Questions from New Info Pros: Q&A with MMU

Tracey South and I had a very productive Skype Q&A session this week with the Library & Information Management students at Manchester Metropolitan University. As part of a Careers Advice session, we fielded a range of interesting and challenging questions on the state of the job market for new Information Professionals.

Here is a selection of the students' questions, with some attempts at answers.


 Are there any skills gaps in the market at the moment?

These tend to be very specific at any one time, and vary from year to year. Here is a selection of our recent challenges: business and financial research; advanced language skills; experience in professional services firms; Sharepoint; technical knowledge of library management systems.

What advantages are there in getting an MA/MSc in addition to a postgraduate diploma?

While the professional qualification remains important, very few employers will make a distinction between a Masters and a PG Diploma. Working on a dissertation will certainly enhance your project management and research skills.

When so many jobs that are advertised require previous experience in similar roles or sectors, what advice can you give to job seekers with limited experience.

Network. Talk to people doing and recruiting the jobs you'd like to do. Find out what they do and what they are looking for, and perhaps try for some shadowing experience. 

What sectors are recruiting at the moment?

We're seeing activity in every sector at the moment. Law is particularly busy.

What is the best region to be in for work?

While London and the South-East have a higher number of jobs coming through, we're seeing activity in all the major metropolitan centres. However the best advice is to live and work in a place where you feel most at home.

What advice do you have for interviews?

Preparation is key. Read all the information you've been given about the job, and research the employer thoroughly. Get an idea of the employer's culture and dress code beforehand, and dress appropriately. Arrive at the interview on time, look the interviewers in the eye, listen to the questions you are asked, and answer them clearly and with confidence! 

How can we get the best out of social media?

Be yourself, engage with people, share interesting content, build a professional reputation in the forums you want to be seen in. LinkedIn and Twitter are more or less industry standards these days, but investigate what your target audience is doing, and act accordingly.

What can a new candidate expect from Sue Hill Recruitment and TFPL?

In short – ethical consultants who are honest, knowledgeable and helpful. 


Time didn't permit us to go into huge depth on the jobs market, but any new Information Professionals should also check out a couple of recent publications for further insight and inspiration.

The Evolving Value of Information Management And Five Essential Attributes of the Modern Information Professional (FT 2013) is a report produced by the SLA in collaboration with the Financial Times, and gives the customers’ view of what information professionals should now be doing. It can be downloaded free from the FT website.

Also well worth reading is The Information and Knowledge Professional's Career Handbook, by Ulla de Stricker and Jill Hurst-Wahl (Chandos 2011). This is packed with practical advice on all stages of the job hunt and career development, from how to start drafting effective CVs through to how best to negotiate the minefields of organisational politics.

Thanks to Bob Glass and the MMU students for setting up this Q&A.


– Donald Lickley