School of Information Studies - February 2009
The full version of the February 2009 CAPSScoop for the School of Information Studies can be found by clicking here.
Articles in this edition
by Janice Tester, CaPS Career Advisor
Wouldn’t it be nice if we could put the task of doing the nitty-gritty of the job search in the hands of a recruiting firm and let them do the work of finding that first job right after school? It certainly would. In an ideal world that would be a great solution for our career worries. However, would they really know what job would be suitable for us in SIS? That is an important question one should ask oneself before engaging in this process. Whatever you do, do not abandon other necessary tools such as databases and expanding your network of contacts.
In the meantime, you might want to use an excellent resource which is the Directory of Canadian Recruiters 2006 which has an index by industry and position in the back of the book. Below you will find the firms that were listed under the Library section. Keep in mind that you can also improve your chances with recruiters in other, related areas too such as new media, publishing, IT, etc. ; You would have to look under those sections on the Directory. Please be warned that these firms fill mainly management positions.
The main Canadian firms are:
- Records & Information Management Inc.
- Ken Haycock and Associates
- Diversified Staffing
- Dynamic Personnel
- Prologic Systems
- Research Personnel Consultants (gofindrob [at] ca [dot] inter [dot] net)
From Opportunities in Library and Information Science Careers (2002) - these are U.S.-only:
- AIM Library and Information Staffing
- C. Berger Group, Inc.
- Gossage Sager Associates
- Libary Management Systems (800-567-4669 or 301-961-1984)
- Pro-Libra Associates
From personal experience from our CaPS Librarian, she has found that generalist temporary agencies like Adecco will sometimes have openings for records management positions. However, she has never seen library jobs.
Additionally, the University of Toronto has an excellent webpage full of job resources for LIS grads but unfortunately, no firms.
by Janice Tester, CaPS Career Advisor
I conducted an interview with our Librarian/Resource Consultant on her quest for an ideal job. Her name is Vanessa Franco and has been with us for the past seven months.
JT: Hello Vanessa, it is nice to see you and to discuss about how you managed to find a job so quickly after graduation. Can you tell us how you got your job, what worked, and what didn't?
VF: I got my job here at CaPs through myFuture, which I discovered through exploring the CaPS website. It was actually my archives mentor who suggested to me that I avail myself of the university’s career services. As an aside, I highly recommend finding a mentor. I was paired with mine through a professional association.
For two weeks that overlapped with my job here at CaPS, I also worked at the archives of a small educational institution, the Thomas More Institute. I got that job by sending my CV unsolicited. Unfortunately, the TMI didn’t have enough funding to keep the project going. Nevertheless, the income, experience and contacts were and are greatly appreciated.
In general, I found that I got the most response- not just automated confirmation messages- to targeted, unsolicited CVs. That was pleasantly unexpected and it’s definitely a strategy that I intend to use in the future.
I created a spreadsheet to keep track of all the jobs that I applied for, with columns for the organization, detailed position information, what I sent, when, and what sort of response I received, if any . During my two years of study, I took care to save job postings for positions that interested me, and I noted down the contact information. Once I got around to actual job hunting, I sent my cover letter and CV to that person, even if the organization was not currently hiring. In my cover letter, I mentioned that I got the contact information through a prior posting to the LIS jobs listserv, described what I liked about the organization and how I thought I might fit in.
JT: From your experience in interviews, what should you do and what should you not to do at an interview?
VF: What did seem to work is to be myself, relaxed and sincere. For every question, I tried to offer an example from previous work and non-work related experience- I've done a lot of volunteering and I've learned and gained just as much from those experiences as from paid jobs. Show through examples that you have initiative and decision-making skills. Don't be afraid to say that you don't know something but demonstrate your willingness to learn. In a nutshell, be honest and provide concrete examples from past experience to back up your responses. This will take preparation. I keep a file with 'notable work situations' in response to common interview questions and study these before an interview to refresh my memory.
On the other hand, I completely failed an interview with a CEGEP. They mailed out the rejection letter the same day! It was a panel interview, in French, with me alone at a table and two people on each side of me at separate tables. It was very intimidating. What I learned from that awful experience is to, first and foremost, try to relax; be very specific about why I can fill the role; and demonstrate that I understand why the institution/service exists and within what context.
JT: Do you have any advice on the CV and cover letters for new SIS grads?
VF: I would send out one PDF document containing my cover letter, CV and references. I would copy and paste an abbreviated version of my cover letter into the e-mail itself. However, since then I’ve heard that it’s better to just copy and paste everything directly into the e-mail. I customized my cover letters and CVs for each position; it’s very time-consuming but it’s worth it. I’d paraphrase what was in the job description with examples from my work experience. Be clear and concise. Apply to French institution in French- if your written French isn’t perfect, try to have someone look it over or just do your best.
JT: Now that you are at McGill, what do you see as the advantages of working in a big institution vs. a small institution, public vs. private?
VF: What I enjoy most about working for a large institution like McGill is all the perks-onsite infrastructure/services, excellent benefits, staff fitness courses, library access, etc.- and the possibility of being able to move within the institution. There’s also the impact of the brand and reputation. On the downside, it’s hard not to feel like just another number in the grand McGill scheme of things, especially if you’re new, but to be honest that doesn’t bother me too much. I do know some people, however, who very much dislike that aspect of working with large organizations. Also, the flipside to more opportunity is more competition.
Working for a small organization like the Thomas More Institute is more involved and, because of the high level of participation, might feel especially meaningful. The downside to working for small organizations is that they are often underfunded and, in my experience, disorganized, precisely because of the lack of financial and human resources.
JT: In your view, what should a new professional keep in mind when entering the workforce?
VF: I tell myself to be open-minded; be patient with myself and others; be prepared to make mistakes; and try my best. I remember the words of Professor Park- no matter what job it is, to give it your best and do quality work.
JT: What other words of wisdom would you dispense to graduating students?
VF: I strongly believe that it’s important to maintain your values and pursue work that fits within that. It might feel limiting but I find that things work out in the end. Network and get involved with professional associations, especially those on the other side of the linguistic divide. I’m a fairly introverted person so my style of networking consists of getting involved in activities, volunteering, etc. rather than attending 5 à 7s and so on. That way you get to help an organization, learn new skills, and take the time to build real relationships.
JT: Thank you so much Vanessa for all the insight and great information you are sharing with us.