Monthly Archives: September 2012

Thing 21: Promoting Yourself

What you like doing is often also what interests you, and vice-versa. In order to identify your strengths, take a good look at yourself, your tasks at work, your career, you life: what do you like to do? What do you dislike? Do you remember the last time you felt that feeling of deep satisfaction after creating, building, completing something? What was it about? What skills do you need to do the things you like? These skills are your strengths; they stem from your interests.

I like – watching films
– Socialising/ having a good chat/ talking to people
– Working on/ with computers
– Reading (on my Kindle too)
– Running Brownies
– My voluntary work teaching swimming
– Watching people learn new things, whether it’s the Brownies learning a new skills or a doctor picking up tips for literature searching (or a medical secretary getting to grips with her new USB stick)
– Helping people – it might sound silly, but I feel better knowing I’ve helped someone, whether it’s finding a book on the shelf or getting a buggy up/ down stairs
– when each day is different to yesterday (even if it’s just a bit)

I dislike – days when I don’t see anyone
– The database when it’s playing up
– Monday mornings…
– Monotony in my routines

I’m not sure how helpful this is in picking out strengths, but I agree that doing something (a skill, a task) that you love means that it will easily become a strength. I actually found writing my Library Route quite helpful – in picking out something I loved about each job I found skills building up that I now use everyday working in Libraries, from dealing with people, to improving my telephone skills, to learning about new computer programs, and to promoting stock in the shop – I found a lot of transferable skills that I loved then and continue to use now. Obviously writing a Library Route isn’t for everyone, but just listing tasks and skills for past jobs might highlight things you’d forgotten about. You can also use it to draft a CV.

As part of my CILIP Certification I had to update and annotate my CV, so this is already up to date and fairly detailed too. I like the idea of my CV being up to 4 pages long – I know I can’t send it to potential employers like that, but I know that everything is in there, and in detail, so it makes it a bit easier to edit for an employer; I just need to take out the stuff that’s not relevant (that’s actually easier than it sounds, but it’s a good starting point!)

I’ve been unemployed twice in my Career history (see thing 20 for my Library Route) and one of these was for a significant length of time so I’ve managed to pick up a vast array of tips. They include;

  • Print a two sided CV on two separate sheets of paper – it makes it easier for someone to scan as they can lay both sheets out side by side (no flipping back and forth either)
  • Have someone proof read your CV – it sound obvious, but it’s better than sending it out with a typo.
  • Have a good friend or family member read your CV critically alongside the job description for the job you’re applying for – they might pick up skills and roles you hadn’t thought to include, or had forgotten about, as they can see it from a different angle
  • This was covered briefly in the original post – but at an interview, when asked about competency-based questions be specific. Don’t just say ‘I worked in a team at x employer’ say ‘working as a team was important during my work at x shop as our delivery arrived on Friday afternoons and we had to work together to get as much stock out as possible before the weekend’ – it’s a much better way to demonstrate these skills (and shows that you have actually done this!)
  • Handwrite the letter of application – it might take a few more drafts, but the extra effort is worth it. It makes your letter stand out from the typed ones and shows you put the extra effort in. (This doesn’t apply if you have very messy handwriting!)
  • Read through job descriptions and person specifications for your ideal job – what skills are needed that you don’t have? This will give you a list of areas to work on, so that you can add these skills to your CV, so that when you apply for your ideal job you can make sure you have all the necessary skills.

And one I picked up recently from the Swiss Army Librarian blog:

  • When emailing a CV or application form put your name in the subject heading – it’ll make you stand out from the other applications

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Thing 20: Library Routes/Roots

I generally claim that I got into Library work fairly late, but that isn’t actually true. I volunteered at my School Library from Year 9 (aged 13ish) until I finished Sixth Form (aged 18). It never occurred to me while applying to University that I could do a Librarianship course and I kind of wish I had (not that I regret the path I’ve taken, however long!)

After finishing my degree in Literature and Philosophy I was unemployed for nearly 12 months, during which time I applied for a Library Assistant job at a local library. I was turned down for the job as I didn’t have enough experience, so I started volunteering at my local branch library. It was one afternoon a week and I spent most of it shelving and shelf tidying, but I enjoyed it and it got me out of the house regularly! I stopped when I was offered a full time job – it was telemarketing but it was full time, permanent and was a ridiculously short “commute” of 5 miles.

I enjoyed quite a few aspects of the job, even if sales wasn’t my thing. I liked talking to a variety of people and because it was a (very) small company, when I volunteered to do odd jobs for the IT guy I was usually taken up on it. This combined with skills learned about various client’s databases I decided to study towards my MSc Information Technology.

In March 2009 I was made redundant – I actually consider myself quite lucky. I was still living with my parents at the time so I didn’t have to worry about Mortgage payments and a month later I had found work in a shop (it wasn’t even that long as I spent a week in Spain with my sister! I’d already paid for the holiday when I was made redundant so I decided I might as well go, I certainly wouldn’t have been able to get my money back!!). I liked working in the shop, I loved dealing with people and I got to help with training new staff, preparing window displays and promoting stock. The hours were flexible enough to let me focus on my Masters and I made some good friends.

In December 2009 a part time temporary Library Assistant vacancy came up in Shrewsbury Health Library. This is another lucky break in my career – I would never have left a full time or permanent post for this, but it was a good move for me. My voluntary work meant I had enough experience to get the job and I loved it! Just as the temporary post came to an end one of the full time Library Assistants left for new pastures – I applied for, and got, the full time permanent post. My Line Manager started asking me about NVQ’s or other Library qualifications, but I was still working on my MSc so I put it off for a few months!

Last September I graduated my MSc and a few weeks later I started working towards my CILIP Certification. For those not familiar, it is a Library Assistant’s Qualification, but for people with a non-library degree it can be used as an alternative step towards CILIP Chartership.

In March this year I was promoted to Senior Library Assistant. I have taken on additional roles such as Information Literacy training and contributing towards our Library’s Social Media presence online. I love my job more every day and I honestly can’t imagine what I could possibly be doing instead!

Last week I posted off my Portfolio for my Certification application… I’m just waiting on my results, but it may be a few weeks yet. My Library Route is still in progress, but I know I’m on the right path.

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Thing 19: Integrating ’Things’

I have to say I don’t really know where to start with this one! There are a few tools, such as Facebook, Twitter and Google Calendar that I was already using. My use of these tools hasn’t increased, although I have joined library related groups on Facebook and found some new people to follow on Twitter. I’m still considering joining LinkedIn, but I don’t know a huge number of people who use it, so I don’t know whether it’s worth my time, especially if I won’t have a large network (the value of what you get out of it seems proportional to the size of your network).

Thanks to CPD23 I have discovered Evernote – which I think is fantastic. But a lot of its value comes from being able to access it from my Smartphone, so even when I have no internet access I can still view notes and add new ones. It’s a very handy way to store information, not just in notes, but by saving the documents themselves too. When I’m out and about, especially at Brownies meetings, having access to a document someone has sent me is very useful. Especially if something’s unexpectedly popped up in conversation (usually starting with ‘I didn’t get that email about …’) and you need to look up training course details etc without having a computer or a mobile internet signal. Again, I could previously use these documents on my phone, but I couldn’t group them together, nor could I find them easily, so Evernote really has been very useful to me.

The real-life networks Thing was very good too – I had a chance to socialise with some new (and a few not-so-new) people when we met up in Wolverhampton. (Honestly, it was just nice to make a change from my normal routine!) Since then, I’ve also attending my first NHS Midlands Regional Trainer’s Forum meeting, so I’ve expanded my network in that direction too. It was nice to meet up with everyone, some of whom were previously just names in email headers, and we discussed a variety of things from e-learning to open access journals and we even had a talk from someone from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) about some of their online resources, although he admitted we, as health librarians, might be just as familiar with them as he was!

Prezi is another Thing that I can see being useful in the future. Especially if at a conference, or at an interview, where you want to make yourself stand out a little bit, or even just to show off your new IT skills! I think that Prezi is a much more flexible presentation tool than PowerPoint and highlights a different set of skills, as well as allowing the presenter to be a bit more creative than a ‘standard’ linear presentation.

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Thing 18: Pod and Video-casting

As a library service we made and posted some screencast training videos online a few years back. I confess, I don’t know what software was used, but if it wasn’t Jing, it was similar. The videos were posted on YouTube ( although they were never very popular with our users, presumably because YouTube is blocked on our hospital network and people had to watch them at home or not at all (even embedded YouTube videos are blocked). If we were one day able to get access to them – or post them on the hospital’s Intranet I think they would be a very helpful tool for our users to be able to access.

UPDATE: I was flicking through my copy of The Cybrarian’s Web (full reference in my Further Reading section) before I bring it back to the library and I saw about another video sharing site – I can access this one at work, so I’ll be suggesting hosting our screencasts here and see what the boss says!

I’ve read articles about libraries pod-casting and I often wonder what they talk about for these. Unlike the screencasts, or other video casts, where you can show your users something, either on the computers or physically in the library, a pod cast seems to be a bit random. Although I guess it’s no different than a blog post, just spoken instead of written, but I wonder if followers would notice quicker if you didn’t post a pod cast, rather than a blog post …

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Thing 17: Prezi and Slideshare


Having seen a few Prezi’s online recently and at the HLG conference, so I’ve been meaning to give it a go for a while now. I finally had a quick play with it a few weeks ago, just to teach myself the basics and I found it quite easy to use. I think the possibilities are excellent – unlike the linear presentations of PowerPoint the only real limit in Prezi seems to be how well you plan it out! I can’t imagine just sitting down and starting a Prezi to have it turn out well – unlike PowerPoint where you can just sit and type a brief outline into a few slides and then build upon it afterwards.

I agree that Prezi would be useful for presenting (or even just digitising) mind maps, but I would want to know how well it transferred. You can save a Flash version of the presentation, but I wonder if you are limited to certain versions of the software i.e. not older versions. When going to a job interview it’s hard to know what software versions you will have available, so this is something that might be worth further investigation. (Presentations made on older versions of PowerPoint display fine on newer versions of the software – in fact this was quite useful when in the interview for my current job when technical issues meant we had to use a computer with older software on!)

I’ve made a Prezi to practice. Instead of a library themed Prezi, I thought I’d do one about  my visit to Finland in 2002 when I went to represent Girlguiding UK at an International Scout Camp.

*UPDATE: I tried to embed my Prezi, but it wouldn’t display! You can find my Prezi here: ‘Satahanka X’


Slideshare is a really useful tool – we use it at work for putting our training presentations online where hospital staff can access it at anytime for a refresher (this means that PowerPoint and similar software now have the same sharing facilities that Prezi offers!) Our presentations are at

The only downside here is that – as my MSc tutor pointed out – a good PowerPoint doesn’t have much writing. It encourages people to listen to you instead of reading the screen and takes away the temptation to just stand there and read slides. (And despite my seminar group being told not to do this, about 90% did it anyway!) The Presentation I gave to the other students about my dissertation was predominantly pictures, screenshots and graphs etc – on it’s own this doesn’t mean much, so sharing the slides would only be of use if you’d been at the original presentation, and then only if you remembered what was said. If there were a lot of presentations, say at a conference, the slides would loose all meaning on their own.

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