope of search queries, they can eliminate irrelevant results and help you find the information you need. You can use specific search strategies to make your online search results more relevant and accurate. This involves things like the proper use of keywords and using quality databases other than your basic search engine.

Related: What Is A Search Engine Evaluator? (And How To Become One)

Highlighting Digital Literacy Skills

These are some ways you can showcase your information literacy abilities during your job search:

On your resume and cover letter

While evaluating a resume or cover letter, employers often search for keywords related to information literacy. Some terms they may search for include research, communication, computer and critical thinking. Your cover letter and resume can showcase your skills if you include these keywords in the pertinent sections, such as the experience and skills section. You may also want to mention your knowledge of relevant software.

During job interviews

You can communicate your ability to gather and evaluate information in an interview by adequately preparing for the meeting. The first step is to research the company and your position. Use the information you gathered to answer the interviewer's queries and ask your own questions.

Please note that none of the companies, institutions and organisations mentioned in the article are associated with Indeed.

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