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 webzine and jobs list (formerly I Need a Library Job) and former CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) of, a crowdfunding platform focused on African patrimony, heritage and cultural projects. INALJ was founded in October 2010 with the assistance of her fellow Rutgers classmate, Elizabeth Leonard. Its 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. INALJ has had over 21 Million page hits and helped many, many thousands of librarians 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 one month. Naomi believes that well-sourced quantity is quality in this narrow job market and INALJ reflects this with many new jobs published daily. She has also written for the 2011, 2012 and 2013 LexisNexis Government Info Pro and many other publications in the past decade. She presents whenever she can, including serving on three panels at the American Library Association's Annual Conference in Las Vegas; as breakout presenter at OCLC EMEA in Cape Town, South Africa; as a keynote speaker at the Virginia Library Association annual meeting; at the National Press Club in Washington DC; McGill University in Montreal, Canada; the University of the Emirates, Dubai, MLIS program and the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Naomi was a Reference, Marketing and Acquisitions Librarian for a contractor at a federal library outside Washington, DC, and has been living and working in Budapest, Hungary and Western New York State. She spent years running her husband’s moving labor website, fixed and sold old houses and assisted her husband cooking delicious Pakistani food. She is preparing to re-enter the workforce and is job hunting. Her husband is now the co-editor of INALJ, a true support!  She has heard of spare time but hasn’t encountered it lately. She pronounces INALJ as eye-na-elle-jay.