Last month I attended a student conference on digital preservation that was geared towards giving us advice on how to get in to a career in this area.
A theme that a few of the speakers touched on was the need to look for jobs outside the usual jobs titles. For example, a job with the BBC digital sound archive was recently advertised under the title of “Media Manager”. Would you see that job and think, that will require my skills I’ll look closer?
This disparity between the job titles and what the job actually involves was discussed in a number of ways, but the primary area that interested me was during the round table discussion at the end when a few points were raised about how exactly we’re supposed to find these jobs if they have such vague job titles.
It was suggested by one of the panel members that we need to read the job descriptions to find out more. This is of course an obvious and very true statement but a number of attendees felt this was not a practical solution due to the number of jobs being advertised.
For me this all brought up the question of where people look to find jobs especially if you’re not necessarily interested in working within a traditional library setting.
I asked my Twitter followers where they searched for jobs and I am indebted to all of them (credits at the end) for their suggestions and opinions.
It seems that the best approach to job searching is not to limit yourself to looking in only one place but to employ a diverse strategy of searching in a number of places that may be of use to you.
Below is a look at different approaches to searching for jobs and the pros and cons of each way. It is important to note that some ways work very well for some people but it might not work for you, so job searching is all about getting the best out of these resources for yourself.
Specific company search.
You know you want to work for the British Library or Oxford University so you can just search their websites, right? Well, of course you can do that, but you would be severely limiting yourself to only a few jobs. And your chances of getting (or finding new) employment would be restricted. If you know you can only apply for jobs in one area (for example, London) then you can search the websites of all universities in London. Of which there are a lot! This is time consuming but not impossible. But what about all the other places you could work. Companies? Schools? Colleges? Charities? You could do a search of a select few of these, but how many law firms will hire information specialists? (Lots, by the way). Can you really search all of their websites?
Doing a company specific search alone only works if you only want to work for a handful of companies. If this is your ideal, then that is fine. But I think for the majority of job searchers it would fall short of being totally adequate.
It is important to keep in mind that some companies only advertise on their own websites and a lot of universities don’t advertise junior posts (i.e library assistant/shelver positions) anywhere else. Picking a few company websites to directly get job listings from (preferably by rss or signing up to email alerts to save you time) is a useful addition to your job search techniques.
Tips: If you know which geographical area you’re looking in you could find the biggest companies and search them. You could also add companies that you know don’t advertise elsewhere (or that have limited jobs appearing on other sites), for example, The British Library, BBC, etc…
Sector specific aggregators
Lisjobnet is the most useful website if you want to work in a library. Although it says it is also for information jobs I have not found it particularly useful for any jobs outside the traditional areas. It does seem very focused on library work and also for middle to higher positions. I have many times found library assistant posts on other websites that are not on here. There is also a similar problem with jobs.ac.uk. Obviously this site is focused entirely on jobs within academic institutions and you can browse specifically in the sector you want. However, I have also found jobs that required information researching/management skills which were in other categories. Both of these sites have the bonus that you can sign up for email alerts which saves a lot of the bother of having to go and physically search the site yourself. However, as already mentioned, they do seem limited in their scope.
Jobsforinfopros is useful for jobs in the wider sector, though it does just seem to aggregate from employment agencies and is very London focused. Additionally, their service to sign up for email alerts requires you to a fill out a form which insists on only a few geographic areas being picked and on you stipulating a wage. It you want complete flexibility in your search and aren’t that picky then this is completely useless.
Tips: see below ‘General jobs sites’
General jobs sites
These type of sites cause me the greatest headache. If a job that requires a library/information/archive qualification (or just experience) isn’t within a traditional setting sometimes the employer might not advertise it on a specialist website there but they might advertise on (for example) monster, totaljobs, Indeed etc… The problem with this is then searching for jobs. What exactly do you search for? You can’t possibly view every job on there, there are thousands. If you try to limit your search by keywords what keywords do you choose? Library? Archive? Information? You will probably find all of these so vague that they come up with 1000s of results. And as already mentioned above, many jobs now don’t feature key words in their title, so you need to search for key words in the job description.
I personally don’t find these searches targeted enough. In one search for “library assistant” I came up with 1869 results only 5 of which seemed to be what I was looking for, I’m not even sure how the rest ended up there as they weren’t relevant at all.
The best of these generic search sites I have found is Indeed.co.uk. It also comes highly recommended by my Twitter followers. It draws in jobs from a variety of sources and doesn’t seem to be dependent on companies adding the jobs to the site themselves (as Monster does). I found that setting up email alerts for quite a few different search terms the best way to use the site.
Tips: If you’re not finding many jobs in one category try looking around in others for anything of interest. Set up email alerts if you can so you don’t have to do much legwork to get the latest jobs. If you’re doing a key word search try not to stick to just one term, ‘librarian’ may come up with fewer results then ‘library’. Searching for generic terms such as ‘information’ may come up with a few information assistant roles but may also come up with thousands of irrelevant posts in which you can miss the few good ones, so sometimes being specific works better. If you’re looking at a sector specific site which lists a vague job title, click on it and have a quick scan at the description, it might not be what you think it is.
There are a few Twitter accounts that list jobs such as @uklibraryjobs but I don’t know of any companies who tweet their own job vacancies (on an account dedicated to vacancies only). As an avid Tweeter I do need to remind myself constently that most people are not on Twitter, and even when companies are not all of them use it in the most productive way. I would not recommend relying on Twitter for finding jobs. Like all of the suggestions above it can be another way to search for jobs without really trying as they will pop up in your feed amongst gin and knitting discussions (I’m not being stereotypical, this is what my timeline looks like today).
I have no knowledge of any companies using Facebook to advertise vacancies so I did some quick investing whilst writing this blog post [pause to go off to Facebook and work out what to say next] and I can find nothing. Anyone any the wiser please let me know.
Linkedin could be such a useful site….jobs directly related to courses you have listed or key skills tagged could be shown to you in a coherently ordered manner. Except, it doesn’t work like that. A lot of American companies use it and I think it could become useful if more UK companies were to get on board with it. I don’t think they will as people don’t seem to use it for job search, so it’s a vicious circle.
With all these social media opinions I’m really only using my own experience so I may have completely missed the boat on something…please use the comments to let me know of anything I’ve forgotten or that I’m just plain wrong about.
Tips: It’s worth following any companies on Twitter you particularly like the idea of working for, they may tweet job posts but you’ll also keep up to date with the latest news from them. You don’t need to have a twitter account to look at accounts advertising jobs, though it will save you time if you get an account and follow them all, then there’ll all appear in a nice easy list without you having to click on each one individually.
These are a great source of sector specific jobs though you need to use them slightly differently to how you would a straightforward job advert. Although they will feature job adverts on site it is important to alo register yourself with the agency (get in touch and send them your CV) as a lot of their jobs will be sent directly to their clients before being put online.
I think there is a perception that a lot of agency jobs are temporary and require immediate starts. Whilst this is true of a lot of agencies, they do all differ, and most of them also have permanent jobs too.
Tips: I’ll repeat as mentioned about, don’t just rely on searching agencies websites, most of their jobs don’t end up there. Register with them and if you don’t feel like they’re sending you many job openings speak to them directly as they may have misunderstood what type of position you’re looking for.
Word of mouth/networking
This is something I always forget about but was mentioned to me on Twitter this morning. If people know you’re on the look out for a job they are quite likely to send your way anything they see that may be suitable for you. I find this works very well on twitter, as people will tend to re-tweet or post jobs they see that are interesting which alerts me to these vacancies.
Networking cannot be underestimated for its usefulness in job searching. If you’re at a conference/training event make sure you speak to people who work in a sector you’re interested in, if they remember you they may be the person you apply for a job with in the future (every little helps). It was suggested to me today that a good estimate is something in the region of 40% of jobs are never advertised, that is worth keeping in mind if you’re ever shy about approaching people. Even if a new job doesn’t come out of networking you are still learning a valuable amount about the sector and this research makes you a stronger candidate and more able to help others in the same position as you.
I will squeeze mailing lists into the section as well. Quite often jobs will be posted on mailing lists by the people advertising vacancies (or people working in those places). It’s a good idea to sign up to general and more specific mailing lists for areas you’re interested in working.
Tips: Keep an eye on what people are saying on Social Media, they may mention when there’s jobs going where they work and will also pass on any interesting posts they see whilst doing their own job search. Keep an ear out for people talking about new projects getting started as it might be worth approaching project managers (or getting an introduction) to be in mind should any new vacancies open up. If you’re interested in a small sector area, get in touch with people who currently do it, ask for advice, they may know of positions available, or keep you in mind if ones open up in the future.
Suggestions to employers
There is only so much the bedraggled job searcher can do without searching for jobs 24 hours a day and reading every job description on every website. I have thought of a few ways that employers can make things easier so that the right people see the right jobs and employers get the best people applying. These may be impractical for employers, but I live in an idealised world in my head where I assume employers want to hire the best people, silly me!
- Try making your job descriptions less generic. If you really want to call the post Senior Media Manger how about adding an (archives) or (library) in brackets after the title?
- If your job requires specific skills/qualifications why not post it on websites that are dedicated to such people (ie lisjobnet). Given that is the most viewed job site for people with an LIS qualification (judging by my unscientific pole on Twitter today) why not increase your chances that the right candidate will see if by also posting it there. This is particularly useful if your company is not in a sector that people would traditionally think to look at.
- Add an RSS feed to your website vacancies page. People are more likely to look at individual companies websites if they have a way to easily get at the information.
- Have a twitter account just for your job vacancies. Same reason as the above for RSS feeds. Also, people will re-tweet your vacancies to a wider audience.
- If UK companies would start using Linkedin more, especially to advertise jobs, it would be a practical useful resource, instead of being mostly useless.
So what does this all mean?
I’m afraid there isn’t one website/resource that you will find your perfect job on. I haven’t even covered looking in newspapers/magazines, using members only sections of professional associations websites, looking at government (local/central) websites, job fairs, career services….the list is endless. Most importantly for job seekers is to be alert to others working in the sector (and in parallel sectors too). They may not tell you directly about a great job you can apply for immediately, but they may alert you to a company you’d never considered working for, a person you should get in touch with, a website you should be reading. The possibilities are endless! The key is to find the resources that work for the sector you want to work in and to tailor your searches to suit your needs.
Here is a list of all the different sites/resources I have mentioned above. Please leave comments about any more you find useful and indeed and more tactics for finding jobs that you would recommend.
Tips for staying sane: Where you can, follow websites via RSS feeds so you can aggregate everything into one easy to manage place, or set up email alerts so the vacancies come to you.
Websites: (Links with * are ones specifically recommended to me as good places for library/info jobs)
*http://www.suehill.com/ – Sue Hill Recruitment
http://www.timewisejobs.co.uk/ – for part time jobs
https://twitter.com/tmj_GBR_library – this account hasn’t tweeted anything yet but does seem to be new so I’ll be keeping an eye on it.
Other ways to find jobs:
Jisc mailing lists – http://www.jiscmail.ac.uk/
Thank you to all the following people for answering my appeal for help on Twitter today, your suggestions should have made it to the above post I hope.
Thanks @booleanberry @LibraryPatrick @Girlinthe @HelenMaryH @RareLibrarian1 @ellekaypea @wiley9000 @ErikaDelbecque