Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Job seeking advice from an actual job seeker

The time has come. There is no more putting it off. The end is in sight. The job search is in full effect.

Now that I am no longer a library student, the time is quickly running out at my current work study position. And of course, at the same time the grant which funds my other (semi-professional) job has almost dried up. It's now time to land that first, full-on professional job. Or at least a job that will carry me over until I land that professional job.

Thankfully, as library students/recent graduates we all have an ace in our pockets: We're not just librarians, we are information managers. From the get-go, it has been apparent that the MLS/MLIS is a versatile degree. We can go into traditional librarian roles, apply for cutting edge positions within libraries (managing digital content, for example) or take our degrees into any learning organization that needs assistance organizing, accessing or disseminating information.

Also, as information managers, we are able to effectively manage our own job search. Here is the strategy that is helping me stay sane throughout this process:

I. Manage Content

There are jobs out there, it is just a matter of finding them. Just like a subject specialist, we can put 21st century innovations to work, doing the dirty work for us. Remember: work smarter, not harder. So far RSS feeds, listservs and email alerts have been doing all of the harvesting for me.

A few RSS feeds that I subscribe too:




I also subscribe to listservs for  library associations for parts of the countries I want to live in, my school's various listserv as well as the I Need a Library Job daily email.

I have also created a number of email alerts through google, creating different combinations of cities/states that I want to live in, various librarian titles, potential dream jobs and sites where they might be posted. If you don't want your inbox overloaded with the alerts, you can have them sent to you in daily batch formats, which is convenient. While they might create extra influx of email - it is so nice to have them show up in just one spot!

II. Get Organized 

Spreadsheets have become my new best friend. I currently have two: one for jobs I am applying too and one for my own information.

Every time I find a job that I am interested in, I add it to my spreadsheet. I have fields for job title/institution, location, link to web posting, date job closes, date I sent in materials, and finally a field for networking. It goes without saying that networking is the most important part of job searching, so if there is anyone I can network with with each job, I be sure to make note of it.

The second spreadsheet came out of my frustration with online application. Some folks say to circumscribe these forms by mailing your resume/cover letter directly to whomever you would be reporting to, but I strongly believe in following directions to a T - especially when applying for jobs. You want to show that you are detail oriented and complete any tasks you are assigned. My fellow classmate Chris has a really good suggestion: create a spreadsheet with all of the universal information that is requested in these forms. Than you can just copy/paste the info, and not get super frustrated when the online form decides to delete everything you just typed in!

If you have taken a metadata or records management class, I am sure you are well aware of the importance of excellent naming conventions. Since you are tailoring each cover letter and resume to each job that you are applying to, file naming is super important in staying organized. When you are applying to similar jobs or when you do land that interview, you want to be able to quickly look up information. You can see in the screenshot below, I am trying to stick to some sort of system. I might have to update it a bit....

This is just what is on my flashdrive. I have about three times as many resumes on my home computer.

There is a lot of competition out there. But we are also all in this together. What job searching strategies have worked for you? If you are currently searching what are you doing to stay sane? 


  1. Good luck searching, Turner! If library jobs are anything like academic jobs, you may also need to come to terms with the fact that you may not land a full-time, permanent, dream-job straight away. It is increasingly common for career paths to start off with short-term contracts (many in a row!), part-time, or other less-than-ideal working conditions. I think the hard part is looking on the bright side of those positions - they give you a chance to work up your resume, get the experience needed to land the dream jobs...

  2. Thanks, Theresa! I've already started down the short-term road - along with my (soon to be ending) student position, also in a grant funded position and have an on-call job as well. I've been calling my self an "Adjunct Librarian." Certainly willing to work a few more odd jobs, knowing that I am closing in on full time work!

  3. In addition to the RSS feeds you mentioned, I followed I Need A Library Job (INALJ) on Facebook. At times, they kind of annoyed me with their regular "subscribe to our mailing list" prompts, but that was the only place I saw the ad for the position I wound up getting (which I LOVE!).
    Also, my version of your first spreadsheet also included fields for salary info and status of my application, as far as I know (whether called for phone interview, date of last contact, anything they've said about their timeline, etc.). That helps in deciding whether to stress or get my hopes up about a particular position!

    Good luck!

  4. I'm on the hunt, too, and I've found that having a folder for each institution I apply to works well for organizing all the resumes and cover letters. I number the folders so they sort in the order that I apply to things. Best of luck!

  5. Good luck Turner!! I know you're going to find something awesome!

  6. Angela - I love the INALJ email! I think it's the most comprehensive list out there.

    Thank you for the tips, Angela and Anne, and the well wishes Nicole!