by Kathleen Kosiec
Finding the Right Library Job Is Kind of Like Dating
Searching and applying for jobs (Flirting)
Ahh, the fun stage. You’re searching for library jobs, and a certain position catches your eye. As you are reading, you really can see yourself in this position. You have “exceptional communication skills and the ability to build relationships.” You have “demonstrated strong oral and written communication and have good organizational skills.” You take a look at the institution’s website and picture yourself there. Perhaps you contact their HR or search committee chair to ask a few questions about the position. But at the same time, you don’t feel guilty for taking a look at other jobs too. After all, it’s your time to play the field.
The interview (AKA, the first date)
Perhaps you’ve already chatted with one or multiple members of the search committee over the phone, and the sparks are flying, culminating in an in-person interview! You nervously scan your closet for an outfit that flatters you, but also looks professional. Perhaps you abandon the hope of finding anything suitable and drop $100 on a new ensemble for the interview. You practice your answers to some of the most common interview questions, eliciting strange glances from your significant other/cat/dog/roommate as they watch you run a lint brush over your blazer and tame flyaway strands of hair while explaining how you handle deadlines.
Later, you panic that your handshake wasn’t firm enough, or perhaps too sweaty. (Nerves!) You try to convey the delicate balance of remaining friendly but still remaining the consummate professional. You try not to count the number of times you’ve said “umm” and focus on maintaining eye contact, smiling every so often, and making sure your answers have subjects and verbs and are not just a string of adjectives.
Long-term future (Is this THE one?)
Just like when you are looking for a long-term partner, you want to have a future with your library job. Is there room for advancement? Can you grow professionally in this position? Can you see yourself in this job for at least a few years, maybe even until retirement? You might wonder if this job will still remain a good fit even as you change, whether that means having kids, having puppies, or writing sci-fi set in a dystopian future.
The rejection (It’s not you, it’s…)
Rejection stings, but especially when you have a relationship now with this potential employer. You’ve chatted on the phone, done an in-person interview, and getting a rejection at this point makes you feel like a lot like getting dumped. Well, you did get dumped for another applicant, and that sucks. Go ahead, shed a few tears, have a night out with friends, but do yourself a favor and move on the next day. Let go of the anger, it will only make you more bitter and you are wasting valuable time on something that is out of your control.
The cliché that there are plenty of fish in the sea is true for jobs too, and your perfect catch is out there waiting for you. Don’t give up!
Kathleen Kosiec received her MLIS from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 2013, and her Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from the University of Wisconsin. She is interested in user experience design, metadata, social media, and how technology is constantly changing libraries. When she is not applying for library jobs, looking for library jobs, or reading about how to get a library job, she likes to cook, practice yoga, blog, and watch Doctor Who. Visit Kathleen at kathleenkosiec.com.