Tag Archives: Certification

The Advantages of Temping

I spotted this article on the the Sue Hill Recruitment blog (they often discuss some interesting topics!) about getting a foot in the door at an organisation by taking on a temporary role.

I wanted to add my thoughts; I know without a doubt that I wouldn’t be where I am now without taking a chance on a part-time temporary job.

My only previous experience in libraries was as a volunteer, in my school library as a Student Library Assistant and a couple of months in my local branch library after I finished University.

I was working in a shop in 2009 after being made redundant from my previous job, and I was employed on a nil-hours contract (which are being discussed a lot lately, but I had a good boss which made a big difference!) I don’t think I would have taken the chance otherwise; I certainly wouldn’t have left my previous full time permanent job for a part-time temporary one! (I actually did both jobs, between the two I had full time work).

As I neared the end of my temporary contract one of my full time colleagues left for greener pastures and I applied for her job, thinking it was worth a chance if only because there wasn’t additional hours available in the shop! I got it – and I was thrilled. I hadn’t decided at that point if Libraries were a long term plan for me, but I had a full time permanent job and with a lot more security than nil-hours contracts offer!

I loved my job and the more I invested in my CPD the more I knew I was on the right track for me, and I started working towards my ACLIP Certification, intending eventually to do my Chartership. Twelve months later a position came up at my NHS Trust’s other site as a Senior Library Assistant and again I thought it was worth a chance, after all I had an extra 12 months experience on my CV! I got that as well, and even better someone who was working on a part-time maternity leave contract got my full time permanent position, so it was a win-win for both of us!

I will never doubt the ability of temporary work, or voluntary work, to give you an advantage when applying for jobs, maybe you just want experience in a different library sector, or maybe you want a foot in the door at a particular library/organisation, it is very useful, and definitely worthwhile.

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My Experience of CILIP Certification

Earlier this week I attended a Certification and Chartership workshop – not as a delegate this time, but as a Speaker! I work locally with the West Midlands Candidate Support Officer (CSO) and he knew that I had finished my CILIP Certification at the end of last year so he invited me to come and speak about my experiences, and I thought I would share some of my thoughts with you!

The candidates I spoke to were mostly Chartership candidates, but I think that a lot of my advice is fairly universal (and one of the Chartership candidates told I’d been helpful so I’m obviously not too far off the mark!)

CV

Read around for CV advice. There is tons of advice available online and from books (try your local library!) and without it I wouldn’t have thought to include sections like ‘Publications’ or ‘Professional Activities’ – have you written for a newsletter? attended a conference? do you sit on a committee? This can all go on your CV (and then get linked to evidence!)

Also – don’t be afraid to rearrange your work history. My library experience is dotted around having done voluntary work and then come back into the sector a few years later. So I had a separate section for ‘Library Experience’ and then ‘Other Work History’ in order to draw attention to the library work. I also focussed the job descriptions in my other posts on transferable skills that I use regularly in my library work.

Personal Statement

For Certification there is a template to fill in – but my advice here is not to be afraid to open a new document and start again. My final submission looks nothing like my first draft – only partly because I took on a new job role with new skills and responsibilities I wanted to talk about. Just remember to keep a copy of the previous draft just in case you change your mind or want to borrow a few things from it!

Personal Development Plan

Again, my submission looks nothing like my first draft, but this is because I changed roles and I identified things I needed to learn as a part of this. If you’re not sure what to put down, look backwards; you can backdate your portfolio to two years before your submission date. Look at what training courses you’ve done and add those in. Have a look at what courses are on offer locally and ask yourself how they might be useful to you; you might identify a need you hadn’t thought of before. You can also look at other portfolios (from your CSO, or on the CILIP website) and see what other people have put down. This was where I realised that you can include a long term aim, such as Chartership for Certification candidates, and list it as ongoing.

Supporting Letter

Obviously this is the section that people have the least control over – but if you have changed jobs while doing your portfolio like I did you may decide to have your previous Line Manager do yours. Having stayed within the same employer my Line Managers discussed this amongst themselves and decided that the previous Line Manager was in a better position to write the letter as he’d worked with me longer.

Evidence

This is the main part of the portfolio – but also I think, the scariest! You can include everything including but not limited to:

  • photos – of display boards you’ve done, library visits you’ve undertaken etc
  • notes – of visits, meetings, events, trainings
  • publications – newsletters (local, national, internal), journals articles, blog posts
  • meeting minutes
  • certificates – especially for training identified in your PDP
  • screenshots – showing web editing skills or blog posts
  • flyers/posters/leaflets – especially if they’re new not just updated ones

I found it useful to have a folder full of options and I picked the ten or so best options, but find a system that works for you. I also tried to vary my evidence so it didn’t all look that same i.e. just notes or just certificates.

Top Tips

For Certification candidates my advice is to get a Mentor. It’s not compulsory, but it is extremely useful. I didn’t have anyone on my workplace with experience of Certification so I found it helpful to be able to ask someone if my Personal Statement was on the right track and if my Development plans were suitable. For Chartership candidates, it’s get a mentor early; the earlier you start this relationship the easier the whole process is.

I would also recommend getting a Mentor outside of your sector; someone who isn’t familiar with your specialist terms and work practices who will ask for more details (there’s no guarantees the assessors will be in your sector so it’s best to explain these things just in case!)

I also recommend that Certification candidates do the CPD Audit, which again isn’t compulsory. I didn’t think I’d done much CPD but when my mentor gave me the form I went through the last 12 months in my diary and wrote down everything from courses (internal and external), information days, library visits and was shocked by how much I had actually done! I recommend Chartership Candidates do this too, you may surprise yourself!

What’s Next?

For me and my Professional Development it’s Chartership, but in the meantime, and probably afterwards as well, I plan to continue making a list of the courses/ CPD events I attend. It’s a useful reminder for yourself, as well as being very handy when it comes time for your annual appraisal! I also plan to continue with the PDP; writing down goals, however long term, and setting myself a deadline is a system that works for me, and without identifying a need and setting myself a target date I wouldn’t have pushed myself to do the PTLLS course either!

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Thing 23: So long and thanks for all the fish!*

I found the 23 Things programme very positive – I learnt a few new things and about a few new online tools (especially Prezi and Evernote which I will be using again) and I made a few friends, as well as finding new people to follow on Twitter and new blogs to follow on Google Reader!

What’s next? To be honest I’m not 100% sure! I’ve handed in my CILIP Certification and I’m just waiting for the results, so I don’t think it’ll be anything study related (for a little while at least) but I imagine I’ll find something to fill my evenings!

My SWOT analysis …

I actually spent Wednesday morning in a Directorate strategy meeting and a few projects came out of that which I would like to get involved in (let’s call them opportunities!) including a Trust wide ‘Health and Well-Being’ promotion. I’ve already signed the Library up to get involved with the roadshows – I think it’s an excellent way to promote our Leisure collection (fiction, cooking, gardening etc books) and Book Club. My annual review is coming up as well – and it is 12months since I started in my current role, so I’m anticipating that that will hold some goals for me too.

I have a variety of Strengths – not all were listed in my SWOT analysis, I was trying to keep it focussed – but I think my voluntary work needs to be filed here. I’ve done a lot of things and learnt a lot of transferable skills in these environments – and to tie into the above it counts towards my work/life balance too! I think threats was a difficult one – my job feels very stable at the moment so there’s no threats there. The few threats I did identify I can see ways to avoid them – though I suppose that’s the idea of a SWOT analysis.

Having completed a PDP for my Certification I found it quite useful – even simple things like wanting to do a First Aid course seem different when they’re written down – and setting a target date can be a real motivation rather than leaving it as a ‘One day I’d like to…’ A question my NHS Trust has been asking recently is ‘Why not now?’. They’re mostly asking it regards to patient flow, but it’s been cropping up in planning meetings too (even at Trust Director level) and it’s an interesting question when posed about training – especially if like me you have a habit of putting it off – Why not do it now?

I definitely intend to keep blogging – it’s actually something I’d been thinking about before I started CPD23. I might start by posting my notes from the HLG Conference from July – better 3 months late than never – and see what sort of conversations that starts and go from there…

*PS – If you don’t know where the title/quote is from I suggest reading The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, although I’m well overdue re-reading it myself!

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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 10: Librarianship Training Options and Thing 11: Mentoring

Ooops! I knew I was behind on my CPD23, but I didn’t realise just how busy my July was going to be! Luckily I’ve written most of the posts, I just need to publish them! Things 10 and 11 are closely linked for me so they are sharing a post!

I have almost finished my CILIP Certification portfolio – and I have to say that I would recommend it to Library/Information Assistants, especially those who want to use it as a step towards Chartership.

My Bachelors and Masters Degrees aren’t in Librarianship (Literature and Information Technology respectively) so when I decided that I wanted to qualify as a Librarian I didn’t particularly fancy doing another Masters, especially considering that I only graduated from the last one in September 2011, so I had a look online at the alternatives. Certification is designed with Library Assistants in mind, but can be used as a step towards Chartership for those who are qualified in a different field, such as myself. If anyone wants details about what is involved, let me know! I’ve really enjoyed building my Portfolio and it’s given me a chance to get out of the library too as I’ve attended Certification/Chartership training days as well as gotten involved in CILIP training events and even the Career Development Group (West Midlands) committee, none of which I would have done otherwise – I’ve even made some friends!

Another advantage has been getting a Mentor. My Line Manager suggested someone from a different Library Sector as they will be less familiar with the environment you work in and will ask different questions (such as about acronyms you might use without thinking, but which aren’t used in other sectors) which in turn is great preparation for sending your portfolio to the assessors who may not be from your sector either.

I’ve had some good discussions with my Mentor and I think that’s it’s a good thing to have contacts in a different sector too. My mentor has been really supportive during my Certification process and just having someone to proof read it makes all the difference when I’ve been staring at a page endlessly – I could fiddle with the portfolio continuously without ever deciding it was finished, so I made the decision to send sections to my Mentor and after she had ok’ed them to not touch it afterwards!

The Blogpost on CPD23 lists few qualities of a good mentor and mentee – and I would like to add a tip to this for anyone working towards Certification (or even Chartership). When I went to my first meeting with my mentor, she was impressed that I had started my portfolio and was already gathering evidence (in fact I had started saving things and taking photos of displays etc when I first decided to work towards Certification). My mentor said that meeting with someone with nothing to look through was a waste of time, so even if you only have rough notes and disorganised evidence, it’s better than turning up to the first meeting empty handed.

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