Too shy shy, shush shush, thing to thing

Once again giving away my great age by referencing something ’80s*.

Thing 21: Promoting yourself in job applications and at interview
I guess that’s the ‘thing’ about these ‘Things’.  It’s about reflection and critical awareness of ones own skills and abilities.   A journey of self-discovery if you will.  And what I have discovered when investigating Thing 21 is that I don’t want to do very much public sharing of my discoveries.  As an aged old crone I have a career that is long enough to truly and utterly forget that I’ve done stuff.  I mean really forget.  We’re talking investigating old copies of CVs and having a little metaphorical flash of light go off in one’s head when you recall that you did once drive about in a council van delivering books as part of a service to users who were housebound.  Did I ever tell you about the time that I couldn’t find reverse in the van having driven forward into a car parking space?  The SHAME.  I had to enlist the help of a passing carpenter.  If I remember rightly reverse gear involved lifting some sort of collar on the gear stick whilst pushing said stick into an utterly unmarked direction.
So, dear Reader what is it that I have for you if I’m not going to list in technicolour my most glorious achievements?  I am willing to share my tip for keeping track of achievements.  Some sort of diary or journal you ask?  Not sure.  For me, what works is keeping copies of CVs and (successful) application forms which I’ve done as part of Chartership, Re-validation and general job-changing activities.  That way I hope to retain a decent record of the best stuff and live in the hope that my more obscure experiences and talents will leap to mind when  prompted from the job description.

Thing 22 Volunteering to gain experience
Hmm.  Now I do have quite a few thoughts about this one as I have been various shades of volunteer.  I have:

  • ‘helped out’ in the library of the primary school that my children attend
  • recorded course materials for print-disabled students
  • built paths, cleared streams and planted bulbs
  • helped to run a toddler group, a playgroup and a Parent Teacher Organisation
  • fostered cats

I have also been a paid employee working alonside volunteers.  That housebound reader service that I mentioned before?  Some of the deliveries were done by volunteers.

Potential gains
As a volunteer there can be a great sense of achievement.  You can meet some wonderful, interesting and magnificent people.  Some of them might even offer you paid work.  The experience these opportunities bring can also be very helpful in proving that whilst raising your sprogs you didn’t spend your entire time on the sofa watching ‘The Story Makers‘ even though it was set in a Library.

Potential pitfalls
Volunteer fatigue.  I have found that this has set in on almost all of the volunteer roles that I have undertaken and I’ve thought long and hard about why this might be.  I think that it is because they have all been open-ended.  For the first times in years I am currently doing no voluntary work and I have made a promise to myself that if I take up any other volunteering of any shade it will be for a fixed period  As one of the volunteer coordinators for whom I worked once pointed out: Circumstances change.  All the time.  Particularly for volunteers.  If you set a time limit you and your coordinator can make a point of reviewing your role, recognising your achievements and deciding between you whether it is beneficial to continue.

If you have volunteers who work for you?  Please, please, greet them, know them and thank them.

Thing 23 – What next?
Well, I might just loaf about in the wings of the University of Oxford 23 Things for Research as it could be a great way to keep up my online momentum.  Looking back at the Programme, the biggest revelation of CPD23 for me has to be Twitter.  I even tweeted in a work context on Saturday as part of our Open Day (#obod2012).  Coo, get me!  Think that I’ll finish with a six word story:

Old dog:  New tricks.  CPD23 rocks!

* Kajagoogoo

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