Job Power: Career Management Resources for Librarians

By Wein, Terren Ilana; Gagnon, Marjorie et al. | Information Outlook, January 2003 | Go to article overview

Job Power: Career Management Resources for Librarians


Wein, Terren Ilana, Gagnon, Marjorie, Barrett, Maura, Information Outlook


Tools to Jump-Start Your Job Search

THESE ARE BLEAK TIMES IN THE JOB MARKET FOR INFORMATION PROFESSIONALS. Layoffs across all industries, aging libratians who were heading for retirement but can't because of the economic downturn, more and more computerized information storage and retrieval systems "replacing" us, the increase in new graduates working in temporary jobs, drops as high as 73 percent in the number of placement listings at library schools--these are all factors. The 2002 Occupational Outlook Handbook says that employment for Librarians is expected to grow more slowly than the average of all occupations between 2000 and 2010.

But are these really such bleak times? Is there any light at the end of the tunnel?

According to Gretel Stock-Kuperman, senior research manager and executive recruiter at the Whitney Group in Chicago, "There are two ways you can be successful in this marketplace. You can be the exact fit for a company, meaning you have the textbook experience they're looking for, or you can be flexible with what you're looking for. Right now we all have to be flexible. [Librarians and information professionals] need to take a multifaceted approach, looking at traditional library jobs but also nontraditional roles...because our skills are applicable to several different areas."

Our experience in career services tells us that a successful job search entails two phases: (1) know yourself and where you fit and (2) develop a plan and put yourself on the market. The truth is that there will always be a job out there for someone who knows how and where to look.

Phase I: Mind the Gap

Start by performing a gap analysis of your own skills and knowledge. Right now employers are seeking candidates who are proficient in the "soft skills" or "emotional intelligence." These include strong interpersonal and communication abilities, management and leadership potential, the ability to persuade and influence, and the ability to work well in teams. In addition, you should assess your strengths and weaknesses in traditional library skills--finely tuned research skills, ability to think on your feet, planning and organizing skills, Web savvy from online retrieval to site design, attention to detail, a desire to help people, and the ability to manage resources and staff. We suggest revisiting the SLA Core Competencies and studying recent job postings. Are you on par with the demanding standards of today's job market?

Evaluate your knowledge gaps as well. Begin by defining your short- and long-term professional goals: Where do you see yourself next year? What about in the next five years? The next ten? Where do you fit in terms of function, industry, company, and geographical location? If your future goals aren't in line with your current skills, that is where your knowledge gaps are. Over time, you can strengthen your areas of weakness and close the gaps between what you have and what you want.

Once your search is in line with your future goals and you have identified your selling points, you are ready to put yourself on the market and launch your advertising campaign through a well-thought-out job search plan. One often-asked question is "How should I be spending my time and efforts?" We recommend the following allocation:

* 35 percent networking: research, contact, follow up with your warm and cold contacts, arrange informational interviews

* 25 percent research: develop a company target list, research industries and companies

* 10 percent job postings: check job sites, respond to openings

* 10 percent correspondence: update your resume, draft cover letters, conduct a mailing campaign

* 10 percent interview prep: anticipate questions, compose answers, practice

* 10 percent organization: manage your information on each company and each contact

Whether you are a jobseeker, career changer, recent graduate, ambitious professional, or just curious, we hope you find this advice from the trenches useful. …

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