Friday, June 27, 2008

Great Office War

Wouldn't you work in this office--if you didn't have to clean up afterward? In the age of flash memory, practical use for a CD-ROM.

Spotted on Web Worker Daily.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Asking better questions in employment interviews

Cathy Fyock, the author of Truth about Hiring the Best, provides a summary podcast of some bad questions to ask in an interview and how to ask better questions that get relevant answers.

If you're looking for work or about to interview, I would suggest listening to this podcast to get an idea about how to answer a "bad" question with the better, more relevant answer. The best strategy is to try to answer, no dodging, and not to correct the employer, since you can sound pompous.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

I don't take bad advice

Occasionally, The Brazen Careerist has a post with good advice, like how to identify someone who is giving you bad advice. You should apply this lens to all of the career advice that you receive: is occupationism influencing their advice? Am I clinging to erroneous career beliefs?

Occupationism (which, I believe, is the baby of Dr. John D. Krumboltz, as part of his career beliefs system) is like sexism or racism: you have a prejudice toward an occupation or profession because of a stereotypical or cultural image. For example, you may believe that all salespeople are deceptive, overly-hearty manipulators who just want to take your money. Especially those guys who sell SUVs.

Let's look at that: according to this myth, salespeople are not very nice people. I also used the term guys, meaning they are bad men (no women can be salespeople). Now imagine that someone suggested you become a salesperson or you are interviewing for a sales job with very little idea--beyond your own prejudices--about what salespeople are or do. You may engage in a little bit of self-sabotage because you believe you cannot be a salesperson, you're a nice person. That is, if you bother to apply for this job at all. So no job in sales for you.

This can work the other way, overly positive. Many people tie their career to their libido, or projected sexual output and blowback--all those short skirts in Boston Legal; wannabe doctors after an ER marathon; CSI is a gun paired with a microscope, so double the phallic object. However, to take one myth: men in uniform get chicks. People in uniform spend a great deal of time delivering customer service, sometimes with a firearm, with scrutiny and disrespect from the very people they serve. Not to mention the paperwork. It's tougher than it looks. And what happens if you don't dig chicks? I'm sure you can think of more careers with an over-estimation of reward and prestige. But that's occupationism: good and bad erroneous beliefs.

Occupationism is alive and well in libraries: there are lots of weird beliefs about librarians, and those have been thoroughly discussed elsewhere. There are also occupationism beliefs within our profession. While in library school, I remember feeling that if I was not an academic librarian, I hadn't made it. Anything else, unless it involved Lexis-Nexis or story time, was an alternative library career. I also have to struggle to keep occupationism out of my thoughts about library careers, mainly because I was so grumpy about the academic library rah-rahs. If a job is suitable for you, you should focus on it. Misguided or prejudiced thoughts--anti-office, anti-corporate, not prestigious enough--should not keep us from a day-to-day that would be very fulfilling.

Combating occupationism--especially the internal kind--comes with knowledge and discovery, like people changing their minds slightly about salesmen after reading the Pursuit of Happyness. You need to do what some librarians are very good at: research and explore. Allow no prejudice to lie unchallenged--especially your own.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Dress to code

I have great sympathy for the men who received hate messages and were asked to apologize about comments they made in a recent WSJ article about dress codes in the workplace--panty hose and skirt lengths, specifically. I think that if they were setting appropriate standards for their workplace, based on professional needs, and heck, it is their organization that is represented, I think they should have some say in what their employees wear to work--especially if they meet with clients. (original blog post about article)

That said, I can see why women would be perturbed about men still worrying about the temptation rays that come off of their bodies. First, it's a bit creepy. Second, I don't think fashion will curb the problem: for some people, knowing that their favorite gender to mack on is close by, they are just going to dream about a snack.

I also think that dress codes remain antiquated because people don't know what their workers do. For example, librarians climb around under desks, sprint with people to the stacks, they are occasionally asked to wipe up unmentionable goo, and sometimes sparkles, or they have to jump counters or haul heavy boxes. Not all of them, but I have had to do each of those things at least once a week while in the library proper. A skirt and heels won't do it--regardless of how many Jennifer Garner style CIA agents do it on TV, with a little kick boxing on the side.

So please, take a look at your dress code, not in terms of current fashion, because that is too volatile, but look at a dress code in terms of duties and what is safe or not. (Some scary pictures; the scariest one I ever saw was one my cousin showed me about an office worker who lost her finger when her wedding band was caught in a file drawer.)

Monday, June 23, 2008

Got tech? Want a career in crime?

The Read Write Web has an interesting post about why they hire college students and, how, for the same skills, college students are apparently being hired to work in organized crime. Since some of the librarians who are looking for work (or bothering to read a blog) are either 1) college students, or 2) techy, I thought there might be some interest in the article(s).