by Yandee Vazquez, Head Editor, INALJ Texas
Continuing Education: It doesn’t have to be fancy, but it helps
I clearly remember one of the many job rejections I received because of the fact that they were kind enough to let me know. The librarian was extremely nice and, since I’d actually gotten someone on the phone, I asked her the question I’d been dying to ask any hiring committee or individual since I started hurling out applications: what can I do to make my resume look more appealing?
She paused for a moment then began listing why she thought I was a solid applicant, but sadly, a runner-up: education, some previous experience (I didn’t have much), volunteer work, bilingual, etc. I am not some magnificent specimen of librarian-ness, but there were some good positives. Then she moved on to the negatives and one item in that list stood out to me: continuing education.
Perhaps some of you already know this, but it was a revelation to me that continuing education courses could be put on a resume and that some of them were actually FREE. Now, filling your resume with courses probably isn’t a fix-it-all, but it can be one of those things that makes you stand out from other candidates. And, let me repeat it, for free. It shows that an applicant is serious enough to scour the internet for professionals who wish to teach others about library/information topics, serious enough to spend time taking the courses and improving their skills outside of a standard classroom.
Though our growth as professionals is continuous and we do spend time learning on our own, it can be fun to take short classes in a group and find out what the buzz is on something like HTML5 or resources on nutrition. Sometimes you even find a class that you would never have thought of yourself. Even if you choose not to write about these type of class in your resume, educating yourself further on library/information topics is always useful, and can even come in handy when you walk into an interview. If they are in-person sessions, then that gives you an excellent opportunity to network with professionals in your area.
One of the sites I enjoy browsing through for this purpose is the Vermont Library Association site (http://www.vermontlibraries.org/). They maintain a fairly extensive list of free continuing education events from a variety of different sources on their website.
February (http://www.vermontlibraries.org/free-library-continuing-education-events-for-february), for example has topics that range from adding subtitles to videos and trustee training to Digitization 101and crisis communications. Additionally, don’t forget to check professional organizations! From the big national organizations to the smaller town groups, you never know what kind of continuing education information they provide. The National Network of Libraries of Medicine (http://nnlm.gov/) often has classes on new and old technology that are useful to everyone, not just medical or science librarians.
Keep an open eye and you never know what kind of useful information you can pick up