by Joe Hudak, MLIS
previously published 1/13/14
Translating Non-Library Skills to a Library-Directed Résumé
It’s easier to get a job as a professional librarian if you’re already working in a library. But it’s not always easy to get a job in a library if you’ve never worked in one before. One way to improve your chances is to frame your work experience in language that will be familiar to librarians. Here are some suggestions about how to describe non-library job skills in a way that people doing library hiring can understand and appreciate:
- Education: Educators craft learning plans, create instructional materials and develop tools to evaluate outcomes. These are key skills in libraries, especially for people working in programming, training and supervision.
- Journalism: If you’re a journalist, you know how to write professionally, work with minimal supervision, do research and meet deadlines. These are all valuable abilities in library work.
- Nonprofits: Did you do grant writing, or fundraising, or outreach, or volunteer management? A growing number of library jobs include these duties.
- Office Work: These kinds of jobs require organization, time management and an attention to detail–qualities that are prized by every hiring librarian.
- Public Relations: Have you managed social media strategies, written press releases or designed promotional materials? PR is a hot topic in the library world, with many organizations working on improving their PR presence.
- Retail: You’ve picked a good time to apply for library jobs–many libraries are currently interested in taking lessons from retail businesses. Emphasize things like customer service, merchandising and display skills.
When you tailor your application materials to each position you apply for, and emphasize the way the skills you’ve learned in your non-library work can be applied to a library job, you’ll stand out from other applicants and improve your chances of getting hired.
Joe Hudak completed his MLIS degree at the University of Alabama. He lives in Arkansas and works as the manager of the Dee Brown Library in Little Rock, part of the Central Arkansas Library System. He judges graphic novels for the Arkansas Teen Book Award and has given professional-development presentations on topics including hiring, training and customer service. He enjoys bicycles, board games and jazz records.