5 Attitudes to Change on the Job Hunt

by Nena Schvaneveldt, former Head Editor, INALJ Utah
previously published 4/2/13

5 Attitudes to Change on the Job Hunt

NenaSLast month, I wrote about how changing my attitude and viewing my circumstances as choices really made me feel a lot less helpless. The line between a good attitude and a bad attitude can be really thin sometimes, but here are some bad attitudes I’ve had to change in myself:

1. You know what I went through for this? I deserve a job!

Entitlement is a huge problem, and I can understand where my own sense of entitlement had come from. School is hard, and I wanted a nice job as a reward for all that hard work. Then there’s paying your dues – but even that makes it sound like once you’ve unjammed the copier a certain number of times, you deserve an office. This can be a hard one to check, but I feel best when I’m focused on working hard to make a difference where I am, even if it’s not where I thought I’d be.

2. I’ll take anything! Anywhere! Please, just give me a chance!!!

Desperation is another understandable reaction to the reality of the job market. It’s understandable, but it comes across in cover letters and interviews. It can also motivate you into finding a job that isn’t a match for your skills and interests, which could be annoying at best, or tormentous at worst. Flexibility is willingness to be open to different locations or different jobs, but make sure that you can make a good case for why you’re applying to a particular job in a particular organization at a particular place. I had to be flexible in my own job search. My coursework focused on youth services and public libraries, but I’m working in an academic library. You know what I’ve found I like about it? Public service. I like being on the front lines. Public service is a lot broader than my initial focus, and I’ve looked at different opportunities because of it. That said, I still have had moments of desperation, but I express them to people I trust in private until I can refocus myself in a positive way.

3. They didn’t hire me? They’re jerks! And the person that they hired probably sucks!

Being rejected sucks, and it’s normal to feel hurt when it happens. Lashing out in anger doesn’t accomplish much beyond initial catharsis. The more information professionals I meet, the more ridiculous it is to believe that jobs I don’t get will be filled by people who shouldn’t be there. Reaching out and kindly thanking the company for the time to meet with you is hard, but what’s the worst that could happen? The company blacklists you for being classy? You never hear back? Taking a chance to build a bridge instead of burning it can pay off – either with a future job offer or a new contact or friend. If it doesn’t, at least you can feel a sense of closure and doing the right thing, even when it’s hard.

4. When is it going to be my turn?

I think this attitude comes from thinking of the job market and applicants like a deli line where we take numbers and are served in turn. While it would be nice for all of us to get a turn, I am so glad we don’t all get one chance at a job. We’re human, and we will mess up. It’s not fair that certain people seem to get a break sooner or more often than others, but patience will pay off.

5. I can’t do that – it’s too scary.

One of my favorite sayings is “learning is changing what we do” (B.F. Skinner). Change is scary, and learning new skills can be frustrating, time-consuming, and difficult. As I examined my own attitudes, I realized that this one is still holding me back. This year, I’m looking at doing some things that scare me. Maybe I’ll go to a conference, learn a skill that I thought was “too hard,” or push myself to network more. I’ll write about it more in upcoming months.

Naomi House

Naomi House, MLIS, is the founder and publisher of the popular webzine and jobs list INALJ.com (formerly I Need a Library Job). Founded in October 2010 with the assistance of her fellow Rutgers classmate, Elizabeth Leonard, INALJ’s social media presence has grown to include Facebook (retired in 2016), Twitter and a LinkedIn group, in addition to the interviews, articles and jobs found on INALJ.com. INALJ has had over 19.5 Million page views and helped thousands of librarians and LIS folk find employment! Through grassroots marketing, word of mouth and a real focus on exploring unconventional resources for job leads, INALJ grew from a subscription base of 20 friends to a website with over 500,000 visits in a month. Naomi believes that well-sourced quantity is quality in this narrow job market and INALJ reflects this many new jobs published daily. She has also written for the 2011, 2012 & 2013 LexisNexis Government Info Pro. She presents whenever she can, most recently thrice at the American Library Association's Annual Conference as well as breakout talk presenter at OCLC EMEA in Cape Town, South Africa and as a keynote speaker at the Virginia Library Association annual meeting, at the National Press Club, McGill University, the University of the Emirates, Dubai, MLIS program and the University of Hawaii at Manoa. She was a 2013 Library Journal Mover & Shaker and has served on the University of Maryland iSchool Board from 2014-2017. Naomi was a Reference, Marketing and Acquisitions Librarian for a contractor at a federal library outside Washington, DC, and has relocated to being nomadic. She runs her husband’s moving labor website, KhanMoving.com, fixes and sells old houses and assists her husband cooking delicious Pakistani food as well. She has heard of spare time but hasn’t encountered it lately. She pronounces INALJ as eye-na-elle-jay. 


  1 comment for “5 Attitudes to Change on the Job Hunt

  1. Annabelle
    June 23, 2014 at 10:47 am

    I have trouble with #1, #2, and #4. I have spent almost five years earning my MLIS, taking some pretty demoralizing crap for it along way. I have six years experience, doing a lot of librarian-level things, including CD/CM, instruction, marketing, etc., for excruciatingly low pay, for which I also take a lot demoralizing crap. Letting go of the feeling of ENOUGH, ALREADY…is hard.
    That said, I feel pretty good about not getting upset with the people who opted not to hire me. I send thank-yous to those who interview me, but generic rejections…I tend not reach out. Only so much time, you know.

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