MSc Information Management at UWE Bristol

Networking and career planning for soon-to-be graduates   

Posted by Paul Matthews | 0 Comments 
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The final session together of 2015 for the Personal and Organisational Management module covered the important subject of networking and career planning. We were fortunate enough to have Heather Maggs from TfPL with us, together with Donald Lickley and Tracey South from Sue Hill Recruitment who joined us via Skype from London.  TfPL and Sue Hill Recruitment have joined forces to offer the library and information services sector a cohesive recruitment solution and also an important source of potential employment opportunities for our MSc students.

TfPL is a global market leader in recruitment, training and consulting, specialising in the knowledge, information and data industries, working right across the private, public, and third sectors. Sue Hill Recruitment is a specialist employment agency to the UK information sector, and market research, insight and analysis. They aim to deliver a friendly, people driven and professional service to both employers and jobseekers.

Typical vacancies that Sue Hill Recruitment include Information Manager, Researcher, Information Specialist, Knowledge Manager, Records Manager, Archivist, Librarian, Research Executive to Director (both agency and client side), Econometrician, Statistician, Research, Data and Market Analyst. They also work with suppliers to the sector to source Publishing, Editing, Sales, Marketing and Customer Service staff. They recruit for permanent, temporary & consultancy roles on a full time and part time basis, as well as consultancy contracts, from graduate to senior management level.

Although some of our students are already employed, all of them are looking for that ‘next step’ and to gather an understanding of what they could usefully aspire to in the future following their MSc Studies.

Our session started off with Donald and Tracey outlining some of the skills that are starting to emerge as key for current and future library and information professionals. Particular skills in demand now, and on the increase, are technical aptitude particularly in the role of analytics and altmetrics, digitisation and digital preservation, a sound understanding of LMS developments and an appreciation of LMS interoperability with other systems. Donald also highlighted that a basic understanding of coding was also seen as beneficial.

Other skills that are also in demand are for information governance, data security and cloud computing for librarians; we discussed how this area is growing and how this impacts on our roles. Donald also highlighted how important communication and leadership skills are and that is crucial that these skills are honed and practiced as often as possible.

The students then asked some questions of particular interest to them and their career aspirations and we again touched on information governance and who is likely to need staff with that knowledge in the future. It is definitely a key skill for public sector working, whilst data security is considered a vital skill for the commercial and private sector.

Other students asked how they could develop their networking skills for particular sectors such as schools and prison libraries and Donald and Tracey were very helpful with their suggestions which fitted well with our networking activities during the rest of the session.

We talked about the differences between London and regional working and where the ‘hot spots’ for library and information services seem to be. Naturally there are a number of openings in London and specific sectors such as law seem to centre on large cities such as London, Manchester and Bristol. However, there does seem to be a lot of movement in the job market in the South West and this is encouraging for our students. Students were also encouraged to make full use of LIS JobNet from CILIP as well as other specialised sources.

We also talked about the transferability of our skills into other sectors, particularly with regards to law libraries who are often very insistent on a background in legal advice and guidance. Academic law librarians are often popular and transferability can be possible although it was generally advised that law is a specialised area and as such you do need to have some background before attempting to transfer into this area.

Both Donald and Tracey felt that some of the other skills highlighted could be transferred easily into other sectors – it very much depends on how you market yourself for this and Sue Hill Recruitment can help you with you with regards to your CV and general updating of experience. There is no reason for example why library and information skills wouldn’t be useful in other cultural heritage areas such as museums and archives.

We discussed the importance of a good CV – usually no more than two sides of A4 and definitely no photographs! Adding a photograph seems to be particularly favoured by international students but in general it is best to avoid this and your date of birth on a CV so that you can be judged on merit rather than any other factors. Donald and Tracey reiterated the fact that it is possible to have your CV checked and uploaded to Sue Hill Recruitment if you are looking to branch out into something different and they are willing to support our students with this process.

It was a very lively and useful session and once the Skype call had ended Heather took the students one by one for a 15 minute ‘career surgery’ to provide some individual, personalised experience. The students felt that completing the Professional Knowledge and Skills Base (PKSB) from CILIP, together with this session has given them confidence to pursue their goals and to explore the opportunities available to them further.

Whilst Heather was engaged on this I worked with the students on networking and understanding how to network successfully. We also explored using the ‘Visitors and Residents’ methodology to explore our own social networking status and discussed the pros and cons of particular sites for networking including Facebook, LinkedIn and Jisc Mail.

This was an engaging session and a great way to complete a module. The two hours simply flew by; all the students felt that it was highly beneficial and that we should consider doing similar for future cohorts. Donald, Tracey and Heather have all indicated that they would be very pleased to be involved again and in any career focused activities that we might plan in the future.

Virginia Power
Module Tutor – Personal & Organisational Management
MSc. Information Management

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