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LIS freelancing – where to start (and how)

When I recently asked a young MLIS student about her career goals, she very matter-of-factly laid out a future of LIS work comprising multiple employer/clients based on her various skill sets.

Kate possesses a rich suite of in-demand skills, ones that might previously have led to being quickly hired by a lucky organization. But as a realistic monitor of today’s LIS employment environment, she’s hoping for the best (she’ll find a great job) but planning for the worst. If no job materializes, she’ll be able to create multiple revenue streams to support herself based on her LIS skills.

In fact, Kate is actively seeking out work projects and courses to broaden and deepen the skills she may be able to offer to a diverse range of employers – or clients. She’s positioning herself to be able to contribute value over a lifetime of information work. And one of the most effective ways to do that is to consider adding freelance work or projects to your worklife and portfolio. (more…)

Twelve questions to ask in an informational interview

Raised HandsWant to find out more about a company, industry, or career path? (This is definitely something you want to do as often as possible while you’re going through your degree program or growing your LIS career.)

It’s tough to beat the “insider information” and insights you can get from a good informational interview. But because you’re asking someone to give up some of their time for you, it’s important to be focused and thoughtful during the time they spend with you. That means you want to think about your questions well in advance so you can not only come up with thoughtful questions but also think about good follow-ups to your interviewee’s answers. (more…)

LIS career transitions: getting from here to there

Career Transitions for LibrariansHow often have you heard the often-repeated statement that if you’re an “ABC librarian,” you’ll never be able to transition into being an “XYW librarian?” As in, if you’re a public librarian, you’ll never be able to get a job in academia, or special libraries. If you’re in a corporate library, you’d never be considered for school or public.

Among the grad students I work with, this silo effect is such an accepted fact of life that it causes them to overweight the importance of every early-career decision they make.

But is it true?

Not according to the more than three dozen LIS professionals who’ve contributed their career-transition success stories to Career Transitions for Librarians: Proven Strategies for Moving to Another Type of Library. (more…)

Can we talk? How to ask for an informational interview

Information Interview w Black ManAnytime you’re asking a favor of someone, it feels a bit awkward, and information interviews are no exception.

Generally, you’re asking someone who’s both successful in their career and really busy to give you their time and attention out of the goodness of their heart. (Okay, occasionally for a cup of coffee or a quickie lunch….) Yep, that usually triggers our automatic “do not impose on people” response, but it’s time to get over your hesitation. Why? Because informational interviews for which you’ve done your homework can be one of the most effective ways to advance both your career knowledge and your career (think network building and professional visibility) ever. (more…)

Find your tribe

Recently I gave a talk to the Rocky Mountain SLA chapter on adaptive competence. It’s basically the ability to repurpose if not reinvent your LIS career (pretty much on demand) as market needs and opportunities require. Your adaptive competence is built on a core understanding that regardless of your current paycheck, we’re all self-employed – it’s up to us to take charge of our options and outcomes.

One of my recommendations for building adaptive competence, also known as career resiliency, was to find your tribe. Although marketing guru Seth Godin popularized the phrase in his Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us (Portfolio, 2008), Godin’s focus was on leading movements. With apologies to Godin, I’m going to redefine and repurpose it here (clear tip-off to my content-developer roots!) to describe a tribe as that group of people who make up your career inner circle. (more…)