Work You Can’t Not Do?

by Ryan Nitz, Head Editor, INALJ Alaska

Work You Can’t Not Do?

ren_optSince most people reading this are in the LIS field, I feel like it’s pretty safe to assume that we share a fascination with information and learning. TED talks are one of my favorite ways to come across new information, ideas, and perspectives. In the last week or so, one talk in particular stuck in my mind as especially useful to INALJ’s readers. It deals with the topic of finding and doing work about which you are passionate, which is an important consideration that can fall by the wayside for job seekers.

The talk I’m talking about was given by Scott Dinsmore at TEDxGoldenGatePark, entitledHow to Find and Do Work You Love.” In his discussion, Scott makes some great points that anyone looking for a job would do well to keep in mind. I’ll touch on just a few of them.

To frame the discussion, Scott talks about the fact that a lot of people out there are dissatisfied with the work that they’re doing. He even uses that term “quiet desperation” to describe how some people feel about their jobs. Not a shocker to hear to hear that a lot of folks don’t love their jobs, I know, but the point is how can *you* avoid joining their ranks? Easy; find work that you’re passionate about. OK, maybe not easy. But Scott gives us some helpful tips to that end.

These tips all fall under the overall topic of knowing yourself.

  1. First, know your personal strengths and let them motivate you. We all have them, and the more time and conscious effort we put in to recognizing what they are, the further we’ll be down the path to finding fulfilling work.
  2. Next, understand what most informs your decision-making process. Identifying the factors that make or break decisions for you will help narrow your focus down to only those positions that have a higher likelihood of providing you an opportunity to flourish professionally and personally.  Have to live in a certain region?  Need to be near your family?  Is it your destiny to catalog the complete works of Waylon Jennings? Whatever it is, know what you can’t do without, and dismiss jobs that can’t offer it to you.
  3. Finally, be inspired and informed by consciously assimilating your experiences into your life. I constantly amaze myself by somehow not allowing my decisions to be informed by the things I learn by simply being alive and doing stuff. I have to work to be more analytical and reflective, and make sure I identify things that I do or do not want to go through again. The more I do this, the better I know myself. The better I know myself, the higher the likelihood I can identify the things about a job that will be meaningful to me and avoid spending hours and hours every week in a state of “quiet desperation”. Sounds good.


Information is a powerful tool people can use to improve their lives. As curators of and guides for information, LIS people may have a leg up on a lot of other professions in terms of finding meaningful work. I know I’m grateful on a daily basis for the opportunity to work in a public service position that’s involved in the process of people making decisions to preserve and manage the natural resources of a place that I find inspiring. Scott finishes his presentation with the question: “What is the work you can’t not do?” Some people may already have an idea as to the answer of that question, others may have not really thought about it before. Either way, kick it around a bit and see what you come up with. It may shed a new light on your job search.


Here’s a link to Scott’s talk, if you’re interested in giving a listen:

Naomi House

Naomi House, MLIS, is the founder and publisher of the popular LIS jobs resource (formerly I Need a Library Job). Founded in October 2010 with the assistance of her fellow Rutgers classmate, Elizabeth Leonard, INALJ’s social media presence has grown to include Facebook (retired in 2016), Twitter and a LinkedIn group, in addition to the interviews, articles and jobs found on INALJ has had over 20 Million page views and helped thousands of librarians and LIS folk find employment! Through grassroots marketing, word of mouth and a real focus on exploring unconventional resources for job leads, INALJ grew from a subscription base of 20 friends to a website with over 500,000 visits in a month. Naomi believes that well-sourced quantity is quality in this narrow job market and INALJ reflects this many new jobs published daily. She was a 2013 Library Journal Mover & Shaker and has served on the University of Maryland iSchool Board from 2014-2017. Naomi was a Reference, Marketing and Acquisitions Librarian for a contractor at a federal library outside Washington, DC, and now lives part time in Western NY and Budapest, Hungary. She has heard of spare time but hasn’t encountered it lately. She pronounces INALJ as eye-na-elle-jay.