The Buddy System

by Caitlin Moen, Head Editor, INALJ Louisiana

The Buddy System

Caitlin MJob hunting is exhausting. Job hunting is life-consuming. Job hunting can eat up your entire identity until you cannot think or talk about anything else. And here’s a hint: your friends and family will get sick of hearing about that awesome job you hope will call or how you are so sick of filling out online applications and why can’t people just take a resume and not make you re-enter all the info!?!?

This is where a job hunting buddy comes in handy. This can be one person or several, but there needs to be some common attributes. Your buddy needs to be someone who understands the industry you are applying in. He or she needs to have gone through the job hunting process and know how frustrating it can be. And your buddy needs to be available and willing to hear some complaining and know whether you are looking to vent or you are looking for constructive and helpful feedback.

The library industry can be very different than other fields. It is so important to have a buddy who knows this and knows the steps that you are taking. If it is an academic position, that can stretch on for months with not a word and then suddenly ask you to fly cross-country for a grueling two-day interview that may or may not result in anything at all. A buddy in the industry will understand that if you want to work in the public library system, often you need to be certified or scored based on your resume, but that even if you qualify and are put on the list, there may not even be a job available. A library buddy knows just how uncertain the library job market is and how a job can be posted one day and canceled the next.

In a perfect world, your job hunting buddy will be someone who is also job hunting. You can compare job postings, complain about the places that don’t call and don’t update their system statuses, and talk hopefully about positions that may or may not amount to anything. The buddy must at least have gone through a job hunt at some point recently – this may provide a sense of hope and purpose to you, while he or she is still close enough to the process to remember and appreciate the all-consuming nature of job hunting.

Which brings me to the last point. Everyone needs a job hunting buddy to listen to them talk about job hunting. Family and friends get sick of it. Spouses get sick of it. As supportive as they can be, sometimes they want you to talk about something else and stop focusing on the negative. And sometimes you just want to focus on the negative. You want to talk about how many resumes you have out, about job requirements, about interviews, and about anything else that crosses your path. This is when that job hunting buddy is invaluable.  They will listen. They will sympathize. They will provide constructive feedback when you want it. They will not give advice when all you want to do is vent or when all you need is a cheerleader.

Now in return, you need to provide the same support to your job hunting buddy. You need to have a give and take relationship where sometimes you are letting your buddy vent, encouraging him or her and telling them to not give up and someone will recognize just how awesome he or she is. It’s the buddy system for a reason – you both are venturing into the wide, dangerous world of job hunting, and you both need someone to watch your back.

Look for a buddy. Chances are you know someone from your MLIS program or a former workplace who is also looking for work. If not, look to the internet. There are all these social networking opportunities – why not use it to find someone who is in the same boat as you and can really exchange support and keep you sane? I have job hunted on my own, relying on my husband for support, and I drove both of us crazy. I have job hunted with two buddies – one from my MLIS program and one from a workplace. And let me tell you; having those two to call upon, to IM when a new, perfect position opens up, to receive a text after an interview checking in, to generally bitch with me and cheer me on… has been a healthier and altogether better experience.

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. 

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