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I didn’t even know that job existed!

young woman smiling hitting her head - aha momentOne of the downsides of giving LIS students and professionals career advice is that you’ve pretty much got to follow your own advice if you want to have any credibility at all (translation from my students: “do as I say, not as I do” isn’t going to fly!).

So with that in mind, I’m following one of my key career mantras, which is to never stop learning new stuff. I decided to teach myself how to create e-books so I could share more of the webinar information I provide for students at LIS grad schools. (more…)

Making the most of your starter job

Or, why you should consider that job in Smalltown, USA

 

Female student working in the libraryRecently I had an opportunity to work with a young woman who had just graduated from an MLIS program. She was unsure of how to proceed with her job search given the precarious job market for librarians (and everybody else).

This young woman had never worked in a library before, and, like many of us when we complete our degrees, wanted to get a job in the same town where her university was located. But the reality is that with little or no library experience and facing the stiff competition that comes in an area flooded with fellow MLIS graduates, this young woman’s job prospects would be dim at best.

In fact, probably her best opportunities lie in a direction often avoided if not dismissed by recent grads: working for a library in Smalltown, USA.

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Career branding for introverts

How to tell the world you’re terrific when you don’t want to talk to anybody

 

Personal branding – showcasing your professional strengths – is one of the most important aspects of building a resilient career. However, if you’re an introvert, the idea of telling others about yourself can be unnerving at best, nausea-inducing at worst.

So what if your “elevator speech” generally consists of a muttered “which floor do you want?” The good news is that you’re living in the right era, because these days you can do a major portion of your brand-building online. (more…)

Use Google for Scholarly Research? Yep, and Here’s How

Harnessing Power of GoogleIn his excellent guide Harnessing the Power of Google: What Every Researcher Should Know (Libraries Unlimited, 2017), author Christopher C. Brown asserts that:

Librarians often hear from students that their instructor said not to use Google in their research. I believe that what is meant in most cases is that students shouldn’t only use resources that they just found with simple Google searches. Too many times students cite Wikipedia as an authority for their research. But what this book is arguing is that there is a proper place for Google in academic research.

Not only does the author argue his point successfully, he does every academic librarian and serious researcher the favor of showing them how to use Google so that it truly can become a credible component of rigorous scholarly and business research. (more…)

Handling the interview stumper: what’s your biggest weakness?

For most people, just talking about their strengths in an interview can be pretty challenging.

But talking about your weaknesses in a way that doesn’t sink your hiring prospects can feel even more challenging. Most of us can come up with plenty of weaknesses, but which one is okay to mention in an interview situation that won’t immediately doom you to the “rejects” pile?

One way to approach your response is to consider what an interviewer is trying to learn from the weaknesses question. Essentially, the goal is to not to make you feel unbelievable awkward, but rather to understand how well you know yourself (your self-awareness skills). Then, they’ll want to know how you would plan to address that weakness, or what steps you’ve taken to start working on it.

So what should you say (or not)? (more…)

How Portable is Your Professional Brand?

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By now most of us have gotten the message that we’re all self-employed, regardless of whom we work for.

We’re in charge of our careers and job opportunities, and that means being ready to land on our feet should a pink slip happen to land on our desk.

And a big part of that “being ready” is making sure that you’ve built up professional visibility – your brand – outside your employer.

Although losing a job is tough, finding a new one will be much easier if you’ve taken steps to become professionally visible outside the universe of your company and co-workers. What are some of the best (and easiest) ways you can do this? (more…)

What should you wear to an interview? It depends

Do an online search on tips on dressing for an interview and you’ll get lots of help – about 11.5 million hits, in fact. Everyone has very definitive “do’s and don’ts,” but the reality is that each work environment – and job within that environment – is at least slightly different from every other one.

Not only that, you’re equally unique. You may, in fact, have an amazing sense of personal style that enables you to pull off wardrobe choices that brilliantly speak to your strengths (rather than revealing your utter lack of fashion savvy, which is the case for many of us…).

Given the wide range of variables that may play into your choice of attire, one of the best ways to approach pulling together an interview outfit is to think about:

  1. the type of organization you’re interviewing with;
  2. the role you’re hoping to play within that organization; and
  3. what outfit makes you feel both comfortable and confident.

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Interview coming up? Questions to get to know them while they get to know you

One of the best ways to distinguish yourself among other job applicants is to ask thoughtful, targeted questions during your interview, both in response to questions asked of you during the interview and at the end of the interview, when most applicants are asked if they have any questions to ask of the interviewer or interviewing panel.

Assume you may go through at least a couple of interviews, and use each one to ask questions that will give you additional insight not only into the job itself, but also into your potential boss’s management style and the company’s or department’s culture.

First interview questions – getting the lay of the land

If it’s your first interview, you’ll probably want to ask basic questions about the organization, doing so in such a way that indicates you’ve already gained a good understanding of the employer and its industry (including libraries). For example, “My research indicates that [company] is known for outstanding customer support. Are there ways in which this job supports that effort?” Other questions might include: (more…)

7 ideas for flexible LIS careers

Workforce experts are saying that by 2020 four of every ten workers will be a member of the “contingent workforce” – that is, freelancers, contractors, or temporary employees. How directly this trend impacts the LIS profession will probably in large degree depend on where you work and the type of work you do.

But in the meantime, what if you’d actually like to accelerate this trend and perhaps have an LIS career with a bit more flexibility right now? (more…)

Reflections: what did you learn?

By now you’ve probably seen all sorts of “best-of” lists. Best books, best movies, best posts, and on a personal level, perhaps you’ve even created your own list of personal bests.

A few years ago, I realized I was more interested in what I had learned that what I’d accomplished, because my ability to learn drove not only what I could accomplish, but also what I could stretch into, what directions I could grow, how resilient I could be in the face of change.

If you want to think about what you learned this past year, here are some areas to consider:

About others.  Did you have interactions with a boss, coworkers, fellow students, or patrons that changed how you understood their circumstances or viewpoint? If ever there were a year where we all learned that understanding each others’ worldviews were critical, 2016 was the one.

About yourself.  In any given year, you’re likely to learn all sorts of things about yourself – what you handle well, what could use a bit of work. I usually separate this into “the good stuff” and the “I-could-improve-on-this-stuff” lists. Did you discover an ability to diffuse tense team moments with gentle humor? Did you rise to the challenge of a daunting project, and realize you had more courage than you expected?

Or perhaps you froze during a difficult conversation, or discovered during a salary negotiation that you weren’t a very strong advocate for yourself. The important thing to remember about the “I-could-improve-on-this stuff” list is that these are simply things that you can learn to get better at, not things you failed at.

About your work.  You undoubtedly did a lot of work this past year. Thinking back about your activities, what did you learn about how you work best, what circumstances help you bring your “A game,” how you can be most productive? Did you learn things that opened up new opportunities, either in the immediate future or long-term for your career?

Alternatively, you may have discovered that work you thought you’d love turned out to be less than a great fit. No worries – you’ll have a lot of options for making a change when the time is right. But it is important to pay attention to what you’ve learned, so that you can eventually move into a better situation.

About your passions.  One of the coolest things about working, and all the different types of work you may do over the course of a year, is that it’s always possible to stumble across an undiscovered passion – perhaps for competitive intelligence, or community outreach, or instructional design, or connecting under-served populations with life-changing information, or even data management.

When you start your career, it’s easy to feel like you should be able to choose a career path that’s “the one.” But the reality is that you get closer to your best-fit career with every new step you take, and what you learn from each of those steps.

About your values.  One of the benefits of living in crazy times is that if you stay engaged in what’s going on around you, you find yourself clarifying your values on a pretty regular basis. Let’s just say this past year provided a target-rich environment for deeply examining what you hold dear, why you value what you value, and how you will express and live those values on a daily basis. What did you learn about your values? Is there anything you’d like to change, or explore further?

About your impact.  Depending on who’s using them and how they’re being used, Information skills can be incredible agents for positive change. In your work this past year, what did you learn about your ability to use your expertise to create positive impact? If you were able to have a positive impact, how did that feel? Is having a positive impact on others’ lives and/or goals an important priority for you? If so, how might you do even more of this type of work in the coming year?

About what you still want to learn. I usually end up with about five additional things I want to learn for every one thing I’ve learned in a given year. Yep, I learned how to create (sort of) a WordPress site, but now I want to learn how to use Camtasia, Adobe Photoshop, podcast software, and conferencing software.

I learned how to use Twitter, but now I need to learn how to use Snapchat, Facebook, YouTube, and probably five other social media platforms that don’t even have names yet. I learned about storyboarding, but need to learn all the basics of online instructional design. And the list goes on….

What did you learn this year, and what new interests or opportunities might it open up for you? What else do you want to learn to keep expanding your expertise and value and impact?

From accomplishment to acceleration

Just to clarify, accomplishments are great – they’re clear evidence that you’re doing important and effective work with your LIS skills, and they certainly deserve celebration. (Way to go!!!!)

But if you want to take a longer-term view of your career, and what you’re investing in your career, it’s really important to focus on the ongoing pursuit of learning as well. To quote career expert Penelope Trunk, “Find a foot in the door and then start learning everything you can to open that door wider.” Few things open career doors more effectively than ongoing learning. Go for it!