Translating Non-Library Skills to a Library-Directed Résumé

by Joe Hudak, MLIS
previously published 1/13/14

Translating Non-Library Skills to a Library-Directed Résumé

joe.hudakIt’s easier to get a job as a professional librarian if you’re already working in a library. But it’s not always easy to get a job in a library if you’ve never worked in one before. One way to improve your chances is to frame your work experience in language that will be familiar to librarians. Here are some suggestions about how to describe non-library job skills in a way that people doing library hiring can understand and appreciate:

  • Education: Educators craft learning plans, create instructional materials and develop tools to evaluate outcomes. These are key skills in libraries, especially for people working in programming, training and supervision.
  • Journalism: If you’re a journalist, you know how to write professionally, work with minimal supervision, do research and meet deadlines.  These are all valuable abilities in library work.
  •  Nonprofits: Did you do grant writing, or fundraising, or outreach, or volunteer management? A growing number of library jobs include these duties.
  • Office Work: These kinds of jobs require organization, time management and an attention to detail–qualities that are prized by every hiring librarian.
  • Public Relations: Have you managed social media strategies, written press releases or designed promotional materials? PR is a hot topic in the library world, with many organizations working on improving their PR presence.
  • Retail: You’ve picked a good time to apply for library jobs–many libraries are currently interested in taking lessons from retail businesses. Emphasize things like customer service, merchandising and display skills.

When you tailor your application materials to each position you apply for, and emphasize the way the skills you’ve learned in your non-library work can be applied to a library job, you’ll stand out from other applicants and improve your chances of getting hired.



Joe Hudak completed his MLIS degree at the University of Alabama. He lives in Arkansas and works as the manager of the Dee Brown Library in Little Rock, part of the Central Arkansas Library System. He judges graphic novels for the Arkansas Teen Book Award and has given professional-development presentations on topics including hiring, training and customer service. He enjoys bicycles, board games and jazz records.

Naomi House

Naomi House, MLIS, is the founder and publisher of the popular LIS jobs resource (formerly I Need a Library Job). Founded in October 2010 with the assistance of her fellow Rutgers classmate, Elizabeth Leonard, INALJ’s social media presence has grown to include Facebook (retired in 2016), Twitter and a LinkedIn group, in addition to the interviews, articles and jobs found on INALJ has had over 20 Million page views and helped thousands of librarians and LIS folk find employment! Through grassroots marketing, word of mouth and a real focus on exploring unconventional resources for job leads, INALJ grew from a subscription base of 20 friends to a website with over 500,000 visits in a month. Naomi believes that well-sourced quantity is quality in this narrow job market and INALJ reflects this many new jobs published daily. She was a 2013 Library Journal Mover & Shaker and has served on the University of Maryland iSchool Board from 2014-2017. Naomi was a Reference, Marketing and Acquisitions Librarian for a contractor at a federal library outside Washington, DC, and now lives part time in Western NY and Budapest, Hungary. She has heard of spare time but hasn’t encountered it lately. She pronounces INALJ as eye-na-elle-jay.