#blogjune: post 14: Mind the gap: transferable skills & moving sectors

On 14th June I spoke at the CILIP London network’s AGM. I was asked to talk about something personal. As one of my themes this year is transferable skills. I opted to share my story, highlighting my use of transferable skills and tips on moving sectors. I entitled the session: Mind the gap: reflection on transferable skills and moving sectors.

The event took place at CILIP’s Ridgmount Street office in the early evening of a really sunny day, so attendance was slightly lower than expected, with about 15 people. We had a good cross section of attendees representing all career stages, a variety of different sectors, with most people having moved between at least two sectors. This made for an informal session which meant we had a great discussion after my talk about barriers to moving sectors (are we, information professionals, the main barrier?) the benefits of highlighting transferable skills, and tips and advice on how to get the best out of the interview process (it’s a two way process).

Thanks to those – you know who you are – who took part in my survey of transferable skills and advice on moving sectors. The three most transferable skills identified by my survey are:
Flexibility – be prepared to take on new roles and activities;
Curiosity and an aptitude to learn – you don’t have to be an expert on everything, just  use your information skills to ask the right questions and find an answer.
Organisational culture and influencing skills – it’s important to understand how your organisation operates and how best to influence key people.

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Advice on moving sectors included:

  • importance of using plain English in your applications and at interview. Make sure to practice describing what you do in language that resonates with those in other sectors;
  • don’t restrict your examples of activities to just work experience. Remember to include volunteer experience too; often you may have done something more challenging and impactful as a volunteer;
  • use your network for advice on how to learn about a new sector; what to include on applications and what to say at interview;
  • always ask for feedback after an interview, or if you don’t get shortlisted but expected to. You will always learn something that will help you with developing skills or improving your interview performance;

Finally, persevere. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try and try again. We all have had to make many applications before getting the right job.






#blogjune post 9: ‘Apologies for cross-posting’ is a distant memory …

Do you want to know the secret of losing ‘Apologies for cross-posting’ from your life? It’s quite simple, you need to diversify your personal learning networks and ditch relying on mailing lists. Last year I was on a LIKE panel discussing experiences of personal learning networks. I thought I’d provide a reprise of what I covered and add in some reflections of what I’ve noted since then.

How did I come to personal learning networks and why?

I have always been a keen networker, and in analogue days a lot of my personal learning network took place on the phone, or face to face at AUKML (Association of UK Media Librarians) meetings and other conferences. That learning involved sharing stories and best practice, making connections, helping with problem solving. It was very much a give and take experience.

In the last 20 years I’ve moved from analogue to a personal learning network (PLN) using technology to share best practice; discuss and debate issues; make connections; keep in touch with issues across the profession; and to learn. But I do still appreciate the opportunities that attending face to face meetings enables. I often find the best way to develop relationships post conference is through social media.

I’ve used social media (Twitter, LinkedIn etc), email lists, internet and my network for work, for study and in the periods when I’ve been unemployed. At all times my PLN has been a source of great support and advice,

You have to be disciplined, and not constantly keep looking at social media. It’s best to schedule time, and stick to it, when you know you can fit in looking through social media. I’ve found it helpful to schedule time on the way to and from work and for short bursts at lunchtime. I tend to read and respond to tweets during this time.

My personal learning network has given me:

  • the chance to get perspectives on issues and challenges from a variety of sectors. It has also made me realise that solutions from one sector can be adapted and used in another; thus reducing the number of times I’ve had to re-invent the wheel;
  • speedy access to a range of people to help me with improving my professional practice e.g. in 1999 my SLA News division contacts facilitated visits to the then libraries at NY Times, Time magazine and ABC News, which provided valuable insight into the use of online services which I took back to the BBC;
  • a diverse and constantly on tap current awareness service – putting listservs into obscurity – to keep me up to date on professional issues.

Two pieces of advice I’d give to somebody new to this?

a. Join Twitter, if you haven’t already and check out various chats: #UKlibchat; #UKmedlibs; #llrg; #interlibnet; #critlib; #slatalk; and follow people in your sector.

b. Schedule time to indulge in virtual networking, and drop some other things to fit in it. Bear in mind it will take time to develop links and network.

Reflections ..

During the panel discussions I realised I’d pretty much given up on LinkedIn, either as a source of information, or place to interact. I kept my profile up to date but didn’t regularly use the website. My views on this changed when I updated my profile following a new job on LinkedIn and Twitter. I was immediately inundated by notifications on Twitter, as I’d hoped and expected. I didn’t expect much from LinkedIn, but over a 3 week period I had messages from nearly 50 people. Proof that there is still life left in LinkedIn, and that there is value in re-connecting you to people.

I do now regularly look at LinkedIn for updates on people and as mechanism for ensuring I’m keeping up to date on issues in the sector. I find I get a good balance of learning from using Twitter and LinkedIn, plus of course attending networking events and conferences.



#blogjune post 7: Following a conference from a distance: the joys of Twitter

I’ve just returned home from the first of three conferences I’m attending (I was at #CILIPS17 and had a great time) over the next month. My head is full of ideas and thoughts, my inbox full of work things. And then I look at Twitter – a blessing and a nuisance all in one – and realise there are loads of conferences and meets ups taking place. As someone said yesterday why have we got multiple library conferences – for yesterday that was #CILIPS, #UXlibs, #Sconul2017; for today it’s #UXlibs, #Sconul2017, #BIALL2017 and @UKSCL – on at the same time?

It’s bewildering to keep up with all that’s going on and there are inevitable overlaps; makes Twitter lurking for CPD fun. What did we do in the days before social media could provide us with real time coverage of presentations and workshops? As I recall we waited to read write ups in blogs and before that in journals, which did at least mean you got a rounded view of a conference, admittedly one person’s reflection and experience. Now we can get lots of people’s views ranging from 140 characters to blog posts.

I often dip in & out of coverage of an event on Twitter. There is a definite art to tweeting a session. I’m appreciative of those who do it in a way that allows those of us not attending to feel like we are there. Even more so, if there’s a chance to interact in real time.

I had that opportunity, by chance, at lunchtime today. I came across the excellent #candocafe run by NHS East of England libraries. Thanks to Isla Kuhn for bringing this to my attention. It’s their second cafe this year; a practical example of sharing best practice between health libraries & the local public libraries.


You can read a Storify of #candocafe My favourite suggestion is to put staff expertise on the catalogue along with the books (#human library)! Such a simple idea, but with real potential in most organisations. Knowledge management meets information management.

Does anyone know of anywhere that has piloted this?