An open letter to my fellow job hunters for when you get discouraged

by Lauren Bourdages, Senior Assistant, INALJ Ontario
previously published 6/25/13
Lauren has since found a job!!!

An open letter to my fellow job hunters for when you get discouraged

laurenbourdagesIf you’re like me, sometimes you start internally freaking out because here you are in your mid-to-late-twenties-to-early-to-mid-thirties and you’ve got all of this education but here you are without full-time work, all you have to show is a part-time job or a contract job or a full-time job that has nothing at all to do with what you studied and surely everyone you went to school with already has full time jobs and is successful and has accomplished stuff right!?!

I want you to know you’re not alone, like I said, it happens to me. It happens to all of us, some of us just aren’t comfortable admitting it. With the reality of how long the job hunt can take right now, and the fact that what’s trending in hiring circles seems to be part-time and contract work where full-time used to be the norm, it’s kind of inevitable that we start to beat up on ourselves. A friend of mine, who isn’t in the LIS profession, was going through this the other day and I talked her through it by sharing with her what I do when I’m feeling overwrought.

First and foremost know this, if you are actively searching, and you are doing things like volunteering, participating in professional associations, or working part-time or on contract: you are accomplishing something. You’re not sitting around passively, you’re not bemoaning your situation or finding someone or something to blame. Pat yourself on the back for that. It’s important to acknowledge that trying is the first step to succeeding. If you know you’re doing everything in your power to make yourself a top-notch candidate then you’re on the right track.

Remember that success and happiness don’t look the same for everyone and that the definitions can change on a day to day basis. You may not have a full time job yet, but are you truly happy with the things you do every day? Do they make you smile? If so recognise and acknowledge that because happiness and fulfillment are just as important. I know what you’re thinking, what about the paycheque!? How can I be happy and fulfilled if I’m not making the money of a full-timer? I struggle with that too, and then I just remind myself that even though I’ve only ever held part-time employment every single part time job I’ve had has paid more than the last, so I recognise that I am making progress and progress is important. Do I wish I made more? Of course I do, but actually enjoying what I do matters to me too. I could probably find any old full-time job that would pay me more than I make in my part-time LIS industry job, but would I be as happy? Or would I feel stuck and stale? Plus it’s much easier to balance your personal life with part-time hours, remember that when you’re longing for full-time. It’s easier to schedule appointments (especially if your doctor etc. is in a different city) when you have a part-time schedule!

Don’t just focus on your employment status. Your employment status isn’t the only thing that determines success, it’s not the only way to accomplish things. You got a degree or diploma, you earned it, you worked for it and that’s something no one can take away. As Westerners we sometimes taken for granted just how big of an accomplishment that is because it’s so common here. But realistically and relatively, it’s not really all that common. The chance to even try to earn a degree or a diploma is a privilege. So when you’re feeling like you haven’t amounted to anything remember that. I’m not saying go crazy and think having a degree entitles you to full-time work, that’s so wrong, just remember that it took hard work and dedication and it is an achievement. And while we’re talking about educational achievements; if you managed to not only earn your degree or diploma, but you did it without going into debt? Well that’s a pretty big deal, don’t brag about it of course, but definitely feel proud of yourself!

So whenever you’re feeling down read this, and remember these things. And remember most importantly that you’re not alone, you have a support network, all of us your fellow LIS job seekers, you only have to call call out to us and we’ll be there for you. And remember when you do find a full time job, take some time every now and again to remember those of us who haven’t yet. Show your support, maybe mentor a new or recent grad.

  8 comments for “An open letter to my fellow job hunters for when you get discouraged

  1. a knifton
    August 28, 2014 at 7:24 pm

    Thanks for the encouragement. I have been working full time since I got out of school, but “underemployed”. In light of the job market I am just really grateful for a job that keeps a roof over my head and food on the table. It’s hard to be hopeful about the future in the library field, but finding this site does help.

  2. Tanya
    August 28, 2014 at 9:41 am

    Very encouraging article as well. I give myself a pat on the back just for actively jobhunting. Seems like I have my hands full or mostly full trying to “balance” life, as in job hunting, self-care ( referring to chores, meals, making them, etc…) so… I do appreciate having been able to gain the degrees that I did, especially after realizing long afterwards the “subtle” effects of a traumatic head injury incurred at age 13. I definitely will keep on trying to improve myself in whatever way I can.

  3. Sara
    June 26, 2013 at 10:14 am

    It is hard!! Thanks for encouraging us!!

    ~Sara
    3 1/2 years since I got my MLS still searching for a professional position…

  4. Vivienne Sales
    June 25, 2013 at 1:07 pm

    Good article, but the reality is that sooner or later, underpaid/underemployed/unemployed librarians have to make hard choices about whether or not to stay in LibraryLand. After being underpaid and underemployed librarian (and working three part-time jobs), I decided to leave LibraryLand and the US to return to my former career. At times, I do miss LibraryLand, but I do not miss being underpaid, underemployed and underinsured in the US.

    • Jennifer Stevenson
      June 25, 2013 at 8:58 pm

      I think this was a hope-filled article but the reality is that we do need jobs, new skills etc etc. As a media specialst, I am debating whether to stay in the school field. I have been let go twice. Maybe job security doesn’t exist! It also seems that public libraries have a hiring freeze. I need to pay my mortgage and I’m not sure about unemployment in my state but this article did make me think about taking a part time position for job experience. I’m also thinking about taking assistant positions in places that I might want to work.

      • June 25, 2013 at 10:37 pm

        Definitely thinking out-side the library world can help- that is why we post so many library related and non-lib jobs too at INALJ!

  5. June 25, 2013 at 11:59 am

    Lauren:
    This was a great editorial!!! I am actually in the “60 something” category and received my MLIS three years ago. You are so right about westerners taking college degrees as a “given”. Yes, I need to remind myself that not only did I worked really hard for my degree, but that I went back to school when others were retiring! You are also right on with the comment about going for a job just to get a job (other than a professional position) which would definitely be a mistake. Thank you too for reminding us that we are “doing”, whether it’s as a volunteer or just by the fact that we are pursuing jobs!
    I feel better!!
    Lynn Hildenbrand

  6. June 25, 2013 at 11:54 am

    Thank you so much for your inspirational words! I’m an MLIS grad working as a part time clerk, and the road is tough and nothing is easy, but knowing other people out there going through the same situation really helps. Do you best and don’t take anything for granted!

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