Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Thing 12a

When we did Thing 12 it got me thinking about the ways in which social media could be used as a career development tool.  However, when I looked through the library literature there seemed to be a lot on using social media to promote your library services, and less of an emphasis on using it for your personal development.  But just as I was beginning to think there wasn't anything out there I stumbled on a number of people giving advice and tips on how to use it for career development.

I found this post on the LISNPN website by Theresa Schultz called 'Curating your Career' which is to be the first in a series of career-related posts.  What really stood out for me was the section on what it takes these days to promote your career.

“More than ever, our professional reputations need to be public and visible.  It’s no longer enough to put in your hours at your job, do well, and hope to get noticed by superiors.  That model worked when you were likely to stay with an employer, or within a small geographic area, for your entire career.  Today, it’s not enough to have a career; you have to curate your career, just as you would a valuable collection.  What could be more important to your career than your reputation?  It’s not built on hard work alone.  You need to demonstrate that you’re interested and active in your field, that you have something to say and know how to say it, that you not only see the problems out there, but are capable of developing solutions.  The solutions don’t have to be perfect, the activities don’t have to be dull, but you must do something.”
Theresa also talks about the importance of creating a brand, something we covered back in Thing 3, but that I didn’t fully understand the importance of back in those early days of CPD23.  She points out that people who have a professional presence online will have an edge over competition who do not.  Blog posts, Tweets, interaction on forums can all be used as evidence that you are engaging with the wider library profession.  It seems all the more important these days than it used to that you have this visible proof, and when you think that most people will be doing it in their own time rather than in work hours, it shows a real commitment to both your career and the profession as a whole. 

With this in mind it was interesting to read about a recent presentation Jo Alcock made at Oxford Social Media 2011 on marketing yourself online, which you can see here.  Some of the main points she made were;
  • Know your key skills so that you can express them clearly when opportunities arise
  • Think of a few elements to your personality/style/manner that you would like to convey as your personal brand, and express those in online and face to face communications
  • Be consistent with your use of social media – use the same username where appropriate, same visual style, language style, and professional/personal mix
And finally, I stumbled across a piece by the Guardian recently about blogging for your career, last Friday they hosted a live Q&A session where a panel of experts gave advive on using blogs to help boost careers.

At times it did tend to have more of a journalism bias, but there were some very good points made about the increasing use of social media for this purpose.  Jenni Retourne, who blogs on the beauty industry, shared some of the advantages to blogging that she has found;

My blog helps me get new clients because:
a) it is read by people in the beauty industry, so if a brand owner is reading it and happens to be looking for a beauty social media specialist or a beauty copywriter, she is much more likely to get in contact with me because 1. She knows I exist and 2. She can see from my blog posts that I know what I’m talking about (hopefully!).
b) My blog demonstrates that I really understand the beauty industry and am very passionate about it. This helps when companies are deciding whether to hire me or another company, as it shows I am not just paying lip service to the fact that I love the work I do.
In addition she points out that;
My blog also reminds existing clients about the services I offer. There have been numerous times when I have needed to hire freelancers or suppliers and I cant remember the name of a company that does the work I’m looking for... so I’m sure people are the same with me. Whereas if my contacts have a blog post popping up in their inbox on a regular basis, they are much less likely to forget what it is I do.
Hristina Hristova, global social media manager for Acronis, a company specialising in backup, recovery and cloud computing, added that;
Like Facebook and Twitter, personal blogs are something recruiters undoubtedly check before making their choice, especially in the online industry. It is important to show you're an expert in your field through your professional writing style, slick-looking design and actual blog content. It is a great way to not only share your passions, but also showcase your portfolio.

A number of the other panelists commented that while they may not have been discovered by employers through their blogs, it has been of benefit to send a link to the blog in job applications, and that has been an advantage.

The main point I took away from these comments was how useful your blog, and any other social media you choose to employ, can be in showcasing your talents.  It seems that in the ever increasing jobs market using such tools to promote your skills and experience may well be able to give you the edge you need to get the job of your dreams.

Friday, 16 September 2011

Thing 13 - Online collaborating and file-sharing

Thing 13 looks at tools to assist with sharing files and working collaboratively, such as Google Docs, Dropbbox and Wikis.
I was interested to learn from reading some of the other posts about Google Docs that it can be a useful alternative to Microsoft Office on a home computer.  I’ve recently been thinking about whether to purchase Office for mine, so I think I’ll give Docs a try first and see how it works out.  I also discovered that the Android Google Docs app allows me, in addition to the regular features, to take a photo of a document, sign, or other text on my phone and use Optical Character Recognition (OCR) to convert it to text that can be edited.

I'm not sure that I will find Dropbox so useful.  It probably would have been very handy when I was doing my library course as I tended to work on both my work and home computers equally, and was always transferring documents to and fro with a USB stick.  Nowadays I don't find I need to transfer documents to more than one computer to the same extent so it may not be something I would get as much use from.

I don't really have much experience of working on joint documents, primarily the only times I've done that have been with colleagues at work.  We already have a number of shared drives at work which people use to share documents so the idea of using an internet based program to do it doesn't seem necessary.

However, I'm soon to be collaborating on a project with people I don't work with, and this is where I think services like Dropbox will be most useful.

My only experience of wikis is when I took part in the Library Day in the Life project back in July, although I believe we cover the Library Routes website as a later ‘thing’ so no doubt I’ll take part in that also.  I think wikis are a great idea, particularly for organising events between large groups of people.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Thing 12 - Social media as a networking tool

This week is all about looking at social media as a networking tool.  Advantages of which, as set out by the CPD23 team, include;
• social networking can lead to better communication between individuals who may or may not have the chance to meet otherwise
• it creates a more collaborative working space as people are encouraged to share ideas
• it aids in building online communities, which can then turn into real-life communities.
• social networking can provide easy access to other fields of the profession.

So this week we are being asked to consider the following;
Are there any other advantages to social networking in the context of professional development than those already outlined above?  Promotion, promotion, promotion!  You can use your involvement in social networking sites as evidence that you are engaging with the library sector, and that you are willing to join in the conversation.  It's possible to pursue aspects of your career that are of interest, but not necessarily part of your day to day job or get involved with online campaigns.  A blog can be used to showcase your knowledge or skills in a particular area, which in turn could lead to opportunities that may not otherwise have come your way.

Can you think of any disadvantages? A lot of people have pointed out how difficult it can be to gauge a person when only corresponding online, and I think this is true.  Because I’m still relatively new to social media I spend a lot of time looking over what I’ve written before posting, worrying about whether it sounds they way I want it to, and whether it could be misconstrued.  Words on a screen can’t always convey meaning the way we intended.  Without the ability to show my facial expressions, body language or hear the tone of my voice I find it more nerve-racking trying to express myself.

Has CPD23 helped you to make contact with others that you would not have had contact with normally? Yes, it’s been fantastic how CPD23 has been taken up by people in so many different library spheres and different countries.  It would be highly unlikely I would have contact with many of them if it wasn’t for taking part in this course.  Conversely, it’s also helped me get in contact with people I should have already been in touch with but for some reason had so far failed to make proper connections with.

Did you already use social media for your career development before starting CPD23? To be honest I was only just starting to look at social media as a method of career development when CPD23 began.  I’d joined LISNPN and was making my first attempts at networking on my own initiative, so it felt like perfect timing when I heard about the course.

Will you keep using it after the programme has finished? This is the point that I feel is most pertinent.  I will be interested to see if there will be a drop off in social media networking by new converts (such as myself) once the CPD23 things have been finished.    

In your opinion does social networking really help to foster a sense of community?  Yes definitely, I've found the general vibe amongst library folk on Twitter etc. to be very supportive, if you are just starting out in your profession, it can be very nice to know people are out there rooting for you.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Thing 11 - Mentoring

Although I’ve never had a mentor I realised after reading the cpd23 blog post for this thing, and seeing the list of mentor qualities, that my current line managers could qualify as unofficial mentors.

We work as part of a small team so I see them all the time, my line manager has her desk on the opposite side of the office from me and we often talk across the room (although not when there are visitors there, heaven forbid!).  I've always felt able to discuss aspects of career development with her in this informal manner, and she has been able to help me with advice or information on many an occasion. 

And, it’s exactly the same with the head librarian, his office is accessed by walking through ours, so I see him coming and going all the time and often flag him down with questions.  His door is usually open so if there is anything I need to discuss I know I can pop right in.

As well as being very approachable, both my line managers are very good at encouraging us to take part in things.  It was due to their suggestions that I enrolled on my MSc in Librarianship, and they always took an active interest in how my studies were progressing.  Likewise, now I'm considering chartership they have been very supportive of the idea.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Thing 10

The brief for thing 10 is to blog about our experiences as a librarian so far, to tell people about how and why we joined the profession, where we are at and where we hope to be headed.

I used to always say that I fell into librarianship by accident.  Whilst doing some temping after graduating from a ceramics course I got sent to work in a library and enjoyed it so much that I ended up applying for a permanent position.  Actually the truth is I went into the temping agency (who I wasn’t signed up with) specifically because they had a library assistant job advertised in the window, and I was so adamant that I was the perfect person for the role that the (rather bemused) agent sent me up for an interview. 

I loved my job there and it helped me to realise that librarianship was the path for me.  I started to think seriously about a career plan (I even made a five year plan, they work!) and realised that because of my art background working in a museum or art gallery library was where I really wanted to be.  Which led me to my current job. 

I was hunting around on the internet trying to research how to move across to that sector (I was working in an academic library at the time) when I stumbled across a vacancy for a library assistant at the museum where I live.  You know that feeling of ‘this is fate’, well that’s what I had.  Here right on my doorstep was the very job that was the first rung on the career ladder I wanted to pursue.  I started to feel ‘this is my job’ and ‘we were meant for each other’.  Then of course came the application and interview process, in which the usual doubts and fears set in.  Thankfully they hired me and I’ve been here ever since, and much as I loved my old job it has been the best move I could have made careerwise.

Four years ago I decided I wanted to become a qualified librarian.  It honestly never occurred to me to do a graduate traineeship programme.  By this time I’d been working in libraries at an assistant level for a few years so I felt I had enough experience to apply without doing the traineeship first.  Perhaps in hindsight I’ll regret not having done one, they certainly look like a lot of fun.  However, my employers offered to support me in my studies so I enrolled on the distance-learning Msc at Aberystwyth, which meant that I could fit my course around my job. 

I graduated last year, and it already feels like ages ago.  I’m starting to look now at what the future holds for me.  One of the things I’m considering is chartership.  I’ve only just joined CILIP so it will be a while before I’ll be eligible, but I am interested to hear from anyone who is doing or has done chartership, or considered it at some point, and what their thoughts are.  I’ve looked at blogs by Bethan and Shannon (amongst others)who both put forward very interesting viewpoints on chartership.

But at the moment I am just contenting myself with doing the cpd23 course and working on more informal ways to boost my career and professional development.