by Elinor Crosby, former Head Editor, INALJ Nova Scotia and PEI
previously published 12/9/13
But I Can’t Move For A Job!
What happens if you graduate from your Masters or Technician program and intend to stay in the city or town you went to school in? For some of us that is the only financially feasible possibility; we may have a family that can’t be uprooted, too much debt and not enough savings to handle a move, or we may already have a job or jobs to supports us in our search for a library job. What then?
You have to get in the system and work it, but the truth is, getting a job in your local library system can sometimes take a while, especially if there is a local school or schools that offer library-related programs. For instance, my small city has both a Masters of Library and Information Studies and a Library Technicians program, both of which graduate a large number of people every spring. If even half of each of the graduating classes intends to stay in the same city, or the same province, it creates a glut of over-qualified people applying for library clerk and library assistant positions.
Just about the only way to get in to my local system is to apply to clerk positions even though you’re over-qualified for them. Over one hundred applications come in for most clerk positions, and about 90% of them applicants are eliminated for not addressing the job requirements in their cover letters. The people hiring clerks don’t care about your thesis or your course work; they care about your customer-service experience. They may keep your subject-specialization in mind for later cross-training, but what they need to hire right away is someone who can follow the instructions on the application and who will give excellent customer-service to patrons while they go about their duties.
The other problem with not being able to move for a job, is that most of the paraprofessional positions that open up tend to be part-time, some of them to the extreme. My first library job was as a Sunday Supervisor, and I only had seven scheduled hours a week; the library job seeker needs to see this as an opportunity, though! If you live in the city in which you went to school, chances are you already have a job or jobs to sustain you. Seven hours a week is not a lot to add to your work schedule for the duration of a probationary period. If you’re only working part-time, it’s also easy to pick up extra hours. I usually managed between 5-10 extra hours a week, and when summer vacation hit, I was working almost full-time!
Not being able to move for a job can be a hindrance to your job search, but if you have established roots in a community you can use that to your advantage.