Thursday 21 August 2014

Powerful Phrases for Successful Interviews / Tony Beshara, AMACOM

In this book, professional recruiter Tony Beshara sets out to give job applicants an insider's advice on how to answer those tricky interview questions. The book mainly contains example questions with suggested answers as well as an introduction to each chapter offering some insight into the recruitment process.

Covering the whole of the application process from responding to the initial advertisement to how to negotiate terms once offered the job, the book contains something for every hopeful candidate. Beshara gives examples of words and phrases that will make you stand out from the crowd and stay in the mind of the interviewer long after you have left the room. Although set answers to the questions are provided I would use these more as a guideline to adapt rather than repeating them word for word. The context behind many of the questions is explained which helps to put the applicant in the shoes of the interviewer to uncover what the real meaning of the question is.

Advice is also given on how to construct your own answers. Readers are encouraged to answer interview questions in a clear and simple and provide examples wherever possible. Making these examples quantifiable can help to give you the edge over the competition. I was also pleased to see a chapter on covering letters and how to construct them as this is something that people, including myself, often struggle with.

I found some of the example phrases given a little forced and some of the techniques used a little aggressive. The book is written mainly for the business sector where tactics such as cold calling about jobs are part of the culture but I'm not sure this would transfer to all sectors. It would take a certain degree of confidence to follow some of the examples in this book, but if you can pull it off it might work for you.

Overall I think that the book has some useful general advice for job applicants and provides many examples of possible questions you could face. I would recommend it to confident people who have read all the usual 'how to ace the interview' books and are looking for something a bit different to add to their repertoire. 

For more information on this title please visit the O'Reilly product page.

Friday 15 August 2014

Confidence in Conference Posters

A few weeks ago I tweeted asking for tips and advice on designing conference posters. My request got lots of retweets but not many answers which tells me that people are eager to find out about poster design. 

I've presented a conference poster before and it can be quite tricky to know where to start. For the past couple of weeks I've been collecting links from around the web and I've created a Pinterest board for easy reference:

Some of the sites refer to creating posters for specific disciplines such as science but I think there is something to take away from all of them. The board is still a work in progress at the moment so if anyone has any more links or some tips then please feel free to share them in the comments section below and I'll try to add them.

Tuesday 5 August 2014

Let Them Eat CaKE..... And Learn Something!

Librarians are a very active bunch, especially when it comes to attending conferences and events. As much as we would like to it's impossible to attend everything we would wish to for reasons of money, time and sanity! Thanks to social media conference reports from a range of sources appear straight after, and often during, an event to enable us to catch up. However nothing beats in person feedback from attendees with the opportunity to ask questions and really explore the themes of the conference. 

In response to this need my colleague Celine Carty and I arranged what we hope will be the first of many feedback events. CaKE - the Cambridge Knowledge Exchange - provides  a way for Cambridge library staff to share their event experiences with colleagues. We tried to make the event as informal as possible by offering presenters a choice of formats from a formal presentation to a short discussion of their main conference take-aways.

As you might predict from the name we managed to generate a lot of interest (and yes, there was actual cake; with this gin and tonic cake proving very popular!). We're vey grateful to all our participants who took a chance on an unknown format and turned up to listen, tweet and speak.

We had a few teething problems but this was only the first event. We also had lots of positive feedback and suggestions for future improvements. I take this as a good sign as it shows that people want a repeat. We also hope that the informal format will help to attract less experienced presenters who want to develop their skills.

One of my main take-aways from CaKE was that you shouldn't be afraid of attending events that are outside your comfort zone. Try something new and you might be surprised at what you learn! This is also true of setting up CaKE itself in that we saw a need and tried to think of a way to fill it. We could either wait for someone else to set up an event or we could do it ourselves. I'm very glad we chose the second option and look forward to a few months from now when we get to try it again. The moral of this tale is that you shouldn't let the fact that something doesn't exist stop you!

CaKE has its own blog which can be found by clicking the image above. The blog features links to write-ups of presentations along with  a Storify of tweets. If you're interested in learning more about future CaKE events then please keep an eye on our Twitter hashtag #camcake.