GeoLEAD: Career Services for Geoscience Graduates
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Research & Product Strategy

AGU is creating GeoLEAD, a web portal to offer professional guidance to geoscience students for a smooth transition into the workforce. GeoLEAD would provide career advice, job-seeking methods, and interview preparation in one platform. AGU enlisted EchoUser to conduct research on the traits employers value most in recent graduates and how to increase the chances of being hired.


Introduction: AGU's Vision for GeoLEAD

The American Geophysical Union (AGU) has a vision for a new web portal called GeoLEAD, which aims to provide professional guidance to students in the geosciences to help them transition into the workforce. The portal will offer career advice, job-seeking methods, and interview preparation all in one encompassing platform. However, AGU lacked a clear understanding of what traits employers valued most in recent graduates and how recent graduates could increase their chances of getting hired in the geosciences field.


Approach: Research Strategy and Tactical Plan

To develop GeoLEAD, AGU turned to EchoUser for help in conducting research with target students and employers to discover the key commonalities, discrepancies, and turning-points in the hiring process, and to identify ideal candidate qualities across various sub-industries.

EchoUser worked with AGU to develop a research strategy and tactical plan based on the direction provided by AGU. The initial framework called for interviews of 20 recent graduates and 20 employers, but it was soon discovered that graduate participants were unable to provide adequate insights into the hiring and job searching process. Consequently, the research efforts were refocused on employers who had distinct preferences and insights to offer regarding the types of graduates they hire and what makes their candidacy stand out.


Over the span of three weeks, EchoUser conducted in-person and remote interviews with 21 employer participants and three graduate participants, parsing data for valuable insights that could inform the design and functional composition of GeoLEAD. Through these interviews, EchoUser was able to both quantify and qualify the most important traits to employers, which were compiled into an “ideal candidate persona” and presented to AGU along with the bulk of the research findings.

Impact: Evidence-Based Resource for Students

AGU was pleased with the research findings to the extent that they called for a second round of research. EchoUser formatted and provided an alternate version of the findings presentation as a deliverable for AGU management to use and present internally.

With these key insights, AGU will be able to offer an evidence-backed resource to students and speak to them from a position of expertise and credibility, helping students improve their candidacy for professional roles in the geosciences field. The success of the GeoLEAD platform will be almost solely reliant on accuracy and evidence-based solutions, making the research conducted by EchoUser crucial to its development.

Overall, EchoUser not only provided key UX deliverables but also enabled AGU’s UX team to conduct research, design assets, and achieve more visibility within the company.