Advice for the Working Worried

January 17, 2010

Caitlin WIlliams

Career development consultant Caitlin Williams has been making herself available in the placement center at ALA conferences for nearly 10 years. On Sunday she took some time out from giving advice on résumé polishing and job search strategies to Midwinter attendees to talk to American Libraries about how librarians can best position themselves to handle the uncertainties of a tough economy.

"The Working Worried" is Williams's term for those who have a job but feel anxious about their future job security, and that constitutes at least half of the people she has talked to at Midwinter. Her best advice for them is to hone their résumés and improve their networking skills. "You can't just wait for a position to be advertised because these days–in this economy–you could be waiting a long while," she cautioned.

If the worst happens and you are downsized or laid off, Williams advises that you should be gentle with yourself: It's often the economy and not your performance. "Also, you need to reset your notion of what 'normal' is," she said. "You need to be forward-looking and not merely focus on all the things you did in the past."

Williams added that membership in ALA is a "wonderful opportunity to get known as a fellow professional, to strengthen connections at conferences, and to grow professionally. All too often people tend to isolate themselves when they don't have a job. That doesn't work at all."

More advice from Caitlin Williams can be found on ALA's Get a Job! website, as well as in her podcast on "10 Ways to Handle Being Laid Off or Dealing with Difficulty in Finding Work."