Tag Archives: Top Tips

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!)


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.


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!



Filed under Certification