Umbrella 2011 – Session A – Skills and Professionalism

Key points:

  • You have 6/7 seconds to make an impression on a first meeting
  • Reputation is built up piece by piece
  • Respect is also something you build up. How am I valued by others?
  • Intangible skills e.g. self-belief. All skills are transferable.
  • Your CV needs to show that you are the best at what you do. It must include examples and you have to treat it like an advertising and sales package.
  • Use ‘I’ not ‘we’ (no I in team?). Banned words: ‘only’ as in ‘I only do..’ and ‘them/they’.
  • You need a Plan B – an escape route out of the profession.
  • Write down what you’re good at and what your dream job looks like


  1. What is this thing we call a ‘profession’?
  • We’re connectors of information. We enable people
  • We’re great at customer service: reading people, employing psychological techniques.
  • Are we ‘the beating heart’ of the organisation?

2. How do I document my abilities, competencies and skills?

  • Do I have more skills than I recognise? What are my weaknesses?

3. Professionalism – what is it?

  • Attitude
  • Behaviour
  • Character


  • Is an employer outside the sector really going to consider someone for a non-library/information post that has always worked in LIS settings? Do we get pigeonholed and is that unfair?
  • Isn’t it enormously arrogant to tell an employer why we’re so great and not to address why we should work for the organisation? I always look at the job spec, do some research on the organisation and tailor my application to the job and the company, rather than write a self-promoting ‘pitch’. Am I getting it wrong?

One thought on “Umbrella 2011 – Session A – Skills and Professionalism

  1. I think we get pigeonholed even within our profession. If you work in the commercial sector, it’s pretty tough to move into the academic sector, and any combination of moving between specialties you want to create. I’ve worked in a lot of public sector digital libraries for the last 10 years and really want to get back into an academic library, but they question my motives and I end up rejected from the job. I understand that I may not be 100% up-to-date with what’s happening in academia, but I’ve probably got a lot of knowledge and skills that haven’t quite landed there yet and may be valuable, but they’ll never get the chance to know that since they aren’t interested in someone who last worked in academia 10+ years ago. It’s made me a bit disillusioned about where I might go at this stage of my career, and I have been seriously considering a complete change of career because of it.

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