Thing 21: Promoting yourself
October 3, 2011
This Thing couldn’t have come at a more appropriate time, as I continue to job search and interview. Additionally, SLA’s Information Outlook issue this month is about Advocating for Librarians (discussed further in Thing 16 ). I agree that this is critical–it is not “boasting” or egotism, but just showing the value of what we do.
I really like Part 1 of this Thing, which asks you to focus on things which you have and haven’t liked in your life and work. Over the course of my career, I have realized that although I like independent and detailed work, I really enjoy interaction with our patrons. Customer service/user experience and marketing have developed into interests for me, and I am hoping to find a position that will allow me to continue to explore these aspects of librarianship. I also enjoy working as part of an effective team; even if I am a “department of one”, no one is really an island as far as information work goes. If you don’t have a team that works well together with respect and appreciation, then your institution suffers, and therefore your patrons. Finally, I feel that a place that respects work/life balance is invaluable to my happiness. I have no problem working hard while at work, and even at home when necessary, if I feel that I have been enabled with enough time to also be an effective wife and mother. Being a mom is the most important job I have ever had, so I need a workplace that understands that.
I have an effective resume, thanks to the fact that my husband’s company provided me with assistance in updating my resume 4 years ago. Resumes are very different today than they were 15 years ago; my advice is to be sure that you take a look at current formats and update your accordingly. Help at your local library or in resume preparation books will be invaluable in showcasing your accomplishments effectively and in a more modern way.
For Part 3–the interview process!!! If you are fortunate enough to get an interview, I agree that it is most important to PREPARE, PREPARE, PREPARE!!! Go to websites that give sample questions, or think of questions you yourself have asked. Tailor your answers to focus on your accomplishments. Use examples that reflect the requirements in the job description. Be honest and true to yourself and personality. I like to go into an interview with the attitude that it is a good learning experience, and I find it fun and stimulating to meet new people and hear about the job possibilities out there. I practice my responses a lot, since I tend to be chatty, and try to concentrate on being concise and succinct. I ask lots of questions as well–if you don’t have any questions about the position, then the position is really not for you.
If you have an interview, take the time to evaluate it after the fact. Think about what you felt while there, and how you feel you would fit into the workplace. I had an interview several months ago where the interviewers were very friendly and open, but I could tell the minute I walked into the supervisor’s office that working with him would be impossible. The office was completely unorganized and a huge mess, and, having worked for someone like that before, I knew in my gut it wouldn’t be a good fit. I recently had an interview that left me with a great impression in many ways, and the job itself excited me more and more as time went on. Trust your feelings and be discerning.
Remember that if you have a passion for information work and are open and flexible, you will be a good employee and a good asset to the job. Find the best ways to get that across, and you will eventually find something that will work with your life and give you a great level of satisfaction.