My interview with success story, Elena
Naomi: How did you find your current job?
Elena: The story of how I found my job is pretty ordinary, which just goes to show that you don’t need to have an “in” or a special approach in order to land a job. When I was job hunting, I used Google Reader to subscribe to the feeds of as many LIS job websites as I could find (I was willing to relocate almost anywhere). I think I had at least a dozen feeds coming in, with INALJ to supplement them. I first saw the job I have now posted on LibraryJobline. I applied, was called for a Skype interview a few weeks later, interviewed in my living room the next week, and had a new job the following day.
Naomi: Favorite library you have been to?
Elena: Probably the first library where I worked, Seymour Library at Knox College (http://www.knox.edu/academics/academic-facilities/seymour-library.html , https://www.facebook.com/KnoxSeymourLibrary). The library is gorgeous, full of lush, well-used antique furniture tucked away in cozy corners perfect for studying (and/or napping!). The staff is wonderful, the building is beautiful, and it served as my first introduction to the library world.
Naomi: Favorite book?
Elena: I can’t even begin to answer that one. Even “favorite author” would result in a list 10-15 names long. I’m not much of a rereader, so I guess I’m always searching for a new favorite book.
Naomi: Favorite thing about libraries/library technology?
Elena: I love that libraries are so people-focused. Public libraries especially, but also all libraries to a certain extent. LIS is a service industry, and we do what we do as librarians in order to help people. Libraries’ capacity to change lives is part of what drew me to the field, and I love that my everyday job improves people’s quality of life and strengthens the community.
Naomi: Any websites or feeds or blogs we should be following?
Elena: Not necessarily finding-a-job-related, but my favorite library website is EarlyWord.com. As a public librarian (and now one with selection duties!), I check that site every day to keep current on the latest new releases, award news, and movies based on books. It’s been an invaluable resource for me.
Naomi: Any blogs we should be following?
Elena: As far as job-related sites, I’ll chime in with the dozens of others who’ve recommended http://www.hiringlibrarians.com . I love being able to see that hiring really is different at every library while still getting a sense of overall trends.
Naomi: Best piece of job hunting advice?
Elena: Job hunting isn’t just about finding and applying for jobs. It’s also about making sure your cover letter and resume are as strong as you can make them, and I’m not talking about formatting or rewriting your bullet points eighteen times to make them more active and results-oriented. If you’re unemployed, you need to be out doing something so you’ll have something to talk about in your cover letter and during your interviews. Volunteer at your local library, or with a literacy organization, or with any organization. Start a writing group/knitting group/book club and think about how the organizational skills necessary to run a group like that could help a potential employer. Create a digital portfolio to demonstrate your web design skills while also presenting your credentials. Write book reviews. Attend webinars. Write articles, library-related or not, and submit them to publications. In short: Don’t spend all your time rewriting your cover letter and reformatting your resume, because that’s just packaging. What’s really important to potential employers is the skills you’ve picked up along the way that will make you a fantastic employee, whether they’re skills you gained through paid library work experience or through coaching kids’ softball or running a holiday food drive or writing for an indie music blog (or whatever!). Good luck, job seekers. :)
I received my B.A. in History from Knox College in 2009 and my M.A. in Library and Information Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2011. I began working in my college’s library as an undergrad and held seven different part time, practicum, substitute, and volunteer positions in libraries before finally landing my current wonderful position as Reference Librarian at the White Mountain Library in Rock Springs, WY. In addition to being a librarian, I also write short fantasy fiction. When not librarian-ing or writing, I like to read, bake, and tease my antisocial cat.