Bragging on the Job Hunt

by Mary-Michelle Moore, Senior Editor, INALJ California, DC, and Illinois

Bragging on the Job Hunt

MaryMichelleMooreI am pretty awesome. No, strike that. I am awesome. Those two statements may not seem different to you but on the job hunt losing the qualifier may make a world of difference. In the most recent leg of my job hunt I’ve had several discussions with friends, mentors and coworkers (basically anyone would agree to take a look at my resume). One of the major takeaways for me of late is the most reliable advocate of your work has to be you. This seems like a very simple idea until you realize the only way your accomplishments will shine is if you put them out there.

This is not a natural state for me. I was taught that if you worked hard, and let your work speak for itself, then that would bring its own rewards. Work will speak for itself within a small sphere but when you’re trying to move up or over, you need to give it the best possible setting. The best way to do that is to get out there and brag.

What does bragging mean in a job hunt? Obviously, don’t exaggerate your skills, but take a realistic approach to what you can do based on your experiences. I’ll outline a few examples below from my latest resume. I’ve included how a description appeared on my resume, my reasoning for why I worded it the way I did and the updated version. I tried to pull a few different types of updates but since I’m working from my own resume the choices are necessarily limited. Please share your examples in the comments for areas I’ve missed or overlooked.

Resume updates:

Other duties as assigned:

• Original wording: I assisted at the circulation desk one shift a week.

• Why I wrote it this way: At the time I was working in ILL and working a shift at the circulation desk was not a part of my job duties – it was something I volunteered to do when they were short staffed. I thought that by highlighting this in my resume (at least for internal positions) it would show I was a team player and willing to take on extra responsibilities.

• New wording: Worked on the circulation desk checking out reserves and responding to access services queries.

• Why the change? I didn’t go into details about specific details of work on the desk because it was periphery to my job description. However, as one of mentors pointed out- if I were dropped into the circulation desk and asked to hold my own for a 3 hour shift I could manage it. The same applies for any project – if you assisted with something you did the work and could do similar jobs again in a new setting.

Capstone projects:

• Original wording: As a capstone to my internship I created a virtual tour for the libraries.

• Why I wrote it this way: This was pretty straightforward, I made this beautiful virtual tour and I wanted to highlight it as one of the major achievements of my internship.

• New wording: I created the virtual tour which appears on the University Libraries’ homepage. The tour has been submitted to PRIMO for consideration for their site of the month database.

• Why the change? The new wording emphasizes the impact of the project better – it is something that is being highlighted on our libraries’ website. It is also a project that my advisor and I felt was a strong enough learning tool to submit for wider use so it falls into a category similar to listing an article with the notation “pending.”

Creating study aids:

• Original wording: Updated the department’s LibGuide for our undergraduate intro to the library workshop.

• Why I wrote it this way: I didn’t create this LibGuide but I worked with a fellow librarian and we updated it (cleaned it up and made it easier to navigate). I wanted to let would be employers know I knew how to use the software and had worked on this type of material.

• New wording: Redesigned the 2nd most used University Libraries’ LibGuide incorporating traffic tracking features and improving the look and feel of the guide. Our traffic this guide has increased x amount since last year at the same time.

• Why the change? It is a good idea to point to specific numbers or quantifiable solutions where possible – which for a LibGuide is pretty easy. I wanted to emphasize that this redesign was on an often used resource and that the redesign made it easier to use, and so we increased traffic on an already well used guide.

Updating my resume is a good first step for my plan to start bragging, but there’s more to do. I’m also going to be careful to write out how my current skill sets can be applied to requirements in the job postings when writing cover letters. In the past I’ve assumed that people reading my resume and cover letters would be able to see the connections as clearly as I did, but this will make strides to make sure I put myself in the best position possible. Lastly, I’m going to make a point to share what I’ve accomplished or am working on in social media so others can use it – and so I have a nice trail if would-be employers Google me in advance of an interview.