01 May, 2008
On previous occasions I have tried different methods to get jobs, with (for the most part) a lot of success. As an unqualified library assistant, ALT or stackie I had a great run. For a while I was sitting at close to a 100% success record of being offered every job I made interview for.
So, how did I manage this? Well I was a young man in a field where there weren’t a lot of young me. I think that helped me stand out in the minds of the panels, plus I manage to be reasonably relaxed and conversational in an interview situation (I have recently learned this is called assuming rapport – but I knew how to do it before I knew there was a name for it).
More than that I came across as a bright person, with age the ‘bright young thing’ has faded because the older you get the more is expected of you, but especially as a young man this helped. That was phase one of the career, which saw me move from temping for the State Library of NSW to a contract role with the University of Western Sydney Library and then into permanent work for Penrith City Council.
Job hunting phase two happened when it was getting time for me to move on from Penrith. They had been fantastic about supporting my study, but the staff there were all settled in their jobs and no one was going to retire to give me a librarian's role. So with about six months to go before I got my ALIA seal of Librarianness ™ I started leveraging my new found intellectual capital and signed up with an agency. Agency job hunting really does make so much of the process easier, I found myself in interviews for jobs I had no business being interviewed for. The trouble there is that this can soon lead to a feeling of complete disenchantment, because as someone completely unsuited to the role I was not going to get the job. My success rate during this period slumped to 0%. Therefore after my graduation I started two things, I started writing my own resumes again and I started casting a wider net. I had interviews in Dubbo and Orange, I drove from Western Sydney to Tamworth and back in a day just for a half hour interview and I had a phone interview for a Job in Alice Springs. Well, long term readers will know that the Alice job was a go and indeed most of this blog so far has been about that job. I was also successful in Dubbo but only after their first choice ‘didn’t work out’ by which time I was en route to Central Australia and the best five years a Newgrad Librarian could ask for. Librarians in Orange and in Tamworth weep for your lack of foresight!
Phase the third has been an interesting one, in order to calm readers of a nervous disposition, let me be clear. I have found my new job and am poised to begin. This phase however has been a strange one. I have had several interviews and have been given positive feedback even from the ones I didn’t get (no silver medals in the jobs race). But what has taken me aback more than anything else is the jobs I haven’t made interview for. It seems a most unsatisfactory system when I can apply for practically identical jobs in two similar sized organisations and be interviewed for one but not another. Likewise I have made interview for positions paying $20,000 a year more than jobs I haven’t made interview for. The process I can say (having been on both sides) is broken and needs more than a facelift if we are going to find the best people for our libraries.
The other interesting part of phase three as opposed to phase two is the differing cities. In Sydney I knew people and while I wasn’t exactly the name on everyone’s lips the people I was talking to knew the same people I did. An interview which started with “so you work with Peter Goodfellow” was always going to go well. They already had a high opinion of me based on who I worked with. Plus I knew people from a couple of public library networking groups. Sure this was the days before the ALIA newgrads group (or so I believe, certainly I didn’t know of it if it did exist) but it was a small enough pool of people that you felt some sort of familiarity. Adelaide has been a different matter, I haven’t been spruiking myself as the ADHD Librarian but I have been able to drop into resumes and interviews that I am on the committee for the ALIA Biennial. Plus I’m sure it doesn’t hurt to mention I have presented a couple of conference papers.
Correction, actually it can hurt. I was turned down for one job because (if I can remember the wording) I was going to be bored with it and find myself something better in a fortnight. So I should warn people it is possible to oversell yourself sometimes.
Perhaps that is the reason I didn’t get interviews for some of the positions I thought I was a shoe in for?