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Event Recap – How to write a strong resume

Event Recap – How to write a strong resume

By Jocelyn McNamara

I attended the recent Job Search Workshop at University of Maryland, hosted by LAC Group, DC/SLA, SLA-MD, and DCLA. It was a fantastic event with great turnout — big thanks to all the hosts and participants. I volunteered to review resumes, and found myself repeating similar advice to numerous job seekers, so why not aggregate that advice in a blog post? Below are tips that Information Professionals might find useful when creating or updating their resumes.

  • I like Objective Statements at the top of a resume (I’m aware this is not a universal preference). It shows me right away what type of job you are looking for. Of course, it should be tailored to the position you are applying for, but it could be as simple as, “Information Professional seeking to advance my career in Archives.” It communicates direction and ambition.

  • Use blank lines between sections, not between lines throughout. Visual breaks should be consistently applied and correspond to informational breaks.

  • Don’t use graduation dates next to your degrees. Whether it was ages ago or last month, those dates aren’t doing you any favors. If you earned your degree recently, it will subconsciously equate to inexperience.

  • Include a section titled “Software Skills” that lists all programs you have familiarity with. Recruiters often use ctrl+F when searching resumes, and it’s critical to get those keywords on your resume somewhere.

  • Use numbers! Anywhere you can quantify the work you have done, do it. Numbers are powerful and easy to understand. They demonstrate you are paying attention to organizational metrics, which correlates with analytical skills. For example, if you were a Processing Technician, by what percentage did your work reduce the backlog? This ties into the point below.

  • Focus on the organization. Quantify the value you bring, and the tangible contributions you are making. This will give you a head start on salary negotiations when you get there.

  • Whether or not your career aspirations involve management, highlight any supervisory experience you’ve had by moving it to the top of each section, and detailing your duties in that role. Even if the position you are applying for is not a supervisory one, that experience demonstrates your previous organization thought you were so great, they trusted you to oversee other people or workflows.

  • Start each bullet with an action verb, preferably not a passive one. Rather than saying, “Assisted with labeling the Middle East Collection…” say “Worked collaboratively to label 1,073 volumes in the Middle East Collection.”

  • Volunteer! Get involved with a professional association like one that sponsored this event. Then, volunteer to be on the board. You will learn leadership skills and network with fantastic working professionals in your field. The willingness to get involved looks great on a resume because it shows passion and professional commitment.

What type of advice did other reviewers give? Please add to this list in the comments below. Thank you to the organizers of the event for inviting me to participate.

Jocelyn McNamara is a Client Engagement Manager with LAC Federal.

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Event Recap: Strengthening Your Interviewing Skills

Event Recap: Strengthening Your Interviewing Skills

By Laura Stein, DC/SLA Career Development Committee

I had the pleasure of meeting Susan Antos at Speed Networking Happy Hour hosted by the DC/SLA Career Development Committee in April of 2014 at the Mad Hatter. It was then that she approached me about her experience in human resources and conducting interview workshops and her interest in being a part of the Career Development Committee.

On February 27, Lila Faulkner and the Career Development Committee hosted “Strengthening Your Interview Skills”, presented by Susan Antos. Roughly 20 information professionals gathered on a Saturday morning at Drexel University’s Washington office to get tips and practice for mastering the interview process, which often presents daunting and nuanced challenges, even for experienced job seekers (Skype interviews, anyone?).

After practicing introductions and handshakes, participants broke out into smaller groups to practice tackling the staple interview question: “Tell me about yourself.” Susan prepared a presentation chock full of tips for each phase of the process, from doing your homework on the company beforehand, presenting yourself for the interview, and following up afterwards.

A main takeaway was making the interview about the job’s needs, not about you. It may sound harsh, but the interviewer is more concerned about filling that position with the right person, rather than your accomplishments (as awesome as they are).

Susan also emphasized taking advantage of the period where the interviewer asks if you have any questions. Often candidates don’t take advantage of this, but it’s a crucial time for determining if that job is right for you (hint: don’t ask about salary and benefits until the offer is made).

If you get stuck, some great questions that came about were:

  • If it was down to two candidates for the job, what would be the deciding factor on choosing one over the other?
  • How will the duties and expectations of this grow over time?
  • What are the next steps and when can I expect to hear back?

At the workshop, participants certainly had the courage to ask Susan many questions. Perhaps it was the coffee and pastries, or that the job searching process was at the forefront of our minds, but people were not shy about sharing their experiences and insights.

We are very thankful Susan took the time early on a Saturday to offer this valuable program. She has been an asset to the Career Development Committee and to SLA. We would also like to thank Drexel for allowing us use of their space and showing us the spectacular view from their roof. Finally, I would like to thank Lila and the Programming Committee for arranging this event.

We hope that we can host this event again sometime in the future. Those who attended definitely felt renewed and stronger in their job search.

[Photo credit: “Interview“, JoePhilipsonCC BY-NC-ND 2.0]

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