Lessons Learned In AALL Spectrum March 2010


Published on

Article by Nathan Rosen in the March 2010 on Lessons Learned, Lessons Relearned, and Lessons Learned the Hard Way

  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

Lessons Learned In AALL Spectrum March 2010

  1. 1. p e r s p e c t i v e Lessons Learned, Lessons Relearned, and Lessons Wisdom for the unemployed librarian By Nathan Aaron Rosen “ Look forward to the future, rather than looking back to the L osing your job can be a with the exact length and severity catastrophic and life-altering depending on age, responsibilities, and past, even though event. In an instant, everything life situation. The grief felt after losing a changes and facing the loss of income job is often felt more deeply as a person doing so is very gets older and has more responsibilities. difficult. and insurance—and the feeling of rejection—can be devastating. But it is not the end. As every door closes, a new door opens, and if you can be open to If you can recognize the stages and accept them as normal, you will be able to move through them faster. For me, it helped to remember the old saying ” the experience, it can lead to a new, that bad things happen to good people. different, and better chapter in your life. Ultimately everyone has to learn to The lesson for me and about 5,300 live with loss. So try to recognize the fellow employees started in December stage that you are currently in, feel it, 2008 when we were terminated as part understand it, recognize that it is only of a massive RIF (reduction in force). temporary, and work to move on. At the time, everything seemed great and what happened was a total surprise. Negotiate And so I learned my first lesson—in this Nearly every article one reads economy nobody is safe. I was reminded recommends that you should negotiate of the lesson that goes back thousands of when being let go and so I tried it— years. The lesson relearned was that it is and was unsuccessful in improving the not by one’s individual power, might, or standard package. Consider consulting hand does one receive an attorney, or at minimum wealth, but through the discussing the package with grace of God. others who have experienced While the loss of a job is layoffs. After talking to a wide overwhelming, you must variety of people, I found out not permit it to overshadow that for the vast majority, all other aspects of your life. negotiations were not The only way to survive this successful. However, even if loss is to acknowledge that the outcome does not result your job is only one slice in a change, you will feel of your life. A job is but a empowered that you at least means to an end, not the Nathan Aaron Rosen had the presence of mind to end itself. Accepting that a try. particular job is not everything was a hard lesson for me to learn and relearn. When Whatever Happened Is for I forget, I am reminded by my kids. the Best, Even if We Do Not Understand It Loss Happens to Everyone Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche is often Job loss happens to most people at least quoted as saying, “whatever does not once in their careers and often more than destroy me, makes me stronger.” While once. It is a traumatic experience even I will not swear to the truth of that when caused by the economy rather than statement, I think that events that happen by your individual performance. As of to us can either break us or teach us December 2009, more than eight million important lessons. In the long run, our jobs have been lost during the recession, lives may actually be improved by the and the unemployment rate is nearing difficulties we encounter and the lessons 10 percent. we learn. Therefore, be positive because Job loss is similar to the loss of it is always better to look on the brighter a loved one. Psychiatrist and author side of things. You have to believe that Elisabeth Kubler-Ross identified the there is a job out there for you. five stages of grief after the loss of Try to avoid negative people and be someone close as denial, anger, grateful for every part of your life, such bargaining, depression, and acceptance. as family, friends, health, and spiritual Although the loss of a job may not be as life. At this stressful time, some people traumatic as the death of a parent, many join a gym, start running, catch up with may still experience those same stages, books they have always wanted to read, © 2010 Nathan Aaron Rosen • image © iStockphoto.com/Murat Giray Kaya 18 AALL Spectrum March 2010
  2. 2. Learned the Hard Way visit friends they haven’t seen for a while, take long hikes in neighborhoods they have always wanted to explore, spend time with their family, go to museums and gardens, or volunteer more at charitable institutions that help others. Reach out and Get Help You are not alone. Support groups and counseling exist to help people recognize that everyone is not alone and what an individual is experiencing is normal and will pass. Outsiders may provide many valuable suggestions because of their distance from the situation. Ultimately, you will come to recognize that the layoff was not your fault. Chances are you will also become a stronger and more empathetic person from facing the difficulties of a job loss. This Is Not a Sprint Historically, job searches were like a sprint—short, intense, fast moving, and very focused. But currently, the job search is more like a marathon. More than a third of unemployed people have been jobless more than six months. Whereas common wisdom used to say a job search would take one month for every ten thousand in salary, you should anticipate that the search may take substantially longer. This means you must pace yourself, plan, consider all the alternatives, prioritize, and think creatively. Be careful not to burn out too quickly because the search could be much longer than you expect. Times Are A-Changin’— Now and Forever As everyone knows, change is constant. The ability to adapt and ultimately thrive will depend upon our willingness to accept that things change, both for the better and for the worse. Develop the techniques and mindset to accept change and move on to the next chapter of our lives. Look forward to the future, rather than looking back to the past, even though doing so is very difficult. Nobody can change what happened yesterday but you can affect what will happen tomorrow. You must try to accept the present and move on. AALL Spectrum March 2010 19
  3. 3. Don’t Bear Grudges—They Hurt to speak with if I had been working full- away. You might want to repeat silently You More than Anyone time. I conducted training sessions for to yourself, “This is not the first or Avoid holding onto grievances towards a legal trainers group, the Law Library last interview in my life. There will be former bosses or employers. It will only Association of Greater New York, my others.” Remember that the interview hurt you and prevent you from putting synagogue, and the New York chapter is a chance to decide if this is where the experience behind you and getting of the Special Libraries Association. you want to work. So dress and act like on with your life. Holding on to Take this opportunity to write that someone with whom this interviewer resentments is like carrying around extra article you always wanted to write or would want to spend time. weights; it is baggage that you do not to speak on something that you would Additionally, you should pay careful need. But by shedding the resentment, like to share. Those activities will be attention to the goals of the organization you lighten your psychological load, great for improving your sense of worth, and their obstacles. If the interviewer which will allow you to move with improving your credentials, increasing does not provide this information, greater speed and agility. the number of people who know you, ask what the goals and obstacles are, You never know whom you might and providing you with a chance to and state how your background can work for, or with, in the future—it get to know some people who might assist with overcoming their challenges. could be your old employer or boss. ultimately be useful in your job search. Reinforce your expertise in a follow-up As economic conditions improve, many The more people you connect with, letter, and make sure it is it much more companies are recalling previously the more opportunities you will have to than a meaningless thank you note. Your laid-off workers. According to the U.S. market yourself. follow-up letter is a continuation of the Department of Labor, nearly a third of discussion of what you can bring to the employers expect to recall at least some Do Your Homework and employer and why it would be in his or of their terminated workers. Even if you Be Prepared her best interest to hire you. are not rehired by the same employer, As librarians it is only natural that we the connections you make with your should educate ourselves as much as You Never Know superiors, your fellow workers, and possible about the firms we are going to Even if you are not looking for a your subordinates can be a benefit or interview with, their histories, lines of new job, you should be on the watch detriment to you. Which it will be business, technology, clients, and staff. for employment openings. Some depends upon how you handle exiting Take this occasion to think about suggest that you should apply for any your previous position. how you want to market yourself to appropriate job and take the opportunity your next employer. Create a website, to be interviewed. You can always use the Getting a Job Is a Job a blog, a separate e-mail address for your practice, and you never know when you Recognize that getting a job is a job— professional activities, and always carry might find the perfect fit. You should a full-time job. Plan to be as hard a good supply of your own newly created work and rework your resume and working, focused, and dedicated in your business cards to liberally distribute. always make sure to collect and job search as you were in any position Business cards are very useful; in document your achievements. you have ever held. Your mission is to addition to marketing yourself you Some people find it helpful to have identify employment opportunities, can use the back to take notes about lunch with employed friends and ask for research companies, discover people the person you just met. Expand your thoughts and suggestions on their who are potential employers, prepare for network and collect other people’s resumes. It’s the best of both worlds— interviews, and follow up. You should business cards if for no other reason than networking and resume improvement. create regular specific work hours and to check to see if your card is more or Keep a master version of your resume timelines with clear specific mini-goals less memorable or effective. When you that includes absolutely everything you and deadlines. Utilize every available meet someone new, remember to follow might ever need as well as multiple resource in your job search. Remember up with a note so that you reinforce working versions tailored to different to include library associations, state his or her memory of you, as well as types of jobs. For example, one resume and federal government agencies, job improve the likelihood of starting an might emphasize research, while another agencies, and religious organizations. ongoing conversation with him or her. highlights your management skills, etc. To have the best possible resume, Stay Connected Practice Makes Perfect examine the widest variety of job Stay in touch, informed, and connected. Practice, practice, practice interviewing descriptions to identify key terms, and It is easy to lose touch with your former skills. As my brother says, interviewing make sure to integrate them in your coworkers, fellow librarians, and with is like high school and college debate. resume. This will make it apparent to what is going on in the profession when You succeed by practicing in real-life the human resources professionals who you can no longer be found in the same situations. This improves your skills screen the resumes that you would be the place five days a week for at least 40 and lowers your threshold of anxiety. right person to select for an interview. hours. Instead, take this opportunity to You should strive to make your increase your professional involvement performance flawless, and you can do Grab Their Attention —go to more programs, talk to more this by anticipating and preparing for It goes without saying that you have to people, hand out your newly created the hard questions. As there are always develop an exciting resume describing personal business cards, volunteer, and a wide variety of interviewers, expect your objective accomplishments, design a follow up with people you have talked and prepare for all of them. During the stirring cover letter, and write engaging to. Those activities will not only help interview you should be cool, confident, follow-up letters to keep the lines of you find a new job, they will enrich and calm. Accepted wisdom dictates you communication open. Strive to do your professional life when you return should dress similarly to those at the more—turn the entire situation around to work. top level of the firm, or at least one level and think about what the company While I was in between jobs, higher than the people interviewing you. wants and needs and then figure out I had the special opportunity to make Some people contend that how to meet their needs. As has been presentations to a wide variety of groups interviewing is just like dating—don’t said many times, don’t just state your that I might never have had the chance appear desperate or you’ll scare them role—document your achievements and 20 AALL Spectrum March 2010
  4. 4. Need Job Search Help? There are infinite online and print JobAngels General Sites resources for today’s job-seeking www.jobangels.com (or on Facebook, librarians. Here are just a few you Linkedin, or via Twitter [#jobangels]) Bureau of Labor Statistics may find useful. Occupational Outlook Handbook— Monster Librarians Librarian Career Centers www.monster.com www.bls.gov/oco/ocos068.htm AALL Career Center NY State Department of Labor Employment Spot www.aallnet.org/careers www.labor.state.ny.us/careerservices/ www.employmentspot.com American Library Association careerservicesindex.shtm Library Information Science Career Toolkit for Getting a Job in a The Job Planet Strategies for Librarians Tough Economy www.thejobplanet.com www.liscareer.com/index.htm www.ala.org/ala/educationcareers/ employment/index.cfm USA Federal Government New York Public Library www.usajobs.com Employment Site Special Libraries Association www.nypl.org/links/index.cfm? Career Center Trg=1&d1=175&d3=Employment www.sla.org/careers Yahoo Hotjobs http://hotjobs.yahoo.com Quintessentail Career Library-Specific Job Lists www.quintcareers.com AALL Career Center www.aallnet.org/careers Area-Specific Sites Riley Guide Craigslist www.rileyguide.com American Library Association http://craigslist.org http://joblist.ala.org and www.ala.org/ala/mgrps/divs/lita/litare U.S. News & World Report, Northeast United States Best Careers 2009: Librarian sources/litajobsite/litajobsite.cfm http://slanyjobs.blogspot.com www.usnews.com/money/careers/ articles/2008/12/11/best-careers- The Information Society Industry-Specific Sites 2009-librarian.html for the Information Age www.jobtarget.com/home/index. Academic cfm?site_id=180 Books http://careers.arl.org/resources/ careers/index.shtml G. Kim Dority, Rethinking General Job Sites that www.academiccareers.com Information Work: A Career Guide Combine Many Sites for Librarians and Other Information http://chronicle.com/section/Jobs/61 Professionals (Libraries Unlimited Career Builder 2006). www.careerbuilder.com www.educause.edu/jobs?tid=16500& bhcp=1, Rachel Gordon, What’s the CareerJet www.higheredjobs.com/admin/search Alternative: Career Options for www.careerjet.com .cfm?JobCat=34 Librarians and Info Pros (Information Today 2008). Company website collection Law www.linkup.com www.lawjobs.com Richard Murray, A Day in the Life: www.careers.findlaw.com Career Options in Library and Indeed Information Science (Libraries www.indeed.com www.hg.org/law-jobs.asp Unlimited 2007). http://lawlibrariansofleisure.com Job Central Priscilla Shontz, The Librarian’s www.jobcentral.com Career Guidebook (Scarecrow Medical Press 2004). www.mlanet.org/jobs/jobs.html AALL Spectrum March 2010 21
  5. 5. successes, and quantify the results and know is critical to getting a job. Some office address as your primary location, their business impact. commentators suggest that somewhere at least keep a file of all memberships A given in today’s world is to keep between 50 to 70 percent of jobs are and organizations at home so that you your resume current even if you are not filled by networking and informal can easily rejoin them with your personal looking because you never know when contacts. It can be easy to forget about e-mail address. you will need to look for a new job. This the importance of people as you focus Now that you have the time, you is a lesson that I knew once, but forgot on want ads, headhunters, and online should really investigate all that the during my 11 years at the same job. So job search engines. American Association of Law Libraries be prepared. I had to relearn the lesson that (AALL) has to offer—you will be ultimately the key is people. Identify pleasantly surprised how much value Make Yourself Indispensable and reach out to the individuals who you can gather from various association Everyone has heard the expression “make can help you locate a job. Other times memberships. Vendors also can provide yourself indispensable.” In today’s world the people you need are those who can you with great information and that phrase translates to more than just provide deep background on potential opportunities. Now you may have the working very hard each and every day. firms and people, or who can personally time to get advanced and specialized It means focusing on how you can recommend you to the decision makers. training that you were previously too provide a significant value-added service busy to obtain. Attending vendor that benefits the organization. But do Become LinkedIn training can also supply the side benefit not ever forget that at the end of the day, LinkedIn provides you access to more of providing networking opportunities nobody is really indispensable. If you can people than you directly know. It expands as well as an additional avenue for identify what your company really needs your horizons by connecting you to the employment possibilities. By being out and then visibly and tangibly contribute connections of your connections. As in there talking to people, you increase the towards meeting those needs, you will the play and later film Six Degrees of likelihood of hearing about temporary or be on your way to becoming successful. Separation, LinkedIn provides you access consulting assignments while illustrating Consider trying to excel in an area to a much broader world of connections the fact that you are constantly in which your boss is weak in order to than you knew you had. improving your skills. complement him or her. Think of ways Possessing a vibrant, information- Remember that AALL and other to save money, find tasks that can be packed online social networking presence librarian organizations have established done better, volunteer to take ownership is fundamental to succeeding in today’s career centers and have expended of projects, and increase your visibility. virtual world. You absolutely have to significant time and effort to develop While librarians are particularly poor build a rich, attractive profile, make resources for the newly unemployed. at making people aware of the wide connections, join groups, post articles, Make sure that you utilize their efforts variety of ways they contribute, and grow your network. More than one to the max. if you can do so, it will set you apart half of all jobs are currently filled by way from the crowd and increase your of networking and informal contacts. Keep a Copy perceived value to the organization. LinkedIn provides you with a critical You should keep copies at home of all communication tool if you are laid important e-mails, positive comments Listen and Then Listen off and no longer have access to your made about you, your performance Even More Carefully previous channels of communication. reviews, your accomplishments, We must become active listeners, Without LinkedIn, if you lose your job, significant projects, and information listening not only to what is said, but you are very limited in your ability to about your contacts. You never know even more carefully to how it is said, i.e., communicate your changed situation when you might need them but no the nuances of what is said and what is and to let people know how to contact longer have ready access to your office, omitted. It is easy to hear what you want you. LinkedIn provides you with a your files, your documents, and your to hear or just hear the words and stop bridge to alert people about what e-mail contacts. listening. occurred and how to contact you now. Of course, you should never violate At the same time, don’t panic at It is also a great way to gather unsolicited the law or company policies, or take every possible danger or negative sign. recommendations from former confidential, proprietary, or material A lot of what you hear will be irrelevant. colleagues. Martindale-Hubbell non-public information, but you have Connected, Legal OnRamp, a right to keep a copy of your most Think Outside the Box the American Bar Association’s significant work. After you have been If everyone is following the same LegallyMinded, and Facebook also let go, retrieving that information is traditional job search strategy, then the often fill some of the same purposes. often impossible or at best very difficult probability is very low that it will be and time consuming. It would be very of much help. A lesson relearned is to You Are a Professional— depressing to go back to pick up your go above and beyond the traditional Continue to Be a Professional personal possessions and have your approach. Consider the path less taken It is critical to continue to network former employer review item by item and the path not taken—you should take through your professional memberships. what you want to download from your both paths, in addition to the traditional You could have all journals and former work station computer—so be path. Remember that the entire legal correspondence mailed to your home prepared. industry has changed. Consequently, address even if your employer pays for In today’s world of long office hours, take a good hard look at our own skill your professional memberships. Not only many of us transact all of our librarian set and consider how it can fit into other are you more likely to read this material professional association activities and fields, other types of employment, and at home, but having your home as your a certain portion of our personal other types of positions. contact address will limit the damage activities at work. Therefore, it is critical in the event of a layoff. This way you to schedule regular backup of key It’s Not What You Know will still have access to any employment information to our home in order but Who You Know— opportunities and professional to ensure continued access to our At Least to Get in the Door development offered by the organization. professional and personal information. Common wisdom suggests that who you Alternatively, if you decide to have the While I have always done that, 22 AALL Spectrum March 2010
  6. 6. I nevertheless had to relearn that lesson —even a lag of only a month in backing up your information can cause a substantial disruption in your professional and personal communication and activities. I have learned that while it may never be possible to continuously back up everything, the more often the better. I promise you the extra time and effort is worth it. Having everything you need at home will ease the transition from work and make it less painful in so many ways. Tried and True Sometimes Works the Best When I talked about new cutting-edge technologies and approaches, my mother, Golda Rosen, used to remind me not to forget the historically tried-and-true methods, as those are often built on the results of many lessons learned. I found that it is worthwhile to make sure that you do all the things that job searchers throughout history have done, even if you think that it is unlikely to be fruitful. You never know—it might help you get the job, and, if not now, maybe later. Don’t forget about reaching out to headhunters and recruiting people. As a profession, recruiters are hurting and therefore may have the time and willingness to really talk about your resume and how to best present your experience and accomplishments. Remember that while employment agencies might not have any jobs at this time, headhunters still have a lot of connections and can be a valuable asset in a job search. And don’t forget the state labor office and social welfare organizations because they have vast experience with assisting the unemployed. The most significant lesson I learned, relearned, and then learned the hard way was to be prepared. Just as Benjamin Franklin used to say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. So prepare yourself with the information network that you will need when unemployed. That will make the transition substantially less painful and speed you on your way to recovery and a wonderful new chapter in your life. Note: All of the opinions and statements within this article are those of the author alone and do not in any way, shape or form, reflect the opinion or position of any of his past or current employers. ■ Nathan Aaron Rosen (nathan. rosen@rcn.com) is the information resources manager at the New York office of a large international law firm after serving 11 ½ years as vice president in the Legal & Compliance Department of a large international financial services company.