Week 3: Job Interviews

This is part three of a three part series on Job Searching. Check out part one Job Searching and part two Applying for Jobs.

image of a woman being interviews by two women, text reads: week 3 job interviews.Congratulations you’ve got an interview! Over the past two weeks we have reviewed looking for and applying for jobs. This week we’re tackling the part that most people are apprehensive about. So we have some of the best advice resources out there to help you along the way.

Be Prepared

Just like you did for your application, research the organisation you’re interviewing with. They will either ask you a direct question about how much you know about them or you can incorporate it into your answer. If they don’t ask you directly, you can show off your due diligence and use relevant information in your answers to other questions.

Prepare answers to common interview questions. Lots of interviews start with being asked to walk your interviewers through your CV, so take some time to prepare a good answer for this. Each point should have a specific example to back it up. Use the STAR method: 

Background image of stars in space. Text reads: STAR Method: Situation: Describe the challenge or situation giving context and relevant background information. Task: What was your role? What was required of you specifically in this project? Action: What did you do? This is the most important part. Describe what you did using “I” statements in some detail. Say why you chose a certain course of action over another. Avoid using jargon. Result: What was the outcome? What did you achieve? What did you learn? Be as specific as you can. slipireland.com

That might sound like quite a lot but remember you can prepare this ahead of time. It’s also a good thing to have in your mind during an interview if you’re asked something unexpected as it helps you to structure your thoughts in a logical manner. Often it’s easier to do things we find difficult when broken down into small, manageable chunks. Come up with STAR examples for each of your previous jobs and for common questions and themes like:

  • Tell me about a time you worked as a team/group/collaboratively?
  • Tell me about a time you experienced conflict at work?
  • Give me an example of a time you succeeded.

Now practice your answers. Out loud. Yes, it might feel embarrassing but it really works. Get together with friends or classmates and practice interviewing each other. If you can’t do that then practice your answers out loud to yourself, you need to hear how they sound and see how you feel speaking the words you’ve written. You could try recording them on your phone and listening back. Careers advice services in universities often have mock-interview services. All of these techniques are designed to make you more comfortable and confident during the real interview. Who cares if you feel a bit silly talking about “a time you had to work to a tight deadline” while alone in your bedroom? It will be worth it when you walk out of that interview happy that you represented yourself in the best possible light. 

The Big Day

Aim to arrive early, but not too early. About ten minutes is fine. If you’re very nervous arrive in plenty of time and find a nearby coffee shop (except if you really are that nervous maybe stick to chamomile tea!). Your interviewers are probably doing interviews all day and arriving 45 minutes early may make them feel pressured (just don’t do what this person does and show up 15 minutes late to “test” your interviewers). If you’re unsure what to wear to your interview err on the side of business/formal. Your interviewers will ask if you have any questions at the end and it’s usually a good idea to ask something. But don’t ask just for the sake of it, it needs to be something you are genuinely curious about.  You could ask to clarify something they mentioned earlier if it wasn’t clear, ask them about a typical day in the role, ask about their jobs or something about the organisation. Once the interview is over make a note of the questions they asked you, you will forget very quickly but it’s good to know so you can practice for the next one.

After everything it is as simple as that. If you’re not successful this time please don’t be too disappointed. It is a very competitive market, so try not to take their hiring decision personally. If you don’t get the job you can ask for feedback on your interview. Sometimes they will refuse, largely due to time constraints. However, often they will provide valuable feedback to you. This isn’t just pointing out your faults, they will point out your strengths too. For example, they may say they were very impressed with your technical skills, when you didn’t realise you were particularly strong in that area. A lot of the time it comes down to just a few minor points, such as more experience or greater familiarity with the organisation. Don’t be too disheartened, getting an interview is such a positive – you are likely in the top 5 – 10% of applicants.

Further Resources

I cannot recommend enough the website Ask A Manager. Alison Green answers reader-submitted questions from a hiring managers point of view. Always entertaining and insightful she has also written a free guide on preparing for interviews.

GradIreland has a wealth of resources about what to expect from job interviews and how to prepare.

If you have a disability and are concerned about applying for jobs, check out the National Disability Authority website for guidance. James Gower describes his experience of job searching as a graduate with a disability in The Guardian.

Note: SLIP has not received sponsorship to promote any of these resources, they are all used and recommended by the SLIP committee. If you have a resource you would like us to take a look at send us an email here, tweet us @SLIPIreland or leave us a message on Facebook.


Week 2: Job Applications

This is part two of a three part series on Job Searching. Check out part one Job Searching and part three Preparing for Interviews

image of a person writing on a form on a desk, text reads: week 2 job applications.

Last week we looked at job searching, where to find jobs advertisements and how to find the ones you’re looking for. Now you have found the job advertisements you like you need to actually apply for the position! The first thing to do is make a note of the deadline for applications, including time. Lots of jobs will require your application toFine day, Sunday...No post on Sundays! be in by a certain time e.g. 12 midday on the 6th. If the job requires an application by post be sure to send it in good time. Public sector jobs can require multiple copies of the application form, so make sure to follow the instructions given. It’s also a good idea to save a copy of the job description and requirements, it will probably be removed from the website after the application period expires and it will be helpful to prepare for interview. It may seem obvious but it is easy to overlook these few basic elements and it could be the difference in your application being accepted or not.

Writing your CV

This is the part that will likely take up most of your time. You should tailor your CV specifically for every job you apply for, but to make this easy for yourself you can create a “Master CV” that includes everything. Using this modular system you can easily pull in the relevant parts as you need them. You could also try developing different styles of CV. For instance, if you’re applying for a job that requires a focus on teaching you should highlight the teaching & learning aspects of your work experience. The same previous job could also be relevant for a job as a cataloguer but would need to highlight different aspects of your work. It’s all about making your CV work for you.

When you’re working keep a diary of what you do every week or fortnight and use this information for your  CV. This diary doesn’t have to be long or detailed, just list the activities or projects you worked on and include any new skills you’ve picked up e.g. learned to use the Library Management System, helped to set up new exhibition, dealt with five reference questions at the desk.  It’s amazing how quickly you forget what you’ve been doing and it’s nice to reflect on how much you’ve achieved at work.

Image of infographic, text reads: Tips for writing your CV. 1. Save your CV as “yourname_cv.pdf” to avoid it getting lost along with a pile of others in the recruiter's inbox. 2. Use the vocabulary used in the job description. The person reading your CV may not be in the field and won’t recognise that “decriptive cataloguing” and MARC are the same thing. 3. Proofread your CV! If you’re not confident about your spelling and grammar that’s okay, ask a friend to help, or send SLIP a message on Facebook and we’ll do our best to help out. 4. Avoid using very light colours that are hard to read. It may look great on a screen but your CV will probably be printed. Print off a copy and make sure you can read everything easily. 5. There’s a lot of myths around font choice and CVs. Times New Roman, Helvetica, Calibri - it doesn’t matter so long as it’s legible.

Writing Cover Letters

Your cover letter is where you can go into a bit more detail than is necessary for your CV. It may seem a little uncomfortable to “sell yourself” but try to find a way you are comfortable talking about yourself and your accomplishments. Be authentic to yourself, if you see a job advertised that is your dream job and you’re super excited? Tell them! Find and use your natural voice. Don’t be overly casual, this isn’t Facebook, but you don’t have to be an anonymous drone bee reporting for duty. Practice writing to find your style.

Talk about specific examples of your achievements and always align them with the job requirements from the listing. Use the STAR method (Situation Task Action Result) to structure your writing, we will look at this in more detail in next week’s post.

Most importantly, remember to show why you’re interested in this job and in this organisation. Do your research on them, read their “About  Us” section on their website, familiarise yourself with their governance structure,  look at what projects they are involved in and research them on LinkedIn. However, don’t waffle on and praise them just for the sake of it, only highlight projects that you are genuinely interested in. Insincerity is easy to spot.

Lots of people get hung up on the nitty gritty parts of job applications, like where should the cover letter go? In the body of the email or as an attachment? The answer is simple, follow the instructions given, if there aren’t any then it doesn’t make a difference. However, if you send it as an attachment don’t also write it in the body of the email – don’t make the hiring manager read it twice! Just include a short note in the email specifying the job you’re applying for and attach your CV and cover letter as one document.

Getting Help

There a lots of great services you can (and should!) avail of to get advice on your job applications and interview skills, which we will look at next week. Your college or university will have a Careers Centre, these are available even after you have graduated. Have a look at UCD here or DBS here. GradIreland is a great resource with guides and videos to help you. Get advice from peers, colleagues, mentors and lecturers. If your lecturer has offered to help you with job applications they really mean it! Don’t be afraid, send them an email with a link to the job and ask for some advice. You can also ask us here at SLIP for help, we may not be experts but we’ll do what we can and point you in the direction of people more knowledgeable and experienced.

So, when you have created your CV and written your cover letter pause for a moment before hitting send on that application and make sure you’ve checked off these three things.

Image of infographic of CV Checklist. Text reads: Is all your contact information on your CV & cover letter correct? Are you submitting in the requested file format/sufficient number of hard-copies? Do they request the subject line of the application to include a reference code?

A final word of advice, if you’re still using the email address you set up when you were twelve it may be time to update. Nobody wants to hire backstreetboys_4lyf@hotmail.com. Use your name, don’t use the current year as it will go out of date, well every year!

Check back next week when we’ll be discussing job interviews. 

Week 1: Job Searching

This is part one of a three part series on Job Searching. Check out part two Applying for Jobs and part three Preparing for Interviews

image of hands holding a map, text reads: week 1 job searching

Inspired by this libfocus post about #LISjobsIE by Michelle Dalton, we are running a three week series on getting a job in LIS. This series will provide advice about the three stages of job hunting:

  1. Searching for jobs
  2. Applying for jobs
  3. Preparing for interviews

This week we’re covering the searching aspect of getting a job. While the market in Ireland has not been great in recent times there are an increasing number of opportunities arising.

Where to search

This list is not exhaustive, but by far the best place to start in on twitter with #LISjobsIE. Sort tweets by “live” to see the most recent ones first. Twitter is hugely popular with librarians in Ireland and worldwide, so it’s a great place to get involved in discussions with hashtags like #uklibchat, following conference hashtags and our own discussions #slipireland. If you’re new to twitter and want to see how people use it in a professional (or semi-professional :P) context then have a look at our storify of Library Camp tweets #irelibcamp16.

Dedicated Library Job Sites

libraryjobs.ie This nifty site collates library and information jobs in Ireland.

inalj.com I Need A Library Job was founded in 2010 by Naomi House and is run with the help of 100 volunteers across the globe. While INALJ is primarily focused on jobs in the USA (subdivided by state), there are pages for library jobs in Canada, the UK,  Ireland and elsewhere. This is a great resource for those of you looking for jobs outside of Ireland.

Some Searching Required

universityvacancies.com Great for looking for jobs in academic libraries or research based roles.

publicjobs.ie Home of the Public Appointments Service, look here for jobs in public libraries or semi-state bodies (e.g. HIQA). However, public libraries are not required to post on publicjobs.ie unless the vacancy is of a sufficiently senior level and they may also advertise only in newspapers. Don’t worry though, they are almost always caught by #LISjobsIE

The National Library The NLI has seen an increased number of opportunities recently.

The National Gallery The National Gallery library has recently had fellowships especially for new graduates.

Law Library – Bar Council of  Ireland A good starting point for anyone interested in law librarianship, you should also look at law firm websites as they may advertise internally.

If you’re interested in academic librarianship then it’s a good idea to keep an eye on the recruitment sections of your preferred institutions.

 Some of the Universities and Colleges in Ireland
Trinity College Dublin UCD DCU
IADT Maynooth University of Limerick
 UCC NUIG  Queen’s

Search Engines

Indeed Ireland Indeed is a good source for professional jobs and allows the use of Boolean operators to refine searching.

Indeed UK Indeed also allows you to save your search terms which can save you a lot of time.

Grad Ireland Grad Ireland is a great resource for advice about your career, internships and researching employers.

jobs.ie When all else fails, try jobs.ie! They are particularly good if you’re looking for non-traditional LIS jobs in areas such as digital media and education.

How to search

Now you know where to find job listings, we need to know how to find what we’re looking for. Remember to use a broad range of search terms as not every LIS position will be listed as such. Do a bit of detective work to seek out the people who don’t even know that they’re looking for a librarian!

INALJ has a great list of keywords to search on the left sidebar of the homepage. Some highlights include:

  • Archive/archivist
  • Catalog/catalogue/cataloguer
  • Data management
  • Digital curator
  • Information Resource Officer
  • Metadata
  • Open source
  • Social media
  • Taxonomy
  • UI

Take advantage of Boolean searching where possible. As we saw earlier, Indeed (ie and uk) support Boolean operators, your search could look like this:

librarian OR “library assistant” OR “information officer” AND Dublin

Remember to try variant spellings of words (i.e. catalog/catalogue) and don’t get stuck just searching job titles, search keywords that will appear in the body of the advertisement. Companies are often terrible at writing clear headlines. Job titles can vary wildly, take a look at a list of real job titles for library & information professionals curated by Michelle Mach here

If you want to take the “search” out of job search then you could sign up for free services like lisjobsnet which will send job postings straight to your inbox every week.

If you have any job hunting tips let us know in the comments below or on twitter using #SLIPIreland. Stay tuned for part 2 next week when we’ll be covering job applications.

Happy job hunting!

Image of text: may the odds be ever in your favour.