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Kürzlich hatte Mary Ellen Bates die Gelegenheit, mit Kim Dority, Präsidentin von Dority & Associates, über die wesentlichen Kompetenzen zu sprechen, die Informationsfachleute benötigen, um im heutigen sich stetig verändernden Berufsumfeld erfolgreich zu sein. Dority’s Erfahrung durch die Arbeit für mehrere iSchools- und MLIS-Programme, sowie ihre Expertise in Karrieremöglichkeiten für Absolventen und Praktiker der Bibliotheks- und Informationswissenschaften, machen Sie zu einer echten Expertin beim Blick auf verschiedene Karriere Perspektiven.

Nachfolgend eine Zusammenfassung des Gesprächs im Originaltext, der zuerst auf dem Blog des Copyright Clearance Centers erschien.

Be Adaptable 

Dority believes that the core career skill for info pros is what she calls adaptive competence—the ability to be able to adapt to whatever circumstances are coming into our careers. „I would also describe it as the ability to pivot; sometimes you’re going to be pivoting away from a threat, and other times, you’re going to be pivoting towards an opportunity,“ she said. „But if you don’t have a mindset that says, ‚this is how I adapt to threats and opportunities,‘ you are going to be so disoriented by that change that you can’t respond in a way that’s healthy and good for your career.“  

Learn on Demand 

Related to adaptive competence is the ability to learn on demand. As Dority described it, „whenever we are offered an opportunity to do something amazing or given a really cool project to work on, we hit the wall. Our first thought is always that we don’t know how to do that, and when we say that to ourselves, we are closing down all of the doors of opportunity. Instead, I encourage people to say to themselves, ‚I don’t know how to do that yet, but I can figure it out. I have connections who know how to do this; I have learned new things in the past; I have mastered new skills; I have thrown myself at new technologies and eventually wrestled them to the ground and figured out how to use them.‘ If you are willing to go through the discomfort of learning something new—learning it fast and learning effectively—then you can take on anything. And nothing that will be thrown at you in terms of change will be so disorienting that you can’t pick yourself up and figure out what the next step is.“ 

Be In Charge of Your Career 

I asked Dority for suggestions to help information professionals build an adaptable career throughout their professional life. Her response was to get accustomed to thinking in terms of response scenarios—looking down the road, thinking about what threat or opportunity might appear, and contemplating how you might respond if that situation does arise. „How might you respond if that happens?“ she asked. „You don’t have to be constantly thinking about it but it is helpful to have an ongoing filter, noticing what shows up on the horizon and asking yourself, could that be a threat? An opportunity? And how could I position myself for that situation? If you are thinking along those lines all the time, then it becomes natural, and it’s not so disorienting when something unexpected happens. If you’re doing response scenarios as a habit, when you encounter a situation that you don’t have control over, you can still have control of how you respond to it. You are the one making the choices, and you can approach those decisions from a more dispassionate point of view.“ 

Dority noted that, even when she has been employed by others, she has always considered herself self-employed. She has been laid off four times and, in each case, she was able to pivot and take her career in a new direction. It taught her, she said:

„you are the only person who really is looking out for your well-being and your career, no matter how much your boss loves you and no matter how much you love your employer. They’re not looking out for your long-term career health and happiness in the same way that you are.“

She believes that the ability to let go of expectations for how her career should proceed has helped her adapt to new situations. „Having the mindset that things are always going to be changing in your career enables you to take proactive steps to address what you see coming up on the horizon. I have seen people who have been laid off expend all of their energy into feeling angry and betrayed. They thought there was an unspoken contract between them and their employer, that if they gave their all to this employer, their loyalty would be rewarded. That just doesn’t happen.“ 

Conduct an Annual Self-Assessment 

One approach Dority recommends for building long-term career success is to pause once a year and conduct a self-assessment. „Every year I take a week off and spend time asking myself where the heck I am. What new things have I learned this year? What do I need to learn next year, and how do I plan to learn that? How have I extended my community of colleagues so that, not only can I benefit from their greater knowledge, but I can contribute to helping colleagues succeed in what they’re trying to accomplish?“ Dority sees building your community as building your professional equity, which consists of what you know, who you know, and who knows what about you. Because if and when you need to pivot, your professional equity will determine whether or not you can build a career that offers growth and new opportunities. 

Dority commented that she learned as a mid-career professional that „part of what we all have to do is get over ourselves and be ready to connect with people at any point in their careers, whether that is someone who’s 24 years old and has this really incredible idea, or it’s someone who’s 75 years old and who brings a wealth of perspective to an issue. If you continually expand your network, you will always have people at both ends of that career spectrum around you, which exposes you to people who are doing things unlike what you do. This is such an important way to stay aware of what is beyond your own horizon. Success in our profession really comes down to being agile, always learning and willing to grow in unexpected areas.“ 

Find a Mentor 

And, finally, Dority recommends being open to being mentored by other people, at every stage of your career. „Just as any good therapist has a therapist, we can always use another perspective on what we’re doing. Seeking a mentor, especially as a mid-career professional, to move you up a level or just to challenge you to see what you could do next can be a really powerful and expansive move. It is recognizing that you always have changes to make and you are always evolving. 

Information professionals can thrive in an uncertain environment when they cultivate agility and career resilience and become accustomed to addressing unexpected challenges. 

Related Reading: Becoming an Info Intrepreneur  

Author: Mary Ellen Bates

Mary Ellen Bates is the principal of Bates Information Services Inc., providing business insights to strategic decision makers and consulting services to the information industry. Mary Ellen worked for over a decade in corporate and government information centers before launching her business in 1991. She received her MLIS from the University of California Berkeley and is based near Boulder, Colorado.