CILIP in London AGM, panel discussion “Working in London: Starting out and moving on”

The AGM was followed by a panel discussion on the LIS job market within London and particularly the attributes that employers are seeking on a good CV/application and at interview.

Vivien Robertson, Site Services Manager, King’s College, London gave a list of attributes that she and her colleagues look for in staff when recruiting. Although coming from an academic setting many of these points were reiterated by the other speakers from other sectors.

In reverse order her 5 points were:

5) Team player.
Someone who looks across boundaries and contributes to the larger whole. Evidence of a person volunteering to do something extra to aid colleagues, seeing a need and acting on it.

4) Transferable skills.
Someone who recognises and draws from transferable skills. Understands the importance of customer care, good supervisory and organisational skills. Not necessarily skills that are learnt in current/previous jobs.

3) Training and development is for life.
Someone involved in and committed to their profession is more attractive – charter, revalidate, committees, volunteer work etc.

2) People who can see the bigger picture.
Evidence of looking beyond a job title/spec and able to recognise where skills might be useful. Importance of networking and internal benchmarking.

1) Communication skills.
Both written and spoken – communication is key, must be concise and clear. In academic setting library/information staff need to be able to deal with people whose job is dependent on communication of ideas, member of library staff is spokesperson for institution.

She also pointed out a recent article in Sconul Focus on interview tips by
Steve Morgan, ‘What would you do if I asked you to shave your beard off?’ Top ten ways to succeed at interview.

Barry Cropper, Assistant Director (Art Gallery and Support Services) of the Corporation of London discussed his experience of recruiting for public libraries.

Employers are looking for:

1) Closeness of fit of applicant to the person specification.
2) They want to avoid expensive mistakes (employing wrong person who could be in post for years)
3) Added value. If the applicant meets job spec too well is this an advantage or are they too good for the job.
4) Relevant and practical/professional skills.
5) Good IT skills – EDCL.
6) Communication skills.
7) Excellent customer care – even if not in a customer facing role.
8) Flexibilityadaptabilityy – job roles can change.
9) Well organised – able to multi-task.
10) Able to work to deadlines.

At interview employers seek:

1) Evidence that the person understands what the post involves and requires. Balance of aspirations vs job description.
2) Background research (and make sure it’s accurate)
3) Evidence of CPD and willingness to continue.
4) Sense of reality about job.
5) Sense of interest andcommitmentt to profession.
6) Outside interests.
7) Can the job meet the applicant’s aspirations – sense of realism when applying to ensure job will be a good match.

Francis Muzzu. Head of INFOmatch talked about recruitment from a commercial point of view.

Currently there are a number of jobs in law firms, the market is strong and there are lots of opportunities,m particularly in Know How and KM. Fewer jobs in banking, and less opportunity for candidates new to the sector. Property information market is stable.

Employers want:
-A reason for entering/continuing in the library/information sector.
-A reason for course and specific modules.
-Knowledge of what the company does.
-Evidence that can think around a question e.g. actual answer not important, but how could find out.
-Transferable skills are invaluable.
-Candidates who have highlighted that they can be pro-active in identifying role beyond job description.
– Evidence of problem-solving – why did, how did and reasons.
-Supervisorial/management experience.
-Personality – what else do you bring beyond skills.

General discussion
The response to a question about the possibility of changing sector was that as long as the application was good, and that core skills were met there was a good chance that the application would at least get an interview. It might be obvious that if you don’t apply then there is no chance, but true – always worth a go. Someone with relevant experience in sector might beat you but, on the other hand, this is always the case e.g. issue of in-house candidate and it might be lucky day!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: