Resumés and Reflections

There’s nothing like reading through resumés to make you polish up your own.

This blog, I take pains to emphasise, is a personal blog, not a work one. Bu I’ve been at my new job for just over 13 months now. And reading resumés for a vacancy in my team has made me reflective.

A friend of mine updates his resumé after every performance review. His uses it not just as a tool to get a job, but as a tool to record what he’s achieved.

I’m taking it a step further, and thinking about what I want my resume to look like in the future. What dot points do I want to add to it? And how can I achieve them?

My boss in my last job gave me a great piece of advice for building your career. He recommended approaching people and companies that you want to work for, and ask them “What skills and experience would you recommend I acquire, if I want to work here in 2 or 3 years time?”

A bit over 13 months ago, I put that advice into action.

I asked the Regional Manager for an international library software vendor if I could have a casual chat. I asked him what skills and experience I should acquire if I wanted to work for them in the future. And it turned out they needed someone right then to lead their customer support team right, and my background as an IT manager studying a LIS degree made me the perfect fit.

If I had to sum those 13 months up in one word, it would be “hectic”. Three overseas trips. Two international projects. And a major restructure that happened one month after I started that completely threw out my plans for my first year.

What have I achieved in my first 13 months?

I’ve brought structure and direction. I’ve collaborated on international projects. And I’ve led my team through significant changes. A lot of what I’ve done can feel nebulous, hard to distill down to a one sentence dot point on a resumé.

What do I want to achieve in my next 13 months?

I want hard, numerical proof that my team are more efficient. To do that, I need to step down from the big-picture thinking that’s dominated my last year, and dive deep into the day-to-day details of what my team are doing and the problems that they face.

I want to collaborate on more international projects. There are some exciting company-wide projects coming up in the next year that will directly benefit my team. I want to be part of them, to help bring that benefit to fruition.

I want to engage more with the library community. All the internal changes that have happened in the last year have meant my focus has been directed towards my organisation more than towards the libraries that we serve. I want to shift that balance and engage outwards more. I want to better understand their work and their needs, and how my team can help them.

Outside of work, I really, really want to get involved in a digitisation project. I’m not sure how that will happen, given I work full time and I’m studying. But making collections available digitally is a big part of how IT helps libraries help their communities, and I’d love to have some hands-on experience with how it works.

So. Those are the four dot-point I want to add to my resumé in the coming year.

I should link here to Sally Turbitt’s recent article 10 career building tips for library students and new graduates, which seems relevant.

And I need to update my Toolkit article Writing Job Applications.

I wrote that when I was job hunting. Now that I’m on the recruiting side of a CV, my advice is : be concise! I have dozens of job applications to read! Hit me over the head with proof that you have the skills we need, and do it with one sentence dot points!

This is the current template I’m using for my own resumé:

  • [Skill]: [verbed] [bad situation] into [good situation] by [doing this].

Some (made up) examples:

  • Leadership: transformed a stressed and overwhelmed team into one with engagement and high morale by providing clear priorities and achievable “one-step-at-a-time” goals.
  • Process Improvement: reduced average resolution time from 10 days to 8 days by streamlining processes and implementing Knowledge Centered Service.

Obviously, the Skill bit in bold should match up to the skills required by the job ad (that’s the “hit me over the head” bit), and the description of your achievement that follows is the proof you have that skill.

And don’t go into any more detail than in my examples. That’s what the interview is for.

Okay. Enough navel-gazing. I better get back to reading these resumés…


About davidwitteveen

IT person. Zine Maker. Level 0 Library Nerd. Doctor Who fan.
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