Looking for a Job
From Library Success: A Best Practices Wiki
Online Job Search Resources
- ALA Hot Jobs Online
- Library Journal Job Zone
- ASIS&T Jobline
- Society of American Archivists Employment Bulletin
- Chronicle Careers from The Chronicle of Higher Education
- NMRT Resume Review Service
- Jobsite at the Faculty of Information Studies, University of Toronto
- Foothills Library Association Jobline - Western Canada
Blogs/Websites to Watch
Specific Blog Posts/Articles to Check Out
- The Job Hunt: What I Learned by Meredith Farkas.
- Surviving (and Even Impressing!) the Search Committee by Karla J. Block in LIScareer.
- Raising Our Standards by "Emily Edmonson in the Chronicle of Higher Education.
- Why I Won't Hire You by Matt Wilcox in LIScareer.
- Crafting a Winning Resume by Tiffany Eatman Allen in LIScareer
Tips for Job Seekers
- Start a blog! If even if you aren't yet working as a librarian, you can differentiate yourself from the crowd by starting a professional blog. Be careful what you write, though. 
- Create a job portfolio. Include a statement of professional goals, objectives and values. Having something that will remind you what you think is important will do at least three things: 1) It will help you assess whether an institution is the right fit for you, 2) It will give an institution an idea of what motivates you personally, 3) It shows you know how to make a long-term plan which is a life skill that translates quite well to the professional world. Include in your job portfolio any and all library school projects/papers that pertain to your professional goals. If you have made PowerPoint presentations or have any other creative projects, include those. The more well-rounded the candidate, the better. Show how diverse you are. You may tailor the inclusion of your projects/papers to fit various jobs and their criteria.
- Each job application you submit should be customized to that position description. Therefore, don't include statements of professional goals, objectives and values. Such content makes it seems like you submitted a generic résumé!
- The most important part of your résumé is that it is current. Double check your references to be sure their information is also current and correct. Avoid using special paper for your résumé. Use 8½” by 11” white or cream colored paper. Use standard margins of 1” to 1.25” and a simple font style, such as Times New Roman. Prospective employers don’t want to have to squint to read your résumé, so stick with an 11 or 12-point font size. Be consistent in what you choose to bold or underline, and don’t write in first person. Don’t overdo it with graphics, but bullets are an effective way to separate specific duties you wish to emphasize. Avoid including any personal information, such as marital status or hobbies. One-page résumés are usually preferred, but don’t skimp on your experience/job qualities. If you have to use two pages, make sure you use at least one third of the second page so that the résumé is well-balanced. Read and reread your résumé so that you can offer explanation/expansion of any information on it. If you have a separate reference list, be sure to include your name, address, and phone number on it.
- If you decide to post your résumé with an online service, post it in moderation. Choose from one to five sites you feel will best serve you. Ask for recommendations from people who have effectively used such services. If you choose to post your résumé online, do not include your personal references, as they may not wish to have their information available online.
- Have someone who has been a member of a library search committee proofread your résumé and cover letter. You will get a much better appraisal of your materials by someone who has seen good ones and really bad ones. Better still if the person you choose to appraise your résumé materials has served on the search committee for the same or similar job for which you are applying.
- Better yet, get a mentor who has been a member of a library search committee to give you good advice on all aspects of the job search process. I had one, and his help was immeasurable.
- Do tailor your cover letter to the specific job. I know it can be tedious to write new cover letters for every job, but sending out form letters is as good as throwing them in the garbage. Better to write three excellent cover letters for jobs you really want than to write 20 so-so ones. When there is a list of qualifications they are looking for, discuss how you meet those specific qualifications. Don’t go on and on about your ability to design great websites if it has little to do with the job requirements. When search committees are reading 100 or more cover letters for a single position, they will keep ones that speak specifically to their requirements. Most search committees can easily sniff out a form letter. Also, try and talk more about what you can do for them than why you want to work there. The more concrete you can be, the better. In many institutions, your application will never leave the human resources department if you don’t show you meet the qualifications. Don’t waste your time and theirs by applying for jobs you aren’t ready for. Your mentor can advise you as to what types of organizations may be less concerned with qualifications than others. Of course, you can apply for whatever jobs you want, but be prepared to explain yourself if your experience and education don’t meet the criteria.
- Don’t apply for any job you wouldn’t actually want. While this seems like obvious advice, when you’re in an impossibly tight job market you might not want to miss applying for anything you’re qualified for. If you don’t want to be a cataloger, don’t apply for cataloger jobs. If you only want to work in public libraries, don’t apply for academic library jobs. I learned my lesson when I was preparing for an interview and was struggling to think of a response for when I got the inevitable “why did you apply for this job?” question. I realized right then that I’d only applied for the job because I met all of the qualifications, not because the job met any of my qualifications.
- Listen to your gut. The people interviewing you are the people you are going to work with almost every day, so if you don’t feel comfortable with them, don’t ignore that feeling. If people don’t make you feel comfortable at the interview and don’t make an effort to get to know you during the parts of your interview day that are supposed to be social, it’s a pretty good sign that you won’t be comfortable there if you get the job. Realize that if you are not being treated like a potential colleague or that you are not being treated like you deserve, you should not take that job if you are offered it. The job market is tight, but that is no reason to accept an offer you do not want. It’s too big a chunk of your life. Don’t settle.
- Traveling to a job interview is par for the course in librarianship. Be aware that you will be responsible for your expenses. Most employers these days do not cover prospective employees’ travel costs.
- Find a way to distinguish yourself from the pack. This advice is extremely important for new librarians who don’t have much experience in the field. Hiring committees are taking a leap of faith when they hire someone without much of a professional track-record in librarianship. What would make them do that? For entry-level positions, there may be over 100 inexperienced librarians applying, and probably some experienced ones to boot. When you don’t have experience working in your favor, it’s important to make yourself stand out in some way. Become heavily involved in professional organizations. This shows a commitment to the profession. Become more tech-savvy than the average new librarian. If you already work in a library, take advantage of the professional development courses offered by many libraries. Talk to your systems professionals and ask them if they know of any local computer language courses that may be available to you. The more programming languages you know, the more things you can do with websites, the more you will stand out. Start a blog. This is controversial advice because it can hurt as much as it can help. If you are writing negative rants or overly personal things, a blog will only serve to make you look bad. If you are writing positive/constructive things about topics related to librarianship that interest you, you can communicate a passion for the profession that the search committee may not be able to glean from your cover letter. Be sure to proofread your blog entries carefully! You don’t want a few simple mistakes to cost you. First impressions are not soon forgotten.
- Get comfortable with public speaking or learn to fake it. You should have had plenty of experience in talking in front of people by now, either from past work experience or library school. If you are shy, get over it. Shyness is often equated with aloofness or standoffishness, and you want to project an image of being a team player.
- Have lots of questions for the search committee. Think about these in advance so your mind won’t go blank when the time comes. One I always liked to ask, and which elicited the most interesting responses, is “what do you like about working here?” The responses to that question often gave me a good idea about how the staff really feels about the library, the patrons, and their colleagues. Other good ones include, “what are some common qualities that successful individuals at this institution possess?”, “how are decisions made at the library?”, “what are the more difficult challenges faced by someone in this position?”, and “what would you like to change about the library?” These, too, should be tailored to the specific position. Don’t just prepare questions so that when the time comes you’ll have some. Think about what you really want to know about this job and this library. What would make you want to work there? What would make you not want to work there? Pick questions that will help you to know what you need to know to make a good decision. Another good question is, “What would I need to do to be successful at this position?”
- Always send thank-you notes. Send separate handwritten notes to each search committee member and try to personalize them in some way. It will make you stand out from the crowd and will remind them of you when they are making their hiring decision. Keep the notes short and professional.
- Research yourself. Do you have a Myspace profile? Do you blog? Have you left controversial comments on others' blogs? Search committees are going to Google you, so be prepared. If possible, delete online material about you that paints you in a less-than-professional light. If you are already a library professional, you already know how easy it is to find information on anyone on the Internet.
- If you continue to have no offers after you feel you have carefully chosen the jobs you applied for, and you have the budget for it, you may want to hire a career coach. This is especially effective if you have had to take another job while still looking for your “dream” job.
- Finally, in regard to the job interview, don’t show up if you haven’t done your homework. Research the organization to which you are applying thoroughly and be prepared to ask and answer questions. Wear business attire and arrive ten minutes early. Breathe. Be confident. Speak clearly and audibly.