Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Thing 21 - Promoting yourself in job applications and interviews

Wordle: PKSB
Professional Knowledge & Skills Base

Maria's blog for Thing 21raises a great many useful tips and truths. I've sat on both sides of the interview desk, and I know that I'm not very adept at either, and I certainly don't enjoy either experience. The most successful, and least painful, interviews that I've had have nearly always felt more like professional conversations than some formulaic grilling. This of course comes down to the skills of the interview panel, the environment and culture of the organisation, and the compassion /  humanity of interviewers during interviewing.

Competence-based interviewing doesn't suit everyone, and there is certainly a specialist knack in answering  such questions appropriately. But practise and planning can mean that you should have a set of established examples and some answers to hand. Whether you can remember them all under the pressure of the interview might be a different matter! Fortunately, many interviewers are very skilled in their roles, inherently wanting candidates to give their best performance, and to be part of making a fair and appropriate selection decision. The interview can certainly provide a really fascinating insight into the organisation!

I do think Maria's emphasis on knowing your strengths and interests are good ones. For CILIP members the Professional Knowledge and Skills Base (PKSB) interactive tool provides an excellent framework for self-assessment and reflection on your professional skills and strengths. I will be looking at this in more detail after completing CPD 23Things!  But in summary:
  • I enjoy undertaking thorough enquiry work and the challenges of trying to meet users' needs and expectations. This is probably why I love legal information work.
  •  I work best when I'm appreciated and valued and can see benefits / impact / results from my outputs.  This means that the culture of the organisation, the people and the value systems are really important to me. In working with and managing others I hope that I enthuse these qualities too.
  • I relish working with others and I am learning to value project management frameworks to plan, deliver and evaluate project work. The challenges of projects and change are positive stimuli for me.
  • A big part of me is a perfectionist, and I'm a self-confessed work-aholic. I love to do things well, and to be shown how to improve things. I like to be challenged.
  • I'm a terrible leader, but hopefully a capable, supportive and energising "second in command".
Knowing your strengths and interests is very valuable. But, I suspect in this day and age, where job opportunities are few and far between, it is often an economic necessity to accept what you can and try to make the best of it. Undertake the role with enthusiasm and dedication, and try to take opportunities for development and training wherever they arise. However, keep in mind your personal strengths and ambitions and try to work towards these as well. Know when to "jump ship"; don't get stuck in a less than ideal role for too long if you can help it.

I heartily agree with Maria's suggestion of keeping your CV up to date, and having a record of your achievements in a form that is easy to update, review, sort and search. I'm a poor practitioner in this respect. Again, I will consider following this up after completing the programme.

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