NUI Maynooth request expressions of interest

Expressions of interest, from fully qualified librarians, in short-term part-time Assistant Librarian contract posts in the Library at NUI Maynooth should be sent to Helen.b.fallon [at] nuim.ie by Tuesday 13th May.

Applicants should include a covering letter and a curriculum vitae.  Payment will be on the first point of the Assistant Librarian scale (€35,043 pro-rata).

This could be a wonderful opportunity to showcase your library and information skills while gaining some valuable academic library experience.

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Interview Skills Workshop

On Saturday 22 March, we held our first event of 2014. The Interview Skills Workshop was intended as a follow-up to our CV Workshop of last year and we were very excited by the speakers who had so nicely agreed to give up their Saturday to help information professionals on their first (or next) step on the career ladder. Of course, we should mention that the LAICDG have become quite accustomed to the plush surroundings and wonderful staff at the Pearse Street Library & Archives, and Saturday was no different.

First up was Holly Fawcett, digital marketing manager at Social Talent with some helpful hints for ‘pimping’ your LinkedIn profile.

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Many of us have LinkedIn accounts, but some of the points that Holly addressed, even with regards to the basic aspects of LinkedIn, showed that some people don’t utilise it to its best benefit. Holly reminded us to choose a professional-looking photo (no photos of us on a night out, no ‘selfies’, no photos of your pet), write a keyword-driven headline and include your Twitter handle (if your Twitter account is somewhat respectable, of course).

Holly also reminded us to include examples of continuous professional development or any volunteer work that you do. You can include this in a specific section of your LinkedIn profile (similar to your ‘education’ and ’employment’ experience). Another area of LinkedIn that we may have neglected (or just never noticed that it existed) was sections such as projects, publications, organisations, and honors & awards. Are you a member of (any) organisation? Were you awarded a prize in college, work or in your community? Were you involved in patents or publications? Did you participate in professional projects? Did you get a great result in college or do you have professional certifications? This isn’t a place for modesty!

Holly’s talk was a revelation to many at the event, as she went beyond these ‘basics’ and explored areas such as adding multimedia to your profile page (such as professional talks that you may have given), creating your own one-click invite link, customising your URL, the importance of your summary, and how to attain the desireable ‘all star’ profile status (hint: you need at least three different jobs listed on your LinkedIn page and over 50 connections). Holly also talked about adding nice little touches to make your page a little bit more appealing to any potential employers who may be looking. One that stood out was linking to the logos of companies that you have worked for in the past. Holly was also adamant about the importance of linking to everyone you know. This is important not just for the networking options (six degrees and all that) but because of that ‘all star’ clause.

Another aspect that struck a chord with many of us was utilising aspects of LinkedIn that many don’t, perhaps because we are unsure whether they are viewed positively by potential employers. Holly stressed the importance of utilising your LinkedIn Recommendations. These can be particularly beneficial if you ask previous employers or colleagues to recommend you in specific aspects that they can be confident you possess. Overall, Holly’s message was to focus on keywords that will show your dedication to a particular area that you are interested in. From talking to the attendees after Holly’s talk, many admitted that they had neglected their LinkedIn profile page. I have a feeling that a lot of us have some homework to do over the next few weeks.

Marie O’Neill, head librarian at Dublin Business School was up next with her talk on ‘Interview tips for the newly qualified or out-of-work librarian’.

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Marie admitted that it was a tough economic climate out there, and that it was specifically tough for the newly qualified librarian or the librarian looking for a new opportunity. Marie’s central point in approaching interviews was to maintain a positive attitude. Of course there are the core problems with many librarians not having the requisite experience and the severe lack of jobs, but Marie was insistant that we should try and look at the posities. Some recruiters want to hire newly-qualified librarians. Newly-qualified librarians might be more enthusiastic, more knowledgeable about exciting and new developments in the information professional field and yes, sad to say, far cheaper than experienced librarians with years of experience. Focusing on this will at least give you a positive attitude in interviews, making yourself far more attractive to your potential employers and potentially meaning a better interview.

Another important point that Marie raised was to take advantage of the free-time that you might have as a newly-qualified librarian, or one that is between jobs, by closing the gap between you and potential competitors for jobs. Take advantage of training opportunities that may arise from being on the dole, build up your CV with voluntary work experience (but the right kind: one that offers valuable experience in a field you are interested in, not simply one that you can put on your CV but teaches you nothing), establish a social media presence (especially on Twitter and LinkedIn), investigate if you can publish in a suitable journal, and participate in professional activities.

A very interesting point that Marie raised was the range of (free!) online courses that you can do towards up-skilling. Marie talking about MOOCs (Massive Open Online Learning Courses). You can find MOOCs on academic writing or management. There are even some specifically related towards those in the information field.

With all that achieved, you should be confident with regards to that forthcoming interview. But the preparation isn’t over yet! Marie noted that we should approach an interview with ‘forensic style research’. This means not just simply looking at the potential employer’s website, but checking out news articles, professional and academic literature, looking at reports that the institution has published, investigating the institution on LinkedIn and find out whether you have any contacts at the organisation. The basics are also important: turn up on time, dress appropriately, smile and be prepared to use a little (genuine) flattery with regards to why you applied for the post. And what about that old conundrum, what to ask when asked for any questions at the end of the interview? Marie was adamant that it is better not to ask anything rather than open up a potential can of worms. Even those examples that are usually offered as positives can be potentially problematic. The interviewee asking about potential employment opportunities might be assessed as somebody not particularly interested in the role for which they are applying. Asking about opportunities for CPD might be problematic if the library is small or under a tight-budget. A simple ‘you provided me with all the necessary information during the interview. Thank you’ can be far more positive.

After our break, Mark Cumiskey from the UCD Careers Office spoke about the myths and realities of interviews. Mark stressed the importance of remaining confident. Never think that they made a mistake in asking you to an interview or that they have a candidate already chosen. If you come prepared, you can impress your interviewers. But how can you achieve that?

Preparation is key. Mark suggested preparing ‘silver bullets’: your key messages that you wish to convey to your interviewers. Know these so you don’t get flustered. In addition to this, conducting research on the organisation interviewing you is essential. And finally, know how an interview tends to be structured. There is usually an introduction and opening questions:

  • Why did you choose to study …. ?

  • What attracted you to this position?

  • What do you think that you would bring to this position?

  • Tell us something interesting?

there will probably be behavioural or situational questions

  • Give me an example of/tell me about a time when … ?

  • STAR: Situation (be specific), Tactic (your plan), Action (that you took), Result (outcome & learning).

  • You can talk about leadership experiences, a time that you may have dealt with a conflict situation, a time that things didn’t go according to plan, or examples of your problem solving style.

as well as work sample or technical questions and possibly hypothetical questions. For these questions, Mark stressed the importance of remaining cool, calm, collected, and reflective.

There is also usually the opportunity to ask your interviewers questions. Mark differed from Marie on this topic and suggested that this was an opportunity to show your ambition or understanding of the organisation that are interviewing you. However, it is important to remain focused. Don’t use this as a means to ‘show off’ or use a ‘clever’ question that you read somewhere will impress your interviewers. Mark suggested to keep these questions focused on the job that you are applying for. For example, you could ask about the organisation’s vision for the future development of the role or the influence of macro/micro factors on the organisation.

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Mark wrapped up with some essential basics. Be well-rested, eat beforehand, arrive on time, be clean and well-presented, be positive (smile!) and sit up straight. When answering questions, remember to listen, reflect, and answer and be clear, concise, and confident while doing so.

After Mark’s talk, we divided the attendees into groups for some group interaction on specific questions that they may have but also to facilitate further discussion about some of the points adressed by those giving the talks. Although I, personally, did not get to hear what Mark discussed with his group, Marie’s points about entrepreneurship within the library profession as well as the need for professional advocacy not simply amongst librarians, but towards different professions, sounded like the beginning of a fascinating debate.

All of us at the LAICDG thoroughly enjoyed the event and would like to take this opportunity to thank everybody who attended. We got some feedback, but we will be sending out questionnaires soon to get some proper feedback. We would also like to thank everybody who participated in live-tweeting (whether they were in attendance or doing it remotely. You can check out our a selection of related tweets from the event here.

CV and cover letter talk and workshop recap

For our third event, we decided to get back to basics. This seemed particularly relevant with students finishing their exams, as well as the sense that there were at least some jobs being offered, albeit mainly contract work. How to inspire those new to the profession as well as those currently eyeing these jobs? It can be soul destroying to see jobs being advertised but not getting called to an interview. The first thing people have to do is to work on their CV and their cover letter. So the LAICDG decided to organise an event to help these people to get past the first hurdle: getting yourself noticed amongst the slush pile.

What we wanted in this event was for the attendees to be able to hear from people who had been on both sides of the fence, i.e, people who had spent time looking for jobs as well as people who had been on interviewing panels. We were very impressed by the quality of the speakers who gave up their valuable time and were so informative and very entertaining as well. We managed to get a space in the beautiful Rathmines Public Library, which is a wonderful example of a library at the centre of a community as well having some fabulously helpful staff.

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Jane Burns, the wonderfully inspiring information professional from the Royal College of Surgeons was the first of our speakers. Jane wanted to give a behind the scenes look at the selection and interviewing process as well as providing some helpful hints that those applying can utilise. They may seem obvious, but there were many nodding heads when Jane went through this list. Examples include trying to find out exactly who you’re sending your application to, the right title of the role that you’re applying for, and the importance of reading through the entire job spec. Jane emphasised that there are clues in seemingly irrelevant parts of the description. Understanding the role is essential as it helps you to know what the employer wants and whether you can actually do the job. This can be helpful as it can determine what jobs you should actually apply for. Jane noted that rejection can, of course, be somewhat soul-destroying, so applying for realistic jobs is very important.

Jane also gave practical advice on how librarians should tailor their CVs for each particular role. Again, this is something that we can forget about, especially if we’re sending our CV in to a large number of organisations. This, of course, also applies to our cover letters. A useful tip was to copy and paste the job spec in to tagxedo.com and then look at those words that are jumping out at you. Can you do what they are asking you to do?

Another useful tip was the importance of keeping your options open to alternative library careers. This helps to keep us motivated and even if the job is quite far removed from the library world, Jane suggested that there were options to keep you in the library world (like writing for the blog of the LAICDG). Jane suggested creating a table with words from the job spec on the left-hand side and writing two examples of how your own experience matches what the employer is looking for. Download Jane’s presentation here.

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Hugh Murphy, from NUIM is always a welcome presence at library events, whether as a speaker or attendee. Hugh’s talk (Interviews, Retina Scans and the Failings of Telepathy) was light-hearted and funny, but offered some valuable tips for those of us in attendance.

Hugh acknowledged the truth about interviews: they are random and the job can be given to someone who happens to impress on the day. Knowing this can give the applicant an advantage. Firstly, the basics (again, you can never overstate the basics). So, dress appropriately, be polite, be punctual (this was one he emphasised as particularly important), don’t supply any handwritten documentation, be positive, ask a (relevant) question, and be prepared to challenge the interviewer(s) if you disagree with a statement or have an alternative view. Given that interviews can be random, if you are not successful always ask for feedback. Hugh also reminded us that while the interview is random for the applicant, it will also be random for the interviewer. Download Hugh’s presentation here.

Our last speaker was Mark Cumisky, from UCD Career Development Centre. Mark started off with a story of what not to do in an interview. The moral of that story was not to lie about anything, whether your experience or your appearance, because if you are to do this, what else are you lying about?

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Mark suggested that we take his 3 Rs advice regarding both CV and cover letter: recent, relevant, and readable. Mark also stressed the importance of knowing everything possible about the role that you are applying for: what is it? Where does it fit into the organisation? Who did it previously? This knowledge should be applied to the organisation as well. What is its size, culture, history, reputation, and its pre-eminence (or lack thereof)? Mark also suggested that you should really ‘know’ about yourself too, even going so far as to ask an outside opinion regarding yourself. What are your skills, your experience, motivations, aspirations, ambitions, and your values? Going over this before the interview will help you to be aware of your answers during the interview process so that you seem prepared and relaxed. It is also important to tie in this knowledge of yourself with your knowledge of the organisation and the job.

Mark also gave some constructive suggestions for cover letters. Sometimes cover letters can terrify the applicant but also sometimes an applicant can be of the opinion that they have such a perfect cover letter that they can’t bear to alter it, regardless of the job. So, how should we write a cover letter? Tailoring, again, is the key. For the introduction, however, it is necessary to include the basics: who are you and where did you see the job advertisement? Next you should discuss what you can do for the organisation that you are applying for. So, state the relevance of your skills and include some examples. Show your enthusiasm, ambition, drive, and energy for the job that you are applying for. Next you should discuss why you are interested in working for the organisation. Here is where you show your knowledge of the profession, specifically your knowledge of the strengths and positives of the organisation within the profession in general. Download Mark’s presentation here.

After the speakers had finished, we organised the groups into loose ‘workshops’ to discuss actual sample job advertisements as well as given attendees the opportunity to discuss particular problems or issues that they had. The speakers would then rotate around the groups so everybody could get a chance to talk to each speaker. Time, as always, was a limiting factor, so the rotation didn’t work out quite as well as we had hoped, but there was always time for people to continue at the networking event that we had organised just down the road in Rody Bolands. Although some couldn’t make this part of the event, there were some interesting discussions held late into the night. Surprisingly, a lot of these discussions still revolved around libraries and job applications!Image

Overall, we were very happy with the event. A special thanks must be (re-)issued to the speakers, all of whom gave great talks mixed with humour and practical advice and were always ready with the personal touch for all of those attending. We are compiling your feedback (if you haven’t given yours yet, please do!) but overall the event seems to have been met with an enthusiastic response, which mirrors what a lot of you said on the day. We also have fond memories of the odd little toys that Jane brought as a conversation starter.Image

Don’t forget to check out the Tweet Archive of the event and, as always, keep an eye on this blog for news of future events and exciting developments in the world of the LAICDG.

CV Talk & Workshop

CV Event FlyerWe all know it’s tough out there for those of us looking for a job or trying to improve our career credentials. A lot of those problems are associated with things outside of our control: too few jobs and too many applicants. So what can we do? We need to focus on those elements of job selection that we have control over, namely our CV and cover letter. It is too often the case that people fail to tailor their CV for a job application or don’t make the best of the CV layout to display their skills and experience.

With that in mind, the LAICDG is proud to announce an informal CV Talk & Workshop. The aim of the talk is to get future librarians and those wishing to further their career opportunities to hear from people in the industry about what should be included in CVs and cover letters.

Guest speakers include:

  • Jane Burns from the Royal College of Surgeons;
  • Hugh Murphy from NUIM; and
  • a speaker from the UCD Careers Office.

After the talk there will be a workshop where attendees can gain practical experience about what employers are looking for when they announce that they are hiring. Attendees will form into groups and discuss real job adverts in the library world assisted by experienced professionals who will hold informal discussions with the attendees and offer advice based on their real work experience. Speakers will be joined by Kathryn Smith of TCD for the workshop.

Afterwards we will have the traditional informal ‘networking’ (or socialising with librarians in a pub!) in Rody Bolands. We have a space reserved for attendees of the event which will be available at 5pm.

As always, we will be encouraging the use of Twitter during the event. Our hashtag for the event is #cdgcv2013

imagesIf this sounds like just the thing you need to gain confidence in your job applications then you will want to be at Rathmines Public Library on Saturday, the 7th of September. And it’s free! With this in mind, and as this will be a small, informal event, spaces are strictly limited so email as soon as possible to avoid dissapointment! Our contact address is laicareerdevelopment [at] gmail.com