Sunday, 9 October 2011

[CPD23] Things 21 and 22

Be strong! (and wear tartan)
This week it is all about identifying your strengths, applying for jobs, interviews and volunteering.

Applying for Jobs

As a few folk have mentioned, keeping a list of what you have achieved and do in your day-to-day job is a really useful way of keeping your CV up to date and relevant.  I kept a list of conferences attended, tours, talks and tasks when I was at John's partly as a means of not forgetting anything interesting I had done but also as a tool for writing my CV when applying for Masters courses and jobs at uni.  I could skim through all of the projects I had been involved in at John's and pick out which ones would suit which job application and make sure that I never forgot anything.  I have started a similar one for my time at Syracuse.


My brother once told me that it doesn't matter if you have no job related experience for answering one of the annoying 'What are you strengths?  Why do you think that you are an organised person?' questions as long as you have an experience from your everyday life that you can pull on.  This not only shows a bit more about your character but also portrays your ability to think outside the box.  So, all those little 'projects' that you undergo in your life like moving house, revising for finals, organising an event, applying for a visa etc. can be used to show your organisational skills and ability to see a task through to fruition.  Obviously work related strengths are preferable but these everyday activities can also work in your favour as a wee filler.

Upon interviewing the head of archives at Oxford University Press, I discovered that the majority of his applicants did not supply a cover letter with their application, for whatever post.  This appalled me - it is such a simple thing to research the employer and alter your CV and cover letter to fit.  I know it takes a lot longer than posting off a general CV but if you don't put a bit of legwork in at this point then you won't get past the paper stage.  Also, I have realised that you should list what both sides will benefit from your employment since no employer is going to think that you are going to work there out of the goodness of your heart - they want to see some professional awareness and desire to progress.

To be honest, the thing that has always helped me in interviews is being personable.  The interview for my scholarship was very tough but I had a laugh and a joke with the panel and showed, basically, my natural side.  If interviewers don't like the normal you then, as Laura said, you are probably not suited to the role being offered.  Also, never answer a question that you have not properly understood, always ask for clarification!


I haven't done that much volunteering though I am getting much more into the mindset now.  I worked for a summer at my local public library for experience before I went to Cambridge.  This was an enlightening experience and is always at the back of my mind when I am in class and discussing public libraries.  The library was not forward thinking, it struggled with funding and was tired, all of which made working there difficult but made me more determined to make a seemed so wrong that such a crucial part of the community was pretty much being used as a glorified internet source.

lanark library by Ramsay2, on Flickr
Lovely Lanark Library
Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License  by  Ramsay2 

Now that I am in Syracuse I am volunteering for things right, left and centre in order to get experience but, more importantly, get out here and discover what is going on and who people are.  I didn't realise at the time how lucky we were last year as trainees since introductions were handed to us on a plate and we didn't need to try that hard to be part of the Cambridge library community.  Here, however, it is a different matter (and the whole library system is, literally, foreign to me).  Once such volunteering opportunity was at the Onondaga Community College game night and this was our free snack table (please note the sign) and yes, those are candy corn M&M's:


I am going to be participating (indeed, volunteering) in an exciting new project called Little Free Libraries and will be posting about it soon!  Due to the lack of photos thus far I will add in pictures from apple picking today at Abbot Farm, Baldwinsville (I always think of Coronation Street when I hear that) and the amazing maze of corn, which turned out not to be that amazing but rather scary once someone brought 'Signs' up!

*I do note that I am still very new to this profession so my 'advice' may well be useless but it may be of use to those coming up through the ranks behind me!

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