The Career Development Compass: Roadmap to Building a Diversified Portfolio of Professional Capabilities for Information Professionals

The Career Development Compass: Roadmap to Building a Diversified Portfolio of Professional Capabilities for Information Professionals

Joel B. Thornton (Texas A&M University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-601-8.ch011
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Due to constant change and intense competition within the information environment, developing a diversified portfolio of professional capabilities ensures employability and career mobility for future Information Professionals (IPs). Capability development begins with career development planning. However, without the proper navigation device to guide future IPs, career plans can go awry and career opportunities may vanish. Because the IP’s role is constantly changing, unforeseen opportunities exist for those who address career development planning beginning the first day of graduate school. This chapter provides future IPs with a navigation tool and roadmap to develop career plans in an unpredictable environment and discusses implications for the future viability of the profession.
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Career development planning in the information profession, a new flexible profession, should begin prior to obtaining the Master of Science in Information Science. The Special Libraries Association states that:

An Information Professional (IP) strategically uses information in his/her job to advance the mission of the organization through the development, deployment, and management of information resources and services. The IP harnesses technology as a critical tool to accomplish goals. IPs include, but are not limited to, librarians, knowledge managers, chief information officers, web developers, information brokers, and consultants. (Special Libraries Association, 2009)

To take advantage of opportunities in this diverse profession, information professionals must chart their career paths through a sound career development plan. Gordon (2008) suggests that career planning should not be happenstance but that one must take time to plan and study the possibilities that exist to map out a successful career. Priscilla Shontz (2002) suggests that assessing one’s goals, skills, and the job market are important components of career development planning.

According to Gordon (2008), “LIS career choices and potential career paths are now continually expanding to encompass new skills, new knowledge, new generational viewpoints, and myriad new opportunities” (p. xi). By developing a diverse portfolio of professional capabilities, an information professional ensures employability, career mobility and guards against environmental threats. This cannot be accomplished without career development planning. Pantry and Griffiths (2003) suggest that career development begin at the onset and should be assessed regularly to determine where you are going, and advocate developing a portfolio career, a tool to give employers an in-depth picture of one’s skill sets. Simonsen (1997) states, “just as organizations need to do strategic planning to anticipate and prepare for market changes and competition, so do individuals need to plan their careers strategically. Career development planning is the first step in managing one’s career strategically” (p.7).

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