by Alexandra Janvey, Head Editor, INALJ Iowa
Developing a Healthy Job Search
The job hunt these days is a long affair, one that is an emotional roller coaster full of discouragement, stress, and mood swings. However, there are ways to manage and reduce the negativity produced during this tough period. Developing a healthy job search is the most effective approach to successfully finding employment in the least amount of time. The following are just a few ways that can help even the most frustrated job seeker cope and stay positive.
Keep busy: There is nothing that has a worse effect on a person’s attitude than an abundance of free time. Take advantage of this free time by doing something constructive, something that will further your career, improve your skills, get you noticed, and improve the chance of getting a job. There are various ways for job seekers to occupy their time wisely, including volunteering, professional organization involvement, networking, and continuing education.
Volunteer opportunities or additional internships can be found at local libraries, archives, organizations, and even companies. These opportunities are sometimes posted on job sites and listservs; otherwise they must be sought out. If it seems unclear whether a place takes on volunteers or interns who have already graduated from library school, ask! It is an excellent way to get more experience, beef up your resume, keep skills sharp, and make connections within the field. It’s also a good way to maintain references who have worked with you recently and gather additional recommendations. It also helps to have somewhere to go and something to do, at least a few days a week. Even if the situation isn’t ideal, volunteering will make you feel productive, useful, and accomplished. These feelings are critical to maintaining optimism and a positive outlook.
Professional organization involvement is the perfect way to get started in the profession and introduce yourself to the professional community. You always learn something, no matter what committee or work you become involved in. It’s also a great chance to meet fellow professionals in the field, which is fun and exciting.
Continuing education is yet another great way to use the extra time effectively. Expand your mind and potential by learning a new language or skill. This doesn’t have to be expensive as there are many low-cost and even free options available. The first place to look for these conferences, workshops, and webinars are any professional organizations of which you are a member. The pricing varies, but professional organizations hold these in-person and online events at a discounted price or sometimes free for members. Even the larger professional organizations will occasionally make a webinar free to everyone, including non-members. There are also those organizations such as Webjunction (www.webjunction.org) and Infopeople (www.infopeople.org) that provide free webinars tailored for librarians on various topics. Don’t limit yourself to training and events that are designed for the librarian community! Think outside the box and consider other areas that may be useful in the profession, such as web design, coding, writing, public speaking, teaching, outreach, and more.
Attending conferences can be expensive, but there are often scholarships available that will cover the costs of attendance, at least partially. This is another option for attending conferences if you are on a tight budget, especially if you are a newer professional and a first-time conference attendee as these individuals are preferred recipients of the scholarships. Another great free continuing education option is MOOCs, massive open online courses. While you don’t receive actual college credit for taking a MOOC, they don’t cost any money, and some will provide a certificate of completion. The important part of taking such a class will be what skill or improvement you take away from the experience. There are an array to choose from that can be found using these platforms: Coursera (www.coursera.org), edX (www.edx.org), Udacity (www.udacity.com), and Canvas Network (www.canvas.net).
Stay healthy: Keeping yourself healthy should always be a top priority. Make sure you eat right, exercise, and get enough sleep. This can be hard at times, especially since stress and anxiety levels can skyrocket during the job search. However, you must develop ways to manage. Some suggestions are exercise, taking up yoga, or any other activity that you find relaxing and soothing. This includes spending time with friends and family, as they are an important support system during tough times. Breaks are needed between job-hunting activities to recharge, so go out and have some fun!
Consider all options: Relocating or commuting to work, if possible, is something to seriously consider, especially if there hasn’t been many job postings in the immediate area or you haven’t had luck being asked for interviews. There are times where you will have to do whatever it takes to find employment, even if it means traveling further than expected for a job. Look into positions outside of your desired location range. You can always look into finding a job in your desired location after you’ve built up your resume and gained more experience. I wound up in a situation like this after graduating from Library School. Although living on Long Island, I started commuting into New York City for a while after finally finding employment there. I was able to accumulate a good amount of experience, which allowed me to land a job closer to home at a later date.
These are just a few examples of great ways to pass the time while searching for employment. It will take time, but keep working hard and know that eventually the hard times will pass.