Wednesday, 12 October 2011

23 Things for Professional Development: Thing #21

If I'm honest, I feel like I've completed something very similar to this Thing (promoting yourself in job applications and at interviews) in the recent past. I've been in the same job for nearly two years now, but as part of my Chartership portfolio I sat down and made a list of my activities and interests. Most of these were work-related, but there were some personal ones in there too. This was in order to put together the four-page CV that needed to appear in the portfolio. As a result of this, I also went about updating my 'standard' 2-page CV. I do tend to modify it when applying for jobs (or I did, when I was looking), but the basics remain the same.

I guess the most satisfying thing for me when I did this was discovering just how wide a range of professional skills I had actually acquired since I got my Information and Library Studies MSc - from advocacy skills to website maintenance to stock selection to classification skills to staff management. I don't use them all in my current job, but I do use a lot of them - and it's great to know that if I want to do something a little different in the future I have all that experience to draw on.

It's been a while since I looked at, or applied for jobs - but in the past I've spent a lot of time applying and interviewing for posts. I think initially I wasn't great at the interview stage and it let me down, but I've learnt to sell myself. Some of the advice I'd give when applying/ interviewing for jobs is:

When completing the application form, make sure you address the criteria on the person specification and job description. Just as Maria says on the cpd23 post, essential really does mean essential - and desirable means important too. If necessary, go through the specification points one by one and address each one. Sometimes I've found that one of my experiences covers more than one criteria, but I have spoken to panellists in the past who have said they really like people who make it clear exactly which criteria they are addressing. Also try to talk about the job itself and why it interests you - if your application sounds generic it can put the panellists off (I recruited for a post a year or so ago and this happened. The person who didn't mention any specifics of the job, just talked about their general interest in libraries, didn't get an interview).

If you are lucky enough to get an interview, try to pre-empt some of the questions. You probably won't guess them all but you'll be much better prepared. It will also force you to take a look at the organisation's website and learn a bit more about them. When you get to the interview, be proud of your past achievements, be clear when explaining them, and be honest. Use your achievements as examples to answer the questions you are asked if at all possible. If you find you're really not getting on with the interviewers, be glad you've discovered this at the interview stage - you'd be unlikely to enjoy working with somebody who you clash with instantly. Believe it or not, I have actually been to interviews where I've enjoyed myself. Sometimes I've been  unlucky and someone has just happened to have more experience than me, but more often than not the interviews I've enjoyed are the ones that have resulted in job offers.

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