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Member Voice: Planning Your Career

Member Voice: Planning Your Career

Whether you are just starting your career or considering a change of employer or career focus, knowing yourself is the key to unlocking great possibilities. I hear people make statements such as “Let me just see what’s out there” or “Oh, that sounds like it would be a fun job” — but they have not done the prep work needed to know if those opportunities will actually be successful matches for them.

To make a great match, what sort of soul searching do you need to do? There are three basic questions to answer:

  • What is your unique expertise?

Remember and record your past and current knowledge, skills and abilities, and decide which you want to continue and which are not of interest. Also think about future expertise you plan to obtain. This process allows you to focus on those jobs that match what you would like to do, and you can tailor your curriculum vitae (CV) or resume (with past and current expertise) and cover letter (with to-be-obtained expertise) with the best information possible to land an interview.

  • Where do you want to live?

Decide if you prefer small towns, big cities, the Northeast, South Florida, abroad, etc. Once you know your personal preferences, you can identify job listings particular to specific geographic areas and possibly make professional connections before you even look at job listings.

  • What type of employer is best for you?

Come up with a personal mission statement for your work values and what you would like to accomplish. With this insight, identify potential employers whose mission is in line with yours: review organization websites, search local papers to see if organizations are mentioned and for which reasons, meet people at workshops and conferences, and conduct information interviews.

So, how do you create a tailored cover letter and resume to get an interview with your ideal employer?

Your cover letter is your personal introduction to the employer and provides a first impression of who you are. Through words, the letter should paint a picture of who you are and how you would contribute to the employer’s goals (pull out your research on the organization you’re applying to!). It also highlights selected information from your resume and provides more details if needed. Like any well-written essay, start your cover letter with an introduction, include one or more paragraphs with topic sentences and supporting sentences with additional details, and end with a conclusion.

Your CV or resume should be clear and consistent, with specific information to describe your experience. If you don’t want to include particular jobs, use the heading “Related Experience” rather than just “Experience.” Start each job description with a verb (present or past tense as appropriate), and use quantifiers when possible. For example, “Edited a weekly e-resources blog with a circulation of 1000 library users” rather than “Helped on a regular basis with the library blog.”

It is extremely worthwhile to have other people read your cover letter and CV/resume. Ask them to please let you know if anything is not immediately understandable – after all, an information professional should be an excellent communicator, and your application documents illustrate your written communication skills.

Happy soul searching, researching, writing and careering!


Susan Epstein is a systems librarian at the Charlotte Edwards Maguire Medical Library, Florida State University. She began her career at FSU in 1994.

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Member Voice: Marketing Corporate Libraries for Success

My name is Cory Hutchinson and I am a librarian at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control in Orlando, Fla. Our current marketing strategy includes many innovative ideas and I wanted to share them with you in the hope that you take them, improve them, and share them with me.


Team Meetings

My colleague, Kate Vilches, and I started our marketing campaign by contacting vice presidents within our company to request short, face-to-face meetings with them to discuss how library services positively impact their departments’ financial results. We discussed how outsourcing information gathering to librarians was more efficient and cost effective than using scientists or engineering and reminded them that part of their budget funds the library so they were, in effect, paying for services and not using them. We requested they share this information with their department directors and managers to incentivize them to accept our requests to present at their staff meetings. At those meetings we gave presentations tailored to that team’s specific information needs, highlighting related library services. Five years later, we are still holding these meetings and find them to be an extremely effective way to create new customers.


Eureka Streams

Promoting some of the research and activities we support on traditional social media is prohibited due to proprietary or classified information regulations. Luckily, one of our other Lockheed Martin businesses, Information Systems & Global Solutions, created an internal Twitter-like social media platform called Eureka Streams. Employees and teams can create profiles, follow each other, share links to items of interest, use hashtags, and collaborate on projects in a space that allows for the discussion of proprietary information (classified and third-party proprietary information is still prohibited). Using Eureka Streams allows us to increase awareness of upcoming events, special collections and displays, and has created a new space for librarians and our patrons to collaborate on library-related topics. Here are some examples of what we post to Eureka Streams:

Office Hours

For some employees it can be as much as a 15 minute walk to the library from their desk and if they work in a different building than the library that can also mean getting lost or having to ask for directions in order to get to the library. At our company almost all employees are issued a laptop instead of the traditional desktop computer. This decision allows us more flexibility to work around the facility and to more easily access our work from home if we ever need to work remotely. Based on the increased flexibility afforded to me by my laptop and the difficulty some patrons have expressed regarding getting to the library, I decided to hold office hours at different locations around our facility to increase the availability of library services to our employees.

I selected three locations, cafeteria, administration building, and the research and development building, to hold office hours because they have the highest concentration of employees and with the greatest foot traffic. As of yet, office hours have produced mixed results; we received a positive initial response, but very few people have taken advantage of them, with only one major research request produced in a month.

So, are you marketing your libraries? If so, what has been the most successful? What has been a disastrous failure? Please continue the conversation on by commenting on this post or by email through the SLA listserv, sla-cfl@sla.lyris.net

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