[Photo by quacktaculous on Flickr]
I’m trying desperately to reach inside myself and gather the motivation to begin preparing for next semester. Have I told you what I’m doing this semester? I’m taking advanced cataloging, historical research methods, a 3 unit internship at UC Irvine’s Langson Library, and my portfolio class. To top it all off I’m going to be on the job hunt. Excuse me, I need to go cry in a corner.
And I’m back. Sorry about that. *sniffle* When I feel totally overwhelmed by something I either a) ignore it until the last minute or b) get organized. Well heck, it’s a new year and I’ve decided to go with action b, starting with the job hunt. So I did some research on organization tips for job searching and became inspired by Elizabeth’s (aka the Newly Employed Librarian) post in which she lists the way she did it. I usually print out job descriptions and I loved her idea of organizing them by date. So I drove down to Office Max and picked up a binder and dividers. I used the dividers to create four sections based on my job hunting needs:
- Job descriptions, organized by priority (I also save a copy of job descriptions in Evernote)
- Printed copies of letters of recommendation (these can also serve as an ego boost when needed)
- Job hunting/interview advice
- Copies of submitted applications (also saved in Dropbox)
Another part of my preparation for the job hunt includes lining up past supervisors to serve as references. This is where digital organization comes into the picture. Gmail allows you to create color-coded labels for messages, so I’m making one for any and all job-hunting-related correspondence. After the supervisor agrees to be a reference and I verify their contact info, I put it in the list I’ve created in Evernote and add them to my contact book in Gmail. Finally, I’ll need to set up an Excel spreadsheet as suggested by Elizabeth and a few other librarians. I haven’t done this yet but I’ll need to get going on it before I submit things.
By the way, if you haven’t already, I highly suggest reading Elizabeth’s posts in her Guide to Job Hunting. They’re very helpful and inpsirational!
I don’t know how I survived without Google Reader. Admittedly, I didn’t even know RSS aggregators existed until a year ago. I’ve learned so much since then! You see, right after I graduated from college in May 2009 I got a temporary part time job as a receptionist at a law office. Because my only tasks were to scan documents and answer phones, I had a lot of free time while I was waiting for the phone to ring or for someone to hand me a paper document to scan. I remember sitting on the computer visiting my favorite blogs individually. I remember typing in the URLs for my favorite blogs. I remember thinking, “there should be an easier way to check for blog updates.” Then someone told me about Google Reader, and my life changed forever.
Now I am a Google Reader addict. I check mine at least twice a day. I would keep it open all the time, but I am so addicted to it that I added it to my list of sites to block during certain hours of the day. Here are some of the ways I use it:
- To get up-to-the minute updates on new job/internship postings
- To interact with my LIBR 246 (Web 2.0) classmates. Each of us has a blog that we use to post exercises and discussion topics. We comment on each other’s blogs twice a week or so. We also subscribe to each others’ de.licio.us feeds.
- To get updates on new events on my school’s calendar
- To listen to songs from Glee after each new episode
- To relax after a long day of interning and homework with a cup of peppermint tea, some music, and subscriptions to over 150 blogs about libraries and librarians, knitting, music, technology, feminism, pop culture, commentary, social media, webcomics, fashion, and productivity.
Being so addicted to RSS feeds this past year has also led me to formulate a few standards about using RSS to maintain readership (at least readers like me). I’m sure I’m not the first one to do this, but here goes:
- If you have a blog, make sure the RSS feed is enabled and functional. Tonight, I visited a blog to which I would have loved to subscribe, but it had no RSS feed enabled! I probably won’t visit that blog again. It’s not that I’m angry and acting on my principles, it’s just that blogs with RSS feeds take much less effort to check. It sounds lazy, but part of creating a successful blog or website is knowing how your readers access it.
- Make sure your content makes it to the RSS aggregators. I hate when I subscribe to a blog only to find out that the posts show up as titles with no content. It’s only slightly better than having no RSS feed at all (unless your titles are really compelling or descriptive). Entice your readers with something.
- Make sure the appropriate amount of content makes it to the RSS aggregators. This is really only a problem when too little of your content appears with each post on an aggregator, because you want to have a large enough snippet (such as a picture and a short paragraph) to entice your readers. Entire posts, even if they’re lengthy, are not a problem because they are easy to scroll through (on Google reader, you can click “previous item” or “next item” or use keyboard shortcuts to skip through posts you don’t want to read).
- If you tend to write a lot of text-heavy posts, be sure to add some visual interest. Remember, people accessing your blog through an RSS aggregator can’t see your creative blog template (unless you make them to click through to read your post).
Well, I’m fading fast. The long weekend is over, my belly is full of my mom’s barbecue, and I’m ready to crash. Before I go, how do you check on your favorite blogs? If you use a feed aggregator, what are you subscribing to? What are some of your RSS annoyances?
Finally, here’s a song to mark the end of another week (a day late, since it’s labor day): Florence and the Machine – “Rabbit Heart” (Live on KEXP)