#MLA DEAL Career Post 1: Begin With The End In Mind

So we begin and as Stephen Covey (author of a book of long ago fame…Seven Habits of Highly Effective People and my first experience with really meaningful goal setting) says, let’s begin with the end in mind.  Your library career has the ability to take a lot of twists and turns.  It’s an adventure! Taking time periodically to be intentional about career planning will help you optimize everything from the courses you choose to take,  the internships you pursue, the library network you build, the job search strategies you employ, the mentors you connect  with….you get the idea.

What…you want search strategies, resume tips, and leads for interviews NOW!

Well, I’ll tell you another favorite saying of mine …. sometimes you have to go slow to go fast.

So let’s take a minute or five or ten (you get the idea:-) and take stock of where you are today and put some stakes in the ground and define what success looks and feels like once you are done with your degree.

WAIT!  While some of you may be very clear on where you want to head but have found the job market to be challenging at best while others of you may be thinking “how can I develop  career goals about a job I’d like to have at the end of my degree when I am just starting”!

No need to panic!

First, adjust your time frame to work for you.  Plan for what you’d like to be, do, or have in relation to your library career over the next 90 days or 9 months.   What matters is you feel comfortable with the time horizon and set goals that are reflective of this time frame.  For example, compare the following two goals in relation to the time frame:

Land my dream job in the next 30 days


Meet five or more new people that can help me connect to my dream job in the next 30 days.

Which career goal is likely to best help you get where you want to go with confidence in the 30 day time horizon?

Next, break your goal of landing your dream job down into bite size chunks even with a longer planning horizon.  Consider the following questions to help you in this process:

  • What traditional and non-traditional career paths exist for information professionals?
  • What skills would be helpful to develop or sharpen while in school to improve your marketability?
  • What experiences outside of course work are essential for figuring out your career next step?
  • Who in your immediate network (don’t forget people you are just meeting like professors and your classmates!) might help you identify important career goals (or help you get there more quickly… no kidding my Graduate Assistant Role and my full time position as an academic librarian both are a direct result of relationships I developed with classmates…don’t under estimate your own power to help or be helped by others you are working with right now!)?
  • Be SMART. Specific. Measurable. Attainable. Relevant. Time Bound.

Finally, put a stake in the ground and identify 3-5 career goals that will motivate you to keep your career front and center!

#MLA DEAL Career Challenge:

Just do it!

1.  Over the next two weeks identify your time horizon and set 3-5 SMART career goals

2. Share the goal you are most excited about and the immediate action steps you plan to take to make it happen on our DEAL LINKEDIN discussion group….library career goals or bust!

Want some recommendations for resources to help in your planning?  Check these out and share with us on the discussion board any new ones you uncover in your planning process that is helpful for you! We are cultivating a list of resources for our DIY page so anything you find useful will be great to share!

Here are a few I’ve located to help you in your planning:

Career Planning Guides:

American Library Association’s career information site with overview of skill, education, interest, and support resources for aspiring librarians.

Bobby Newman’s So You Want to be a Librarian? A Guide For Those Considering an MLS, Current Students & Job Seekers (September 2010) provides links to library career track information, library school dos and don’ts, job search planning, and general professional advice.

Career Vision and Goal Setting:

Run don’t walk! Create your very own professional development plan today.  This Educause PDP guide will provide you will the process and tools to develop and effective plan to get where you want to go in your career!

OK, so you don’t have too much time right now…how about this simple career visioning and goal setting step-by-step exercise from Human Resources at UC Berkeley!

Set career goals early and often!  SMART career goals (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound) help you move from your career of today to your career of tomorrow more quickly.  OK so this is a company blog post (Lululemon.com .. yoga anyone?!) but they have great recommendations for goal setting tools online that you might explore to keep career front and center!

 Quick Access Library Career Track Market Research:

Check out these labor market assessments to help understand career paths in libraries! Remember persistence matters and being creative with your MLS degree will be important aspects of your career planning.

Department of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook:


Similar occupations to Librarian

Get the most current information on a career in libraries from this job description analysis study conducted by San Jose University.  Provides information on emerging skill sets, job descriptions, and career paths.

San Jose State University. (2011). Library and information careers: Emerging trends and titles. Retrieved from http://slisweb.sjsu.edu/downloads/emerging_trends_2011.pdf

Professional Brand Development and Skill Assessments:

Maximize your time in library school!  Here are 10 great tips from Infonista on being an information entrepreneur!

Digitization 101’s November 2010 post on What I want LIS students to know provides a great overview of the field and how to begin building your professional brand.

ISEEK Skills Assessment is a great general skill assessment tool to help figure out what ya got and what you might need to help discern career fit.  Not library specific but a good place to start.

Or try this simple career assessment tool from the University of Minnesota Duluth

Making a career change into library science?  Try this great transferable skills assessment from University of Minnesota Duluth

Happy Career Planning #MLA_DEAL!

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One comment

  1. This is sage: •Be SMART. Specific. Measurable. Attainable. Relevant. Time Bound. I think I will do this! Thanks!

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