Saturday, January 24, 2009

American Libraries Digital Supplement

American Libraries released a digital supplement that talks about the library profession. The article the Bun Heads are Dead, originally put me off because I am tired about reading about how librarians buck the stereotypes (it makes me guilty to wear glasses feel guilty to wear glasses), but I overcame my prejudices and read the article which has some good suggestions for non-traditional library careers. There is a good PD supplement and an article on "service learning", also known as experiential learning, which is a good way to evaluate a program before applying to graduate school. Practicums and internships, on-the-job learning, are a good way to get your foot in the door or to learn what type of librarianship will suit you.

Take a quick scan of this one, no matter where you are in your career, since it has good general career management advice.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Why you shouldn't blog about patrons

According to this blog post from BNET, some employees of Tesco in the UK have found themselves in hot water for talking about customers on a Facebook page. A librarian also got dismissed for writing a book about patron client interaction in a library, even though she wrote under a pseudonym.

The truth is, every person who is responsible for hiring in a library googles their candidates to see what they are up to online. Usually, they are looking to see publications and what you have done for the profession, or as a student. They are looking for your digital footprint, the good stuff, but sometimes they find dirt, publicly available. And blogging about patrons, no matter how witty, is dirt.

It's in the ALA code of ethics that librarians "protect each library user's right to privacy and confidentiality with respect to information sought or received and resources consulted, borrowed, acquired or transmitted". It doesn't matter if their query is ridiculous or if the person is smelly or nasty; we need to protect their privacy--unless a crime has been committed, and there are appropriate policies to deal with that issue.

And if you are blogging about it, even if you believe you are anonymous, people will find out about it. Librarians especially. You might think you are anonymous and do a few google searches to make sure your digital footprint is a proper fit, but I want you to go and search yourself in Pipl. Use some of the usernames you have signed on to online services for, like browser mail, blogs and social networking and see what comes up attached to your aliases. You might think you are anonymous, protected by a handle, but if librarians are good at anything it is following rabbits down digital holes. See where some of yours lead and don't make any online dead ends by violating professional ethics.

How to pick a resume book

If it's resume writing time and you aren't sure what a professional's resume looks like--or in the case of librarians, you aren't sure if you're writing a resume or a CV--how do you pick a resume book that will have appropriate samples and advice?
  • There are generic resume writing books, which have samples for everything, and resume books that are specific to industry, sector or based on common career issues (a comeback mom or a career transitioner, for example). 
  • Good resume books have a good table of contents that describe the samples and what types of positions the resumes are to be matched with. Resumes should be targeted, so a generic job-seeker resume won't help most experienced job seekers. In the case of librarians, a good index can overcome the lack of a table of contents, but can frustrate clients who don't think about checking the index. No table of contents with listing by type of resume, or an index equals skip that book.
  • There are at least three different types of resume, and a wide range of types of career within a sector, or even an occupation, such as librarianship, so you want a wide-range of types of resume that shows different fonts, styles and layouts.
  • How sophisticated is the writer? If you are a poor writer who has run out of friends willing to write or rewrite your resume, you need a book with exact samples that match the position you are applying for. (But don't copy them exactly--that's cheating and dishonest, and the recruiter has probably seen that resume at least once before.) If you are more sophisticated writer, you need book that has samples, but which also explains the "rhetoric" of resume writing. Especially if you have to get over some prejudices against the resume writing style.
  • Before and after resume samples can help, but these are more helpful to sophisticated writers who understand what the problem is in their writing, but who want some suggestions on how to improve their resume.
  • If you're going to buy the book for your own collection, a chapter on cover letters, advice on emailing, formatting and laying out a resume, as well as advice on how to write in the resume style, such as how to write a solid highlights of qualification, should I include a job objective, when do I move my education below my work experience on my resume, should be included in the book that you purchase. I would also recommend, for librarians, that the book you buy has some CV samples, or advice on how to make a hybrid resume/CV.

You can apply this advice in your work life, since I am sure you will get the question, I need to write a resume, do you have any resume books? many times in your career.

Resume books reviewed:

Farr, M. (2007). Same day resume. Indianapolis, IN.: JIST Publishing.
Karsh, B., &  Pike, C. (2009). How to say it on your resume. New York: Prentice Hall.
Salvador, E. (2006). Step-by-step resumes. Indianapolis, IN.: JIST Publishing.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Don't wait for a rescue

There are lots of posts (like this one) and articles (like this one) about is it a recession or a depression, how long will it last, etc. The only uniform answer is, we don't know. No matter how much knowledge a person has, or expertise in the area, that is the one certainty: we have none.

But there is one constant theme in all of this analysis that is beginning to make me nuts: The Obama Effect (Let Me Google That For You). Obama supposedly has had an effect on the campaign, on the confrontation in Gaza, and now, he will have an effect on the economy, (etc.)--possibly for the better. And his and the plans of his advisors will have an effect on the individual, so the Obama Effect is not all hot air.

But, in case you're confused, Obama's dad was from Kenya, not Krypton. The only person who will save you is you. If you're in school and you're worried about the future, this is what you need to do:
  1. Check your bank balances and start saving, especially if you have no savings. Try this rule: with the exception of cost of living needs, if a desired item costs more than you make in an hour, don't buy it, eat it, visit it, view it, or hang it on your wall.
  2. Don't buy anything else on credit since you will just have to pay it off later, with interest. Put your credit card in the freezer until you need it to buy bus or plane tickets to interviews or conferences. See suggestions #13 and #15 on ways to save money on traveling.
  3. Look for ways to bring down your personal costs.
  4. If you have a student loan, some lenders make sure you go through a consultation about repayment. Find out about getting one booked and learn about the repayment process, especially if your lender has a program for loan remission.
  5. Ruthlessly squeeze every cent out of your tax return. See if there is a student service that will help you file for free or cheap.
  6. Is your resume ready to go? If not, complete it and have it proofread by the end of this month.
  7. What are the job resources available to you in your state or province? Does your library school have a job search library? Have you made job searching part of your daily schedule?
  8. Ask your current employer about the prospects for extending your job into the summer or the likelihood of a position after you graduate. Do not believe gossip--cut backs or increases--go directly to the person who has hiring authority. Find out about their hiring plans and find out how you can become a candidate.
  9. Subscribe to the appropriate listservs that have job postings in the field you are interested in.
  10. Have you spoken with your references, or your internship/co-op coordinator or supervisor? Did you remind them that you are on the market and would be grateful for any advice (read  job leads) that they could send you?
  11. If you are thinking about relocating, start using vertical search engines and niche job boards in that province or state and start applying for work.
  12. Next month have a mock interview with a real professional interviewer and polish your skills. Get honest feedback, not from a person who loves you or forgot to give you a Valentine.
  13. Does your web cam work? Do you know how to get it to work if it works but you have never used it? You can keep down interviewing and traveling costs by checking to see if your web cam is ready for action. [Sheesh, not that kind of action.]
  14. Attend a session on negotiation so you can learn how to deal with HR, interviewers, bankers and landlords, so you can negotiate in regards to rent, repayment and salaries. You will need these skills if you have to work in purchasing or licensing in any library that has contracts with external companies (like, all of them) so now is the time to learn and practice, practice, practice.
  15. Take advantage of as many free or low cost services that you can use right now, as a student. First of all, take advantage of the student rate to go to library conferences that have a career fair so you can hit at least ten potential employers, and get through some screening interviews.
    Most of you with experience in taking care of yourselves will have already taken these steps; for others, these are new, or you're not used to doing so much at one time. Think about that: do it now, and check them off one at a time, or wait 'til you graduate and add, buy Maalox, to the list.