Last spring, Director of the Career Services Center Kelley Bishop presented Job Hunting 101: Effective Search Strategies, during which he described effective search and application strategies. On October 12, we reprised this presentation and paired it with Be the Solution to the Problem: Landing a Job in Information Science; a presentation by iSchool alum Jonathan Barney. During the hour long session the presenters highlighted different aspects of preparing for and conducting the job hunt. Below is a summary of the presentations and a link to view the full recording.
Knowing What You Want
Kelley Bishop started off the session by focusing on the need for participants to spend time taking stock of their goals, and what it is that they actually want to do long before beginning any application process. Applying for positions isn’t just about whether or not the applicant is qualified for the position; it’s also about what the applicant really wants to do and what the organization needs them to do. If the wants and the needs do not line up, then the application process isn’t likely to go smoothly.
Jonathan Barney encouraged audience members to be open to non-traditional organizations, positions, or pathways. You never know what kind of organization might be in need of the kinds of skills MLS grads have. Like Bishop, he cited the need for participants to know understand their own goals and aspirations before they can even consider aligning them with what an organization needs. To do this, he recommended looking job postings and qualifications and skills listed long before beginning the application process. In essence find your dream job, figure out what kind of skills do you need to land it and make sure that you have them or are working towards them.
Barney also focused on the need for applicants to present themselves as the solution to an organization’s problem. Organizations are hiring because there is a need that needs to be filled, and the person they hire is there to solve said issue. The applicant’s job is to understand the problem that they are being hired to solve and to “create a solution.” If they can present yourself as the solution, then they stand a much better chance of making it to the interview and eventually into an actual position. To do this applicants must:
- Analyze the gap: do you have the skills required address the problem the organization is trying solve? If yes, is this a good fit for your own goals/needs?
- If it is a good fit, then ask, how can I clearly demonstrate these skills AND my value to the organization?
Demonstrating Your Value
Once you’ve gotten past the point of understanding what the organization’s need is and if you want to fill it, you need to craft an application packet that doesn’t just list your qualifications. Instead, it should clearly demonstrate your value to that particular organization and the problem they are trying to solve. On your application materials be sure to:
- List your accomplishments, skills, and tools (e.g. software, specific equipment, etc) that you’ve used.
- Describe your skills and your proven track record – demonstrate your abilities, don’t just tell them.
- Show them that you did your research – you need to know about the organization and be able to describe it specifically both in application materials and hopefully in the subsequent interview. Is the organization in the news? Can you find interviews of personnel? Have you reviewed their strategic plan and identified how to describe your accomplishments in a way that supports it? Do you, or do you know someone in the organization that you can speak to?
Build Your Network
Barney and Bishop both wrapped up their presentations by stressing the need to continue your education after graduation and to take advantage of any and every opportunity to build their professional network. You never know where the next dream job will open up or how your connections will help you land it.
View the session in its entirety here: http://go.umd.edu/mlsjobsearchfall2015