My Experience Leaving the MLS off My Resume

by Sarah Roark Schott, Head Editor, INALJ Arizona
previously published 10/1/2013

My Experience Leaving the MLS off My Resume

SarahRoarkSchottINALJLast month I wrote about leaving the MLS off your resume when applying for entry level library jobs and non-library positions. Many of you shared your stories and commented on that article, so I thought I would write a little update on my experience during the past month.

After submitting that article I decided to start a new resume from scratch, leaving off my MLS and many of the extra accomplishments I have made during the past few years. (These include courses I have developed and professional activities I have participated in.) I shortened the project and job descriptions for each of my library and archive positions, and added retail and serving jobs dating back to 2003. The new resume is a page long, the right length for many hiring managers to get an idea of your experience at a quick glance.

I applied for around 12 or 15 jobs with the new resume in a wide variety of fields – department store retail, coffee shops, office work, and entry level school library media specialist positions. I made sure my archive and library experience translated well to fit the job post descriptions, and used the appropriate language.

A week after my article was posted I got a call from a department store manager who received my online application (sans resume). The manager was interested in my online responses and called to discuss my education and work history. Nervous, I accidentally blurted out that I had received my BA and MA from the University of Arizona. Unfortunately that slip up changed the conversation immediately, and the manager asked why I had applied for a lower paying job in retail. I quickly assured him that I was hoping to find work with a company that would treat me fairly and allow me to work up within the ranks. So, we set up a face to face interview for the next day. Although the store I interviewed at was 45 minutes from my home, I was excited to meet with an employer and learn about the business. The interview went well, my background in retail was a big plus, but my MA was a problem. Despite my best efforts to assure him that I would not quickly move on, he decided not to offer me the job. Perhaps I should have asked for more specifics for why he would not hire me, but I was not brave enough to do that.

A couple of days later I received a call to interview with a chain coffee shop near my home. This time I made sure they had the new resume before I went in. The interview went really well, I have worked coffee before and I felt a good connection with the manager and a few of the employees. My education came up very briefly, and there was never an opportunity to nervously admit my MA. The next day the interviewing manager called me and informed me that she really liked me and thought I would be a good fit for the company, but had decided to go with another applicant who seemed to fit better with her current staff. She then told me that she was going to call the other stores in the city and recommend me to other hiring managers. I was appreciative of the extra effort she made to call me, and even the promise to call other stores. Like many of you, I have waited for weeks after interviews to hear anything from hiring committees, sometimes never hearing a word from anyone. That ten minute call lifted my spirits and renewed my confidence in the job hunt.

After those two interviews I have had a couple of pre-interview interviews, but no other luck using my new resume. I know this is a numbers game, the more places I apply the closer I get to landing another interview and maybe even a job offer! I am going to continue applying for different positions with both resumes, and maybe next month I will have more news for you all. I hope you will share any experiences or results you have had by excluding your MLS. I would also like to read any stories you might have about how your MLS somehow landed you a non-library job. Good luck and happy hunting!

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