Archive for the ‘careers’ Category.

US News and World Retort

So I’m on the plane back from CIL catching up on some old magazines that have piled up. The March USNWR contains this gem in an article on “Surviving the American Makeover” (on p16 if you’d like to play along at home):

Even some fields that often require advanced degrees — such as law, teaching, library science, [emphasis mine] and some medical-technology specialties — have relatively low income growth, because lots of people choose them and once you have the credentials, the work is fairly standardized. [emphasis again mine]

Care to discuss amongst yourselves?

Getting a job in a tough economy

I’ve been doing some talks lately on career building in a down economy, so was interested to see ALA’s new Getting a Job in a Tough Economy Toolkit. It’s obviously a work in progress, and kind of weirdly organized, but I’m cheered to see any association movement toward helping librarians instead of solely focusing on libraries.

Dear ALA: Here’s a shamelessly self-promoting suggestion — why not link up to LISjobs.com? :P Just a thought.

Anyway. What do you all think of it?

Garb for your next ALA conference?

Things you find on Flickr while looking for something else…..!

Blogging and writing and professional presence

If a blog turned book = blook, does blogging as writing = blighting?

Over at Confessions of a Science Librarian, John Dupuis says that if you don’t have a  blog, you don’t have a resume. Read part 1, part 2, and part 3. Hyperbole? A little — in part 2, he includes a quote from another blogger changing “your blog is your CV” to “Google is your CV,” which probably sums things up a bit better. But I liked (from part 2):

And if you don’t have a professional development plan, I have to say that blogging will help you define and refine your goals and interests. Believe it or not, just writing a little about a lot of different things really will help you figure out what’s important to you.

Exactly! I’d add that thinking or talking about a lot of different things will also help you figure out your priorities, but blogging is a relatively easy way to begin going about it.

I also nodded all the way through Dorothea Salo’s “Writing and Blogging,” which says, among other things:

Blogging took away the rules, allowed (even forced) me to leave myself in my writing, made me conscious of audience, and made me learn to convince. Without those things, I’d still be mired in bad presenting and worse writing.

This reminds me very much of Julia Cameron’s admonition to do “morning pages” and the general standard advice to aspiring authors: Write every day. Although blogging, unlike morning pages, is very much for an audience, it can veer between the brain-dump of “morning pages” and writing that could easily transfer to “the professional literature.” Every bit of blogging serves as that same practice that morning pages provide: Seeing what works for you, what works for your readers, and what works when you come back to it later; finding the nuggets of usefulness among everything you have to say; finding your own voice.

And, coming back to the idea of blogs — or of Google — being “your CV.” The perennial complaint about employers Googling candidates has popped up again, this time on jESSE. (Access the archives, and read the “if wikipedia is problematic, then what do we think about library employers who google their candidates?” thread from February.) The main argument this time is that this enables employers to engage in discriminatory hiring practices by finding answers to questions they would otherwise be prohibited from asking (with the usual side arguments about “how do they know they have Googled the right John Doe,” etc.).

What I first found interesting here was this argument from the original post:

If a manager makes hiring decisions based on a medium that librarians, by and large, universally disparage as an unreliable source of information, then it calls into question the manager’s core competencies as an employer. Does the manager have the skills to conduct a successful job search without resorting to sources of information that are not verifiable (such as facebook or myspace)?

I’d actually argue that it’s incumbent upon managers — especially librarian managers — to gather as much info as possible on potential candidates, including information on how they interact online (although I’d move a bit beyond Facebook and MySpace). How we present ourselves online, especially in our professional interactions on blogs or on lists, has carryover to how we’ll interact in the workplace. I would very much hope that any hiring manager would Google me, because what I have to say online and how I choose to say it translates very closely into what my workplace priorities would be. The OP also asserts that:

Finally, it is also important to note that librarians are going to look hypocritical and ineffectual if they make a stand to protect the privacy of their patrons and ignore the privacy of their employees, even if they are only potential employees.

Here’s what we tell the highschoolers: If you post it online, you don’t have an expectation of privacy. This includes the listserv message excerpted above, which I had deleted out of my email, but found again in about 10 seconds by Googling “jESSE” and accessing the archives. Look, there it is, and if I found it, potential employers (or anyone else who happens to Google that topic, that person, her institution) might well find it as well. What you say online is not private. You can quote me on that, because I’ve said it online, and here it is for all to see.

January 2009 Info Career Trends

Just published the January issue of Info Career Trends, on “alternative work arrangements.” Some interesting stuff in there for those of you interested in telecommuting or other flexibility.

The Pact

I recently read a post over at Feministing about the idea of a “share your salary” pact, which relates the following anecdote (from Pink magazine, although the linked article doesn’t contain it; it is in the full article in the print version):

Apparently Gloria Steinem once told a room full of corporate execs that they should pick one woman in the room and make a pact to always be honest with one another about their salaries. Paula Henderson, one of the young women in the room, made just such a pact, and through twenty years of career changes and economic ups and downs, she estimates that having that transparency made she and her pact partner about three million dollars!

I’m thinking that number might be somewhat less in the library field. However, the case for transparency stands: What if early career librarians made a similar pact with one another? Not to go all Schoolhouse Rock on you, but knowledge is power. Although librarians who are public employees have some built-in transparency there already, this info is often buried (use those mad librarian skills to find it; you might be shocked!). Taking inspiration from someone who graduated (or started working) around the same time as you, as you watch each others’ salaries/job titles leapfrog one another, might spur you to move forward in your career or negotiate what you’re worth.

Trouble negotiating? Be sure to read both Women Don’t Ask and the followup Ask for It, by Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever. Get angry, then get to asking — or at least set the idea aside for when our craptactular economy begins to rebound.

On a related note, Feministing also recently linked to this cheery little Equal Pay commercial (video, sound, language warning). The underlying issues here are fodder for another post (or twelve), but these are issues we should be thinking and talking more about in a still female-dominated profession.

Best careers of 2009 includes librarian — really!

US News & World Report includes “librarian” among its “best careers for 2009. Aside from the annoying writing style (“They may even get to put on performances, like children’s puppet shows, and run other programs, like book discussion groups for elders!”), this is worth reading for the comments alone — which range along predictable lines from “don’t go into debt for this crap career,” to “librarianship is one of the best-kept secrets, I love my job.”

So what do you think — “best career” potential here?

Edited several hours later to add: If you come down on the “crap career” side of the equation, don’t miss Stephen Abram’s comments.

On the setting of goals

Someday, I hope to write a post that starts out similarly to this one from John Scalzi:

I made $164,000 last year from my writing. I’ve averaged more than $100,000 in writing income for the last ten years, which means, for those of you who don’t want to bother with the math, that I’ve made more than a million dollars from my writing in the last decade.

Unfortunately, that day is not today! :) But I’ve been thinking about what separates a Scalzi (or Dr. Frankel – props on the egosurfing, by the way) from the rest of us who make some part of our living from writing and/or speaking — other than the obvious limit, in the library field, of our own market. Scalzi points out that he’s an outlier when it comes to writing income and provides a ton of useful advice about the business of writing and the choosing of markets at the original and a followup post.

I think a good part of this comes down to the making — and pursuing — of long-term goals. I often talk to library folks who don’t want to be where they are — but either don’t know where they actually do want to be, or think it will be too much work to get there, so discourage themselves from even trying.

Five and a half years ago, when my first son was born, I scaled back my “day job” to part time with the long-term goal of working for myself. Three years ago, I quit that part-time job. (I currently gross a bit over what I did when I left my full-time department head position in 2002, but self-employment taxes and lack of benefits leave me significantly further behind.) With two small children at home, this works for now; my new long-term goal is to scale up and start doing more work outside of libraryland, after the younger one is in preschool in a couple of years and I have the necessary blocks of time.

So here be some of my own thoughts, for what they’re worth:

  1. Set achievable goals. How much did you make from your freelance endeavors this year? Set a slightly higher goal next year, and figure out how to get there.
  2. Start out by saying yes. Say yes to things that are unpaid, or that pay badly, or that require you to go out of your way — at the beginning, this is how you build name recognition and a portfolio.
  3. Value yourself and your work. Yes, this does seem contradictory. But at some point, once you have built up a body of work and contacts, you need to start saying no and being more choosy about where you expend your energy.
  4. Get a little help from your friends. You hear about networking’s importance in job hunting — well, freelancing is like going on tiny job interviews, all the time. How do people find out about you? How do you find out about opportunities? Most often, through people you know.
  5. Do ask. Get yourself these two books by Linda Babcock: Women Don’t Ask and Ask for It. Convince yourself of the power of negotiation — and your ability to do so. (Probably more on this later; I just finished Ask for It and am thinking back on where negotiation, or my failure to negotiate, have figured into my own career.)

You may or may not want to work for yourself, but: What are your goals? Where do you want to be in 5 years? If you don’t have any idea, then how do you feel about the thought of being just where you are now, only 5 years older? Now, what are your goals?

If you’re not Dr. Lois Frankel…

You might want to check out what Keith Hoeller has been up to as he advocates for community college adjuncts in Washington State. I sometimes ruminate about the direction my career path would have taken had I stuck with my Ph.D. program, and articles like this are one reason I’m so thankful I didn’t. (Anyone upset over librarian salaries should take a good hard look at the lives of part-time adjunct professors.)