New year, new beginnings?

Donald Lickley reviews an "excellent" careers handbook for information and knowledge professionals.

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New Year, new beginnings?

The Information and Knowledge Professionals Career Handbook invites you to define and create your own success in the next phase of your career. It is a book that has struck a chord with me, and whether you are actively looking for a new job, or just starting to consider your next professional move, I thoroughly recommend that you read it.

This book appeals to me on a number of levels. First and most importantly, it does what it sets out to do, which is "to give the reader a set of tools and techniques to secure a stronger career, build an effective brand and succeed as a professional".  Certainly in terms of tools and techniques to build an effective brand (or if you prefer, projecting a professional image in order to create a good first impression and to build a lasting professional reputation), the authors are clear and consistent in their message. Within the first few pages they introduce the vital importance of marketing your skills and promoting the value of your professional expertise throughout your career:

"When you choose a profession that isn't instantly and universally recognized for its work and value (the way, say, veterinarians’ and engineers’ professions are), you set yourself up for a fair amount of future work some professionals don’t typically have to do – justifying your value and making the case why you should be hired or your department’s budget sustained or increased. We would like to help you minimize that work so as to maximize the time you have available for demonstrating your value to remove all doubt." (p.3)

This theme of constantly communicating and demonstrating your value runs throughout the book. In an interview with Henrik de Gyor for Another DAM Podcast in 2011, co-author Ulla de Stricker said unequivocally "A successful career depends upon developing a solid conviction about our own value and perfecting the delivery of the explanation of it".

The advice the authors give is straightforward and practical, from how to start drafting effective CVs (and jobseekers, please note the plural – always customise your CV to the individual job) through to how best to negotiate the minefields of organisational politics. At times they are blunt - which dress codes work best at interview, and why good grammar and spelling are essential in all written communications. Other areas discussed are: your 'work personality' and your 'best fit'; looking for a job; career planning and knowing where you want to go; winning support with the business case approach; making the leap to a managerial role; resilience at work, and mentoring (from both sides of the table). Much of the advice, supported by case studies, echoes that which we at Sue Hill Recruitment give our own candidates on a daily basis.

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