Quite by accident, I have had a couple of interesting conversations with newly minted and experienced library people. Of course job prospects as well as actively managing a library career are on everyone’s mind especially given trying economic times and changes in our profession. Putting the discussion of the future of the profession aside for a minute, everyone is concerned about career development and distinguishing themselves in this hyper-competitive environment. Regardless of where you are in this career mix, all of us really do need to be aware of our “brand” as a librarian. Do you have a brand? You do have one, even if you think you don’t.
A brand is really your reputation. What are you “known” for? What are you saying in public (and I am including all social media here)? What have you said in a meeting or a conference? Back in the day, most librarians were probably just about the paper resume. Now your brand is a sum total of everything about you from your activity in social media, listservs, blogs all the way to what you say in meetings, conferences, publications, etc. The line of your personal and professional reputation is blurry and if you aren’t actively aware of your “brand” or image out in library land, you could be out of luck in jobs and interviews.
This idea of a brand is almost anything from the inane to the topic of the day. I have library friends that I know are “into” certain topics, events, activities so much so that I instantly think of them as “go to” people. It isn’t just the topic they are into, it is also the enthusiasm, hot button issues, and personal work habits that make the total package or brand. This also works in reverse. I have heard way too many times about some librarians that are difficult, excessively weird (in the world of libraries I realize that is a relative concept) or so passive or shy you wonder if they have anything at all to say.
This is also true with electronic and social media. You are what you say. Being snippy on a Facebook post or a Twitter can be ruinous for your reputation and job prospects. Just remember library world is small and I have yet to meet anyone in library world that doesn’t know someone who knows someone, etc. On top of that, I also have yet to meet someone who doesn’t want to hear details of a library drama, even if they don’t know the players personally. When someone in my library circle changes jobs, I know emails and tweets fly around the network wanting an inside scoop.I think being part of the library discussion is essential. Think about this every time you tweet, blog, or update your status. If you are job hunting you better REALLY think about this. Let the real you out, just remember that a little lipstick and running comb through your proverbial brand wouldn’t hurt.
More articles to make you think about your career and your reputation:
Do yourself a GIANT favor and read Bobbi Newman at Librarian by Day regularly! I already linked to this article in a previous post, but it is worth mentioning this article again: In the End I want to be Able to Say I Contributed More than I Criticized. Public service does take a toll on people and keeping good humor is essential, but also a positive outlook on the nature of the job can do wonders for an attitude.