Thursday, January 29, 2009

Librarians as job counselors

According to this interview on NPR, librarians are increasingly acting as job counselors. Libraries are increasingly seeing more people who need to use library services--computers, books, and, possibly, the library space for job clubs--to keep their personal costs down.

Though the headline is about librarians as job counselors, they aren't really offering job counseling. The library is an information space and labor market information is just one of the items that patrons are investigating.

I hope what this will mean for libraries is the redevelopment of new or the expansion existing career information centers within libraries. If you are graduating, this may be one of the areas where you can offer your skills and services, especially if you have a background in vocational guidance and job searching techniques. If you're still looking for your capping project, developing a career information center within a library is a great project. It is also a great project to talk about at an interview.

Step-by-Step Resumes , Book review

The author, Evelyn Salvador, is a professional resume writer with over 15 years experience in the field. Her background is in advertising and preparing business copy.

When it comes to resume writing, I'm a fan of worksheets. If you have a patron who is struggling with writing a resume, a book of samples is not going to cut it: always recommend a book that has samples and work sheets. Samples are for people who have completed their resume, but are struggling with some formatting issues, or who have never seen a resume before.

This book, as well as the accompanying CD-ROM, is chock-full of them. For a person who is struggling with what to say in a resume and how to put their accomplishments into writing, a worksheet is one of the best methods. By using the templates on the disk, the reader could work through the exercises and then cut and paste their work into their resume. The templates can be reused when revising your resume to look for a new position. Librarians would easily be able to use the worksheets for administration, customer service, marketing, creative work, service (especially for reference librarians) and sales, with minimal rejigging for library jargon. If you are struggling with writing a Highlights of Qualification section, or a Career Objective or a Summary, this book has some of the best basic advice on writing these sections, starting with some basic cloze exercises, that I have ever found.

Drawbacks: there is a strong emphasis on business and administrative positions and not so much on educational positions, so the wording sometimes sounds too much like a sales pitch. The sample resumes are also over-produced with serious design flaws (like putting a person's name in white font in a black box, a big no-no for a resume that will be scanned and searched) making them look more like menus than resumes.

However, the advice is pretty good on the whole, and work sheets (yes, I love them) are essential in helping you create an easily retrievable record for what you have done in school, while as an intern, in a practicum and in the work place, which means some of the work you do for creating your resume can also be used when articulating your accomplishments in an interview. Recommended for personal use, not for workshops because it states clearly on each page that the material is not for duplication.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Online Community Manager

This post from WebWorkerDaily talks about online community managers (yep, it's real) and this could be a great job for techie librarians who want to use their skills to work with people online. A quick scan of the posts also reveal that the applicant should have a background in marketing, or an effective networker with experience building an online community via social media.

Same Day Resume, book review

Same Day Resume is part of the Help in a Hurry series from JIST, which includes Next-day Salary Negotiation and Next-Day Job Interview, which are meant to train people with limited time in necessary job search skills. The author, Michael Farr, is also the author of books in the JIST series Top Jobs for... and Best Jobs for..., as well as the forthcoming 15 Minute Cover Letter book.

This book is for people who have never written a resume before, or who have not written a resume in a long time. It covers the basic formats for resumes--chronological, functional (called skills-based in this book)--and provides work sheets to create your own resume, as well as a wide variety of samples produced by professional resume writers for job seekers in several industries and varying levels of experience. I would recommend this book to someone who is struggling with writing their resume--not sure what format, why use certain techniques and styles--or if you were just looking for a resume bootcamp book. To get the most out of it, you need to fill out the work sheets and use them to create a resume. Fill them out in pencil because you will use this book and work sheets more than once. The book also has a great table of contents and a good index, which means you could easily recommend it to a patron for a quick peek.

On the minus side: no librarian resumes, so a librarian would need to supplement this book with another that has some professional librarian samples. Another negative: too many functional resumes which many employers consider to be deceptive or too text heavy. That aside, just a really great book if you are struggling to put together a resume, or as a supplement to a resume writing course.

Monday, January 26, 2009

How to Say it on Your Resume, book review

How to Say it on Your Resume is part of the How to Say It series which tackles common business writing or business communication issues.

On the plus side, this book has plenty of samples for college-educated job seekers, especially more mature job seekers, people with plenty of job experience and miles between them and their post-secondary education. Each sample is introduced by a case, such as Sally Seeker is a comeback mom with a four year gap, an MBA, who is currently underemployed, and a before and after version of the resume.

On the minus side, the reader would need to recognize what their career issue is--they're a job hopper or have a gap that they need to account for--to realize which case suits them. There is also a layout problem with the before and afters: it would help to have them on facing pages so the reader can see the changes. And the font! I needed my magnifying sheet to read the typeface (I'm old, but not that old) to take a look at the changes. Each of the samples is virtually identical and there is no commentary about why some of the changes were made, though the afters do look better. There is no table of contents that identifies what type of position or industry the resume sample is for, meaning that this is a generic Jane Jobseeker book. The three sample cover letters, heavy on autobiography and light on how to write to fit an organization, just made me groan.

If you knew exactly what your career issue was--a gap, job hopping, not sure how to transfer between industries--and you were a college-educated professional, I would take a look at some of the samples. The lack of a table of contents--though there is a good index--and limited advice on why changes were made mean that this book is not my first choice to give to a patron who says they haven't written a resume in a while. This book might be helpful to a professional resume writer.