CILIP CV-writing webinar, 12 July 2018

This is a guest post from former SLLG Convenor, Alison Wainwright, reviewing a recent CV-writing webinar organised by CILIP. After being made redundant from her post of legal Research and Information Manager, Alison has launched a web content/copywriting, CV writing and proofreading service, Dipitus.

Earlier this month, CILIP partnered with the CV & Interview Advisors (CVIA) to host a webinar on Advanced CV Writing for Experienced Professionals. As I’ve recently been made redundant, I signed up for this session to ensure my existing skills from recent qualifications and experience as a recruiter were up to date. As with all training, there’s always something new to learn, and for me the mention of the applicant tracking systems was of most value, triggering further research into the area (these don’t just track application progress, they are used by 40% of employers to screen applicants, sometimes incorrectly)!

The CVIA hosts several such free webinars, using the same presentation but rebranding the slides. For CILIP they also used examples for librarians in the case studies. In return the CVIA hopes to acquire new customers by offering attendees a discount on its relevant services. [Note: discount may not apply at time of publication.]

The presenter was very natural and friendly and whilst an appropriate amount of plugging the services was made, there was definitely no pressure to buy. Sessions run to about an hour and twenty minutes (including attendees’ questions at the end). Some points were laboured making it frustratingly slow at times. However, the webinar contained a lot of useful tips so it’s well worth signing up for any future sessions if you want to make sure your LinkedIn profile or ‘just in case’ CV is up to date with modern practices and technology. If you want to save time, here is a much shorter summary of the CVIA presentation.

Audience

audience-crowd-event-301987

Know your audience (Credit: John-Mark Smith http://www.pexels.com)

Make sure you target your application to your audience – initial screening is usually performed by junior HR members or even an automated applicant tracking system (ATS) before your application is even seen by the hiring manager. They are looking for your use of all of the exact keywords in the job description.

Tailor your CV to every position applied for.

A business case, not a list

Ensure you aren’t just providing a list of jobs and qualifications. Think of yourself as pitching for a six-figure investment sum in Dragons’ Den (ie a salary of £25k over 4 years, plus other employment costs) and present a compelling business case as to why the recruiter should interview you.

First page

An effective first-page structure to create your business case is:

  • Profile/summary. Use this to make sure you stand out from the other applicants. State what you are good at, what your core value proposition is, and align yourself to the current hot skills in your market.
  • Key skills/areas of expertise. Bullet point all the core technical and functional skills required for the role (not personal attributes – more on this later) in 2, 3 or 4-word statements.
  • Career highlights. Three of the best examples from your past that show your experience and ability for this role. Use the STAR method to ensure they are quantifiable (introduce the Situation, the Task required, your Actions, and your Result). Put them in order of best example first, not chronologically. They can be from any time period but avoid citing dates if they are older examples.

Subsequent page(s)

  • Career history/recent experience (last 8-10 years).
    • Briefly cover background, duties, responsibilities, and achievements.
    • Ensure you don’t have any date gaps. Include entries that explain gaps, ideally adding anything you can to bridge any skills gap eg voluntary work with relevant or transferable skills, training or self-study.
    • If you are currently in a similar role to the one you’re applying for but your job title doesn’t match, or particularly if it’s not clear from your title what you do, you can change it.
    • If you aren’t in a similar role, it’s important to put your career history on the second page so that you can sell yourself on the first page with your transferable skills and relevant experience, rather than being dismissed because you’re ‘not the right fit’.
  • Earlier career. One line for each role.
  • Education/qualifications/professional development. Not every training course you’ve ever been on; only those that are relevant to the post applied for.
  • Contact details
  • Recommendations/testimonials. It’s good to include strong, relevant testimonial evidence rather than ‘references on request’ but ensure you have permission to use the referees’ details in each instance to cover you for GDPR.
business-plan-charts-graphs-590016

Fancy layouts: great for designers; librarians not so much (Credit: Lukas http://www.pexels.com)

Don’ts

Don’t include personal/soft/behavioural skills which you can’t demonstrate in your CV, eg conscientious, hard working, analytical etc. Many people open their application with what they think are strong statements about their personal attributes. As everyone says the same thing, they actually make candidates hard to distinguish from one another, and as the recruiter isn’t interested in these skills, they usually don’t even read as far as the candidate’s technical suitability for the job before throwing the CV on the reject pile.

Even if the recruiter requires these skills in the person specification, there is no way of demonstrating you possess them on a CV. You will be judged on them at interview at the earliest, and thereafter during the probation period. Sections headed by the word ‘personal’ will be omitted by an ATS.

Don’t include hobbies unless they help to demonstrate essential skills or experience listed in the job spec.

CVIA advised not worry too much about length, at least for ATS purposes, but it is customary in the UK to limit your CV to two pages. Academic CVs tend to be the exception.

Cover letters

Your cover letter shouldn’t stand alone – always ensure any key content is in the CV as they will become detached.

Again, use this to sell yourself.

LinkedIn

85% of recruiters will look at you on LinkedIn before inviting you for interview so an effective presence on the platform is crucial. Your profile should be broader and less detailed than your CV. The bit of text under your name (‘headline’) is key so it has to be compelling. The order of skills on your profile matters so put your key skill(s) at the top. Also, who has endorsed you matters; they should have the same skills and be at a higher level.

Further information

For more information on the implications of applicant tracking systems for your CV, and other tips on how to write a winning CV, please see my recent blog.


With a free initial review and her insider knowledge of our industry, Alison is offering a basic CV creation at the discounted price of £35. She is also holding a prize draw to win a keg of Wainwright’s Golden Ale for quoting your favourite word on Dipitus’s Facebook post by 28 July.

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SLLG guided walk, 18th May 2018.

colourful old town building

Hidden colour.

The SLLG arranged a guided walk for members and friends. It also arranged some lovely sunshine to walk in.

World's end close

The World’s End is named after the World’s End Close next to it. Who knew?

David Ireland, tour guide and solicitor, led 9 members and 2 non-members up and down and over and under Edinburgh’s Old Town on an exceptionally pleasant and informed route on Friday evening.

Assuming most of us were aware of the main historical places and stories of the Old Town, David steered us through to some of Edinburgh’s lesser noticed historical buildings and details.

Taking us down dark closes to reveal once grand music halls, stopping at a stately home Deacon Brodie worked in (and burgled), and reminding us to look around our surroundings, David gave a sense of discovery we probably didn’t realise we had for places most of us feel so familiar with.

backstreet beauty

SLLG takes members down all the glamorous avenues

For just over 2 hours, a stroll in the warm sun to places not normally afforded a second thought to explore, and learn how they helped shape the more famous history of the city, was a delight.

Always quick to point something out with a flourish that which we may not have consciously noted, David was excellent company.

David even managed to add in a legal element, marking out where Lord Kames once resided. And, of course, there was something for us librarians too.

 

 

printing press sign

The site of Scotland’s first printing press, 1508.

As the sunshine extended our shadow’s legs, the recognisable streets also took on more alien characteristics. A turn down a small run of spiral stone steps under bridge was transformed by a girl with a guitar using decorative LED lights and incense burners, into a tiny late night live music venue.

With the Old Town now in full swing for the weekend, our walk ended next to the hostelry, appropriately enough, The Last Drop.

A good evening was had by all.

not all who wander are lost

“Not all who wander are lost” : some are on a SLLG guided walk

Many thanks to David for his entertaining and thoughtful guidance. Our appreciation also to all those who could make the walk. Finally, thanks to our members David and Sharron for allowing the use of their photographs of the event.

 

 

 

 

AGM: 3rd May, 2018

24 members attended the group AGM this year in Edinburgh. We enjoyed a business meeting where a new membership category was approved, but not as much as we enjoyed speaking with a rare books conservator in a “show & tell” of rare books and conservation materials after it.

Riddles Close

Riddles Court was the venue for the 2018 AGM.  The late 16th century merchant’s house and courtyards have been recently restored to full beauty and provided an apt setting for a meeting (a shush?) of librarians.

Gail, events manager for the building, welcomed us all with a little introduction to the rich history of the rooms as well as the building’s more recent use as a venue from conferences to parties.

And with that, the committee welcomed members to the meeting at 4:15.

Geddes Room set up for AGM

Geddes Room ready for the AGM

AGM

The business meeting was brief. The highlights of which were:

  • The membership approved a new category of membership.

“Supporter membership” is intended to suit those who wish to benefit from (or support the aims of) the group but are highly unlikely to attend events for reasons of geography or professional interests outside the Scots law information sector. This membership level will allow full access to the benefits of the group. Unlike full membership, it does not include rights to raise or vote on group business. Currently this membership is set at 50% of the full member annual subscription.

To find out more about this new category and all the benefits of joining, please visit our website’s Membership information page.

  • The membership ratified our new look committee continuing into 2019.

Faye accepted the invitation to become convenor from David, who steps down from the committee entirely.

Heather McIntosh accepted the invitation to become secretary, from Faye.

Rona remains treasurer.

Debra returns to the committee from maternity, just as SarahLouise leaves on maternity.

Christine remains on the committee.

With the departure of David, there is one seat on the committee vacant for any member who wishes to be part of making the group work for the membership.

David reminded members how important the SLLG is. Sharing, engaging and supporting in a professional capacity is what SLLG members are best at, and what they – using the asset of the SLLG – must continue to do.

NETWORKING

conservation materials for AGM

rare book for AGM

Louis Valentine, Carronvale Bindery, set up a table of rare books, conservation utensils and binding materials for us to investigate, once the AGM was over. Louis was happy to answer book repair and binding questions with these examples to illustrate the methods used. This was much appreciated by all members, few of whom to the extent they forgot there were refreshments laid out in the adjacent room.

Room for tea and biscuits

After the meeting was formally closed at 5:30, we were left to explore the rest of the building. What SLLG member among us could resist looking into the Library Room! Indeed, even Louis ventured with us to see the WC with its own fireplace and kitchen range for baking bread.

Many thanks to all those who attended our AGM, Advocates Library for loaning rare book examples, Louis for generously giving of his time, and Riddles Court in hosting us.

Book sculpture at riddles court 1

SLLLG: Scottish law library leaders group?

The SLLG Twitter account, @scotlawlibs, regularly posts items it finds on the reasons law information professionals bring value to those using information services. Yesterday it posted 3 links to articles from “library twitter” based around the idea of management, leadership and self-care in the workplace. SLLG members might find these of interest.

Remy Maisel writes in What Management Skills Do You Need to Run A Library? that, like all professional occupations, a Librarian is expected to accomplish some tasks recognisable in management roles. This is despite evidence suggesting few enter the Library sector to be managers.

The article states every successful information professional has good communication skills. These skills are also the main basis for much of everyday successful library management.

Some argue that communication skills and the ability to delegate are more important characteristics for a manager to possess than experience, though experience is beneficial.

The article continues with highlighting  management aspects such as planning, organising and directing, and service promotion stemming from the initial skills associated with communication.

The article suggests focussed networking is key in benefiting both the individual and the service.

Steven Bell takes a rather counterintuitive tact in his What Not To Do: Tips for New Library Leaders, for those just starting out with leadership responsibilities. Here, Bell suggests that there are expectations attached to leadership. Bell states that mistakes offer valuable lessons.

It certainly helps to learn what to do to get it right. New leaders also benefit from learning basic mistakes they need to avoid, but they hear about the latter less than needed.

He expands in his article on what he considers are what-not-to-dos:

  1. Not “giving up” your old job and still focussing on the service provision you’ve left
  2. Launching initiatives attached to no specific problem
  3. Finding positions for ex-colleagues or friends
  4. Over-promising, under-delivering

He also links and makes reference to more “not-to-dos”.

It’s not all negatives though, and Bell provides some constructive tips. These include communication with stake-holders, becoming aware of the wider institution and networking with fellow library leaders. This final point, he says, can help alleviate some of the stress of leadership.

I learned that most of my peers had similar issues, concerns, and stressors. I came away feeling more confident that I could do this job.

Steven Bell has written on the subject of leadership in libraries from different angles in a few posts, which members may find of interest.

A far more general article on stress in the workplace was linked to by SLA New England. How to Recognize Burnout before You’re Burned Out by Kenneth R. Rosen, in the New York Times. Stress and tension is something which affects all jobs, including law librarianship.

Rosen identifies some “common work stressors” such as unrealistic deadlines, changes to processes, added responsibility beyond initial scope of role (when leadership is an unwanted by-product)

…we are not meant to be in that high-stress mode all the time. We got lost in this idea that the only way to be productive is to be on the go-go-go mode.

Rosen then offers some ideas to “combat burnout at work” including taking time off, making the workspace more comfortable, having a hobby or activity to look forward to outside work, and finding someone trusted to talk through the stressors and perhaps agree possible resolutions.

So, again, communication and networking. Communicating as our skill, and networking as we do in the SLLG.

Whether any article has its flaws, or is far from the definitive word on what is Library Leadership, is up for debate. And that’s good because it furthers the subject for us in considering ourselves as leaders or potential leaders in our roles. Stimulating deeper readings and thoughts in this area is a positive to understanding when we are leaders and when we wish to take a step back from leadership.

Although, they or other studies can’t hope to explain why good library leadership is sometimes simply sticking a blow-up dinosaur in the library.

Inflatable T-Rex

What do you think are leadership facets we see in law librarianship? Are we all leaders to some extent? Do we want to be viewed as leaders? Feel free to add to the comments box below.