Thursday, 13 October 2011

Thing 21 – promoting yourself in job applications and at interviews

Thing 21 – promoting yourself in job applications and at interviews

I have been working in the same institution for 25 years; part of the reason for this is I am hopeless at applying for jobs and interview extremely badly. There, said it.

I don’t quite get the idea that I have skills, that these are strengths and that they stem from my interests. This is my lack of self-confidence coming out, I suppose. The few times I have felt excited it’s been when I’ve been singing in a choir, but I rarely get that opportunity in the library!

About 18 months ago I started to look into revalidation and did actually make a list of what I considered to be my achievements. This was an interesting list and the things I seemed to be most proud of were things that I had done, let’s be honest about this, b.c., and while some of the things on the list sounded absolutely amazing and should have built up my confidence, they may not always have had the desired effect. So, knowing that I was first choice for two identical positions within an organisation and that the bosses had to fight over me is great, but I haven’t got a clue whether or not I lived up to expectations. Thus, this really tells me nothing.

But, there I go again, you see. In reality, since having children I have done some of the most exciting things; teaching myself html in 1995 and creating and maintaining my own webpages; creating a wiki and a blog in 2007 etc.. What is also telling is the wording that I used to list these achievements, for example, “finally being involved in a project”; until I read that, I had no idea that I hankered after being involved in any project!

So, as suggested in part 2, I looked at the list I created when trying to record everything I’ve done that demonstrates I’ve got skills (no matter whether or not they come from my interests). Skills equals strengths – right? And it’s here I get side-tracked. I don’t know what my strengths are, if indeed, I’ve even got any.

OH has just started a new job and some of his team were talking about the Myers-Briggs type indicators. I’d forgotten about all this, but while he was talking to me I remembered that I’d done the questionnaire before and had come out as an INFJ. A quick look at the profile reminded me of my characteristics and had me squealing – “yes, that’s me all over!”

Strengths are now looking easier to extract: obviously I’m not going to list them all here, but as an example, I think I’m good at cataloguing, because I’m fast, accurate and consistent, but I am also a perfectionist and nothing (including catalogue records) is ever perfect so I’m not that good at cataloguing or anything else really.

Then I got further side-tracked by remembering my Belbin scores. Now, this is absolute proof that I don’t have any particular strengths (ok, I know it doesn’t really refer to strengths more styles but …), as, instead of getting a range of scores from very low to very high, with lots in the middle, I got a strange set of results. My score of 2 x 12s, 2 x 11s, 1 x 8, 2 x 6s and 1 x 4 had me perplexed. What was my dominant style? Interestingly, I don’t seem to have one – I could almost equally be any of the Belbin types (except perhaps for the type that scored 4). Great – so I’m a Jack of All Trades, and master of none! Wow – I’m a wishy-washy, fickle type who flits from one type to another! On the flip side – I suppose I’m versatile.

But, back to the point! Although I haven’t applied for any jobs in a very long time, I do sit on the other side of the table and so recognise the importance of a good application that shows you meet the essentials, and preferably some, if not all of the desirables, but I also wholeheartedly agree that even if you don’t meet them all you have nothing to loose by applying for that job!

I was interested to note that CILIP offers two careers advice sessions a year to each member; I could have done with that a few years ago when I was looking into alternatives, and will bear it in mind for any future ideas.

I think I can probably make a decent stab at completing the application form, but the interview itself is another story. I find social situations almost unbearable, so interviews are just soul destroying! Being a perfectionist, I feel the need to talk to the right people in the right place at the right time about the right stuff, and since this rarely happens …

Anyway, it was useful to be given some pointers in the form of CARs, although I’m not sure I can be trusted not to ramble when I’m nervous, nor can I not be negative – it’s in-built!

So, when I next apply for a job, I shall be coming back to thing21 to remind me what I should be doing and how I should be going about it. Thanks for the references too!

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