4 Tips for the start of the job search—
what I wish I had really understood before I began
For anyone who has been job searching for awhile or reads the INALJ blog posts, much of this will be a rehash. But I would really like to reach out to those who are just beginning the search or are currently in an MLS and/or MIS program. May you gain wisdom from my mistakes, er, learning experiences.
- I was told to look at job postings throughout my time in library school to get a good idea of the job market, what the desired skills were (and thus what classes I should be taking), and a better idea of what kind of jobs I could be interested in, but I only looked at a few ads superficially. I regret that, because if I had followed through, I may have realized that the job descriptions for technical services positions bored me, but public library positions and jobs in museums excited me, and correspondingly changed the courses I was taking. Also, I would have gotten teaching and exhibit design experience.
- Start applying for jobs early, at least a semester or term before you graduate. While you are trying to find a job, the real value of applying is that you have time to practice your cover letters, organize your job search, and have professors and fellow students critique your cover letters and resumes. I found that it took me awhile to get into the swing of things when I first started applying, and since I didn’t start until after I finished school, I lost a few months of time and several job application opportunities because my materials weren’t up to snuff.
- Writing a tailored cover letter is an art that takes practice and time to learn. I made some embarrassing mistakes in my early ones. If you aren’t getting interviews, reevaluate your strategy, and do some research on how to compose your letters. Several astute editors have mentioned http://www.askamanager.org/, but I repeat it because it was so helpful for me. The blogger has a ton of tips for cover letters and resumes. Use it, use it, use it.
- Check the websites of specific institutions or libraries you want to work at. INALJ is really great about aggregating jobs, but some slip through the cracks. The substitute reference librarian job I now have did not show up on regional job collection websites or INALJ; I only found out about it because someone who works at my institution pointed it out to me.
Also published previously as Tips for the start of the job search—what I wish I had really understood before I began