2013 was a crazy whirl-wind for me. I honestly kept trying to get to writing Libraries of the future – Part 2, but every time I sat down to do the research for it I got distracted or called away (let’s be honest, sometimes I was doing the research and kept finding interesting things and got carried away in my surfing endeavors) either way it will be forthcoming… eventually (kind of like George R. R. Martin’s next book haha).
I have been finished my Professional Library cadetship for a year now so have been in the job market and I am recently officially graduated – hooray! I have to say after spending a year in the ‘I am awesome please hire me chair’ I have learnt so much about applications and interviews. I’ll be honest (and blunt) my first couple of applications were BAD, I knew I was right for these roles, but I wasn’t even getting to interview. I was completely frustrated and quite a bit desperate because who can afford to be out of work these days! Then one night as I was plugging away at yet another set of selection criteria I had a thought… what if I approached this like a Uni assignment. I looked at my previous applications and evaluated them, I found them to be at pass, maybe credit level – P’s might get degrees, but they don’t get you in the interview chair. Then I looked at the assessments I received HD’s for – BIG difference in language, layout, pretty much everything. So I wrote my next application as though I was writing an assessment and my goal was to fit as much vital information in there as possible in a small word count without waffle – I got to interview. The fit for the role wasn’t right for me or them and it wasn’t a Librarian role so it didn’t go ahead, but I was onto a winner. I contacted an agency that specialises in placing Information Professionals and I applied for one of the contract roles they had and was working a week and a half later 15 minutes from home!!! Dream come true! The contract which was initially 2 months was extended to 9 and I have had the time of my life here – even meeting a life-size working R2-D2!
With my contract ending at the end of January I had to get back on the application trail, the problem being as many of you would know that most people don’t do a lot of hiring at Christmas. So I set up all my alerts and RSS feeds for a variety of online job advertisers and one morning the tell tale *ping* of an email arriving held a surprise. The University quite close to my home (yes it is a good one) had a really good 12 month position available (long service leave fill – the role is retiring and will become available after this time). I wasted no time in applying using my new method, a week and a half later I was in interview, 3 hours after the interview they were calling my referees so I knew I had done well and 3 days later I have been offered the role of Liaison Librarian in a great University Library. A little side-note to this tale is that it was one of the Libraries on my ‘I want to work there’ wish list Woo-Hoo!
Now in my case with this role I got a fairytale ending, but it could have easily gone very wrong. Here is where the learning experience came in. Please make sure you know your referees extremely well, you need to know that no matter what is happening with them you can rely on them to give you a good reference. In my case I hadn’t spoken to one of my referees as they called so quickly after the interview and something was going on with them at the time (I have no clue what so I cannot comment on this, but their response was very out of character and I have never seen or heard of this person acting this way they have always been completely lovely!) and their response to the call was that they didn’t know what they were talking about and didn’t have time to talk. Queue the panel member calling me and asking what is happening, luckily I was able to contact another of my ex bosses and get her okay to provide her details within half an hour (she is a complete doll and totally saved my hide!). If they hadn’t have wanted me enough to call and advise me of what had happened with my referee (which most places WOULD NOT DO! I need to stress that fact!) I would not have got this job – because of my referee. When I called the person I apologised for not speaking to them before they were called, but they would not accept my apology and simply said, “I guess you have learned a harsh lesson today” – OUCH! Obviously they felt that after that I wouldn’t get the role either, while I understood that this person felt blind sided by the call I was also hurt that they were willing to cost me the possibility of a job (therefore an income) to teach me a lesson. This was someone I always looked up to as a boss – mental note: I never want to end up like that!
So here are my tips to ensure this never happens to you:
1. Contact the person you want to use and ask them if they would be willing to do it for you – most places require you to enter your references at the time of application now so you need their okay early.
2. If you get an interview, let the people you put down as referees know and send them the position description for the role you have applied for. This means that they will know the role you have applied for and will be able to talk to your strengths in this area.
3. After your interview, just give them a heads up. A quick email or message is fine, something along the lines of, “Just finished my interview, I think I went pretty well. Thank you for being my reference, I hope they contact you. Fingers crossed”.
Hopefully they will in turn let you know if they were called and how they felt it went. If anyone else has any tips in this area or applying for roles or wants to share their story please feel free!
This post didn’t really end up the way I had planned, but I think I like where it ended up. So in the spirit of ‘where the wind may take me’ I am not even going to go back over and edit this post before I publish it – this kind of makes me want to chew on my nails, but here…we…go…