by Naomi House, MLIS, INALJ Founder and Editor
Furloughed & Job Hunting: why strategizing 1st is the key to success
On Tuesday I went into work as instructed. My day job is as a reference, marketing and acquisitions librarian working for a federal contractor at a federal library. We showed up to shut down and then we all went home. We had no idea how long we would be not working for but many of us went home wondering if we should patiently wait or begin a new job hunt. I spent much of yesterday and today really thinking about this and wanted to provide some tips to those furloughed or even just those out of work on how to job hunt successfully.
It is easy to let panic set in when you know you will have either no paycheck, or less of a paycheck or even a delayed paycheck coming in. You might rush to INALJ Jobs or other websites and instantly become overwhelmed at what is (or in some states) what is not out there. We are only on day two of the shutdown so I challenge all potential job hunters to look at this situation and spend the rest of this week evaluating just what it is you are looking for and crafting a strategy for how you will approach this. You need to have a plan in order to use your time efficiently because wasting time is not a luxury any of us should take for granted.
WHAT am I looking for?
Usually I encourage job hunters to approach their job hunting strategy with ‘where’ they want to live or ‘where’ they are willing to relocate to. But furloughed workers more often are geographically trapped by mortgages or leases or even familial ties like a spouse’s job. These job hunters are often looking in the same geographic area but now need to look in other sectors. Government experience is highly sought everywhere from colleges and universities to law firms to news organizations and other private sector businesses. In the case of librarians in the federal workforce many of us are already not working traditional 1400 series jobs, but as social media and web content managers, program analysts, etc. The doors open to us are much wider. But if you are seriously considering a new career then the first thing you need to do if figure out not only what types of jobs would make you happy but what types of jobs could you really contribute to. This isn’t something that can be figured out in a day so really brainstorm and give it some thought.
WHAT do I want BEYOND the Job
Also remember that work life balance might be something to reevaluate. Will you be able to go from an alternative work schedule into a more typical 9-5 Monday-Friday job? What benefits or flexibilities are you seeking? Really think these through as well. Know what you will and will not compromise on.
One lucky thing for me about being in the metro DC area is that many of my friends are in the same boat as me. Use these days off to come together either in person or through social media like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. Find out how your colleagues perceive you and what skill-sets they think are your key ones. This can help you as you strategize what types of jobs you should be looking for. Also reach out to friends outside of government (like universities, etc) who are in your same geographic area for their advice and opinions on the pros and cons of their sectors.
NICHE and KNOWNS
We all know that their are library jobs in universities and colleges, special libraries and public libraries. Finding those job on SLA and ALAJobList as well as INALJ and local listservs are great places to start. But what about the jobs that librarians can do because of our skill-sets but are non-traditional and harder to find? This is why I put a list called “Keywords for Job Searching” on the left sidebar of each page of INALJ.com, so that you can use these as a spring board. These job titles are some of the ones you can use when using job scrapers like LinkUp and Indeed to look for jobs. Also remember that many startups and fab businesses list their jobs on the Daily Muse. Niche sites can include association sites as well. One of my favorite competitive intelligence job searching sites is the SCiP jobs page, the strategic and competitive intelligence association site. Definitely worth checking out.
RESUMES (not just one)
Remember that you need to make multiple resumes for multiple types of jobs you apply to. The government standard of including everything and the bare bones structure that we are used to does not fly in the private sector. For librarians like me it is good not only to update our resumes (see mine here) but also check out Open Cover Letters for tips on crafting a good cover letter based on the various sectors.
ASSOCIATIONS and Volunteering
If you aren’t already volunteering with your local or national associations, or anywhere frankly, now is the time to do so. We all have a few hours in the week we can give and this networking also helps keep us in front of potential employers or at least people who know of job openings. Giving of your time strategically does not mean that you expect that you are giving just to get a reward or potential job, rather I think of giving in a strategic way as showing your best face and helping potential employers.
Nothing can guarantee you that finding a job will be easy but it is wasting time mass mailing resumes for everything out there and spending time on cover letters if you haven’t first considered what your needs and wants are first is inefficient. Job hunting requires taking the time so you can be your most efficient. Who knows, we may all go back to work this week or next week? But if this shutdown was enough to get you thinking about other possibilities then you owe it to yourself to do a good job of planning first. After all, as anyone in government knows moving slowly is often the choice we make so we make the right choices and understand all risks. You work hard for a career you can be good at and that means taking time to consider everything and make a plan first. Maybe in the end you will realize that this shutdown is a rare occurrence and that your job you are in is the right one for you.