Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Thing 21 – Promoting yourself in job applications and at interview

Part 1: Identifying your strengths; capitalising on your interests
I think identifying your strengths, thinking long and hard about what you like and dislike, and thinking about what skills your interests have developed is a useful exercise and I would like to take some time to do this. I’m not entirely comfortable with the idea of posting my thoughts here on a public blog, but I will certainly look into it in my own time.

Part 2: Applying for a job
I’m quite proud that, as a Very Organised Person (or else a person who once had far too much time on her hands), I already have a kind of CV database similar to the one Maria Giovanna describes which list everything I’ve done that could potentially go on a CV or an application form. It’s saved me hours of time over the years, as I can just copy and paste onto an application form. Of course I make changes afterwards, to tailor the form to the job, but this is a lot easier than starting from scratch each time. I also have another document listing contact details for all my referees, which is a lot easier than having to Google your last workplace each time you need to find the telephone number for your old boss.

Part 3: Interviews
I’ve had mixed experiences with interviews. When I was applying for graduate traineeships I was offered the second job I interviewed for, which was a surprise as I’d mentally prepared myself for months of rejection. On the other hand, when I graduated last year it took me six months and seven interviews before I got a job, whereas most of the librarians I know were offered jobs after one or two interviews (even if they found it hard to get those interviews in the first place). I must have been doing something wrong, but I was also confused. During my traineeship I was told that I’d come across as confident and knowledgeable in my interview, and as far as I could work out I was behaving in exactly the same way last year. However, this can’t have been the case: my interview record speaks for itself, and I was actively told by one interviewer in her feedback that I’d come across as very shy.

I was talking about this with a (non-librarian) friend a few weeks ago and she gave me a very useful piece of advice: basically, “It’s not you, it’s them”. She said that she had been interviewed for several jobs and been told by some interviewers that she was too shy and quiet, and by others that she was very confident. It’s all to do with how different people perceive you, and if you don’t fit with what they are looking for, or they don’t ‘get’ you, do you really want to be working for them? It’s probably better to find out earlier rather than later if you and a potential employer aren’t right for each other. This made me feel a bit better about the whole situation.

1 comment:

Helen Murphy said...

Really useful and honest post, Laura, and you're right--very sage advice from your friend!

Oh to be a Super Organised Person :)