Seeking a Library Job While Employed

by Veda Darby Soberman, Head Editor, INALJ Hawaii

Seeking a Library Job While Employed

veda_bridge_goodcrop_picnikMany of us are lucky enough to be in the process of hunting for our dream library jobs while currently employed either in another library job or at a job in a different field.  Even if you think you already have your dream library job, don’t rule out the possibility of finding something even more ideal.  There are some challenges which come along with job hunting while employed, but with some tact and forethought, career disasters can be avoided and success achieved.  Here are a few tips if you are on the job search while employed:

1.  Use your time wisely.  Schedule time to conduct your search at least 3-4 times per week.  Take time to search before or after your workday.  Never conduct your job search while at work.

2.  Don’t tell, and do tell.  In general, it is best not to tell your co-workers or employer that you are seeking a job.  This could bring into question your loyalty to your current organization.  However, you will want to let those trustworthy individuals in your professional network know that you are in the market for a new position.  Use discretion, also, in what you reveal on your social networking sites.

3.  Be present.  While you have an eye to the future, it is important to also maintain focus on your current job.  Continue to do your best in your present position.  You want to maintain your professionalism, so that when the time comes, you can leave on good terms.  You want to avoid burning bridges, even if you are in an unhappy work situation. Also, continue to take advantages of opportunities for growth at your current job.  Even if you are not working in the library field, continued education or progressively responsible duties will only add to your desirability as an employee.

4.  Plan to answer the tough questions.  Be prepared with an answer if you are ever confronted with this question by a co-worker or employer, “Are you looking for a new job?”  You will also want to be ready to answer the related job interview question, “Why are you looking for a new position?”   Prepare a short answer centering on professional growth or career development.   Think about it before you are caught off guard, and definitely do not mention anything negative about your current employment situation.

5.  Don’t feel guilty.  It is easy for us to become attached to and comfortable with our situations.  You may love your current co-workers and the organization, and distress about potentially leaving them behind, but your career and future are your own.  Loyalty is a desirable trait, but you must do what you can to achieve your professional goals.  Don’t sell yourself short.  Be courageous, and seek greater opportunities.

Good luck!


  3 comments for “Seeking a Library Job While Employed

  1. J
    June 3, 2013 at 6:46 pm

    Do you have any discretionary leave/vacation time at your current job? An easy solution, especially if you have to travel out of town/across town for interviews is to take a ‘personal day off.’ If not, and you have a good relationship with your current boss, it might be perfectly acceptable to discretely tell him/her about your interview-to me, being candid is much better than deviously using a sick day for this purpose. I used to work in an archive with just 2 other people, including my boss, and I was able to be pretty transparent about my absences for interviews because we enjoyed a good working relationship.

    As for your other question, any supervisors or mentors you’ve had, no matter how lowly, can act as a great references when you have limited professional experience. Old professors, grad school advisors, or librarians you networked with while in school/finding that first job all have the ability to put in a good word, provided the relationships are there.

  2. Q
    June 3, 2013 at 3:41 pm

    I am currently employed but looking for a new position. This is great advice. I can especially relate to number 5. I like my job (most of the time) and I love my co-workers. I know I’m lucky to even have a job in this economy, so I often feel guilty about wanting to leave or think there must be something wrong with me to be so unhappy where I am. I’ve run into a couple of conundrums, though. I work in a tiny archive (there are 3 of us, plus interns), so I can’t be gone for too long on any given day without causing problems for my co-workers. I hardly ever leave for lunch and when I do I don’t take nearly as much time as an interview would. Does anyone have advice for how to excuse my absence when I start getting interviews? I’d also like advice on who to use as a professional reference when you have limited work experience. This is my first job in the field and aside from my former supervisor whose position I took when he left and a former internship supervisor, I’m not sure who to ask.

    • June 3, 2013 at 5:36 pm

      Great tips, Veda!

      Q, you ask a really good question. I will sometimes say I have “an appointment” to take time off work. It’s true if I’m interviewing or if I’m seeing the dentist. You want to make sure that you don’t always give the gory details at work so that saying “an appointment” isn’t a stark lack of detail.

      References don’t have to be in the field! If you have other former supervisors that will speak well of you, that counts, too. When I’ve talked to references, I’m most interested in people who have supervised the candidate, even if it was at a retail or food service job, as long as it was fairly recent. Co-workers are okay, too; much better than friends. You also have the option of asking the potential new place to only contact your supervisor if you have an offer.

      Good luck!

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