Today I attended an Interview Skills Panel and Workshop run by the ALIA Students and New Graduates group in Brisbane. It struck me today more than ever just how important these type of learning events are, not only for students and new graduates, but for professionals of all levels working within GLAM sector. At every stage of our careers we will have to face the challenges of applying for new jobs, updating our resumes, addressing selection criteria and trying to impress in interviews.
The Interview Skills Panel today featured five perspectives from within libraries – a HR professional, three managers from two academic libraries (two librarians and one non-librarian), and a LIS student who has recently been through the recruitment journey. The practical and useful advice given by all panellists covered everything from how to prepare before an interview to how to act within the interview. The panel was live streamed on the ALIA Students and New Graduate Facebook page so you can watch for yourself here!
Following the panel was a workshop that gave participants the opportunity to formulate answers to interview questions with the support of mentors and practice answering these questions in an interview scenario. I acknowledge that this was a confronting experience for the participants so as a mentor, I tried my best to be kind and friendly and I hope that my little bit of advice helps them feel more confident for their next interview!
It’s important to note that there is no one type of person who attends these job skills sessions. A student or new graduate can be studying a Cert II/III/IV, Diploma, Bachelor, Graduate Diploma or Masters. They can be in their early twenties exploring their first career, mothers returning to work after having a family, mature aged career changers and everything in between. For example, if you are returning to work after having had several years off to raise a family then who do you put down as a referee? A family member is not suitable but someone from a school committee or volunteer organisation may be. There are practical questions that people need advice. This is why events like the one I attended today are so important to our collective future.
It is only through the generosity of volunteers like Annette Messell and Maddy Medlycott, Queensland Regional Coordinators for ALIA Students and New Graduates group, that events like this happen. Annette and Maddy, along with other ALIA group volunteers around Australia, have a genuine desire to help others and should be commended for their commitment to their profession and their own career development. Organising PD is great PD! Expect to see much more from Annette and Maddy in the future!
In my work as Queensland State Manager for ALIA, I speak with a lot of people who are experiencing the challenges of the job hunt. Competitiveness is underestimated by many of those new to the GLAM sector where the simple desire to work in a library is just not enough. In my experience, there is a great need for advice and guidance from those within the sector to those looking to break in. Many struggle with how to present themselves and express their previous experience in a suitable fashion – writing a decent resume, address selection criteria effectively and interviewing well.
To those of you within the sector I ask you to share your experience with those who may need it. If you would like to volunteer some of your time to help review resumes or appear at an event then please get in touch with your local ALIA group, or run your own local event!
To those who would like some assistance, please also get in touch with your local ALIA group and keep asking! The ALIA Students and New Graduates group have a wonderful Job Help Site with loads of useful resources and a Resume Review Service that I encourage eligible members to take advantage of.