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Changing careers

You’ve reached a point where it’s definitely time for a career change. Fortunately, librarians and information professionals have skillsets that leave them well placed to try their hand in new areas.

If you’ve completed a level of Professional Registration with us then you’ll already be able to demonstrate a knowledge and understanding of the wider information profession which should stand you in good stead with employers in other sectors.

Find out more about Professional Registration

If you’re coming from a completely different background, you’ll want to consider a skills-based CV instead of a more traditional, chronological CV. You’ll find advice on how to put one together in our ‘Finding a job’ section.

Writing your CV.

Changing Career Direction by CB Resourcing

You can decide to change direction at any stage of your career. Please see below a few hints and tips to help you make this transition.

New/recent LIS qualified graduates

This is a good time to try new sectors and industries as employers often consider candidates from different backgrounds for their graduate roles. They will be looking for transferable skills and experience. It is always a good idea to get some experience in a library prior to undertaking a LIS qualification then you can try new sectors after you have qualified or for your second post. It’s great to try a few different types of libraries/sectors to help you decide what you may want to specialise in further along in your career.

Changing sector – public to private and vice versa

This can be quite challenging if you have established a career in one sector but want to try something new. Essential requirements within job descriptions often say in-depth knowledge of that sector is required and knowledge of the challenges they face e.g. academic, government, legal is essential. However, there are employers who are open to people from any sector and appreciate a different perspective. If you know people who work in a particular sector or company, look up their career history on LinkedIn to get an idea of their career route and the different backgrounds of current employees within that organisation. This will give you an idea of how flexible the company is regarding career routes. You could also gain some voluntary work experience within the sector you want to move into. This can be tricky if you’re working full-time but if your chosen sector is open at weekends (academia perhaps) you could offer to go in then. Joining a committee or interest group for that sector is another good way of getting information about how it works and networking with people who may talk to you about job opportunities.

Changing role – moving between library - knowledge management – information management

There is quite a lot of overlap between these roles. They generally involve managing information, handling enquires, training users, promoting the service. In order to make this move look at the skills you are lacking or need to develop and think about how you can gain these skills. For example, SharePoint is in demand across many roles so if you can gain experience in your current role, this could open opportunities to you. You could also ‘shadow’ someone in your organisation who works in the area you want to get into.

Therefore, if you want to change roles, read job descriptions carefully and highlight your transferable skills in your cover letter explaining why you want to change sectors. Be prepared to answer probing questions about why you want to move if you are called to interview. The employer wants to be sure that you understand the differences in the companies, their culture, tasks etc and that you have thought about how you will deal with them. Employers are often surprised at how unprepared people are to answer questions such as: Why do you want to work for us? Why do want to move to a university/law firm? What do you think the differences will be?

As an agency we often have a briefing with the client, therefore we know which companies are open to people from other sectors and which prefer people who have worked in the same sort of companies.

Best of luck with your job search!

Tracey South and Jayne Winch

CB Resourcing

Libraries have always promoted literacy - nowadays promoting digital literacy is just as important.

Ayub Khan MBE CILIP President

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