Supercharge Your LIS Career

Earlier this week, my friend Tom Nielsen and I presented a session, You and Your Career, at the Special Libraries Association annual conference in Phoenix, Arizona. In the workshop, we discussed the myriad of ways in which LIS students and early career professionals can take their careers to the next level. The goal of the interactive class is to prepare current and future information professionals by:

  • increasing their self-awareness and their understanding of their working preferences

  • improving their knowledge of professional workplace skills

  • developing an understanding of the many ways that they can engage professionally within the field.

It was my first time attending an SLA conference, and I met great people and learned a lot that I can bring back to my consulting business. I also survived multiple days of almost 120-degree heat! The two-block walk from the hotel to conference center was eye-searing!

Tom and I divided the session into three modules that examined participants as individuals, employees, and professionals. Imagine a Russian nesting doll. At your core, you are yourself with all of the insights and experiences that make you "you." The next layer is who you are as an employee, working at your current position within the culture of an organization. The very last layer is who you are as a professional: how you navigate, pivot, and flow through your career and the story it tells about you as a knowledge worker.  

Attendees explored how a deeper understanding of themselves allows them to perform at their best level workwise. Then they shifted their focus to workplace best practices that they can employ throughout the lifecycle of a job. Also reviewed are ways in which librarians and archivists can become more involved in their field through professional development opportunities that play to their strengths.

We had originally planned to do small group activities and full class brainstorms to facilitate the discussions. Instead, given the small class size, we were able to have a much deeper and targeted discussion with the participants.

It was our first time facilitating the workshop, and I'm thankful that we received great feedback to make the class even better. For example, when we originally created the workshop, we focused on library science students and early career professionals. Of course, career changers would benefit from the workshop as well; many people become librarians and archivists as a second career. I'm looking forward to improving the class and teaching it again soon!

To provide some resources beyond the session, I created a list of further readings, divided into three sections:

You as an Individual

The Best Jobs for Every Personality Type

This infographic from Business Insider shows each of the 16 Myers-Briggs personality types and the jobs recommended for each type.

Career Assessment Tools & Tests: Assessments for Students, Job-Seekers, Career-Changers:

From career development and job-hunting site Quintessential Careers, this site provides a good starting point for finding a multitude of personal and career assessments.

An extensive collection of information resources related to the Keirsey temperaments, such as artisans, guardians, idealists, and rationales, plus role variants within temperaments.

Motivational Appraisal of Personal Potential (MAPP)

The MAPP assessment measures your potential and motivation for various types of work while profiling your temperament, aptitude, and possible career matches.

Myers-Briggs Test

A comprehensive collection of information about the Myers-Briggs personality type test, including the assessment tools, results interpretations, and information on how to use your results.

Personal SWOT Analysis: Making the Most of Your Talents and Opportunities

This article and accompanying worksheet will help you identify the key questions to ask yourself to unearth the information most useful for making career decisions.

Personality Lingo

A site that provides information about the multitude of personality assessments and types, describing the lingo used by the most popular assessments to help you understand both your outcomes and those of others.

“Personality Types and Librarians” (Part 1) and (Part 2)

A terrific overview of librarians’ MBTI statistics and the impact of those stats on potential career choices.

You as an Employee

Career Q&A with the Library Career People

A monthly career question-and-answer session with Tiffany Allen (director of Library HR, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill University Library) and Susanne Markgren (digital services librarian, Purchase College, State University of New York).

Emerging Career Trends for Information Professionals

This annual recap from the San Jose State University School of Information provides not only job titles but also job trends for the current information career universe. The report also identifies many of the requisite job skills for specific LIS roles and the skills hiring managers are currently emphasizing based on an analysis of LIS and general job posting sites. Especially valuable for those considering nontraditional career paths.

How to Become a 21st Century Librarian

A resource for those considering traditional librarianship, but also a great reminder of why library work can be so rewarding.

LinkedIn LIS Career Options

A LinkedIn group focused on every possible aspect of LIS career options, whose members include students, practitioners, those considering librarianship, LIS recruiters, and vendors.

Making the Shift:  Using Transferable Skills to Change Career Paths

An overview of how to use transferable skills to create career path options.

Navigating the Salary Question

Excellent source of specific language to use when attempting to navigate the salary question during the initial interview.

An Open Letter to New Librarians

An honest response from technologist and LIS thought leader Roy Tennant on dealing with the frustrations facing many recent graduates and others new to the library profession.

You as a Professional

Asking to Connect on LinkedIn—Words to Use

One of the important aspects of networking on LinkedIn is reaching out and establishing links to others. This blog post gives examples of wording you can adapt to tailor your request for the individual you’re reaching out to.

Creating a Positive Professional Image

Discussion of the most important elements of creating a strong professional brand, building credibility, and maintaining authenticity.

How to Be a Leader in Your Field: A Guide for Students in Professional Schools

Thoughtful and practical advice during graduate school tenure and subsequent career

How to Build a Meaningful Career

A practical exploration of purpose as it relates to the work we choose to do, how we do it, and how it supports our human need for meaning in our lives.

How to Build Your Network

This article, written by Brian Uzzi and Shannon Dunlap, is an exploration of how information and connects flow based on the nature of those connections.

How to Network Effectively

A methodically, well-organized overview of how to think strategically about the various aspects of your network and how to gain the most benefit from each of those aspects

The Imposter Syndrome: Or How I Learned to Get Over My Panic Attack, Love My Promotion, and Make My To-Do List

This post addresses a phenomenon often experienced by individuals who are promoted to positions of leadership and authority. This is an especially significant concern if you are trying to build confidence and courage.

The Strength of Weak Ties

An article on why “weak ties” or connections of people outside your normal sphere of influence and engagement can provide to be a highly effective way of opening up additional career opportunities as well as extending your access to knowledge and insights outside your immediate professional community.

What's Next

What career resources have you found helpful?

If you're interested in having Tom and I facilitate this workshop at your institution, contact me at

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