Career Planning at Any Stage Workshop with Ulla de Stricker

As I mentioned in my last post, Ulla de Stricker was in Montreal on Friday for Web 2.You. At the suggestion of Cabot Yu from CLA-CASLIS, the CLA McGill Student Chapter (led by Adam Baron) and the CLA Montreal Chapter (led by yours truly) were lucky enough to be able to host Ulla for a career planning workshop on Saturday. Although the audience was composed mainly of students, I certainly learned a lot, and I believe the other professionals did as well.

In case you don’t know, Ulla de Stricker is the President of de Stricker Associates, but before becoming a consultant in 1992, she worked in a variety of information-related roles. The breadth of her experience was apparent throughout the workshop, and she emphasized the value of having twenty years of experience as opposed to having one year of experience twenty times over.

She said that if we only took away one piece of advice from the session, it should be to become active in professional associations. This is one of the things I keep saying to students, so I guess this means I’m on the right track in my advice-giving! She told the very sad story of a woman who lost her job after many years and struggled to find a new one because she hadn’t been active with any associations.

The meat of the content included how to create a resume/CV that’s attractive in terms of content and layout (don’t focus on job descriptions, tell your potential employer what you accomplished and took away from previous positions), how to appear and behave at job interviews (bring a nice pair of shoes in a bag if the weather is bad), and how to market yourself and make your work visible (identify your most important clients and do everything you can to learn about their needs and market your services to them).

The slides are available online, so I won’t rehash the entire presentation. I just want to urge everyone, students and professionals alike, to take every opportunity to learn from respected experts like Ulla de Stricker. Until her next presentation, I suggest you look through her slides and consider checking out the book she just wrote with Jill Hurst-Wahl as soon as it’s available.


4 thoughts on “Career Planning at Any Stage Workshop with Ulla de Stricker

  1. Interesting comment about the “sad story” of a woman who had difficulty finding work BECAUSE she had not been active in professional associations.

    Since I was not there to hear the details of the sad story, I can’t fully comment, but I do find it odd that it was THE reason given for that individual’s problems with not finding work. I read it as “join an association and be very active in it……. or else.” A smiley face form of peer pressure masquerading as professionalism.

    There are so many variables involved in a job search; involvement in associations is only one part of it.

    • While you’re certainly correct that not being involved with an association isn’t the *only* reason someone would struggle to find work, here’s how I see it: finding a library job is tough, and it’s in each person’s best interest to do everything they can to give themselves an advantage.

      I do my best to give people advice on jobhunting because others have helped me in the past. I have no interest in pressuring anyone to join an association; indeed, I would be dismayed to meet someone at a networking event who had grudgingly joined the group only because they thought they would not be able to find a job otherwise. Fortunately, it is my impression that the majority of people in the library community enjoy working together and helping others, which is what most associations are all about.

  2. When I first began my MLIS, I loudly lamented the fact that many of the Professional Associations’ Student Chapters used the tactic “it will look good on your resume” when trying to recruit new members. I became involved in several of the groups because I tend to be a social person and I wanted the chance to meet other library students and professional librarians. In Montreal, many of the professional associations organize activities that I found to be extremely interesting and I often learned a lot about current library-related issues. Now that I am in a rural community and the only professional librarian in my area, I truly miss the opportunity to participate in regular activities with other librarians. This is why I am especially excited about attending the CLA conference in Halifax in May. I am so excited about discussing new and important topics with other librarians! I have never thought of professional associations as the ticket to finding a job. However, I strongly believe that the knowledge and advice that I’ve received as a result of being a member of professional library associations has been invaluable in both my job search and now in my day to day work as a librarian.

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