by Amanda Marie Yetter, former INALJ Maryland Head Editor
previously published 5/20/13
What to Expect When You’re Interviewing: The Fabulous Five
This blog posting was designed for individuals who already have their degree and are now trying to determine the best possible ways to market, flaunt, and gloat about having an MSLS. So, let me first start off by saying, congratulations! Now, let’s focus on the tough stuff, the job search.
For me, the job search has spanned almost two years and three different states. I’ve had plenty of kind rejection letters, a handful of interviews, and even some sleepless nights as to what an MSLS degree actually gets you. With that said, I can honestly say that while a majority of individuals in my graduating class now have library jobs, and some are even directors, I can honestly say that I’ve been rather proactive in my job search. It’s just knowing when to “bite the hook” and “throw out the line” and to take the necessary steps in order to get the best results.
Here are a few simple tips to getting your foot back in the door with job searching, especially if you feel as if you’ve been trampled on a few times.
1) Revamp your resume.
This may seem simple enough, but don’t use the resume builder in Microsoft Office or Google sample resumes for Library Science. It’s just somewhat tacky to have your resume look like everyone else’s, make yours stand out in the crowd, or rather the pile of resumes. I’ve revamped my resume by meeting with AmeriCorps Job Assistance members at my local library. Check out http://www.americorps.gov/ to find your local AmeriCorps to make your resume fit the bill for a career in Library Science.
I’ve also created a Weebly account (http://www.weebly.com/) to house my online portfolio including my resume. This is a great tool for individuals with minimal website experience to get included in an ever changing online world. I’m also an active LinkedIn user (http://www.linkedin.com/) and have found that technology in library land translates well in any interview.
2) Volunteer! Get an unpaid internship and keep current in library trends.
So, you’re not in the library field yet, but you have all the skills necessary to be the best librarian in the world so why hide your skills from the masses when you can volunteer or have an unpaid internship? Volunteering is one of the most rewarding, challenging, and is an amazing experience for everyone involved. I’ve volunteered in two libraries and one historical society since graduating with my MSLS degree. Each library has been different, but worthwhile in me honing my librarian skill set even further. Who would have thought my cataloging class would come in hand working in a Public Library or while cataloging archival materials and items in a vault in a History and Business library? My years in the customer service field has helped me at the reference desk, but actually getting to be in the hot seat has allowed me to become a much more compassionate and caring librarian.
My experiences volunteering and having an internship have also allowed me to keep up with current library trends. I feel as if I can have professional conversations about collection development, cataloging, and archiving because I have now experienced such things in the field itself rather than simply reading about them in a library school textbook.
Ahhh, the portfolio seemed like something I created when I was an Elementary Education major, but I’ve found that it can definitely aid in finding a library job too. I’ve included projects that I created in library school that show my diverse knowledge of blogs, websites and technology. My portfolio also includes my cover letter, resumes and letters of recommendation from former professors. I like having a “one stop shop” for all things library job related and it shows potential employers that I have certain traits like organization necessary for a career in library science.
Now because I was an Elementary Education major, I also have included lesson plans and all of my student teaching and field assessments. I also have a philosophy of education, which can translate into my overall philosophy of library science. These artifacts are important in highlighting my academic career and my future career as a librarian whether in a public, special, or school library setting.
Once again, I’ll mention Weebly and LinkedIn for displaying portfolio/resume tools, but I always like to have the physical item at hand for a face-to-face interview.
4) What to Wear, and What not to Wear.
My mother is a former teacher educator and my personal source of all things job searching, interview and portfolio related. She also has impeccable style that has been noted by her former students. So, what to wear for a phone interview or a face to face interview? My mother suggests still dressing up in professional attire for a phone interview so that you feel more professional while answering questions and you have a more focused and professional mind set. Don’t just roll out of bed for a phone interview–be prepared. Have questions for the interviewers and make it seems as if you’re not on speaker phone in front of the library staff, but there in the room with them.
Wear a suit. Simple enough, right? Wrong. Our society is being more lax with dress code in professional settings. Choose a bright colored jacket or a mix and match suit with a pop of color and clean, polished shoes. You can show some of your personal style while still wearing a suit jacket and dress pants, but make sure that it is pressed and fitting you well so that you look comfortable, relaxed and ready for any questions that the interviewers throw at you.
5) Stay Positive and Reflect.
The most important interviewing tip that I can give to anyone is the fact that while the process is daunting, overwhelming, and filled with ups and downs, you must remain positive. The right library job will come along you just have to be the right fit for the job, the library and the individuals that are interviewing you want to make sure that you’re the right candidate for the job. Challenge yourself to reflect after each interview. What could you have done differently? What do you think went exceptionally well? Keep your spirits high and focus on the fact that each interview is a learning experience.