By Meredith Farkas | July 28, 2007
I’ve found a lot of great career and work-related posts over the past month or so that I’ve wanted to share with others. Being a librarian requires much more than we’re ever taught in library school. We’re rarely taught how to promote ourselves, how to deal with supervisors (or how to be supervisors), how to be innovative, how to manage a career outside of our day-job, and how to manage projects. We often learn these things from trial and error and from the sage wisdom of folks who’ve walked this road before us. I have learned so much from reading about other people’s career successes and foibles. Here are a few gems you might want to check out too:
From Tame the Web: “Letting Go of the Culture of Perfect” – Whether we’re talking about analysis paralysis or a fear of failure and looking bad, the “culture of perfect” is a major roadblock to change. The most important characteristic of an innovative organization is having a risk-tolerant culture. People have to feel like they will not suffer if their ideas fail or they will never feel like it’s safe to suggest them. There is also a tendency to discuss an idea to death, to over-plan, which also stems from this fear of failure. We have to be willing to fail to be able to innovate. I’d rather fall on my face a few times than see my library not get better.
From Penelope Trunk’s Brazen Careerist: “5 ways to be better at self-promotion” – this is a great post about the difficulties of developing a reputation in your field. The advice Penelope offers is far from obvious, which is what I always enjoy about her blog. This is great advice for freelancers or just someone looking to build an impressive resume in their field. I love her advice on when to promote what you’ve done and when to shut up about it; something I think we all wonder about. I would add to what she wrote that sometimes the opportunities (speaking gigs, writing gigs, teaching gigs, etc.) that you say yes to thinking that they won’t bring you much prestige are the ones that can often be most important. You never know which gigs will expose you to important people who could change the trajectory of your career. Will that 15-minute Cybertour at Computers in Libraries lead to an important keynote speaking gig? Will the article you write for a small state newsletter lead to a column in a major professional journal? We sometimes meet the people most important to our careers in the most unlikely places.
From Innovate on Purpose: “Behind every successful corporate innovator…” – This post highlights the importance of having champions in your organization if you want to push through big and exciting changes:
Behind every successful corporate innovator lies a person or team who helped smooth the way. If you are an innovator and find yourself impatient with the decision making process or the work involved in building support and rapport internally, identify a sponsor or senior manager who knows the organization and understands how to get things done within the corporate context.
For those of us who are impatient and are full of ideas, this is great advice. I have certainly found champions in my library without whom much would not have been possible.
From the Librarian in Black: “Sarah’s Top Ten Boss Coping Strategies” – Sarah offers some really great advice here on being a valuable employee and coping with a bad boss. Having come from the social work field, where interpersonal relations were stressed, there often isn’t enough training for librarians who manage people. There is a definite art to getting the most out of employees and finding that happy medium between micromanagement and neglect. It’s likely that at some point in your career, you’re going to have a bad supervisor, and surviving that situation without damaging your career sometimes requires swallowing your pride, being patient and being flexible.
“Blog under your real name, and ignore the harassment”: Another great post from Brazen Careerist. Penelope talks about the importance of blogging under your real name since there is a very real possibility that your blog could end up being very good for your career (when handled properly). She apparently had started her blog under a pseudonym and when she became famous for it, she had the awkward experience of dealing with these dual identities (only one of whom was famous). I would add to her advice a caveat that you should only blog under your real name if you are writing things you would be comfortable having your current or future employer read. Blogging can be as good for your career as it can be bad and I think she probably should have mentioned it in her post.
On a related note, there have been a lot of interesting posts on measuring the impact of blog posts professionally and as scholarly works. Here are a few I’ve seen recently:
- How Do You Measure the Success of a Blog Post? from the Bamboo Project Blog
- Is Blogging Scholarly Communication from The Medium is the Message
- New Metrics of Scholarly Authority from It’s All Good
- On the Literature from Cites and Insights
- Bright is the old gray from Lorcan Dempsey’s Weblog
And finally, continuing the meeting discussion from last week comes Karen Schneider’s excellent Eight Tips for Healthy Meetings. In this post, Karen lays out some of the essential ingredients of a good meting and brings up the important fact that “not every issue can be resolved in a meeting.”
Now back to my Post-Potter Depression. Why oh why did I read it so fast???