Tag Archives: non-traditional lis careers

About a Decade Later: Former Job Hunter Anonymous 3

Back in 2012/2013 I ran a survey of job hunters (co-authored by Naomi House of INALJ). It had over 500 responses, including 117 people who were at least initially willing to be non-anonymous. In this series, we check in with these respondents to see where they are about a decade later. 

“Anonymous 3” filled out the original survey in late 2012 and her answers appeared as How About Not Discouraging People From Out of State.  At the time she was not employed and looking in multiple library types for entry-level or early career librarian positions. We followed up in early 2014, and found that she was doing government contract work while completing her PhD. Then, in the end of 2014, she had transitioned to full time work as a financial manager.  

When I checked in with her recently I learned that she has continued her shift to the Data side. She was kind enough to answer my questions below:

Where are you now? What’s your work situation like, and what path did you take to get where you are?

I continued to embrace my love of data – the Information Science piece of my MLIS – over the librarianship side of it and moved further into the world of data analytics. I worked hard and became the first Chief Analytics Officer at my organization; near the end of the pandemic, I accepted a full time remote position at a global company. I work with many people who actually started as librarians and then realized that world wasn’t for them and shifted into data. If someone’s education had a solid foundation in databases and systems, but they’re not fully enjoying working as a librarian, data may be a world that they could explore.

Were any parts of your journey completely unexpected?

Becoming a C-suite leader was not anything I had planned on, but it was a great journey that I fully enjoyed. It truly showed me that I had my feet on the right path for my career, and that path has taken me even further than I had ever dreamed would be possible for my life. I am so deeply grateful for where I am and what I have achieved.

Looking over your past answers, what pops out at you? Has anything changed?

My anger over not accepting out of state employees! The out of state employees anger was – and is – still valid in many ways; if someone is willing to move, don’t count them out. As a full time remote worker at this point, I think that the pandemic has further emphasized that you don’t need to confine yourselves to local resources, though I do realize that statement doesn’t apply to in-person librarians. Another thing that stood out were my comments about education not being valued as much as experience – looking back, that was definitely the frustrated 22-year old in me that could not find a job in a faltering economy in a very tight field. Experience can be invaluable, but I do think there are key aspects of hiring new grads that many hiring managers tend to overlook, such as the ability to train up and mold that person the way that you feel is best vs having to break bad habits.

Have you had a chance to hire anyone? If so, what was that like?

I have hired multiple people throughout my career; there are so many great candidates that it really does come down to the interview. I rarely, if ever, looked at cover letters because those get screened before they made their way to me. The resumes usually have the key information for me – if there are certain skills or indicators that the person can learn what I need them to, they go into the interview process. I try to have as little bias as possible when I interview someone; if the candidates are polite and professional, that is what is important. Once I interviewed someone who refused to make eye contact with me, had an angry attitude, crossed their arms, and watched the clock the entire time. Needless to say, despite being immensely qualified, that person did not get a call back.

Do you have any advice for job hunters?

Ensure that you have quantifiable achievements on your resumes – e.g. “This analysis served 14K+ people and saved the organization $150K in labor per month.” These quantifiable metrics mean far more to a hiring manager than “I am a hard worker!” Think hard about how you can bring something new to the table and make sure that you sound organic in your responses when interviewing. I have seen people rejected for being “overconfident” and also “seeming scripted” – note that these were not positions for which I was hiring, but others that I knew.

Do you have any advice for people who hire LIS folks?

It depends on the field. If hiring outside of librarianship, focus on their database skills, web development skills, and knowledge (all of which I had back when I graduated and I am certain are far more common in today’s programs). I’m afraid that I cannot speak to those within the library field as I have so thoroughly departed from it.

Anything else you’d like to tell us?

Never give up! There are a lot of opportunities out there; you just have to make yourself open to seeing them and developing yourself.

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Filed under Job Hunter Follow Up

Author’s Corner: Looking Beyond the LIS Universe

Kim Dority is a fount of knowledge about non-traditional (and traditional) LIS careers.  You may remember her as the brain behind Infonista, featured on this blog back in February. Reading her bio just now, I was also reminded of the wonderful group she manages on LinkedIn, LIS Career Options.  If you’ve been looking for a place to discuss the twists and turns in your career path, look no further. She very kindly wrote this post about what looking for outside-the-box information can do for your career.  In addition to this wonderful strategy for resilience, I hope you will enjoy getting a taste of what you can find in her most recent book:


How do you navigate all of the challenges, changes, and opportunities – both anticipated and unforeseen – that comprise a typically dynamic LIS career? Given how unpredictable the profession has become, trying to gain firm footing on our shifting career sands can be both an adventure (good day) and crazy-making (not-so-good day)!

One of the things I’ve found most useful in attempting to create a resilient career is to learn not only from thought leaders and experts within the profession, but also from those outside it.

At an early point in my career I worked as an executive information advisor for a corporate CEO and developed the habit of doing a monthly “magazine cruise” to expose myself to emerging ideas in multiple areas of research and endeavor. I’d hit my local bookstore, start with art, and happily make my way through magazines devoted to art, foreign affairs, history, military strategy, science, sports, technology, travel, and all the topics in between. My goal was to look for developments and insights outside the usual information we’d automatically be exposed to within the industry, and then reframe those developments and insights into a meaningful context for our work.

Adding online resources, I’ve continued this environmental scanning habit ever since. Yep, I monitor all the key LIS information sources, but I also scan tons of other non-LIS information sources at least once a month so that my thinking – and career framework – is broadened beyond the traditional LIS field.

Although I sort of fell into this process and then realized later how powerful a broader information universe could be to my career opportunities (read: I can’t take any credit for this being a brilliant career strategy on my part!), it has, in fact, been incredibly helpful in building a resilient career. Here’s why I’d recommend this type of information monitoring for your LIS career as well:

  • You’ll usually know at least a top-level something about nearly every topic a patron or client might bring up
  • In an LIS environment, you’ll be able to bridge concepts and solutions between libraries and, say, the corporate world (or military strategy!)
  • You may often help patrons or clients spot new opportunities outside their usual information universe
  • It’s a great way to stay intellectually engaged with the world outside the library, which will make you a better librarian or information professional for your entire career
  • It’s a great way to take charge of your career by developing the habit of looking for and often finding emerging opportunities for information skills

In 2012, I wrote LIS Career Sourcebook (Libraries Unlimited), which addresses each of the career stages LIS professionals are likely to encounter and the recommended resources for navigating those stages effectively and successfully. For example, there are chapters on the LIS career universe, education options, job hunting, professional development, building a professional network, establishing a professional brand, managing, leading, going independent, and dealing with career transition points. As I began putting the materials together, I tried to take a similarly inclusive approach to help readers expand their frame of reference beyond the library discipline.

So, for example, the chapter on management recommends not only Curzon’s Managing Change: A How-to-Do-It Manual for Libraries, but also key management books from Peter Drucker (Management: Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices), Marcus Buckingham (First, Break All the Rules), Robert B. Cialdini (Influence: Science and Practice), and Daniel Goleman (Working with Emotional Intelligence). Although none of these thought leaders had libraries or information organizations in mind when they wrote these landmark books, their lessons and insights are nevertheless highly applicable.

When it comes to creating a resilient career, I’d strongly suggest that one of your goals be to create a broad knowledge base, both inside and outside of the LIS world. My recommendation: go for a magazine cruise once a month and look at all the different topics (scanning the tables of contents usually suffices), set up an online environmental scan using the reader that works best for you, and follow thought leaders in non-LIS disciplines using your favorite social media tools. Because in my experience, the broader your information universe, the broader your career opportunity universe.

Kim DorityKim Dority is the founder and president of Dority & Associates, an information strategy and content development company. During her career, she has worked in academia, publishing, telecommunications, and the library fields, in for-profit and nonprofit settings, for both established companies and start-ups. Kim created and teaches a course on alternative LIS career paths in the University of Denver’s LIS graduate program, and is the author of two books on LIS careers, Rethinking Information Work (2006) and LIS Career Sourcebook (2012), both published by Libraries Unlimited. In addition, Kim created and manages the LinkedIn “LIS Career Options” group, which now includes more than 6,000 members from 60 different countries commenting on roughly 575 discussions. She received her MLS from the University of Denver.



Filed under Author's Corner, Other Organization or Library Type