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Your Essential Guide to Career Success

Sheila Pantry and Peter Griffiths

Second edition of Your Successful LIS Career: planning your career, CVs, interviews and self-promotion


Facet Publishing


2nd edition




ISBN 1 85604 491 2


How ambitious are you? Do you have a career plan? Are your skills up-to-date? Where do you want to be in three, five or ten years’ time? Offering useful advice for any information professional eager to prosper in the library and information environment of the 21st century, this book offers guidance on managing every stage of your career, whether you are a new entrant to the profession wishing to know how to get a foot on the ladder, an information professional in mid-career wishing to progress, or a candidate for a more senior position needing a view of the current state of the profession.

Since publication of the first edition there have been a number of changes in employment law, and in the range of skills – online, linguistic, negotiating and consultancy, for example – required for an information professional to be able to deliver the information services of the future. Making full use of case studies, summaries, further readings and referrals to websites and other sources of practical help, this guide offers advice on: challenges and changes in employment for LIS professionals; acquiring new types of skills; your master career plan; starting your career in information work; applying for a job; your successful interview; going for promotion and looking sidewards.

CILIP Press Release



New book shows how library and information professionals can manage their own careers in an increasingly competitive world

Planning a glittering career in information work now falls to you. That’s the message from successful information consultant Sheila Pantry OBE, joint author of the newly published second edition of Your Essential Guide to Career Success.

“No longer is there any such thing as a completely secure job – nor can you normally expect to stay in one job throughout a career,” says Pantry, who was Head of Information Services at the Health and Safety Executive before running her own independent information services consultancy. “The ‘portfolio career’ is fast becoming the norm rather than the exception, especially for those now entering the profession.”

“People without traditional librarian skills are taking on some of the work that was once the preserve of this profession, but librarians are finding their skills in demand in several new areas of work,” Pantry continues. “Changes that take place in one sector can mark a new trend in others, so it is essential to observe a number of employment sectors to see what happens there.”

Written jointly with Peter Griffiths, Head of the Information Services Unit at the Home Office, Your Essential Guide to Career Success lists a whole range of skills – online, linguistic, negotiating, consulting – required for an information professional to be able to deliver the information service of the future. “The intensification of competition now forces many people to move into areas of work in which they may not have had previous experience,” Pantry explains.

Making full use of case studies, summaries, recommended websites and other sources of practical help, Pantry and Griffiths offer advice on:

  • The challenges of today’s employment market
  • Your master career plan
  • Starting your career: areas of work for LIS professionals
  • Applying for a job
  • Next steps in your career: developing a job promotion plan
  • Your successful interview
  • After the interview
  • Looking sideways: alternative career strategies.

Your Essential Guide to Career Success is published by Facet Publishing, ISBN 1-85604-491-2, price £19.95. Members of CILIP: the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals can claim an automatic 20% discount on the price (i.e. £15.96) by calling Bookpoint on 01235 827794.

Contact: Mark O’Loughlin, Marketing Executive, Facet Publishing | Tel: 020 7255 0597 | Email: mark.o'


MI Rating: 4

This book aims to be an ‘essential read for any information professional eager to prosper in the global library and information environment of the 21st century’. And whilst it may by its very nature be of most use to those professionals at the outset of their careers it has plenty to offer those who are further down their career path.

For those contemplating a career in the profession the first two chapters give an excellent overview of the employment market and opportunities for today’s professional. Demonstrating that the profession today is so much more than just about books, new technologies and sectors are discussed, underlining the significant change in the market place since the first edition of the book was published 5 years ago.

Many of the chapters, in particular those on applying for a job and on handling interviews, offer good practical advice that would be relevant to people from any profession. ‘Your successful interview’ is a particularly thorough chapter including a useful do and don’t checklist. After the interview, there is advice on obtaining feedback and, if successful, evaluating a job offer.

For professionals already in post there is plenty to offer. The risk assessment for jobs included in chapter 2 is a simple but effective model for decision making throughout your career. Chapter 5 on next steps looks at how to further your career – developing a promotion plan, training, working from home, and changing jobs. Chapters 8 and 9 look at further opportunities and challenges: secondments, temporary work, losing your job, going independent, overseas opportunities, returning to work after a break and work-life balance.

The inclusion of a chapter of case studies is a useful addition to this second edition. Profiling four information professionals these studies not only look at the work they do but at their career paths and how they have approached them.

Finally there is an extensive further information section with relevant contact details for organisations, suggested reading and websites for each chapter. An index is also included.

The book has taken an ambitious approach by trying to address the needs of such a varied target market – the would-be professional, new entrants to the profession, as well as those who are more established in their career. However the authors have successfully achieved this and this excellent book will prove a valuable source of advice for professionals at any stage in their career.

Reviewed by Sarah Dobson (Intranet Manager, King Sturge)
Managing Information Magazine

Reviews of the first edition

‘This is another splendid addition to the Library Association’s Successful LIS Professional Series, benefitting from its accessible format, language and style. Pantry and Griffiths provide a guide that will prove valuable to anyone considering a career in the LIS profession, or for existing professionals who are keen to take command of their own professional development.’

Education for Information

‘This is a timely, well-intentioned book on an important topic – marketing yourself. [It] is upbeat, easy to read, brief and full of encouraging ideas and examples.’

Marketing Library Services

A BOOK like this very readable one by two credible authors, did not exist in 1974 as I entered the profession. As I read this slim, but packed volume, I wondered if I would have changed anything had I read the advice it contains 26 years ago. When I got to the sections on ‘looking sideways … and back’ and ‘other considerations in career planning’, I realised that one real value of this book is the reflection it encourages to any of us in the profession. It is aimed at all practitioners; it covers the current situation for information professionals, how to begin, how to progress and how to review a career at any stage. There is a comprehensive contents list, an adequate index and good pointers to further reading, including web addresses current at the time of writing. Summaries of the chapter complement their outlines although this textbook device can be a little off putting to those at the ‘review’ stage of a 15 or 20-year career.

Implicit in the writing is the interpretation of ‘success’ as getting on via promotion. Even those for whom this goal is just out of sight will be rewarded if they adopt the ‘AEIOU’ model offered on pages 14 and 15. Some readers will have adopted alternative measures of success, including undertaking a variety of roles, exploring different sectors or working for employers who espouse personal values. More emphasis could have been placed on the need for the LIS professional to ensure they understand the business of the organisation they are working for. This area is mentioned in the interviewing section, but is of significant importance and perhaps should have had more profile throughout the text. However, we are, quite appropriately, urged to continue our professional education and development to provide an “irreplaceable part in supporting our organisation’s progress” (page 6) and to understand what the customer wants, (page 8).

The authors are polite about some employer practices in recruitment that can leave potential employees guessing about their prospective job, their role and their prospects. They reserve their guidance for the applicant and anyone who interviews regularly knows that there are still many prospective employees who really do need to take heed of the advice on dress, seeking out permission to use the names of referees and the presentation of relevant evidence in support of their applications.

Recent reports have outlined changing working patterns and the demise of the tradition of working for the same employer throughout one’s career; executives are taking up VSO opportunities and Charles Handy describes portfolio careers. Against this background a book of this nature is useful reading. In addition, it is the sort of book which managers should have on their bookshelf in order to help those they manage. Perhaps for its price (£13.50), the publishers could have chosen better paper and imaginative cover design but I hope this will not detract readers from exploring the contents.

Biddy Fisher, Head of Academic Services & Development, Sheffield Hallam University
Managing Information, May 2000, 7:4, p. 81

Build up your career

The book is a clear and succinct guide to career development and planning for the young professional. It is divided into eight chapters, each dealing with a different aspect of employment and career progression.

The early chapters point out that there is now no such thing as a ‘job for life’, but that continuing professional development is essential in obtaining a job and achieving promotion. They take the reader, step by step, through gaining qualifications, applying for jobs, and writing a CV.

Later chapters discuss successful interview techniques, and what future options may be considered. Should you stay with your present employer and hope for promotion, move to another organisation, or move into a different sector of the profession? Advice is offered on moving upwards, sideways, or back, and what to do if you suddenly become jobless. The book ends with a plea for flexibility in work patterns, and advocates the necessity to think about where the young professional intends to be in five or ten years time.

The book is one of the series ‘The Successful LIS Professional’, and like others in the series is a readable, well presented, common sense guide to professional matters.

There are appendices outlining likely interview questions, and an example of a suitable CV. There is also a bibliography, index and list of organisations relevant to the information profession.

Mandy Hicken
Public Library Journal, Vol. 14, No. 4, 1999

Despite stating that the volume is aimed mainly at new professionals in the information services sector, any professional in this particular field would find this publication a useful working tool. The preface mentions that The New Professional’s Handbook is useful not only for new recruits working in the field, but for LIS students, lecturers, and those involved in LIS personnel management or with staff development duties. I would also recommend this to para-professional staff, or staff undertaking vocational courses such as an ILS NVQ. The work introduces a broad range of topics which today’s professional information worker would require, from disaster management and security hazards to devolved budgeting and income generation, as well as covering the more traditional aspects of providing and managing an information service.

The publication’s thematic approach is particularly helpful and timesaving, and lends itself well to those wishing to use it as a basis for self-directed training. Each concept is dealt with concisely, and includes references and extensive bibliographies, including Websites. The “activities” and “reflection points” are welcomed additions. It is visually easy to consult, with bullet points, figures, and lists of contents at the beginning of each chapter. This is one to keep on your desk rather than on your office bookshelves. The only drawback, I feel, is its price, particularly if its target readers are new professionals.

Your Successful LIS Career: Planning Your Career, CVs, Interviews and Self-promotion has a more personal approach for LIS staff than The New Professional’s Handbook. As suggested by the title, rather than discussing aspects of information services management, Pantry and Griffiths have explored issues concerning self-management and self-development. Again, despite its focus on LIS, and on professional staff within that field, undergraduate students, or staff with a para-professional role within other disciplines would benefit from browsing through this publication. As expected, aspects of self-promotion and self-development are dealt with, and attention given to basic elements such as compiling a successful CV, good interview techniques, and career planning. I found the first chapter on “scene setting” useful, particularly the section on employers’ requirements when selecting LIS staff. Although a plethora of general “how-to” titles already exist, having a publication solely concerned with these issues in an LIS context is useful. This is a sensibly priced, welcomed addition to the The Successful LIS Professional series.

Anwen Pierce, Staff Training and Development Officer, Department of Printed Books, National Library of Wales
Library Management, Vol. 21, No. 5, 2000, p. 271

If you want to get ahead … get a book

Your Successful LIS Career outlines the various steps involved in planning a career in this field, from job application and interviewing techniques to how to evaluate the merits of a position and how to manage your career in the long term. It is aimed mainly at the newly qualified or aspiring information specialist although it may also be useful to people in a mid-career situation.

Content and coverage

The book is well written and organised. Chapter headings take you logically through matters: ‘Scene setting’ is followed by ‘Your master career plan’, ‘Starting your career’, ‘Applying for a job’ and so on. There are also extremely useful appendices giving a typical application form, a sample CV, further reading and organisation lists. The appendix of further reading is more than a simple bibliography as it includes details of employment agencies which specialise in the information field. Finally, as would be expected from any book written by information specialists, there is a comprehensive and usable index.

The authors strike a good balance between the long term, intellectual aspects of career planning and some very basic and practical advice on job application and interview techniques, Some of the points raised may seem to be a little too obvious and basic but having been on both sides of the interview fence I believe there are a great many candidates and some employers who would benefit from following these guidelines.

I have only two very minor quibbles with this book. First, I felt that the authors could have included more information about the role of the Internet in professional awareness and as part of the job hunting process, this was mentioned but only briefly. Second, I felt that they were a little too dismissive of professionals who for whatever reason choose to stay in the same role for longer than the recommended four-year period. While this may be a useful rule of thumb it will not be relevant in every case.

Value for Money

Your Successful LIS Career costs £13.50 in paperback and contains 115 pages packed with useful information. This is good value by anybody’s standards especially considering the difference in earning potential between a well-managed and a mediocre career. The reasonable price makes this an affordable purchase for the job seeker as well as for libraries, library schools and career offices.

The book has impeccable credentials: both authors have long and illustrious careers in the library and information field and both are well known and respected within the field. Having the Library Association as publishers lends the book an extra authority and status. The writing style is clear and easy to read and there are few people starting a career in information who would not benefit from some of the advice offered.


We are all aware of the pace of change which has been happening within the information industry and these changes are reflected in the scope and number of opportunities open to the information professional. The pace of change shows no sign of slowing down and this will make career planning more difficult and at the same time more interesting. This book is therefore going to be a useful tool for anyone wishing to gauge the current situation in the job market.

I would recommend this book as a must-read for any ambitious young information professional. Even people in the middle of their careers may find benefits from using this book as a template to take a good hard look at their career path and to plan for the future.

At a glance
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Jill Bradley, Information Manager, Taylor Nelson Sofres Harris
Information World Review, December 1999, p. 68


Sheila Pantry OBE BA FCLIP manages an independent information services consultancy and electronic publishing business, including websites. She has had a long and varied career in information management in a range of industry sectors, and also in government as Head of Information Services for the Health and Safety Executive. She specializes in worldwide occupational health and safety information and is an experienced trainer, writer, editor, lecturer and conference organiser.

Peter Griffiths is an independent information specialist with particular interest in library and information services, knowledge management and wider aspects of information management in the public sector. He was previously Head of Information at the Home Office, a role that included being head of profession for librarians, information scientists and latterly records managers across the Home Office group. He is an experienced trainer, writer and speaker. Peter is currently 2009 President of CILIP, the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals.

Available at a 20% discount to Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals members.
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