Be Your Own Best Advocate: in the job search and beyond

by Rebekah Kati, Head Editor, INALJ North Carolina

Be Your Own Best Advocate: in the job search and beyond

RebekahKatiI had a lot of trouble advocating for myself during my job search.  I’m a pretty quiet, modest person and I hated illuminating my accomplishments and contributions to projects in cover letters and interviews.  I always have considered projects as a group effort, even when I put in more time and effort than my partners, and it was very difficult for me to talk about these achievements without mentioning the contributions of others and downplaying my own role.

This perspective was of course holding me back in my job search. 

Hiring managers do appreciate the value of group work, as many library jobs will require that the successful candidate work closely with their co-workers.  However, my co-workers were not interviewing for the job – I was!  Therefore, the hiring managers interviewing me were more interested in my own contributions than those of my co-workers.  To help identify my achievements for each job for which I applied, I copied the job ad and wrote specific examples of my projects or job duties which fit each job requirement.  This document became my cheat sheet and study guide for phone and on-site interviews and helped me focus on my own accomplishments.

Yet, advocating for yourself does not stop when you get the job. 

In fact, I’ve come to realize that strong advocacy grately benefits one’s library as well.  For example, when I worked in a library, I assumed that library vendors knew what features I wanted and what issues I felt needed to be fixed in their online platforms.  These things were incredibly obvious to me, so of course they must have been obvious to the vendor.  However, once I started working for a vendor I realized that my desires were not as obvious as I had expected.  Vendors do not necessarily know what librarians want, unless librarians tell them since vendors do not interact with library patrons on a day to day basis.

Librarians must speak up – only then will vendors and funding agencies know what we need.  It does no one any good to downplay the needs of the library.


Naomi House

Naomi House, MLIS, is the founder and publisher of the popular LIS jobs resource (formerly I Need a Library Job). Founded in October 2010 with the assistance of her fellow Rutgers classmate, Elizabeth Leonard, INALJ’s social media presence has grown to include Facebook (retired in 2016), Twitter and a LinkedIn group, in addition to the interviews, articles and jobs found on INALJ has had over 20 Million page views and helped thousands of librarians and LIS folk find employment! Through grassroots marketing, word of mouth and a real focus on exploring unconventional resources for job leads, INALJ grew from a subscription base of 20 friends to a website with over 500,000 visits in a month. Naomi believes that well-sourced quantity is quality in this narrow job market and INALJ reflects this many new jobs published daily. She was a 2013 Library Journal Mover & Shaker and has served on the University of Maryland iSchool Board from 2014-2017. Naomi was a Reference, Marketing and Acquisitions Librarian for a contractor at a federal library outside Washington, DC, and now lives part time in Western NY and Budapest, Hungary. She has heard of spare time but hasn’t encountered it lately. She pronounces INALJ as eye-na-elle-jay.