by Sarah Porter, Head Editor, INALJ California
HR and Honesty
I just finished listening to the irreverently funny chapter about working in Human Resources in the audiobook “Let’s Pretend This Never Happened” by the Bloggess, Jenny Lawson. While I do not share the same sort of interesting stories that Jenny gathered from working over a decade in Human Resources, I had a brief temp job in the HR department of a large company, and where I had the opportunity to see and participate in the hiring process behind-the-scenes. What shocked me the most on the job is it seemed as if they had created a five-second rule for looking over each application and resume. Resumes that I assume applicants invested countless hours of work in and filled with a lifetime of experiences, were thrown into the “no” pile for trivial reasons, such as the font was too big, or the reviewer did not like the school that the applicant attended, and so on.
It’s a tough job market out there, especially for future librarians. I am sure that thousands of perfectly adequate resumes are being thrown into the “no” pile with barely a consideration, and not just for trivial reasons, but because they do not stand out from the crowd. I assume this because I was part of the crowd, with a perfectly adequate resume. At times, I have felt discouraged by not hearing back from libraries. Instead of giving up, I continue to look for ways to gain more relevant experience and improve my resume and cover letters. Last year, I used the ALA (American Library Association) NMRT (New Member Round Table) free Resume Review Service. After receiving somewhat brutally honest (but necessary) feedback, I found out that my efforts in resume and cover letter writing did not set me out from the crowd. The best advice that I received is to show enthusiasm for the position, and tailor each cover letter and resume for the specific position you are applying for.
If your cover letter and resume are not getting attention, I recommend asking for feedback from a trusted friend, mentor, professor, librarian, or anyone you trust to critique your work. Constructive criticism is not always pleasant to hear, but getting outside of your comfort zone is necessary for growth.