Sunday, November 12, 2006

No 11/14 post

Due to events beyond my control, there will be no post on Tuesday. Let's hope for some amazing insight to hit me for the following Tuesday's to make up for this one.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Navigating the career path

I had some trouble figuring out what I wanted to write about today. Do I write about the importance of voting, in any election that you are entitled to vote in? Or do I write about something else? I decided to write about something else; thanks to a conversation I recently had with a friend.

We were talking about career paths. As I’ve been perusing the job postings, I’ve been considering what I want out of my next position, and what I’d ultimately like to end up doing. This ties into that interview question: “where do you see yourself in five years?” I think the answer to that question is a double-edged sword. With many institutions, your answer will most likely mean you do not see yourself still at that institution in five years. However, many interviewers like to see that a candidate has ambition. There is no universal right or wrong answer. You have to answer it as honestly as possible, but the answer may be what one interviewer wants to hear and what another doesn’t.

Choosing what positions to apply for can be hard. Circling back to the discussion on cycles, positions appropriate for the next step in your career may not be open. You then have the choice to wait it out for those positions to open. Or, you may decide to branch off of your career path. For a long time, it seemed the only positions open that I was qualified to take were entry-level positions. I ultimately decided to wait it out, but I did consider applying for a few. The ones I considered were not entry-level reference positions, though. They were cataloging positions. I would prefer to be learning a new skill set if I were to start the career clock at zero.

Sometimes taking a position that’s a few steps back on the career path is what you need to do. This may seem contradictory, but it really isn’t. This may be because you are moving to a new area and to get into the local system, you have to take a lower ranked position. At that point, you’ve made the decision that your living situation is more important than your career. It doesn’t mean your career isn’t important, only you’ve made a personal decision to put it on the back burner. I do think this is sometimes easier to do when you are newer to a career. Employers will probably give more leeway by thinking you were still figuring out what you wanted to do. I’ve seen many articles, and had many stories from friends, who have said it can be hard to justify to a potential employer why you want to step back on the career path. Be aware of this if you are considering a move back.

I’m still trying to balance what I want out of my career and life in general. I have a feeling that to get where I ultimately would like to be one day (no, not a director -- that decision may be another column in the future), my career will be a bit circuitous. As long as I truly understand the decisions I make and can explain them to future employers, I think I’ll do okay.

Oh, and if you’re not a member of NMRT-L, join up today as this month’s discussion is regarding job hunting ethics.

My one political statement of the day

I got my "thank you for voting ticket". Have you?