Career Counselor

Career Counselor

by Kelly Quaye

I just returned from the ALA Midwinter Meeting (this was 2012) so my mind is still abuzz with the many great programs and services on offer.  Did you know that ALA has a Conference Placement Service where you can meet with a professional career counselor during conference?  I highly recommend trying to get an appointment if you are a conference attendee…

Naturally, this service fills up quickly, but I was offered a 20 minute Telephone Career Counseling session as an alternative due to the popular demand of this service.  I had my telephone appointment earlier today, and I thought it would be helpful to share what I took away from the session – we discussed how to approach the job search process in a strategic way.

Job Search Strategies:
There are 2 approaches when looking for jobs:

  1. Passive – you look through listservs as and when you have time
  2. Pro-active & strategic – formulate your approach with thought and structure

Strategic Job Search:

  1. Identify the library setting you are most interested in working in
  2. Consider identifying another setting you would be interested in working in (Plan B!)
  3. Create a resume template to use for each type of library setting you’re interested in and tailor it to fit the job you are applying for.  For example,


Resume 1 = Public library focus

Resume 2 = Academic library focus

  1. If seeking work in academia, remember that oftentimes a CV is required.
  2. Consider inserting a summary at the top of your resume in which you list a cluster of key words and phrases
  3. Identify specific states to which I would really consider relocating and rank them. For example,


East coast (1-NY; 2-MA)

West coast (1-CA; 2-WA)

  1. Identify and select library systems within these states that are of interest and begin following them: learn about their collections, identify programs of interest, and reach out to librarians whose work you are interested in or with whom you share similar interests – use this as a tool for building your network in the event that future opportunities become available.
  2. Join a relevant professional association (e.g. ALA, PLA, SLA) and become actively involved at the local level in a task force or a committee where the work is of interest or where you identify an opportunity to develop a particular skill set you think would be useful for future applications. (Also consider joining your state library association)
  3. Take a strategic approach to networking – the contacts you make now may be useful in the future as these same contacts may end up on a search/hiring committee for a position you apply for 5-10 years from now.
  4. Linked In – does your profile display your interests to others?  Use this as an opportunity to really show who you are, where your interests lie, and what you’re good at.

Recommended Resources:

  1. Website: for examples of CV formats.
  2. Website: for listing of resume writing books by Wendy Enelow (Anything published recently should be helpful)
  3. Book: Resume Magic (Susan Whitcombe)
  4. Book: I’m on LinkedIn, Now what? A Guide to Getting the Most Out of LinkedIn (Jason Alba)
  5. Blog: (Career Management 2.0 Blog by Jason Alba)

Kelly Quaye graduated with her MLIS from The Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen, Scotland in 2010 and currently works at The University of Pennsylvania as a Library Service Assistant.  She is an ALA 2012 Emerging Leader.   Kelly previously contributed a recipe to INALJ here:  a wonderful comfort food!

reposted from 2/13/12

Naomi House

Naomi House, MLIS, is the founder and publisher of the popular webzine and jobs list (formerly I Need a Library Job) and former CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) of, a crowdfunding platform focused on African patrimony, heritage and cultural projects. INALJ was founded in October 2010 with the assistance of her fellow Rutgers classmate, Elizabeth Leonard. Its 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. INALJ has had over 21 Million page hits and helped many, many thousands of librarians 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 one month. Naomi believes that well-sourced quantity is quality in this narrow job market and INALJ reflects this with many new jobs published daily. She has also written for the 2011, 2012 and 2013 LexisNexis Government Info Pro and many other publications in the past decade. She presents whenever she can, including serving on three panels at the American Library Association's Annual Conference in Las Vegas; as breakout presenter at OCLC EMEA in Cape Town, South Africa; as a keynote speaker at the Virginia Library Association annual meeting; at the National Press Club in Washington DC; McGill University in Montreal, Canada; the University of the Emirates, Dubai, MLIS program and the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Naomi was a Reference, Marketing and Acquisitions Librarian for a contractor at a federal library outside Washington, DC, and has been living and working in Budapest, Hungary and Western New York State. She spent years running her husband’s moving labor website, fixed and sold old houses and assisted her husband cooking delicious Pakistani food. She is preparing to re-enter the workforce and is job hunting. Her husband is now the co-editor of INALJ, a true support!  She has heard of spare time but hasn’t encountered it lately. She pronounces INALJ as eye-na-elle-jay.