Throughout my 32 year career I’ve worked in several sectors: media, health, government, health, charity and academic. I’ve always seen the power of my transferable skills. We’re very similar to doctors, as we possess basic skills, which we supplement with more specialist skills and knowledge as we develop our careers.
I think this tweet beautifully captures our basic skills, thanks @infoFaerie.
We then build on these skills and develop an understanding of our patrons/users/customers (choose your preferred term) needs and adapt our services and practice accordingly. Often developing our practice and career means moving sectors and I was excited to hear about Davis Erin Anderson and Ray Pun’s book: Career Transition for Librarians: Proven strategies for moving to another type of library.
This is a great book of interviews and essays from information professions in a variety sectors who have made the transition from one sector to another. It covers most of the sectors you can imagine, for example, specialist to academic and vice versa; specialist to public and vice versa; school media to academic/vendor services and more.
I like the mix of formats for the chapters: some are question and answer interviews; others reflections on careers with tips and advice lists; some are in-depth journeys from newbies or mid-career people, outlining all their moves and how they accomplished them. There’s advice there for every stage of a career and most sectors.
The recurring themes that resonated with me most were:
- know your organisation: learn how to find out how your organisation ticks and how you can utilise this institutional knowledge to improve your services;
- moving jobs gives you a good idea of what work environments suit you best;
- identify your strengths and skills and figure out how to reuse them in a job, either by creating a role for yourself, or broadening the scope of what you do;
- be flexible and take up chances to learn new skills;
- get involved in professional associations, for contacts when your unemployed, or job hunting, and for mentoring opportunities and support;
- patience is very important in job seeking process; it will take longer than you expect.
My main criticism is the North American focus, there are a few non-North American contributions, but I would have liked to have seen more as there are undoubtedly some cultural subtleties missing. This though, is a very minor criticism of an excellent book; a must read for anyone who is looking at making a move from one sector to another, or just reviewing their career.