Over the weekend I learned of another colleague who has been thrust into the throes of the unemployed. It prompted me to think about the fact that talented, experienced and engaged employees are suddenly finding themselves in a position that they probably had not expected at this stage in their career.

There is a lot of advise out there about how to do the job hunt and how to survive unemployment. When I found myself in the same situation last year one of the most useful resources I read was: Landing on the Right Side of Your Ass.  This book provided me the practical advise I needed to move on and out.  This, combined with my launch of Answer Maven kept me moving forward.

I recently had the honor of speaking at the SEALL 2009 Conference on the topic of Recruitment and Retention with a distinguished panel of law librarians from various organizations.  I spoke from the context of the law firm perspective.  While the economic realities are forcing changes that may not be desired, nothing is guaranteed.

So money is tight and the work is slow in some areas and hectic in others.  Management issues are a primary concern and you are awake at night wondering how to survive or if you should move along before the axe falls.

Maybe you are already primed for a change and are just to hesitant to make the jump.  No matter your situation a few things are important to relate to your management and/or potential new employer.

  • Creative and effective budget control measures
    • Can certain titles be eliminated for the duration of the crisis and shift in business and then reinstated?
    • Can you work-share with other departments to retain staff and share costs?
  • Ability to apply your skills beyond the library.
    • Are you the CI expert?  Bill out the services internally to the Business Development team.
  • Quantify your value.
    • Employ the Annual Report to quantify the value.  Everyone loves you but management needs to justify the expense.
  • Reconsider your billing status.
    • If you do bill:  can you change the scope beyond hourly to project?
    • If you don’t bill explain to management how you can generate fees at a rate that is more effective and cheaper than associates for research.  Convince clients and management that the associate value is in analysis not research and your value is in information gathering and dissemination.

Those are management tips that reference librarians and other library staff can employ as well.  You have a different chain of command but you still must quantify your value and think creatively to retain or regain employment.

Move up and on by remembering your knowledge and skills.  Be creative in applying those assets to your next venture whether it is a new title and company or an adjusted role within your current company.

Constance Ard May 4, 2009