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1. Jobs: getting one, keeping it, and finding the next one information outlookTHE MAGAZINE OF THE SPECIAL LIBRARIES ASSOCIATION 2014 Special Conference issue 2. 6…
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  • 1. Jobs: getting one, keeping it, and finding the next one information outlookTHE MAGAZINE OF THE SPECIAL LIBRARIES ASSOCIATION 2014 Special Conference issue
  • 2. 6 INFORMATION OUTLOOK 2014 Special conference issue An interview with Paul Bernard Do you think job seekers in different stages of their careers should approach job hunting differently, or are there tried-and- true methods that work for everyone? I think there are best practices that everyone should follow, whether they’re in transition or they’re trying to keep their jobs. In general, 70 percent of a person’s job search time should be spent networking and 30 per- cent in other ways, such as answering ads and working with recruiters. However, over and above the best practices that everyone should fol- low, there are some guid- ing principles for people in specific industries or age groups. For instance, if you’re in a creative indus- try such as public rela- tions, design, architecture, or fashion, you absolutely need an online portfolio. In industries that are more digitally focused—for instance, if you’re trying to get a job with a digital advertising agency—it’s probably important to “up your game” in terms of making digital pitches to people. But I still feel that best practices will involve, for everyone, 70 percent networking and 30 percent other. Interestingly, one of the challenges I see for people across all age groups is the grow- ing sense that the online world provides all solutions. Don’t misunderstand—I think it’s important to have an online presence, whether you’re 18 and trying to get a college internship or you’re 60-plus and trying to re- enter the job market. But my strong feeling is that across all demographic groups, people spend too much time in the online world and not enough time on the telephone or meeting people face to face. And it’s not a genera- tional issue—we’ve all become prisoners of the sense that the online world provides all solutions. We’ve been sold this bill of goods by the media. For instance, six or eight years ago, a prominent employment Website produced an advertisement showing a gorgeous woman on a beach with kiwi slices on her eyes. The ad said, “Where were you when you found your perfect job?” The online industry has given us the impression that finding a job happens by pushing a computer button—in other words, effortlessly. Everyone needs a plan, a strategy. All too often, I hear people say, “I’m open to oppor- tunities.” What does that mean? Some of this is happening with people coming out of school, because most colleges and universi- ties do a horrible job of preparing people to find a job. But I think this is true for older people as well. Very few people know all the right moves to make to find a job. Maybe the most impor- tant skill people don’t have is that they don’t know how to hustle, despite the fact that we are now five years post-credit crisis, post- Lehman Brothers collapse. Many people also have unrealistic expectations of how long it takes and how difficult the struggle is. Except in very select industries, it takes a minimum of three to six months to find a gig. In many cases, especially for people in their fifties looking for senior positions, it will take upwards of a year—and that’s if you’re batting at 80 percent in terms of conducting your job search in an optimal way. You Can (and Should) Talk to Strangers In an online age, there’s more reason than ever to pick up a telephone and call someone or shake hands with strangers at a networking event. Paul Bernard is the founder and principal of Paul Bernard & Associates, an executive coaching and career management firm based in New York City. Q A
  • 3. INFORMATION OUTLOOK 2014 Special conference issue 7 People need to unlearn their mothers’ mes- sage that you can’t talk to strangers. You need to learn to carry business cards with you, prac- tice your lines, and realize that it is your job to meet 25 new people at a social or networking function. I encourage people to position them- selves between the bar and the entryway and shake hands and say, “Hi, I’m Paul Bernard. I wrote something recently for my association’s magazine on such-and-such topic and I think you might be interested in it.” A 2012 study by the investment firm of Charles Schwab found that workers in their fifties are more likely than those in other age groups to feel “stuck” in their jobs. What advice would you give these workers? First, I would tell them they’re not alone—many people today feel they’re stuck. Most jobs are at large corporations, and the dirty little secret about our economy is that we’re in a period of tremendous merger and acquisition activity. So a lot of organizations today are very large and unwieldy, and they’re also very top-heavy. I cannot count the num- ber of people who’ve told me they have limited advancement possibilities—they’re in their forties and they’re mid-level managers at com- panies or mid-level attorneys at law firms, and there’s no place for them to go. There’s a senior management glut, if that makes sense. Some of this is a function of demographics. If you turned 50 this year, who’s right in front of you? The people who were born at the tail end of the baby boom, who are 54 or 55. And those people are looking at 10 years of baby boomers ahead of them, who are probably not going to be taking early retirement. So, for many work- ers, the opportunity for advancement is very limited right now. I think the people who are most successful in this economy are the ones who have learned to be adaptable. You not only have to do your job, you have to learn to do a couple of related jobs as well. You have to be a specialist in at least one area, but you also need to be a generalist. You have to make yourself indispensable. Do you think the breadth and depth of this recession will result in lasting changes in people’s attitudes and behaviors regarding employment, job skills, networking, and other work-related topics? What I’m seeing with my clients is that they’re realizing they have to be respon- sible for their future. It’s not something that’s going to be handed to them. They’re realizing that they have to drive the career bus, or it will be driven by someone else in a direction that may not be positive. Q Q A A
  • 4. 8 INFORMATION OUTLOOK 2014 Special conference issue I also think this crisis is helping people chal- lenge their assumptions. We were told before 2008 that the MBA toolbox had all the solu- tions, but now people are beginning to question that. And I think it’s very important for people to challenge assumptions. People are learning that due diligence is an extremely important part of career manage- ment. For example, they’re coming to grips with the fact that even in this era of 150 distractions, they have to meet their deadlines. And they’re learning to clarify what their job is—they’re learning to say, these are the eight things you’ve given me to do, let’s talk about what the three most important things are. One other thing I think is important—and this gets back to this due diligence issue—is that more people are discovering that the way to become successful in the workplace is to be polite. I’m working with a lot of clients who are saying, it seems the way I’m going to become successful is to not fall into the trap of thinking everybody else is rude, so it’s OK if I am. People seem to be rediscovering the importance of manners in the workplace. Many people, particularly those in earlier stages of their careers, seem to regard networking as synonymous with social media. Is there still any value to picking up a phone and calling someone? There’s always been some reluctance to call people, and now, with e-mail and instant messaging, there’s even more of an excuse not to hear the human voice. But if we look at human communication from a warmth point of view, person to person is the warm- est, telephone is not quite as warm—though at least you still hear a human voice—and digital is the least warm. I would include other forms of online interviewing and conversation in the “least warm” category. One of the reasons to pick up the phone is that most people get fewer phone calls these days than e-mails. E-mail, to a considerable degree, has created a situation where we have to spend an hour or more each day figuring out what’s junk and what isn’t. That has become a tremendous irritant to many people. So, yes, I definitely think it’s important to pick up the phone and talk to people. SLA Q A
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