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.

Advertisements

The Sheriff Court Library Service: Visiting Courts

The Sheriff Courts of Scotland have a new library service. Assistant Librarian Julie McGregor kindly agreed to tell SLLG about some of the early challenges of setting up a multi-site service.

The Sheriff Court Library Service was officially launched in April 2017 to provide a library service for all 38 of Scotland’s Sheriff Courts. As part of the SCTS Library Service, the Sheriff Court Library Service mirrors that of the Supreme Court Library Service. The service centralises  the purchase and management of library materials for all sheriff courts, provides an enquiry service and offers training in e-resources to the judiciary and court staff.

The plan 

Although we are based in Edinburgh, it is vital that we visit all the courts to meet staff, assess and record stock and catalogue. Introductory visits to at least one sheriff court in each of the six sheriffdoms were made during summer 2017 but more detailed visits to all courts were then planned for autumn.

The visits

We opted to go to the far flung courts of Grampian, Highland and Islands in October and November before the weather became too troublesome. We worked out that three courts per trip was a realistic plan. Fort William, Portree and Lochmaddy became our first trip and took four days. A couple of weeks later we jetsetted off for three days to Aberdeen, Kirkwall and Lerwick. Two full days in Perth were also fitted around the two big trips.

The challenge 

Our big challenge when preparing for these visits was to plan routes that would cover the courts – all by train, bus, ferry or plane. We also had to fit in with courts that only sit every 2 or even 4 weeks. It felt quite strange being given the key to a sheriff court and just letting ourselves in. What and how much library stock would we find? What condition would it be in and where would it be stored? How are the materials being used? Are Sheriffs and staff in smaller, more remote courts relying on print material or accessing it all online? Would we have enough time to weed, reorganise, record and photograph the stock? Would we have time to visit Orkney and Shetland Public Libraries?!

Observations and reflections

  • Larger courts have a dedicated library room but most courts have library material in various rooms such as Sheriff’s Chambers, on the bench, in solicitors’ rooms or sometimes even in Witness Rooms. Every court seems to have a grand old collection of Public General Acts – although these are now easily available online we left these for display purposes.
  • It’s important to plan but be flexible. We were able to complete our work in some courts; in others we had to fit work around the running of the court and may need to return.
  • The sheriffs and staff we met use a combination of a small number of textbooks and online resources. Both court staff and sheriffs may work in more than one location so it’s not practical to carry looseleafs, books etc. between the courts.
  • Meeting and chatting to the staff in the courts has been a valuable and enjoyable experience. The smooth running of the library service relies on the relationships we build with the staff in the courts. It has been good to put faces to names and we found that our colleagues in the courts we visited are very pleased to have the support of a library service. Having met us they are more likely to get in touch with us for help.
  • Orkney Public Library and Shetland Public Library are worth visiting!

We documented our trips on twitter under #shedlibsontour so watch this space for the further adventures of the Sheriff Court librarians!

Sheriff Courts image

Clockwise from top left: Sheriff Courts of Lochmaddy, Aberdeen, Fort William, Portree, Kirkwall and Lerwick. Photos courtesy of SCTS and J.McGregor.