With the Section for New Professionals AGM fast approaching; we thought it would be a good time to reflect on the Summer Seminar, held in June this year and what was discussed during the recruitment panel session. Our Training Officer, Joanna Norledge and Co Communications Officer Keri Nicholson have put their heads together to provide you with a report of the question and answer session.
This year’s recruitment panel at our 2014 summer seminar on 20th June focussed on careers in records and information management. Our panel included Lindsay Ould, Information Manager and Digital Archivist at King’s College London; Katharine Stevenson representing the Information and Records Management Society; Anthony Sawyer, Information Governance Principal Officer for Herefordshire Council and Laura Hynds, Assistant Corporate Records Manager at Barts Health NHS Trust. The panel were questioned by Sally Cholewa, the Section for New Professionals Careers Officer, as well as audience members.
This first blog post will focus on the qualifications required to become a records manager.
Is there any benefit in undertaking a combined archives and records management qualification if you already know that you would like to work in records management? The panel were in agreement that a combined qualification was highly relevant to a career in records management. Knowledge of basic archive theory will include concepts of context, longevity and retention scheduling which are equally important in records management. Also, in many work places archive and records management can be based in the same place and working together very closely. Or those working in records management roles can often be involved with archives themselves. The panel members’ own careers demonstrated the truth in this. With both records management and archives experience, Katherine Stevenson is currently employed in a records management job but her office does not have an archivist so she has taken on that role.
A combined course gives you extra options as you don’t know where your career will lead. It is also worth bearing in mind that the accredited courses are all different, and some may have a stronger records management focus. A mixed course can give greater archival knowledge and awareness, which is important for working with electronic records and digital preservation. It can open up the possibility of collaborative working and give a broad range of skills for recruitment.
If you have a pure records management qualification how likely are you to be able to get an archive job? It depends on the role being advertised. One panel member had recently written a records management job advert but didn’t specify which qualification was required. There are often transferable skills shared between both careers and it is the job of the applicant to make that case. You should demonstrate your tasks and skills clearly. Find similarities between your previous experience and the new role. In some cases, employability skills can be more important than technical and academic knowledge. These could include flexibility, integrity, reliability, positive attitude, communication skills and willingness to work. You may be able to demonstrate these skills in other areas of your life away from work.
I am currently undertaking a master’s in digital asset management which isn’t ARA accredited. Is this too forward looking? Will I have to wait for job adverts to catch up? The panel were extremely positive about the prospects of someone in this position. They felt that someone ahead of the curve was someone they wanted in their teams. However they warned that it was up to them to sell these skills effectively. Job adverts may not ask for this specific qualification but be open minded about what you apply for. It would probably be best to ignore job titles and instead look at the job description. There are already digital record’s managers at King’s College, so there are jobs out there. Think about how you make your experience fit the job being advertised. Studying to master’s level can be a more important factor than the specific subject or accreditation. You can potentially be adaptable to a range of different roles. Digital preservation skills can often come to the foreground once in a position. Jobs may be frustrating as your workplace may not have the funds to let you do what you have been trained for. You need to make other people develop around you. Developing leadership and management skills may allow you to quickly step up your career prospects. It was suggested that it may be worth focussing a search on information governance roles as they tend to be more flexible about what qualifications they are looking for.
I have a library qualification but I am interested in working in archives. Is that subject also transferable? Panel member Anthony Sawyer started out as a librarian. There are core skills and knowledge in archives and records management which you will need, but think about what else you are able to offer to potential employers. Coming from an information background, you need to take any opportunities which are open to you to expand your experience and choose carefully which jobs you apply for.
Will studying records management be hard for those with archive experience? Records management modules on archive courses can be quite basic, and colleagues and tutors will help you if you are having trouble. However if you are thinking of taking a pure records management qualification you should definitely have experience in that field. It may be hard to grasp some records management concepts with absolutely no experience, but even just talking to someone about subjects like Data Protection and Freedom of Information can be helpful. At its most basic level records management can be treated in the same way as archive work, it is about how an organisation works, which can be based on your own work experience. However, an understanding of Data Protection and Freedom of Information is important.
Where can you get more information about information and records management? There are a number of areas worth researching, including information assurance, the information life cycle, ICT and information architecture. You should speak to records managers that you know and get copies of relevant policies. It may be worth researching data management as there are increasingly jobs in that area. Recommended sources include:
- The Information Commissioner’s Office http://ico.org.uk/ for Data Protection and Freedom of Information guidance.
- Also http://www.irms.org.uk/ Information and Records Management Society and The National Archives www.nationalarchives.gov.uk Information and Records Management guidance.
- Section 46 Code of Practice for records managers http://www.justice.gov.uk/information-access-rights/foi-guidance-for-practitioners/code-of-practice gives best practice guidance for Freedom of Information.
- The Digital Curation Council http://www.dcc.ac.uk/ and Digital Preservation Coalition http://www.dpconline.org/ are particularly helpful on electronic records management.
This year’s recruitment panel at our 2014 summer seminar on 20th June focussed on careers in records and information management jobs. Our panel included Lindsay Ould, Information Manager and Digital Archivist at King’s College London; Katharine Stevenson representing the Information and Records Management Society; Anthony Sawyer, Information Governance Principal Officer for Herefordshire Council and Laura Hynds, Assistant Corporate Records Manager at Barts Health NHS Trust. The panel were questioned by Sally Cholewa, the Section for New Professionals Careers Officer, as well as audience members.