Trends, Achievements, and Perspectives
It’s Interview Season
Yes it is. My contract at Thompson Rivers University has ended. Let the interviews begin.
There are several job postings for positions that interest me not only because of the scope of work but also because they align with my professional goals.
What am I to do?
I have experienced great job and work culture situations moving from contract to contract at a few upper education institutions across two provinces in recent years. Each of these academic libraries was in varying stages of organizational transformation as a consequence of tougher financial constraints, destabilized work force, or challenging technological developments requiring strategic considerations. My roles increased in responsibility and scope – digital collection assessment, information literacy library instruction program development and maintenance, virtual and face-to-face advanced reference service, collection development, and mobile services development.
With this ongoing experience, I aim to reach my goal of a permanent full-time position in a role where I can continue to develop my professional capabilities and proficiencies, conduct research and publish articles while advancing the mandate of that library and institution, contribute to student learning outcomes, and collaborate with colleagues and faculty on programs and projects.
To reach this goal, I have to take risks, apply to many job postings, be willing to relocate, and maintain a high level of optimism, which can, in turn, increase stress levels confounding my ability to continue toward this goal. Submitting well-designed curriculum vitae it to a job posting is not enough. To be noticed and valued as a contributor to librarianship, actively participating in your own promotion is important. Think about branding, writing a professional blog, and developing an area of expertise.
Preparing for interviews is taxing and challenging. I’ve developed some strategies that have proven useful and successful. A few years ago, a university librarian encouraged me to develop an area of expertise with at least two other areas of intermediate skills. Another librarian recommended that I develop a brand, a way of identifying who I am expressed visually. With that in mind, I created an e-portfolio and this blog extended outward to my own business cards, notes, letterhead, stickers, and envelopes. A total branded package. What have I packaged? I have packaged my areas of expertise.
I’ve spent much energy investing in workshops, courses, and other professional development activities to become an expert in designing and delivering information literacy programs incorporating appropriate technologies to various user groups, developing strategies to deliver library service digitally for the mobile user, and provide expert reference service in person and virtually. I have developed a second area of expertise – reference service. I review RUSA’s guidelines and continue developing competencies and new skills. This is what I have packaged and continue to develop.
Ask for Help
Preparing for an interview requires organization and strategies. Look for support and resources within the professional organization to which you belong. Try ALA’s New Members Round Table Academic Interview Process, and a recent article Resume Review Service article by Nanako Kodaira.
Talk to your referees about areas they can speak about in the context of his/her experience when working with you. Many referees are great resources in your efforts to build a professional network. For example, if you are going to be interviewed for a specific position, ask your referee if s/he can introduce you to a librarian working in that position. Contact that person and interview him/her for background information on roles and responsibilities he/her have and challenges s/he are facing. If you know any librarians who have been on selection committees, ask them for the top 5 questions they like to ask of candidates.
I have collected 32 such questions, answers to which I practice in preparation for an interview. Some of the questions are asking for the same information but are framed differently.
Support from family
My son and daughter are great supporters of my efforts to be employed in a permanent, full-time position at a large academic library. They text message me encouraging words reminding me to be calm, authentic, talk slowly, and breathe.
Whether I get the position or not, I learn much about the interview process and can refine my strategies.
Here is the list of questions on Issu.