Monday, 24 October 2011


I thought I would not complete it this time. I have started late and was late all the time, more or less two weeks behind schedule (and I still am, more than two weeks behind now). Somehow, however, I managed to go through all 22 of the Things and I suppose I feel professionally developed, at least a bit more than before summer. As in the previous year, I am very grateful to the cpd23 team for organising the programme and proud of myself that I undertook it and finished it, perhaps not on time but I did it. Well, almost. Just these final thoughts are left to be blogged about (they were thought through already, just a question of dressing them up with the right words).

This year's programme was based on a different idea from last year's. There were fewer new THINGS to discover (less revelations), more to think about and reflect on - a good exercise for professional development, preparing a portfolio etc. All the advice on CV writing, applying for a job and attending the job interview will definitely be very useful in the future. Even though I had got a job before those THINGS (21 and 22) came up in the programme, nevertheless good advice is always greatly appreciated and may become handy in the future.

However there were also some more practical THINGS in the programme which I have already made use of, or may in future apply for professional or private purposes. One of them is definitely the Dropbox - a great tool for team working but also when one works on the same document from different locations, much better than the Google Docs. The others - iGoogle, Google Calendar, TeuxDeux, Doodle are just a few that I will continue to use. The most wonderful thing about THINGS like Dropbox is that they are "floating in the air" and are available from everywhere through various electronic devices, not necessarily a computer. One day when I am sipping an exotic cocktail somewhere in the far tropics I will be able to pop into my Google Calendar, check/add notes in EverNote, amend my collection in the LibraryThing and all this will not disappear (like paper notes often do) when I come back home. Just dreaming... about tropics that is.

It is time to end the REVELATION chapter in my journey through the e-world. The POST-REVELATION era will be rather Blog- and Twitter-free (at least on a personal level), but it should be more open to searching for and perhaps to applying new online gadgets and useful applications. A big THANK YOU again to the organisers of 23- and cpd23 Things and GOOD BYE!

Sunday, 16 October 2011

"Heigh-Ho, Heigh-Ho, it's off to work we go"

I do agree that being a volunteer is a good way to gain experience, especially for young people who quite often cannot get a paid job because (what a vicious circle!) they do not have any experience. So if they want to get experience, that is the easiest way to do it (if they can survive financially). However, it is not always certain that employers are happy to take a volunteer on. It might be a security or safety problem, it might be some bad experience from the past. The question is how to treat a person who offers to do some work and not be paid for it. Is it realistic or is it an employer's dream only? How much can employers expect and how much may they demand from a volunteer? Can a volunteer be treated as a contracted employee or should the boss be grateful for whatever the volunteer offers? How reliable are they, if at all? I suppose those who are volunteering at whatever job, perhaps out of a sincere enthusiasm for a particular profession, could be a great help in any enterprise, including libraries. This may be especially useful for realising particular short term projects or jobs which otherwise would have to be postponed or not done at all. Sometimes however training a volunteer may take a long time and it might not be worth having one at all.

In my working life I have had rather positive experiences with volunteers. They were mostly enthusiastic, reliable, learning quickly and good at what they were expected to do. But I always was asking myself - how much should I expect and demand from them, after all they are only volunteers, they may say "no" and/or "good bye" at any time.
I have never been a volunteer myself, but I considered it as a real possibility when a few months ago I suddenly lost part of my full time post. I thought that there is nothing so bad that it cannot be turned to good. If I volunteer in this or another library, with all the experience I have already, I might be of help to someone and I may gain more experience myself. Perhaps getting a paid job would then be more realistic. I did not do it because I was fortunate to get a job offer which I have taken and at the moment have no more time to spare (a day is still only 24 hours long!) . But this may change again, who knows... And touch wood!

I've got a job!

Yes, I have got one! Strictly speaking - two of them. Finally I must have done something right! When my primary post was cut down by one third, I was looking for an additional job to fill the gap. Several months, four attempts and three failures later I was given a chance - an interview and, after a couple of hours, a job offer. Hurray!

Analysing the process of applying for a job, interview techniques etc., it is easy to give advice and recommend this or that when all goes well. I do not want to be arrogant or patronising but I must say that it is so much easier when one stays calm and collected in the process. Of course the first and very important thing is to have a good updated CV and/or an application form filled in, which includes all that the job description and person specification require. When those are done properly, there is a much better chance to be invited for the interview. And this is already half way to success. Then the homework has to be done i.e. finding as much information as possible about the employer to-be. Think not only about what they may ask you but what you should ask them (this will show your interest). During the interview try to think that it is they who want to employ you not you who desperately wants the job (even if it is just the opposite) . Being yourself, not pretending that you know more than you really do, but also not showing that you lack confidence or are too shy, might also be helpful in making a positive impression.
I will never forget what one of my friends told me about his way of getting a job as a student. When asked at interviews if he had ever done that particular job he always replied with a charming smile - "Of course, I have never been doing anything else in my life!". He was very successful in getting jobs (those of a rather simple sort, as students do), but I am not sure it would work in every situation. The truth has this peculiar feature - it likes coming out.

I found (and successfully applied) very good advice about preparing CVs and on interview techniques, with lots of examples, on the Sue Hill's recruitment website.

Whatever and however you do it when applying for a job