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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…)

Crashing Around, Knocking Things Over….

Yep, I’m the person who champions being fearless, not perfect. Who nags her students about getting comfortable with “beginner’s mind,” which roughly translates into “get used to feeling like an idiot, grasshopper.”

But I don’t think I’d actually thought through quite how public that cluelessness might be when you’re crashing around, knocking things over, and showcasing your screw-ups on social media. (more…)

5 Non-Snarky Ways to Build Your Career Network

If your eyes (and brain) glaze over when someone brings up the subject of network-building, rest assured that you’re not alone.

In fact, in a study that tested people’s feelings about instrumental networking, defined as networking in order to advance your career, respondents indicated that they literally felt dirty, “so much so that they think about taking a shower or brushing their teeth.”

It turns out that most people tend to feel just fine about those spontaneous moments of relationship-building whose goal is the more authentic pursuit of human connection and possible friendship. (more…)

Identifying and Researching Alternative LIS Careers

Adaptability-1

What would you like to know about specific alternative LIS careers?

I have all sorts of questions, things I’d like to know more about and be able to share with my students and colleagues, so I’ve got a starting point, but I’m wondering if I may be missing some obvious questions – and if so, I’d really appreciate your feedback and suggestions.

The Stretch Goal: Mapping the Alternative LIS Careers Universe

What I’m planning to do is create an ongoing series of career profile posts that highlight specific alternative or emerging (or both) LIS career paths. My goal is to map out a universe of LIS opportunities that often remain hidden when not specifically labeled with the “librarian” title. We know some of them already, but my goal is to unearth as many invisible LIS career paths as possible – and identify as many interesting, engaging, and financially rewarding LIS alternatives and options as I can. (more…)

Forget Resolutions, Focus on Your Dreams

Little girl looking through binoculars

A new year.

A blank slate to write on, experiment with, screw up, laugh about, and grow with.

An open space within which to wander and dream.

Why waste it on resolutions that don’t reflect those dreams? Instead, why not shift your focus on where you’d like your LIS career to grow in 2016. What do your career dreams look like? This coming year is the perfect time to start moving toward their realization. (more…)

Modeling Your Message, or What to Do When You Keynote PPT Goes Nuts

Plan A failed, we need plan B

Recently I had the amazing honor of giving the wrap-up keynote at the 2015 SLA conference. The conference itself was a pretty intense several days, as SLA is currently undergoing some very difficult but important revisions to its structure, vision, core competencies, and identity. But conference discussions also provided a vibrant, real-life example of how we all need to be able to meet changing circumstances head-on, even if the choices we have aren’t the ones we’d hoped for.

My wrap-up keynote carried the same message. Titled “Improvising Your Career: How to Not Freak Out, Run for Cover, or Have to Move In With Your Folks (or Kids),” it focused on the necessity of having, to quote The Start-Up of You (Hoffman and Casnocha, 2012), a permanent beta mindset when it comes to your career. In other words, consider yourself always in start-up mode, and assume that your most important core competency is your ability to adapt. To improvise. To tap dance as fast as you can….

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The imposter syndrome: or how I learned to get over my panic attack, love my promotion, and make my to-do list

What is Imposter Syndrome?
Basically, imposter syndrome (IS) is the sense that you’ve been promoted beyond your abilities, that you’re in over your head, that through some combination of luck and others’ misperceptions, you’ve landed in a position for which your skills are wildly inadequate.

It’s the career version of performance anxiety, aggravated by a dread that you might be “found out” at any moment. It may not be rational, it may fly in the face of years’ worth of accomplishments, but it’s estimated that some 70 percent of successful men and women experience this chronic and often crippling self-doubt.

And that’s exactly what hit me when my boss gave me what he thought was terrific news about my promotion. His rationale was that he’d worked with me for 18 months, knew my strengths and weaknesses, and thought this was something I’d be good at. My reaction was that he’d completely overestimated my strengths, underestimated my weaknesses, and we were all about to find out in the most awful way possible…In essence I was going to be “found out.” Classic imposter syndrome. (more…)

What’s Up With the Elevator Speech?

Well, for starters, it shouldn’t really be a speech, but rather a brief exchange between two people momentarily sharing a connection in passing. But essentially, your piece of this exchange should be a roughly 30-second explanation of what you do (or what you would do amazingly well if given the opportunity) in language that’s clear, concise, and conversational. It’s an essential part of your professional brand, and yet often it’s one of the toughest things to come up with. (more…)

The Broaden-and-Build Career

background

While doing research for a client recently I came across the Broaden-and-Build theory of positive emotions – basically, you’re building on your existing positive emotions to broaden your positive experience of the world, and then continuing to build out from there. It dawned on me that this is a terrific analogy for what most of us are ending up doing with our careers.

We start with a basic “platform” of LIS skills, then broaden and build out from there, usually either to create new opportunities or in response to new job responsibilities. The question is, in what direction does it make sense for us to broaden and build? If you commit to ongoing professional development, you want to make sure the new skills you’re mastering open up the opportunities that pique your interest.

A Broaden-and-Build Career
I spoke with an amazing information professional today, Michele Lucero, who is the Director of Client Development for LAC Group. Her career began with ten years of public library work. But between then and now, she’s worked

– in law librarianship (first legal research then management),
– for a vendor (client relationships, market development, training),
– as a Communications Director for another law library (public relations, social media, events planning, branding),
– as an adjunct professor for an MLIS program as well as for another university in a non-MLIS program (instructional design, teaching, mentoring), and
– as a local coordinator for a remotely-delivered MLIS program (outreach, communication, marketing, recruitment).

During this period Michele also completed an MBA to boost her business skills, a master’s degree in Dispute Resolution to enhance her ability to work with individuals and groups (including clients), and is currently completing her doctorate in Organizational Leadership. In addition, during her less than three years with LAC, Michele has progressed from Director of Business Development & Recruiting to Director of Business Development & Client Services to Director of Client Development.

The “Broaden” Part
Among all the interesting aspects of Michele’s professional trajectory, one of the most fascinating to me was all of the “broadening and building” she has done throughout her career. When asked what additional skills she felt had been important to pick up along the way, she mentioned sales, project management, instructional design, team management and leadership, conflict management, customer service, public presentation skills, relationship management, and recruitment, which is a combination of almost all these skills.

Needless to say, Michele is an exceptionally high achiever, and if she weren’t such a delightful, caring, and warm human being we could almost get away with tagging her as a fluke of nature. But the reality is that she’s a perfect example of how far – and in how many diverse directions – you can take your career if you adopt a “broaden-and-build” mindset.

Where Will You Build?
Although I’m not at Michele’s level of amazing breadth of skills, my own career has broadened beyond my initial MLIS skill set to include instructional design, business writing, online content development, client relations, marketing, public relations, personal coaching, project management, and team leadership, among other skills. Some were developed in response to career opportunities, others to new responsibilities. But regardless, each eventually ended up being part of my core skill set for which clients would hire me.

When you think about broadening and building your own career, think about what kinds of opportunities you want to open up in your future, even if those are at your current employer. What additional skills will enable you to contribute in a new way or at a higher level? You probably don’t need another master’s degree, but it’s just good “career insurance” to be regularly adding new elements to what you know and can do with that knowledge.

The alternative is to stay right where you are…while the world, and the profession, passes you by.