#slatalk: round-up

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I mentioned the #slatalk event I was going to participate in last week… And then it happened. And it was fun! A round-up of the event:

  • These sorts of twitter talks are a good time! The hour flew by with some useful interaction and insights. I met some new Twitter friends, added several new followers and LinkedIn connections, and just had a nice time. That said, the tweets come fast and furious. It’s hard to keep up, follow conversation interactions, and know what’s going on all the time. Sorta like in real life, actually.
  • The format is one that could be used a TON to connect people with common interests in real time. It’s free and doesn’t require a lot of elaborate planning. Just some questions, a moderator, and a bunch of keen professionals. Oh, and a #hashtag. Easy! Let’s do this more.
  • These sorts of twitter talks can be done at one’s computer. In one’s sweatpants, if one is so inclined. I’ve mentioned the importance of those characteristics to my professional development in the past. Possibly a bit too much…?
  • The questions were nice and sufficiently general and open-ended to spur conversation.
  • There is some follow-up on the SLA blog, including some highlights and a link to a full archive of tweets from all the participants.

Here are some of my favourite tweets (people indicated which of the questions they were answering in each tweet, i.e. Q1, #2, etc.): 

Question 1: What’s a successful job hunting method that helped you land you your current job?

I have never heard of this! Must explore…

Creating an online professional presence can be a really powerful tool to connect with other like-minded people, create valuable discussions around professional issues and… oh yeah, make you look super-duper smart and engaged to potential employers. Plus it’s something you can do in your sweatpants at home… You know what? Nevermind that last point.

And to this I would also include: Treating interview prep like a major assignment for school (that’s why they call it “doing your homework”!). I’ve heard of many examples of smart librarians who interview-prepped their ways into ambitious positions that allowed them to hop right up the organisational ladder. Studying the technical and domain-specific aspects of the job posting can do absolute wonders. And more generally, trying to recall all those times you were awesome at work without reviewing them first can be difficult. Reflecting on those  instances will be useful for those “Tell us about a time when…” questions. Not being able to quickly and effectively explain why you are awesome looks… bad.

I’d be curious to have some stats on how many of the requirements library’s ask for in their job postings actually get filled by the person then end up hiring. Everyone’s seen a job posting that reads like a “kitchen sink” wishlist and I suspect that the library doesn’t even expect to get ALL the qualifications in one human being — they’re including all their wants to elicit the best pool of candidates possible for the library’s needs. So yeah — apply. Do you honestly think there’s someone out there who has experience delivering reference services in engineering, business and oh, forensic sciences AND has experience with scholarly communications AND can code in XML or Java AND speaks French and preferably Spanish AND have knowledge of copyright legislation AND has experience with GIS data management? And that they are actually pleasant to work with? If that person DOES exist then  I, for one, welcome our new librarian overlord.

Question 2: What’s a profession-specific way you’ve prepared for an interview that worked for you?

Okay +1 for having @catsfromjapan as your Twitter handle. Awesome. But also: Yes! So key for those interviewing in special library positions where the interviewer may not have a library background. By extension, understanding jargon from other professions is useful in connecting with employers and highlighting the transferability of your skills (one person’s info-lit is another person’s corporate training). That said I think we’re really hard on ourselves for having so much library-specific jargon. Doesn’t every profession? You ever talk to an HR rep or a UX designer (the titles alone are jargony!). We are not alone, guys. Anyway, that’s an aside. Moving on!

Yes, yes, and yes. Solid interview advice.

Question 3: What are key organizational traits you look for during an interview or online job search?

It can be difficult to glean that type of information tactfully in an interview. But you see your colleagues as much as you see your own family. It’s important to like them!

Question 4: How did you empower yourself to move ahead at your job? or what skills did you learn which led to your career growth?

Failing is the new succeeding: People are talking about failing all the time these days. Despite being the latest trend, I do try to include some mention of past failures in interviews. I think it shows that I’m being reflective about my work,  can identify areas of future professional improvement for myself, and just sorta shows that I’m honest and forthcoming as a human being. Pobody’s nerfect guys, be honest and discuss what you’d have done differently. 

Though as we later acknowledged: Growth in responsibility is easy; growth in income to match that responsibility? Less so. Make sure to balance strategic time investment with not getting burnt out from taking on too much.


5 responses to “#slatalk: round-up

  1. This is a great and useful post, Meg! I’ve been feeling the same way about the “laundry-list” job postings and the new librarian overlord, although of course I haven’t phrased it as wittily as you have. My students found this research really useful: http://hiringlibrarians.com/2013/01/09/researchers-corner-entry-level-reference-skills-in-academic-libraries-ad-ing-them-up/

    • Thanks for commenting Bronwen! This Hiring Librarians site is a-MAZE-ing, I haven’t heard of it before, so thanks for the link. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go read every single post they’ve ever written…

  2. To “Q4: How did you empower yourself to move ahead at your job?”, I agree with you and want to emphasize – especially to recent hires or new grads out there – that you should be ready to make *spectacular* mistakes from time to time. It’s normal to do, and it’s okay when it happens.

    There’s nothing wrong with getting something wrong so long as you know how to clean up from it and go forward. As a colleague always tells me, the people who make mistakes are the people who are actually getting stuff done in the long run.

    • Amen, sir. Amen. Goes along with the classic interview question, “what is your greatest weakness?” to which I have actually heard from interviewees, “… I don’t really have any.” That is the wrong answer.