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Informational interviews: the 5 basics

Thank-you noteWhen you’re trying to learn more about potential LIS jobs, employers, or careers, few options are better than going straight to the source, otherwise known as having an information interview. They’re one of the easiest and fastest ways to increase your career smarts – even when you’re not looking for a job. Why? Because these informal conversations can provide the perfect “reality check” for what you may have read or heard about a particular employer, industry, or career path  – an insider’s view of how the world really looks from those in the trenches.

To max out the benefit of any information interview, however, you want to make sure you do these five things: (more…)

No conference budget? No problem. Do this instead (and don’t spend a dime)

Hispanic woman using laptop on coffee table

Professional conferences can be a great LIS career booster – in-person networking, learning from cutting-edge presentations, immersing yourself in the dynamic energy of the profession or a new-to-you industry. There’s just one problem: conferences, including their registration, housing and travel costs, can be way expensive.

In addition, the broader your LIS interests and areas of expertise, the wider the range of conferences that might pique your interest. PLA, SLA, ALA, AASL, ACRL, and AIIP might just be the starters. Then there’s Computers in Libraries and Internet Librarian, the Charleston Conference, KM World, ARMA Live, the ASIS&T annual conference, and dozens of other specialized information professional events.

Information professionals are even finding a home at theoretically unrelated events such as the music and tech festival, South by Southwest (SXSW), an indicator of the expanding range of information/library expertise and interests.

If you can only afford one, does that mean you miss out on everything else?

Not necessarily. (more…)

Use a SWOT analysis to plot your career strategy

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Businesses use SWOT analyses (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) to help them plot their next moves. Where should they spend their money, where save it? What opportunities should they go after, and which aren’t worth the effort? That same approach can be just as valuable for you as figure out your next career moves. (more…)

Is it ever smart to take a lower-paying job?

One of the challenges you’re likely to face during your LIS career is whether or not to take a job that pays less than your previous (or current) one.

If the finances are doable, there can be some great reasons to consider it. Although the right choice depends to a great degree on your personal circumstances, here are the questions that will help you get to your best answer. (more…)

The power of “yet”

By the time you’ve reached a certain age (okay, let’s say any spot north of forty), you generally feel like you’ve pretty much figured things out. Or if not, you’re perhaps trying to hide that fact from the rest of the world, especially your professional peers.

The good news: you can stop hiding; we’re all in the same boat!

Getting Your Head around Not Knowing
One of the greatest and most unremitting challenges of the LIS profession is that it’s moving so quickly and in so many directions that it’s really tough to keep your skills current. It’s even tougher to reach a level of competency that won’t become obsolete within the next five years.

From a career standpoint? Pretty daunting. From an ego standpoint? Pretty demoralizing.

Why? Because most of us in the profession are borderline if not certifiable perfectionists – it feels pretty awful to be in “beginner’s mind,” that place of not even knowing what you don’t know. But it’s clear that how good we become at getting comfortable with this discomfort will determine whether we stay professionally viable or become increasingly marginalized.

This reality has been driven home for me as I’ve worked on starting a new project/business. My business plan was exquisitely (I believed) well-thought-through, organized, and formatted (and of course based on all of my research about how to create a killer business plan). Then I started actually doing the work, and was stunned to realize how much I hadn’t, well, realized. (more…)

Invest/Maintain/Kill: Awful Way to Treat Employees, But Smart Way to Manage Your Career

Yesterday-Todoay-Tomorrow

I’ll admit I’m not a big fan of Yahoo CEO Melissa Mayer, and the spate of recent articles about her stealth layoff approach (here’s one) remind me of one of the things I like best about being an independent information professional (i.e., no one’s going to lay me off).

But as I read the articles, I was struck by what a terrific approach the Invest/Maintain/Kill mantra could be for your career. If you’re the type who regularly (okay, at least annually) does a career review, sorting out your priorities along these lines can help focus your efforts in ways most likely to keep you moving toward your goals. What might the invest/maintain/kill approach look like? (more…)