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.



Know your audience (Credit: John-Mark Smith

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.

Fancy layouts: great for designers; librarians not so much (Credit: Lukas


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.


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.


AGM and speaker: 12 May 2016

An excellent membership attendance enjoyed an afternoon of SLLG business, learning about the legislative processes of the UK Parliament and homemade cakes from our own top baking Secretary at our 2016 AGM.

Many members complimented the choice of venue this year, which was the Quaker meeting house in Edinburgh. The venue was centrally located in Edinburgh, of good size, amply equipped and accommodating to our needs.


Convenor Debra welcomed everyone as she opened the group business part of the afternoon.

Debra presented her convenor’s report for 2015, listing the activities and work undertaken. Debra took the opportunity to officially minute her appreciation to all who helped: those who kindly gave up time, volunteered venue spaces and generously gifted sponsorships.

Debra added her own wish, too, that all members will be encouraged in themselves to be active in the SLLG. From taking a lead role in a discussion or arranging a tour, through to writing for our blog or simply attending the events the SLLG put on, the message was aspirational for members to use the SLLG: get involved, continue to develop professionally and support one another.

If a member would like to do something for other SLLG members, please feel free to talk to the committee. All sorts of support and advice can be provided.

Kelly gave a run-through of the presented group accounts, which were accepted without query, before Debra announced some committee changes for 2016.

Kelly, committee member for 4 years and Treasurer for the requisite 3, has stepped down from the committee.

Lissie, committee member for 1 year, has stepped down from the committee as she pursues a career in law with our best wishes for her success.

Debra, herself, demits the office of Convenor, only to immediately take up office as Treasurer.

Alison, as the committee nomination to take office as Convenor in 2016, was heartily ratified by the membership in the hall.

The committee is also pleased to have a new committee member. Rona from Pinsent Masons was welcomed onto the committee.

This leaves 2 seats vacant on the committee. The committee cannot run as strong a group itinerary when not at full strength. Anyone interested in taking up one of the seats should get in touch with a current committee member.

With no further business from the committee to discuss or offered from the hall, Debra closed the business meeting as her final act of her convenorship.

All office reports and 2016 AGM business papers remain accessible by members through the group website (under Member Papers).

‘UK Parliament and the Law’ – Gary Hart, Senior Community Outreach and Engagement Officer, House of Parliament.

Gary’s talk on legislative procedure at Westminster was very informative; even those of us who thought they knew enough about legislation learned a fair bit more, and had questions to ask.

Gary kicked off with a couple of interesting facts:

  • The House of Lords is the second biggest legislature in the world.
  • Most legislation spends most of its time in the House of Lords as the Lords don’t have constitutional responsibilities and can therefore dedicate more time to it.

And below are some of the key points of his talk.

As well as bills introduced by the ruling government, any MP can introduce a private member’s bill.  This can be through a ballot at the start of the parliamentary session which permits 20 names to be picked out and given parliamentary debating time for their bill.  Or there is also the 10 minute rule which allows members to suggest a bill and talk about it for 10 minutes to try to gain support for it to be put forward.  however, most MPs use this merely as a platform for raising awareness rather than having a realistic expectation of their bill progressing.

Bills may start in either House.

A bill’s first reading is simply that, it’s only at the second reading stage that MPs get to discuss the bill and vote on whether it should proceed.  The second reading process is slightly different in the House of Lords in that any peers wishing to speak about the bill must register on the list of speakers first.

Bill Committees are proportionate in party make-up to that of the House of  Commons.  The Committee stage in each House differs slightly.  In the Commons it is held in a separate room, but in the Lords it is held in the main chamber.  Time limits apply to this stage in the House of Commons – they set ‘internal knives’ and when they are out of time they say ‘the knife has fallen’.  The House of Lords Committee stage doesn’t need time limits.  In the Commons, a regular MP acts as the Committee speaker.

At the third reading in the House of Commons, there can be no amendments to the text of the bill, but this is again not the case in the House of Lords.  If the House of Lords amends a Bill after the House of Commons Third reading it must go back to the House of Commons for approval.  Sometimes bills pass back and forth in this way, and this stage is known by the highly technical term “ping-pong”.  If the House of Lords refuses to agree, the bill ceases to progress for a period of one year.  It then gets re-introduced a year later for passing undebated and unopposed.

A bill isn’t classed as “passed” until it receives Royal Assent.  Provisions coming into force upon Royal Assent are usually midnight at the start of the day of Royal Assent.

Some Bills have special procedures eg the Finance Bill can only be amended in the House of Commons.

For Statutory Instruments, there are three committees which can scrutinise it and report to the Houses if necessary.  They are passed by affirmative or negative resolution in Parliament.  Some people complain about the lack of democracy in the passing of so much legislation in this way, but there simply isn’t the time or facility to do it any other way as there is so much of it.

Select committees are playing an increasingly important part in legislation.  Members are chosen by all fellow members of the House (it used to be the party whips who selected the members and therefore they weren’t seen as independent/transparent).

Lastly, we looked at the process for EVEL legislation (English votes for English laws).  Before a bill starts the Committee stage, the House of Commons Speaker decides if it applies to England, or England and Wales only, and gives it a certificate if so.  The Committee will then contain only MPs from the relevant constituencies.  There are then three extra stages that a bill can go through after Report stage – Legislative Grand Committee, Reconsideration and Consequential Consideration. Whether a bill needs to go through all these stages depends on decisions made during its progress.  If the Lords make an amendment, it goes to a vote and  a majority of all MPs, then a majority of all English and/or English and Welsh MPs must agree to it which is known as a ‘double majority’ division.

BIALL workshop: European Union information, 21 March 2016. A review

SLLG member, Jane Condie of the Advocates Library successfully applied for an SLLG bursary to allow her to attend a BIALL workshop on EU information. This is Jane’s review of the course.


Course: BIALL Workshop – European Union Information

Trainer: Ian Thomson, Director of the European Documentation Centre, Cardiff University and Executive Editor of European Sources Online.

With the aid of a bursary from SLLG, I was able to attend a one day course at the University of the West of England – Frenchay Campus, Bristol last month. I stayed in a pleasant (but odd) guest house a few miles away from the venue – which made for an enjoyable walk to get there in the morning.

The Frenchay campus of UWE was unexpectedly large so I was fortunate to meet up with another course attendee at the gate. We navigated the way together. On arrival we were surprised by how un-library-ish the library building looked, but the presence of a large Shaun the Sheep statue reassured us we were in the right place (“…can you please meet us beside the Shaun the Sheep – Justice Baa Lamb – that is just inside the entrance to the Library…”).

Although the welcome was warm and the refreshments were yummy, I’m afraid I found this workshop somewhat disappointing. This was due, in part, to my having previously attended Ian Thomson’s course for the SLLG in 2013, but it had a good bit to do with organisational problems and an overly optimistic course timetable.

I will present my review using the course structure for headings:

Brief Introduction to the European Union
Key Institutions – Legislative Acts and Judicial decisions – How policy is made – Role of committees – Challenges

This introductory section was timetabled to last for only one hour. In practice it took up almost the entire morning. There was undoubtedly a lot of very interesting stuff here but as someone who has both attended his previous course and worked with Eur-lex for several years, I didn’t gain much new information.

Also, due to a breakdown in communication/organisation we spent more than half of the morning session without access to the detailed PowerPoint – full of links and information – the trainer had supplied. Neither he nor the organisers thought to direct us to, or even mention, the copy waiting for us on the university’s shared drive! We were just sitting in front of useless computers, listening to him talk. I don’t feel I lost out too much from this error but for those attendees new to EU law, the morning must have been an absolute blur of incomprehension.

However, I did learn about the existence of ‘Trilogues’ in the EU legislative process. About 85% of new legislative proposals have gone through this process in recent years. It speeds things up considerably but there is an issue about transparency. Although the Trilogues are not exactly secret there is no real way to obtain documents from these Trilogue sessions. The European Ombudsman is conducting a public consultation on the transparency of Trilogues. This is definitely something I’ll be keeping an eye on in future.

Searching for EU information / Guides to terminology
Search engines – EUROPA – FIND-eR – EU Bookshop – European Sources Online – Glossary – Eurojargon – IATE – Machine translation

A highlight of this section for me was probably the Search Europa site. This is basically a Google powered site, set up by the European Journalism Centre, to search the whole EUROPA portal. Ian thinks it’s better than Europa’s own search engine.

He also mentioned a number of archives which have digitised the kind of really old documents that are currently not available via Europa. He mentioned an American site – Archive of European Integration (AEI) – in particular.

Legislative and judicial information sources
EUR-LEX – Summaries of EU Legislation – Procedures (formerly PreLex) / Legislative Observatory – National Implementing Measures (NIMs) – Official Journal – COM Documents – Case law – Legal citations

There wasn’t much new information here sadly. I did however learn something interesting about the Commission’s new policy to improve the drafting of EU legislation: Consolidation, Codification and Recasting.

Consolidation has been used for a while in an attempt to simplify much amended legislation. Consolidated legislation is useful but not authoritative.

Codification brings together one or more Consolidated acts into one. The new piece of legislation passes through the full legislative process and replaces the older act(s).

Recasting is similar to Codification, in that it brings together one or more Consolidated acts, passes through the full legislative process and replaces the older acts. However, Recasting will also include substantive changes and amendments to the existing legislation. Ian Thomson says that this will be the preferred method in future.

Policy monitoring
Key documents to follow the activities of the European Commission, Council of the European Union, European Council, EU Presidency, European Parliament – European External Action Service – Registers of documents

According to my notes we seem to have pretty much skipped this section due to lack of time. Instead we engaged in a fairly lengthy ‘practical’ session which I didn’t find useful at all.

Role of an EU member State in the creation, adoption and implementation of EU law (using the UK as a case study)
Government – Government Departments – Parliament – MEPs – European Commissioners – Economic and Social Committee (etc)

This was the section I was most interested in, due to some recent enquiries I’ve had. I had been hoping for some insight into the location of implementation documentation but it wasn’t much more than a disappointingly vague overview of the process.

EU sources: EU Press Room – RAPID – EU Calendar – TV and web-streaming
Non-EU sources: EUObserver – EurActiv – Politico – Europe Media Monitor – Newspapers – Radio and TV – ESO – Blogs – Social media

Nothing noteworthy mentioned here.


I’m sorry if this report seems unduly harsh but I really was hoping for more from this workshop. However, in a spirit of optimism and positivity, I will finish by listing three things I did get from the day.

I learned about:

  1. The existence of ‘Trilogues’ in the EU legislative process.
  2. Digital archives of old EU documents.
  3. Consolidation, Codification and Recasting.

Thanks for the bursary SLLG!


Justice Baa Lamb – lives in the UWE Frenchay library now


Thanks for the review of this course, Jane. If any member would like to apply for a bursary as Jane did, to allow you to attend training, please see details in the members’ only section of the group webpages or talk to a member of the committee. 

Emergency planning and disaster recovery for collections – the bigger picture, 4th December 2015

An SLLG member imparts some learning outcomes from a recent course on disaster management.

Emergency planning and disaster recovery for collections – the bigger picture
Harwell, Polygon, AXA
Scottish Parliament
4th December 2015


This half day course concentrated on managing collection recovery when it has undergone a catastrophe. The course specifically looked in detail about the element already known as good practice in collection care, business continuity and content salvage – the Disaster Plan – and focussed on working at the extreme end of it.

Most collections have some sort of plan in place as contingency for actions when faced with small or self-contained “disasters”. However, a key to every plan is when to acknowledge the point where additional or expert help is required.

The course was taken by three presenters: one of each from collections, buildings and insurance backgrounds. All three have been involved in the ongoing aftermath of the Glasgow School of Art fire, which both highlighted a need for this course and was a useful illustration to hang each of the presentations together.

Planning for deeper considerations
Emma, Director of Harwell, introduced the overall theme of the course: Disaster recovery, no matter how big or small, relies on time being used at its most efficient.

Recovery management is best planned because:

  • Robust planning automatically embeds efficiency
  • Planning makes responses quicker
  • Planned actions are invariably positive
  • Better planning mean actions run in parallel. Removing single or linear decision making is vital when the plan is asked to cope with a catastrophe

To complicate matters, major disasters seem to occur when least expected or prepared for. Building contractors are often working during unsociable hours. Containable incidents are more likely to develop catastrophically when there is no one around.

To compound this, major disasters do not only affect the collection. They are usually building wide. An incident rooted under another department’s jurisdiction can cause a disaster for a collection. Water can run internally and unpredictably in a building’s infrastructure. Fire can take unusual turns and the smoke affect rooms far from the source.

With these complications in mind, Emma highlighted aspects which are often overlooked in disaster planning.

Disaster plans should not assume the people responsible will be immediately able to take charge. Various people must therefore be given delegated responsibility to action decisions and even limited finance privileges to get the plan progressed.

The plan should detail when an emergency is an actual emergency. It should have a shortcut to both contact expert services and alert those who work or are involved in the building to act according to the plan when such a scenario has been discovered.

Any good plan requires full staff engagement and awareness of it. All those working in the building will be affected to a degree in a major incident and should take an investment in being prepared to form a capable support structure.

When developing a plan at the catastrophe level of a situation there are a number of subtle aspects to consider:

  • Who is actually a stakeholder in the plan? Collections will only be a piece of the whole when faced with a catastrophe. Users of the collections, other employees, those with financial investments in the collections and everyone else with a purpose must be included
  • Is there a bias of priorities in the plan? Workplace politics and inter-department conflicts can add bias in planning. These need carefully untangled to ensure everyone is working in the same direction
  • Is there known personal conflicts which would hinder working relationships in a plan? Teamwork is critical at the level of recovery.
  • Can the teams do the work? A good example is if a team is too short without a step to attach protective sheeting on high shelves, could taller people be introduced to that team?
  • Don’t forget Health & Safety to be written into a plan. People are always more important
  • Is there a system in place to ensure the teams’ morale is maintained? Often the work will be difficult and tiring so having someone regularly providing hot drinks and food can be crucial

The plan can even be used to control the environment to mitigate disasters in the first place. Are people regularly monitoring their workspace? Does the plan include service and equipment check details?

Plan content
Emma explained one of the most common hindrances in a disaster plan is content overload.

With so much to consider in planning for disaster recovery it is not surprising, but too much information is a danger to that one thing a plan should be: a tool to make initial decisions correctly and quickly under pressure.

Disaster plans which require looking through an index, or flicking past introductory passages, can cost time and cause confusion and this is not a good thing.

Remember what was said at the beginning: Disasters tend to occur when least expected, often when those with responsibility are not able to take charge right away.

A disaster plan should strive to be no more than 1 page.

But then, disasters are complex; major incidents involve large scale planning. So Emma proposes the following solution:

  • Create a separate disaster plan document for each disaster possibility
  • Give a document corresponding to each individual with just their responsibility

Plan priorities
Emma explained that most people making plans are keen to confirm collection priorities. However, the way priorities are worked out beforehand can be problematic when encountering a major disaster.

Often the priorities can change when faced with triaging a vast collection. It is important the plan can adapt pragmatically to the situation:

  • Take into account deterioration rates and costs to restore materials
  • Adjust plans to the time and effort in evacuating materials. Which do not consume the most front line resources at the expense of triaging the materials once evacuated?

Consider the extent of the salvage operation and again adjust the plan:

  • 20 books placed in crates in 3 minutes vs. carefully bandaging, labelling and then crating 20 books for 30 minutes
  • 20 Books triaged over 2 tables vs. 20 files of loose documents requiring 20 tables

In summary – be picky with the priorities once you’ve assessed the situation.

Emma gave a short list of ‘must-haves’ for any disaster equipment box:

  • Polythene sheeting
  • Absorbents of various sizes
  • Pre-made labels

Emma went a little further with suggesting that there could be an order form ready to submit for personal equipment (jacket and shoe sizes).

Above all, the plan and equipment need to match one another and staff well practiced in using both.

What else?
With a large scale recovery it is vital to gain support. To do this, do not be afraid to broadcast the situation.

  • Be aware of where the expert help is. Waiting until a disaster before sourcing professional conservation services is a bad idea
  • Maintain good links with other collection managers nearby. Often reciprocal agreements can mean a sharing of resources
  • Use social media. An established social media presence can be used to inform and interact with interested parties easily and can be vital in gaining advice and perhaps even more support

Case studies
Finally Emma provided some of her experiences with a couple of case study examples.

  • A law firm sat with saturated documents in their store for 7 weeks while tendering out for a conservation contract. By the time they opted for a company the documents were irretrievable
  • Talking to a public document collections manager after a disaster, they judged the success of their recovery as near 50:50 sticking to the disaster plan and good team work in adjusting to the circumstances
  • A fine art collection based their priorities on valuations of the works. It took 6 firemen 10 minutes to decide the highest valued painting was too awkward to remove, while the estimated cost of the artwork being destroyed elsewhere overtook the value of that single painting
  • A successful evacuation of a collection included every detail and decision logged by a team member. The result was the insurance company paid out full compensation

Emma reiterated to never underestimate the time, effort and space required in any disaster recovery and the advantage in factoring in support at every point.

Building in disaster planning
Simon, Director of Polygon, gave a brief talk on why considering the building itself is vital as part of disaster planning.

The best place to re-house a collection after a disaster is where it came from. It fits. Therefore it is in everyone’s interest to get the building back to standard as soon as possible.

There is another reason why attention to the building is a must. A catastrophe will almost certainly mean restricted access to part if not all the building. All the while the collections are inside, potentially degrading.

Gaining access will be the job of the emergency services. Being taken seriously by the emergency services is a big advantage. The services want to work with you and speed up the process of giving you access. Provide the services with all the information possible about the building:

  • Floor plans and layout
  • Materials used in the structure
  • Where fire extinguishers and power sockets are
  • Where priorities in the collection are located

If you have plans, good personal safety equipment and are willing to work with the emergency services then access to the collections can be improved.

Finally, a means of securing the building is a high priority:  Personal valuables in desks, expensive company equipment, parts of the collection all need secured if yet to be retrieved.

Insurance – what is it good for?
James, underwriter at AXA ART, was the last to speak.

The role of the insurer is a main part of preparing a plan for any disaster. The insurer’s number should be right up there on the disaster plan. Quickly getting settlement of an insurance claim after a catastrophic incident is crucial in enabling the expert services to begin work.

When the Glasgow School of Art went on fire, within a day 75% of their insurance policy was settled.

James gave some advice about not only choosing the correct insurer and insurance, but also how to gain better terms.

Let insurance influence good disaster planning by letting it answer some of the questions the insurer will want answered:

  • What is the precise value of the collection?
  • How is the disaster plan written up?
  • Who is involved in ‘signing off’ on the disaster plan?
  • How is the disaster plan challenged and improved?
  • What is being done to assess the risk to the collection?
  • What precautions to mitigate loss are in place?
  • What do you want to happen to the collection after a disaster?

Taking an insurer confidently through those aspects will likely gain a collection more favourable policy terms.

It is equally important to get the correct insurance. James pointed out a specialist insurer does not mean “more expensive” – it means it is more tailored to get the correct “basis of settlement”. That is, what will trigger the settlement:

  • Compensation
  • Replacement
  • Reinstatement
  • Conservation

If the collection is destroyed in a fire and the basis of settlement is only for conservation – the policy will not trigger because there is nothing to conserve.

Getting advice and interviewing insurers is recommended. Don’t be afraid to question the insurer’s experience with similar collections, or what an underwriter’s understanding of a type of collection is.

This course was also a bit of a sales pitch, but the practical information was valuable as both a refresher to attendees and for genuinely practical insights on larger scale thinking when support, insurance and pre-planning will contribute hugely to successful recovery of collections.

Further Reading:
SLLG members might like to read the 7 principles of good disaster preparation in “Disaster planning”, Issue 49 (Mar.) 2013, by the same author.