Doesn’t everyone read job adverts for fun?

Last week I mentioned to a friend about a really cool job that I had seen. She replied “better not tell your boss you are looking for another job”. I had thought of my statement more as a conversation starter, but my friend didn’t see it that way at all. This has happened to me before. A lot.

I have a confession to make.

I read job adverts. For fun.

I am forever reading job ads, within my current profession and external to my industry. I have always done this. No matter whether or not I have a job, no matter what job I am looking for, I read job ads. It doesn’t usually mean that I am looking for a new job, at least, not yet. And I have almost always found that this habit of mine makes other people nervous, especially employers.

Here’s my perspective on it. I am curious about what jobs are being advertised, how they are being advertised, where they are being advertised. Has an industry got a new “buzz” title for existing jobs? Are new jobs opening up in a sector that I didn’t know about?

I have alerts set up on all sorts of online job sites. Mostly I am not looking for a job, but I am curious to see how my current skills could translate to other positions or new industries. I am also curious about what other kinds of jobs I could do if I up-skilled. I look to other sectors about how they recruit new graduates, and how companies sell themselves to potential employees. What words do they use to describe their workplace? What incentives do they offer employees? What soft skills do they talk about needing? What technical skills do they need?

In March 2013 I found (at least) three non-library job adverts that made me go “ooh, that sounds like interesting“. I don’t have the exact skills that these employers wanted, but as a result, I have now enrolled in a free online course to learn more of one of those skills, I have added five books to my e-shelf to read, and I have emailed a colleague to ask more about how she uses [technical skill] in her current job. So while I didn’t apply for any of these jobs, they gave me some avenues to explore for new PD opportunities.

I’m starting to accept that not everyone reads job adverts for fun. It won’t stop me doing it, but maybe I won’t mention it so much.

Advice and ideas about Dream Jobs

A recent browse at the public library led me to an interesting read. Laura Dodd talked to her twentysomething peers about their work. What did they love? What did they not love? How did they get the job they have? What is their workplace really like? In 2011, Laura Dodd published her first book, dig this gig : Find Your Dream Job – or Invent it.

I enjoyed the way the stories were grouped into sections, from growth sectors to new twists on traditional industries, such as “Green Gigs – One Earth, Billions of Footprints”. These are stories from the trenches, what is the work environment *really* like. Here’s a video promo from the author.

In the book’s introduction, Dodd mentions two common threads of the stories. #1 It is hard.#2 But it is all worth it. Two other underlying themes of this book resonated with me. Mentors. Failure. The first is often talked about in LIS land, & usually in a positive way, but the second is often ignored, or viewed negatively. Dodd interviewed mentors in the various fields and asked them to share their insights with up & comers? Dodd also includes a section titled Derailed Gigs. It sheds light on what really happens when it all turns to custard. How to recover from redundancy? being fired? being let go?

It’s got me thinking about GLAM jobs. Do we really know what it is like in the workplace trenches? How do new librarians and new professionals know what is out there? For example, at NLS6 a common theme was data, Big Data, messy data, cultural data. Do many of us newbies really know what this might mean for our future careers? How do we find out? How do we learn more about it?

Early on in my librarian career, I approached several senior staff in my then-workplace. I asked if I could buy them a coffee and talk to them about their career path. I was new & enthusiastic, and I wanted to know more about what the future career path might look like for me. So I bought them a coffee and asked some starter questions. How did they get the job that they had? What were the highlights from their career journey? What advice did they have for a newbie like me?

It was incredibly useful, and taught me to listen and reflect. It only cost me time and coffee, and it was really worth it. Some of the jobs that I thought looked interesting from the outside were indeed interesting, but not for me once I found out more about what they actually entailed. Other jobs that I didn’t really know much about seemed much more like what I wanted to do. It was worth being brave (and naive) enough to make contact with them.

There’s plenty of jobs that I want to know more about. Perhaps it is time for me to start asking more questions over coffee to get new ideas, find out what it is really like in the trenches, & what skills I might need to acquire to be better positioned to move into those roles in the future.

New [Librarian/Graduate/Professional] – is it all just semantics?

I see some differences in these three terms (my reflections are my own, & may change in the future, this is today’s reflection):

  • new librarian –> someone who has recently begun working as a librarian.
  • new graduate –> someone who has recently achieved the requirements of a particular qualification.
  • new professional –> someone who has recently achieved professional registration.

Do our customers differentiate between these terms? Do our employers differentiate between these terms? Do our pay-scales reflect any differences between these three terms? Does the industry differentiate between these terms? Do we self-identify with different terms?

Does it matter?

The enthusiasm & willingness of people to join in recent discussions and to volunteer for different roles in the recently set-up New Professionals NZ network shows that there’s a gap in the support network in the New Zealand LIS industry.

For some, it is a gap while they are studying, for others it is a gap once they have finished studying. For some, it is a gap when they first enter the library workforce, for others it is a gap as they move into their first senior/qualified/management role.

There is a definite willingness of the part of more experienced librarians to support the New Professionals NZ network. There is also a wistfulness from many who wished there had been an opportunity to participate in something like this when they were “new”.

However people choose to participate in this new network is an exciting part of a new network becoming established. The network may choose to replicate overseas models (ALIA’s New Grads, IFLA’s NPSIG), or the network may choose to embed itself in existing local models (LIANZA Groups or SIGs). The network may choose to establish a new model of participation. It will be up to the participants to determine how they choose to establish themselves as a network.

In the end, do the semantics matter at this stage? It’s really up to the people stepping up to participate to determine what they call themselves.

Who says I am a professional?

This is my personal perspective on it. I’m still working my way through this topic. My views may change. This is today’s reflection.

I completed the requirements for my M.L.I.S. in 2006. –> I became a new librarian.

I attended my graduation ceremony in 2007. –> I became a new graduate.

I became professionally registered with LIANZA in 2011. –> I became a new professional.

However, if I wasn’t professionally registered with the New Zealand industry association, would I still be considered a professional? I would definitely still consider myself a professional librarian, but I don’t know if Library Land would.

My behavior has changed little since my professional registration. I still read voraciously, I still actively participate in discussions, I still develop myself professionally. I now make notes of what I do professionally to fulfill registration requirements for my professional association, but I don’t think that makes me more or less professional. It does mean that I keep track of and reflect on my PD to fit specific criteria for specific assessment. It demonstrates to employers that I meet the benchmark for the industry (or at least it will when I submit my journal for successful validation in 2014 – I am thinking positively about the future!).

It will be an interesting challenge to determine what exactly is a new professional for the LIS industry. Is this year going to be a tipping point for NZ? Are Kiwi New Librarians emerging from their studies keen & ready to fully immerse themselves in the professional registration process? Will we see all NZ LIS graduates take up professional registration? Do we have enough mentors stepping up to support the 12 months mentoring scheme?

The embedding of professional registration will take time in NZ’s Library Land. It took time overseas for professional registration to become the standard for other Library Associations. Registration has become part of the fabric of other NZ industries, such as teaching (NZ Teachers Council – Registered Teacher Criteria), social work (ANZASW – competency & re-certification) and architecture (NZIA). No doubt there was initial resistance in many of those sectors. No doubt there is still not 100% registration within these industries. No doubt professional registration means different things to different sectors.

I can see lots of potential research emerging from this topic with the lens on new librarians and new professionals. I don’t think this research should only be undertaken by LIS students, but I’m not sure who would find funding for this research otherwise.

  • Investigation of the impact(s) that professional registration has on new librarians.
  • Investigation into why new librarians choose not to participate in the professional registration process (are the reasons similar or different to those of established librarians who have chosen not to register?).
  • Comparison of the NZ experience against overseas experience in LIS industry.
  • Investigation of whether or not being a professional librarian has an impact on salaries in NZ, and across different library sectors (e.g. school, tertiary, special, corporate, law, public).
  • Investigation of the impact of professionalism in the school librarian community, who are working alongside teachers who have to be registered to be able to do what they do.
  • Comparison of LIS industry with other professions.

Why NLS6 has changed my views on Professional Development

I’m still a relative newbie in library land, but NLS6 has been a critical turning point for me. The themes of NLS6 really resonate with me. Be Different. Do Different.

For me, that translates to Be Myself.

I struggle to follow the herd. I struggle to toe the party line. I struggle to be part of the cool crowd. I struggle to be part of the mainstream. I struggle to accept ‘because that’s how we’ve always done it’.

It’s not so much that I want to be or do different deliberately, I just find that mainstream thinking doesn’t match what I want or need professionally. I want things to be better than they currently are. Yes I know that there are always others factors & constraints (budgets, people management, strategic plans, politics) but I am an idealist at heart, and I do believe that there’s often a better way. It might be that now isn’t the right time for those things to happen, but I do believe that there is always a better way.

While NLS6 is not the first time I have self-funded for Professional Development, my experiences as part of Heroes Mingle along with NLS6 have changed my views on Professional Development. Well, perhaps not fundamentally changed so much as solidified my position on PD.

I’ve been lucky to have had the generous support of previous organisations (hats off to Christchurch City Libraries) for a wide range of Professional Development opportunities, and many supportive managers along the way. I certainly wouldn’t be this far along my own professional journey without their support. And I fully acknowledge that organisational support has shaped where I am today.

It is now up to me to capitalise on those earlier PD opportunities, to give thanks for their part in my PD journey, and to now forge my own Professional Development pathway.

I choose to fully take ownership of my journey.

I choose the PD roads ahead of me, instead of having them chosen for me by an organisation. I choose to create and participate in non-workplace supported PD opportunities. I choose to participate in non-library PD opportunities. I’m stepping outside the safety net of organisational PD. And for me, I believe that is a critical part of my PD experience.

There’s no doubt that I will still participate in and support organisational & industry association PD events (I am Professionally Registered with LIANZA), but it won’t be my only pathway. To rely solely on organisational supported and funded PD opportunities limits us as individuals, as organisations and as an industry.

Some people might view it as a risk & a challenge to step outside an organisational-only PD framework, but for me, it is my way to Be Myself.