Selling yourself in the Job Seeking Jungle

‘Selling Your Skills in the Job-Hunting Jungle’

Ira Raymond Exhibition Room, Barr Smith Library, 31st July,

– Review by Marc Caldicott (August 2007)

‘Selling Your skills in the Job-Hunting Jungle,’ turned out to be a great success, and was attended by a veritable bevvy of library community aficionados from many different walks of student and professional library life. Introduced by Kelly Glossop, the speakers on the panel at the function were

* Geoff Strempel, Associate Director, Public Library Services (SLSA);

* Di Hodge, Coordinator, Archives and Libraries, ABC Adelaide;

* Benita Anderson, Branch Operations Officer, Salisbury Public Library and

* Kate Sergeant, Digital Resource Services Coordinator, UniSA.

Benjamin Wheal (our Master of Ceremonies) expertly fielded the evening question-and-answer session, and free toffees were awarded for questions he considered to be of especial merit (I myself asked a question at one point, but – rats – I didn’t get a toffee). The discussion covered such profound, but fortunately not altogether imponderable matters such as highlighting your transferable skills, matching your skills to the job selection criteria, getting your message across in interviews, tips for changing library sectors, and last but not least the question: getting that all-important foot in the door. If there was an all-inclusive theme throughout the evening, it was, ‘Sell yourself.’

The speakers stressed the need to examine all areas of one’s life – not just previous jobs – when demonstrating to interviewers the skills you have. Tasks (to take just one example) such as working as the coach of your local netball association can translate to skills applicable to one or more of the job selection criteria in a prospective job. Look, too, to courses you have taken (not just a library degree), such as computer or report writing courses. At a job interview, point out why these skills are useful when meeting the selection criteria. Ask questions of the interviewer(s) in the interview, so that your personality can come through. It is always better to say too much than too little. Before attending an interview, try (if this is feasible) visiting the institution for which you have made your job application so that you can (1) discover what your prospective place of work is like and (2) you can demonstrate knowledge of this place of work to the interviewer. Think laterally. Lever your skills to show how they meet the job criteria. With regard to the question of changing library sectors, it can be difficult. Voluntary work in the sectors, and professional development opportunities can facilitate the process. As to the question of getting an initial foot in the door, voluntary work and professional development opportunities (courses, committees) can help again. The key, the panellists stressed, is to possess both academic and work skills. As well as volunteer work, short-term casual work at ‘temping’ agencies can be of value here and can often lead on to bigger things. In addition, highlight any particularly good results you achieved in your studies.

In summary, the evening was both insightful and enjoyable, and many useful and varied tips were picked up by everybody who attended. The panellists each received a complimentary bottle of wine, and one lucky young lady at the function received a complimentary book voucher from Borders for asking what the Committee adjudged to be the question of the evening (looks like I missed out there, too). Salut!!

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