What (not) to do while job hunting

by Alexis Stapp, Head Editor, INALJ Minnesota

What (not) to do while job hunting

alexisstappHere is my tongue-in-cheek guide to what you should do while job hunting:

  1. Take longer than a week to complete a single job application.
  2. Complain endlessly – especially to library school friends who are in the same boat.
  3. Be super disorganized about everything.
  4. Sulk when you don’t hear back from any potential employers.
  5. Be ashamed.

I will admit that I did some of these things while job searching; I am guilty of committing 1, 2 and 5.  Why should you not do these things while on the job hunt?  I should think most of them are obvious but here’s my reasoning:

  1. Crafting a thoughtful and representative cover letter, as well as comprehensive job application, does take time.  A week gives you time to write the letter, get some feedback, and get your other application materials together before sending it out.  Longer than that gives you too much time to agonize over every word and punctuation mark, thus dragging it out needlessly and making the whole thing that much more stressful.
  2. Job hunting is frustrating and your library school buddies all know this too.  It’s easy to fall back on complaining about the process when you hang out but they’re your support network for more than just this reason – use time together to give each other positive support too.  Discuss job hunting tactics; get feedback on resumes, cover letters, interview apparel, etc.; or throw out an interview question or two and brainstorm answers.  Then, forget about job hunting and have some fun, please!
  3. Having some kind of system for keeping track of all your applications is key to making sure you have all the information you need to apply, have all the requisite materials for each application, and to stay on top of deadlines.  Whether it’s some way to track it electronically, an Excel spreadsheet, or a big ol’ wall calendar, make sure it’s a system you can manage and it works for YOU.
  4. I completely understand how frustrating it can be when you hear nothing from the places you’ve applied but sulking will do no good.  Instead of sulking, be proactive about following up with the employer.  Yes, that can scary in itself, but the worst thing that can happen is you find out they’ve moved onto the interview process and you weren’t invited in for one.  Then at least you know, right?
  5. You’ve been applying for jobs for months or even longer to no avail.  Do not be ashamed or embarrassed.  There are so many people, in general and in this particular field, who are in the same place – people who have been unemployed or underemployed, who work 1 or 2 or 5 part-time jobs and are lucky if one of them is in the LIS field, who have been relying on a spouse or partner’s income or who have moved in with parents to get by.  Don’t feel that there’s something wrong with you if any of the above apply.  Recognize that it’s a tough market and do what you have to do in the meantime – volunteer, intern, work those many part-time jobs (or that one non-LIS full-time job) and live with mom, dad, and the cats.

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