Friday, February 1, 2008

Stop dissing other professionals

What do we need a library for? We have the Internet! I've got Google, who needs a librarian! Librarians just check out books, they can't help me at all.

Now that I have your attention and have raised your ire, I would like you to remember that feeling the next time you dis other professionals. You know who I am taking about: the career counsellors at your college/university who you refuse to see; the third party recruiters who you think will charge you exorbitant fees for zero service; and the financial advisors who you are convinced cut their ethical teeth at Enron. You are languishing in stereotype land, and from a professional whose profession has her/his share of stereotypes (cardigan, bun and odor of mothballs, horn-rimmed glasses, wool socks and Birkenstocks...sound familiar?) you should be ashamed of tarring another profession.

Especially when they can really help you with career planning, since career planning is more than scanning the want ads and filling out an application form. For example:
  • Career advisors/counsellors: may have advanced degrees in psychology or previous experience in human resources. They are invaluable when it comes to polishing your resume or mocking up your interview skills. They may also be able to help you with the stresses of relocation, salary negotiation, dealing with a career that may, initially, mean some contract-to-contract living, and some insight into the job hunting industry. Even expert researchers need help sometimes.
  • Financial advisors: may have degrees in business, commerce or accounting, or may have learned their trade working for a credit agency or financial firm. You should visit one for help laying out your budget--the necessary first step in all salary negotiations and decisions--for information about paying back your student loans, like how fast, or if you have used a line of credit or credit cards to finance your graduate education. They can also help you determine what perks or benefits to look for in an employment offer since they have experience putting a monetary value over time on things like pensions, insurance, and tuition remission. Start with your bank to see if they have a financial advisor on board, ask about their credentials and make an appointment to see them.
  • Third-party recruiters (also known as "headhunters" or "executive search") : are sometimes a little more wild West, but they may have several years working in human resources or another profession (some librarians become third-party recruiters). Third party recruiters make their money charging the employer who is looking to hire, not the job seeker. In Canada, start with the Association of Canadian Search, Employment and Staffing Services (ACSESS).
Yes, there are "bad" career and financial advisors, as well as bad recruiters, but there are also bad librarians. I remember in one of my first year classes, how we were all asked if we had had a mean librarian experience--where someone scared us, angered us, or struck us with a vicious shush--and everyone in the classroom had met a mean librarian. I don't think that any of us went on to be mean librarians--but everyone has bad days--so don't let a stereotype or a prejudice fill your head against working with other professionals who can assist you with your career.

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