Expanding career potential in the information professions: notes from an SLA seminar

Last week, I attended a DC/SLA seminar/webinar on “Expanding your career potential,” by Deb Hunt and David Grossman. In this post, I’ve highlighted some of the most important skills and listed my takeaways from the presentation.

Both presenters shared great tips and advice for information professionals to expand our career potential. The focus of the presentation was skills and skill-sets for the 21st century. They also talked a bit about personal branding.

Important skills for information professionals

  • Digitization. Technology has advanced so that all types of organizations (even public libraries) can afford to digitize. Skill set includes: Acrobat, Photoshop, managing or implementing digitization projects, working with databases.
  • Electronic skills. Indexing, archiving, metadata. Applying hierarchical and classification schemes, formatting fields for data entry.
  • Taxonomies. Classifying data, familiarity with descriptive metadata, building a taxonomy from scratch.
  • Document management. Tagging, permissions, security control, workflows.
  • Enterprise content management. A fancy (and widely understood) way of saying increasing the findability of and organizing files related to organizational information and content.
  • Knowledge management. Defined as generating value from information (e.g., generating, collecting, and sharing information).
  • Records management. Controlling records throughout their life cycle.
  • Digital asset management. Useful for special collections and museum collections. Creating and working with finding aids/pathfinders. Familiarity with EAD.
  • Web site design. Know enough to make updates, edits, and to determine how users use sites.
  • Web 2.0/Social networking. Also part of personal branding strategies.
  • 21st century cataloging skills. I would have liked to learn more about what these skills are.

Other important skills

  • Research and analysis. Analysis is key. Be specialists, go to consumers (proactively), provide expertise, answer complicated requests, and provide total solutions.
  • Business management skills, e.g., marketing, sales, people management/supervisory, volunteer recruiting and management (increasingly important in today’s economy), budget management, communications, project management, public speaking and presentations, grant writing, meeting and event planning.
  • Strategic knowledge/advantage. See the big picture, think outside the box.
  • Results-driven problem-solving.

* Lastly, be able to quantify and project your own value to management and decision-makers.

Basic strategies for acquiring new skills

  • Read
  • Take classes
  • Attend webinars
  • Write or blog about it (become an expert)
  • Mentoring (find one or be one)
  • Volunteer
  • Intern (mid-career internships are becoming more common)

Remember, some organizations do allow volunteering/interning outside of regular business hours.

* Define yourself in terms of your contributions to the bottom line.

Resume tips

Many job searchers have already discovered these tips, but they bear repeating.

  • Focus on accomplishments
  • Quantify the value you bring to the organizations you’ve worked with

Final words

  • Network, network, network
  • Tell everyone you’re searching to expand your career potential (this was new to me, and somewhat surprising)
  • Broaden your search beyond “librarian” positions. There are some useful lists on SLA’s website and on INALJ.com
  • Don’t fall into the “I’m too busy” trap (I’m discovering just how difficult this is!)
  • Ask for what you want, and show what you can do.

For anyone interested, the second webinar in this series is “Reach your maximum career potential” on March 20th. Viewing in-person and online.


2 thoughts on “Expanding career potential in the information professions: notes from an SLA seminar

  1. Pingback: Expanding career potential: strategies for information professionals | Cultural Heritage and Information

  2. Pingback: Expanding my career potential in digital stewardship | Cultural Heritage and Information

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