Tuesday, May 28, 2013

CILIP rebrand - an addition

Since my earlier post (multitasking lunch breaks R Us!), I've had some more feedback on peoples feelings about the proposed names for CILIP, and it seems that a lot of people are unhappy that the words "library" or "librarian" aren't included in the options.

Now, it may just be because of my recent job hunting experiences, but I don't see that the skills of an information professional are tied to the words library or librarian. If I had restricted my job search to only those sectors, I would never have found a job (there have been a grand total of 3 library roles advertised in 3 months). I have looked at roles with terms like: data, knowledge, information, management, administrator, researcher, project co-ordinator, digital, policy. Those terms are all related to dealing with information professionally, and to me, the core skills of an information professional lie in their ability to effectively manage information, in whatever format it may come in. Historically, that information was laid down in written texts, and held within libraries. The word "library" comes from the Latin for book, but these days, it's not just books that librarians deal with. And it's not just libraries that information professionals work in either: they can be in any setting, from industrial workplaces to working with the public. In any role, an information professional may deal with books, journals, databases, spreadsheets, intranets, websites, DVDs, memory sticks, Powerpoints, or CD...librarians are constantly working with information, in all its physical and digital formats.

To the mind of the general public though, libraries = books. And that's a hindrance for a profession that wants to be regarded as cutting-edge experts in knowledge and information management, and the first people to go to for input on topics relating to them. It feels similar to accountants having "abacus operators" in their professional titles: yes, it's a thing that did once describe their whole profession, but now it looks outdated, and would be laughed at if suggested as a way forward now. If this exercise is about creating a name and brand that the public will recognise, and positioning the body as the leading group for information management issues, that term "information" has to be there, and visible. And the term "library" is one that today, holds the group back. That's why I am perfectly happy not to be in a "Library" professional body.

Losing the professionalism

So, recently, CILIP apparently sent out an email regarding a consultation on a change of brand image, and name. I say apparently, as despite being a member, I never got this email. When I went to the website to log in and check why it wasn't sent to me, it didn't let me log in. I tried a password reset, and that email came through, so it *can* send emails to me...but the password it sent won't let me log in. I’m losing the will to keep trying. Overall, this is kind of symptomatic of how I feel about CILIP, and how useless its IT systems are....

Anyway, the consultation is on changing CILIP’s currently, clunky and meaningless name (picked as the best of a previous bad lot, as David McMenemy showed with this link to the 2000 consultation results ) to something more meaningful and relevant is open. If you want to take part, it’s here. I was a good girl, and pootled over yesterday to take part, and after filling in all the bumph, I got to view the glorious options.


This is what they’ve given us as options:

Information UK
Information Professionals UK
Info Pro UK
The Information Association
The Knowledge People
Information Matters UK

Really? REALLY?!?! Did CILIP actually pay someone for this nonsense? It looks like they had a hard day in the office, it was late on a Friday afternoon, they managed to force out one or two vaguely OK ideas, and then threw in a few others just to bulk up the list. As someone online has already pointed out, at least one of the names is already (or was) a registered company, so probably couldn’t even be used. Info Pro UK looks like someone couldn’t even be bothered to write out words in full. The Knowledge People sounds like a spin-off from The Tomorrow People TV series. Information Matters is a statement, not an organisation name. And why the obsession with using UK in the name? Are people likely to get confused with The Knowledge People USA or Info Pro USA when they make comments on UK library matters??

And all of these options completely disregard one important aspect of the name: CILIP is a body which awards and regulates the professional qualification of a Charter. A Chartership is recognised through many professions as the mark of an advanced and skilled professional in that field. Would any other Chartership awarding body ever consider dropping that aspect from its title? Could we have The Institute of Architects of Scotland, rather than ICAS? Or The Royal Institute of Surveyors rather than RICS? It’s unlikely. Yet our own professional body is considering dropping the most visible element of its name that identifies its members as professionals. It seems like a huge step backwards to me, and so, I spent a whole 3.5 minutes thinking of other names, which include the word Chartered in them:

Chartered Information Professionals Association (CIPA)
Chartered Information Management Association (CIMA)
Institute of Chartered Information Managers (ICIM)
Chartered Information and Knowledge Management Association (CIKMA)

Look, it’s not hard, is it? If you’re a professional body, and have powers that the general public know relate to professionalism, you should really try and retain that signifier somewhere visible. Like…within your name?

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Recruitment: you're doing it wrong.

Now, I've recently had to make a full time job out of applying for jobs (although thankfully the end is now in sight), and as I've stated previously, there's all sorts of ways you can do it well, and also a whole lot of ways you can do it wrong.

Recently, I've been on the receiving end of a recruitment process so epically bad, that I'm actually genuinely surprised that the HR department involved are somehow still employed. It became so convoluted that I'm going to reduce it to bullet points, for easier reading.

  • I am advised by a colleague to send a prospective CV to A Certain Workplace (ACW), on the basis that a friend of theirs at ACW advised them a vacancy was available. I checked with another contact within ACW, who advised me that this was an acceptable way to proceed, as certain staff types were recruited in this way.
  • I send my CV and a covering letter.
  • I get a response, thanking me, but advising me that this was not an approach they accepted. I was informed that the ONLY place vacancies would be advertised was on the ACW website, and I should monitor this for them in future.

Fast forward a month or so....

  • An advert for roles at ACW was placed on library mailing lists. Friends forwarded me this information, which I'd missed as I was not on those lists, and I was waiting for it to be advertised on the ACW website. It was not at any point placed on their website. 
  • I email and ask for an application pack.
  • I receive an application pack, complete the requested forms, and realise that there's no information on how/where to submit them. There's a closing time on the covering letter, so that implies an email submission, but no email address. And a partial instruction on posting, but not a postal address. There is however, important information about the fact that if I want an acknowledgement of my application, I should enclose a self addressed stamped postcard... 
  • I call to check if they accept email submissions: yes, they do. However, they require them to be signed. OK: this means I have to print, sign, scan and collate a pdf from my original electronic application. It's a faff, and I'm lucky that I have access to a printer and scanner, but I did it.
  • So, where was it to be submitted? The email address on the covering letter, I was told. I had to break it to them there was no email address on the covering letter. OK: send it to recruitment @acertainworkplace they said.
  • I sent off everything they needed, to the email address I was told to, a week before the deadline.
  • Silence. No automated acknowledgement email, but then again, this company has been so backward up to this point that I didn't expect one.

Fast forward a week...

  • I receive an email from ACW responding to my original application pack request, saying they understood I had submitted an application, but they didn't have it, so where did I send it?
  • Apparently (from what I can work out), the recruitment@acertainworkplace email address doesn't actually exist, so when I phoned up to see where to send my application, I was cheerfully instructed to send it into complete nothingness.
  • I forwarded my original email with the application forms from the week before, saying what email address I'd sent it to, and why.
  • They replied saying thanks, but they couldn't open the documents, so could I resend them in Word format? These are the documents that I'd had to send as pdfs, because they insisted they needed a signature on them, so I'd had to print, sign and scan them and make them into pdfs.
  • I replied attaching the original, unsigned Word versions of the forms, explaining why they were in pdf format, and that I couldn't send them the third form as a Word document, because they had supplied it to me as a pdf document.
  • I got an acknowledgement, and a small, grudging "sorry for the inconvenience".
  • I contacted other people that I knew had submitted applications to ACW, and told them what had happened. They hadn't been contacted, but as they had received the same information as me on how to apply, they had to assume that their applications too had been lost.
  • The other people resubmitted their applications.

Fast forward two weeks....

  • Deafening silence, until today, I hear that interviews were held last week, and someone has been appointed to the position this week. As far as I know, the other people who applied also haven't heard anything since submitting their applications for the second time, despite one going to the extent of physically going to the workplace and also handing in a paper copy of their application as they couldn't get a hold of anyone to acknowledge their email submission.

So, to top off the HR Department's epic incompetence and inability to manage a recruitment process (which is actually one of the core functions of an HR department), I'm now frustrated by the fact that, after I had to spend hours of my time fixing and resending information that they lost because they can't perform basic tasks, they also don't even have the simple good manners to tell me that I'm not being invited for interview.

Now, what have I got out of this process? I've gained a healthy disregard for the HR department of this company. I've developed a resolve not to apply for any further positions there, should they arise. And I've informed all my professional contacts about how bad this organisation is, although I've decided against publicly naming them here, as that's not the point of this post. I wanted to use this to point out how every unnecessary hoop that I've been made to jump through, and every missed chance to inform me of what was happening has lowered my opinion of that company as a whole, even though the department I applied for a role in had nothing to do with this process. If you're recruiting, you're selling your company to the applicant, just as much as the applicant is selling themselves to you. And if you can't manage the process of getting people to join your company, how do you manage them once they're working for you?

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