4 Tips for the start of the job search—what I wish I had really understood before I began

by Clare Sobotka, Senior Assistant
previously published 1/22/14

4 Tips for the start of the job search—
what I wish I had really understood before I began

Clare SobotkaFor anyone who has been job searching for awhile or reads the INALJ blog posts, much of this will be a rehash. But I would really like to reach out to those who are just beginning the search or are currently in an MLS and/or MIS program. May you gain wisdom from my mistakes, er, learning experiences.

  1. I was told to look at job postings throughout my time in library school to get a good idea of the job market, what the desired skills were (and thus what classes I should be taking), and a better idea of what kind of jobs I could be interested in, but I only looked at a few ads superficially. I regret that, because if I had followed through, I may have realized that the job descriptions for technical services positions bored me, but public library positions and jobs in museums excited me, and correspondingly changed the courses I was taking. Also, I would have gotten teaching and exhibit design experience.
  2. Start applying for jobs early, at least a semester or term before you graduate. While you are trying to find a job, the real value of applying is that you have time to practice your cover letters, organize your job search, and have professors and fellow students critique your cover letters and resumes. I found that it took me awhile to get into the swing of things when I first started applying, and since I didn’t start until after I finished school, I lost a few months of time and several job application opportunities because my materials weren’t up to snuff.
  3. Writing a tailored cover letter is an art that takes practice and time to learn. I made some embarrassing mistakes in my early ones. If you aren’t getting interviews, reevaluate your strategy, and do some research on how to compose your letters. Several astute editors have mentioned http://www.askamanager.org/, but I repeat it because it was so helpful for me. The blogger has a ton of tips for cover letters and resumes. Use it, use it, use it.
  4. Check the websites of specific institutions or libraries you want to work at. INALJ is really great about aggregating jobs, but some slip through the cracks. The substitute reference librarian job I now have did not show up on regional job collection websites or INALJ; I only found out about it because someone who works at my institution pointed it out to me.


Also published previously as  Tips for the start of the job search—what I wish I had really understood before I began

Naomi House

Naomi House, MLIS, is the founder and publisher of the popular webzine and jobs list INALJ.com (formerly I Need a Library Job) and former CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) of T160K.org, 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.