Thing 12: Attending Conferences

CILIP Yorkshire and Humberside and NLPN ‘Get Career Ready’ 21st March 2015.

As someone who has only been involved in the library profession since the commencement of my graduate traineeship in December 2014 it seemed that the CILIP and NLPN ‘Get Career Ready’ event in Sheffield would be a useful event to attend. I cannot actually remember how I found out about it, although I am pretty sure it was through CILIP or NLPN or most likely, Twitter. I am not sure if this counts as a conference but it involved meeting people and listening to presentations so I am going to count it as one.

I was encouraged as a graduate trainee to attend networking events and professional development events and this was a free CILIP event. I was able to attend the event on work time which I was very appreciative of. They also paid for my train tickets to go down to London to the BIALL, CLSIG & SLA Europe Graduate Open Day which was a free event aimed at new professionals, graduate trainees, early career librarians and students, so I have been really lucky in that I haven’t had to pursuade anyone to let me go.

The “Get Career Ready” event was the first conference I have attended since starting my work in libraries and it was a fantastic one to start with. It was a little bit daunting for me to enter a room full of library professionals and library school students (and prospective ones). I had a preconceived idea that everyone would be a lot more experienced and I would not have anything overly useful to add to the group discussions and activities. I was of course wrong as I felt comfortable engaging with the activities and networking with the group who were all very friendly.

I used the good old traditional pen and paper method of taking notes and I think I prefer it that way. I like to keep paper copies of my notes in files so I can go back to them at a later date. I can better express my opinions and ideas on paper than when I am typing notes so it’s more useful when I come to reflect on them at a later date.

People talked honestly about their experiences and their insecurities and this helped me to realise that I am not alone in mine. There were four presentations that were all very different and interesting. One speaker talked about her experiences and concerns about moving from public sector libraries to academic libraries. This made me realise that even super qualified and experienced people still have moments where they second guess themselves. You just need to be confident in your own abilities.

Other speakers talked about their first professional positions. Listening to the five talented speakers and talking to several others during the speed networking hour, opened my eyes to the variety of work available to library professionals. But the main thing I took away from the experience was that there are many support networks and networking events out there. People within the world of libraries are encouraging and supportive and are always happy to help.

I am attending the upcoming LISDIS conference which is a new conference where recent graduates can talk about the research they completed as part of their dissertations. I think it is a fantastic idea because so much time and effort goes into them and then they just end up on a shelf, unloved and gathering dust. I know my undergraduate dissertation is living in a box under my bed. I am hoping to get some dissertation tips and advice as I will be doing my own MA dissertation next year, so if I can get a leg up and find some inspiration that will be an added bonus on top of finding out about brand new research. From the events I’ve attended I will probably try and take better notes and try not to worry about meeting new people. I do find it difficult sometimes to just start conversations with people, but once we’ve said hello, it is usually all OK. I think meeting new people is something that will always create a tiny bit of anxiety but everyone is lovely and I’ve had no problems so far.

I am currently completing a free mobile learning course that teaches social media through social media for professional devlopment.

I am currently completing a free mobile learning course that teaches social media through social media for professional devlopment.

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Thing No 3: My LinkedIn Experience & Professional Brand

Thing No 3 has also come at a great time for me – Rudai 23, you’re doing great things for my continuing professional development in general actually. Thank you! I have recently been updating my LinkedIn as my graduate traineeship is ending soon so I will once again on the job market.

In this post I am going to share my experiences, thoughts and tips on using LinkedIn, the career/ business focused social networking and online CV site. Many people have probably heard of LinkedIn, many of you may already use it or have used it/ attempted to use it at some point in the past.

A few things LinkedIn can do for you:

  1. Build a professional network of colleagues, academics and industry insiders
  2. Get involved in professional discussions and keep in the loop
  3. Create your professional brand which will advertise your best self – Google and LinkedIn like each a lot so if some Googles you, your name could be there
  4. Have a dynamic online CV which showcases your achievements – upload images, files, presentations, awards etc

Is it worth the time and effort I hear you ask? I am not going to sugar-coat it; creating a LinkedIn profile does take a lot of time and effort. I spent upwards of 2 hours a few nights ago working on my profile but I felt a lot better for doing it. It is worth the effort for two reasons. Firstly, potential employers or colleagues could see your profile so it’s an easy way to make a good first impression, secondly, it’s an up to date summary of your experiences and achievements to date. I use my LinkedIn account to remind myself of all of the things I’ve done and achieved both in the work place and at college and University (I forget otherwise oops).

As the 23 things team have demonstrated, to convey your professional brand there are a few key points to consider. The most important ones for me are:

  1. IMAGE – How do you want people to see you? I’ve chopped and changed my profile picture so many times it’s bordering on obsessive. I don’t recommend you do that. Choose a nice head and shoulders shot, dressed for work maybe and show off your professional side. Think… If you had to send a potential employer an image of yourself it’s not going to be a selfie from 20 years ago. You want to make a good impression. I had my picture taken at the Universiity careers fair where they had a LinkedIn photobooth offering a free professional photo service for staff and students to use on their online CVs etc.
  2. HEADLINE – Make sure to use the professional headline carefully as this summarises your professional brand. Right now I am using my job title as it best summarises my current position but come September when I go back to university this will be different. Use it you reflect your career at present and your future goals.
linked_in_headline_

My LinkedIn headline at the moment and my professional photo. You may be able to see my “expert” editing where I’ve attempted to hide the flyway hair I had going on.

3. SUMMARY – I received advice from a LinkedIn workshop and this was to make sure you fill in all fields but especially the summary field. This is your bio where you will quickly convey your professional brand and what you’re all about to anyone looking at your page.

Tip: Complete the write up of your job descriptions/ summaries etc in Microsoft Word or something similar. This will highlight any spelling mistakes for make, whereas if you enter it straight into the field on LinkedIn, you’ll never know you spelt something wrong, but others certainly will!

There is a lot of information out there which can help you build a good online CV. At the University of Bradford we’re lucky to have a Career Development Adviser who put on a really useful workshop on how to use LinkedIn, so if you can get to anything like that it would be very useful.

One thing that I keep wondering about LinkedIn; can you have too much text and information? How breif or detailed should the summaries and descriptions be? What do you think?

*** If you think any of the advice I’ve given is terrible or could be improved please leave me a comment and let me know. Also if you think something I am doing on my profile is rubbish or could be improved, give me a nudge.***

***Thank you!***