What (not) to do while job hunting

by Alexis Stapp, Head Editor, INALJ Minnesota

What (not) to do while job hunting

alexisstappHere is my tongue-in-cheek guide to what you should do while job hunting:

  1. Take longer than a week to complete a single job application.
  2. Complain endlessly – especially to library school friends who are in the same boat.
  3. Be super disorganized about everything.
  4. Sulk when you don’t hear back from any potential employers.
  5. Be ashamed.

I will admit that I did some of these things while job searching; I am guilty of committing 1, 2 and 5.  Why should you not do these things while on the job hunt?  I should think most of them are obvious but here’s my reasoning:

  1. Crafting a thoughtful and representative cover letter, as well as comprehensive job application, does take time.  A week gives you time to write the letter, get some feedback, and get your other application materials together before sending it out.  Longer than that gives you too much time to agonize over every word and punctuation mark, thus dragging it out needlessly and making the whole thing that much more stressful.
  2. Job hunting is frustrating and your library school buddies all know this too.  It’s easy to fall back on complaining about the process when you hang out but they’re your support network for more than just this reason – use time together to give each other positive support too.  Discuss job hunting tactics; get feedback on resumes, cover letters, interview apparel, etc.; or throw out an interview question or two and brainstorm answers.  Then, forget about job hunting and have some fun, please!
  3. Having some kind of system for keeping track of all your applications is key to making sure you have all the information you need to apply, have all the requisite materials for each application, and to stay on top of deadlines.  Whether it’s some way to track it electronically, an Excel spreadsheet, or a big ol’ wall calendar, make sure it’s a system you can manage and it works for YOU.
  4. I completely understand how frustrating it can be when you hear nothing from the places you’ve applied but sulking will do no good.  Instead of sulking, be proactive about following up with the employer.  Yes, that can scary in itself, but the worst thing that can happen is you find out they’ve moved onto the interview process and you weren’t invited in for one.  Then at least you know, right?
  5. You’ve been applying for jobs for months or even longer to no avail.  Do not be ashamed or embarrassed.  There are so many people, in general and in this particular field, who are in the same place – people who have been unemployed or underemployed, who work 1 or 2 or 5 part-time jobs and are lucky if one of them is in the LIS field, who have been relying on a spouse or partner’s income or who have moved in with parents to get by.  Don’t feel that there’s something wrong with you if any of the above apply.  Recognize that it’s a tough market and do what you have to do in the meantime – volunteer, intern, work those many part-time jobs (or that one non-LIS full-time job) and live with mom, dad, and the cats.

  7 comments for “What (not) to do while job hunting

  1. Illinois to Missouri editors
    August 6, 2013 at 4:05 pm

    I definitely agree with Naomi on both her comments. So much of succeeding in the job hunt depends on those factors she mentioned. Also, if you’re getting really frustrated with the hunt and have mostly been applying to traditional library jobs, try looking at “outside-the-box” jobs. Check out the list of “Keywords for Job Searching” on the sidebar of any INALJ page. (Alexis)

  2. July 15, 2013 at 5:43 pm

    How long is the average time one can anticipate to get hired in the library field? I have graduated in 2012 and have been applying the whole time… for months.. I have had only two interviews and have not heard back. Does it typically take over a year?

    • Raquel Mendelow
      August 16, 2013 at 3:48 pm

      I am with you, Margo. Want to join me for Happy Hour sometime? LOL, I live in Florida. I finished my M.L.S. in September of 2012 and am still applying nationwide and worldwide for that matter.

  3. Eti
    July 8, 2013 at 4:12 pm

    I feel that sulking and complaining are a part of the process. We need to allow ourselves to get down about our situations, thaose feelings are completely normal and healthy, but we can’t let that complaining and sulking come to define our job search or interfere with our lives.

    • July 8, 2013 at 4:26 pm

      Yep and it is who you complain to that matters- friends and family are fine but I am stunned at the number of people who do so in a professional (even virtual) setting :(

      Good luck though :)

    • July 14, 2013 at 2:35 pm

      Eti, I definitely agree that sulking and complaining are important, and I don’t think anybody should try to hide or change their feelings! But you’re exactly right – we can’t let that define or even hinder a job search. I think it’s important to take that energy and channel it in some productive way.

      • July 14, 2013 at 5:02 pm

        Agreed and I also know that my complaining should be focused on my core group of supporters versus complaining on the web. I am surprised more people don’t realize this :)

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