Each week (or thereabouts) I ask a question to a group of people who hire library and LIS workers. If you have a question to ask or if you’d like to be part of the group that answers, shoot me an email at hiringlibrariansATgmail.
This week’s question is from Twitter, and is very similar to but distinct from last week’s question:
Do you find any value in LinkedIn Learning certificates? More broadly, do you have any recommendations for ways to display proficiency in areas that aren’t reflected in your work experience?
Donna Pierce, Library Director, Krum Public Library: To answer this week’s question – listing those classes – whether on-line, in person or “certification” type – that are applicable for the position you are wanting would be helpful. For example, if a library is looking for a cataloger listing those courses in cataloging that you took, along with any practical experience (such as cataloging the books at your church, or even your own home library). But I would also advise people fresh out of school with little to no experience to find a library and volunteer. A lot of smaller libraries would really appreciate someone who is willing to help out. And sometimes that can lead to employment!
Celia Rabinowitz, Dean of Mason Library, Keene State College: Other than having heard of them, I don’t really know anything about LinkedIn Learning Certificates. But I’ll also admit that I don’t actually “use” LinkedIn beyond accepting requests for contacts. That said, it can be helpful to list any continuing education or professional development activities on your CV or resume that provide information about updated or new skills.
I am a huge fan of interesting and informative cover letters so a list of some certificates or other credentials would be more meaningful if a search committee could see how those skills were being used at work or even in other contexts. Many of us also develop proficiencies out of necessity and there are ways to describe those even if they are not accompanied by formal credentials. Ultimately, if you are thinking about this in the context of a job search, I think it is the job for which you are applying that is critical. The “added value” that you bring beyond the requirements of the specific position will be more compelling if you provide an example or two in a cover letter in addition to a list on your resume.
Julie Todaro, Dean, Library Services, Austin Community College:
Do you find any value in Linkedin Learning certificates?
This will sound odd, but I am going to answer the question “Do I find Linkedin Learning a valuable online learning or training resource?” and that answer is yes. And – of course – that is due to the fact that Linkedin purchased Lynda.com a few years ago. So – my institution had already subscribed to Lynda.com – then when it was taken over – our HR department made Lynda.com’s original 700+ courses (and now 18,000k) available through Linkedin to our full time or staffing table employees and then our students. One of my librarians fought hard and succeeded in our institution then making it available for our hourly employees – which actually proves to be most valuable to staff as we don’t provide staff development money to hourly other than general college content and our own Library Services – for example – EDI content.
So I find value in Linkedin Learning courses and content rather than a specific certificate. Obviously once we have established that a platform provides credible content – one course on instructional design or visual representation of data is great – but then a series of courses that result in not only elementary but also intermediate or advanced content is wonderful. This is due in part to the fact that these courses have not yet been recognized as activities that place you higher on the salary scale. The college does allow us to; however, decide as managers if different activities, coursework, etc. from external environments can be counted to the required staff development hours the college requires annually. And Linked in IS one of those platforms that we will not only assess coursework to see if it counts for our employees – but we will also review content to identify specific course areas that we will recommend to an employee in the evaluation process. It stands to reason that because the federal government is a big user of Linkedin Learning for government employees as well as recruitment for some federal and state employees, state-level higher education entities might continue to expand their recognition of alternative educational credentials.
At this point I should add that the real issue behind this discussion is the need for established and universally accepted levels and types of educational tracks or programs – that is a need for defining not only licensure but also micro credentials, professional certificates, advanced certification and badging for competency attainment – by level – and redefine the capability of some organizations to grant these – within an online world.
More broadly, do you have any recommendations for ways to display proficiency in areas that aren’t reflected in your work experience?
- Applicants should assess the descriptive wording in job advertisements and on position descriptions to see if the organization uses language levels such as basic, awareness, intermediate, advanced. An applicant can then insert – being specific – what their training provides them with some evidence such as evidence of completion, products, links to content descriptions the training environment has on the web.
- In the absence of the organization using levels or descriptors, applicants should make sure they include terminology that might speak to competencies and the levels of attainment after reviewing their content against a common core of content they might find in other training environments such as Merlot.org or WebJunction.org or – if people are applying for a position in higher education – against the institution’s curriculum.
- Applicants should not only “sign” their work – that is – make sure it is clear what is original, etc. but they might also include – in “signing” their work – how they learned to “present” the product or write the narrative or development the outcomes they stated or create the content based on course or training session or a software learned.
- Applicants should include a section on their resume for training, certifications, coursework, educational seminars, conference tracks, apprenticeships, directed study, field study, internships, etc. with more than the title. Rather they should include the dates, credentials of the instructor or platform, etc. and it is often wise to include titles of or links to products created as a result of those sessions.
The most important thing is “keep learning!”
Anonymous Federal Librarian: I rarely look at LinkedIn or other social media when considering candidates, so having any kind of proficiency listed on LinkedIn doesn’t help a candidate at all. I think if a candidate would like to demonstrate their proficiency in something that isn’t gained from their work experience, it can be addressed in a cover letter if submitting one, or on their resume in a special skills section. For federal resume reviews, the entire resume is reviewed and if the candidates demonstrate they have the knowledge or experience as stated in the “qualifications” section and have demonstrated knowledge as required in the “How you will be evaluated” sections somewhere on their resume they will be considered.
Alan Smith, Director, Florence County, SC Library System: To be honest, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen an application or resume with a LinkedIn Learning certificate specifically, though we do see lots of other types of training certificates. To me these are more helpful for highlighting secondary or supplemental skills than they are for the position’s main duties. For example, if I’m hiring a Marketing Coordinator, a LinkedIn certificate in marketing isn’t going to matter nearly as much as the candidate’s experience and answers to interview questions. But, if I’m hiring an Adult Services Librarian, that same marketing certificate could go a long way in showing that they know how to promote programs, form partnerships, etc. To put it another way, the level of knowledge indicated by a learning certificate alone isn’t enough to prove that a candidate is qualified for a position in that area, but it can be very helpful in supplementing a resume or showing a broader skill set than employment history alone might.
As for proficiency in areas that aren’t reflected in formal work or volunteer experience, I am always interested in hearing about non-work experience. (Please note that I have no idea whether I am in the minority about this. I could be the only person who thinks this way!) If you never did library programming as part of your job, but you ran an ongoing Dungeons & Dragons game for 5 years, that shows me skills in project management, teamwork, time management and scheduling, and research. If you are involved in community theater, that tells me about your ability to work with others and perform under pressure. And so on.
We’d love to hear your thoughts here in the comments, on Twitter @HiringLib, or via informercial. If you have a question to ask people who hire library workers, or if you’d like to be part of the group that answers them, shoot me an email at hiringlibrariansATgmail.