by Courtney Baron, Head Editor, INALJ Georgia
Overcoming Roadblocks When Job Searching
I have decided this is the year I will get a library job. I’ve been looking for a paraprofessional position since I enrolled in the MLIS program at my university in January 2013, but so far I haven’t had any luck. I learned a lot during my search last year and I chronicled some of these lessons in my last INALJ blog post (http://inalj.com/?p=58807). So why do I think this year will be any different? Because I’ve decided to be more intentional with my job search and overcome my personal job searching roadblocks.
Allow me to explain. I work a full time job in student affairs at a university and I’m in graduate school working on my MLIS. I’ve found several part- time jobs during my search, but I haven’t applied for them because 1) I don’t have the time or energy to work a part-time job in addition to working 45 hours a week and attending graduate school and 2) The jobs didn’t have enough hours or pay to replace my full time job. I don’t mind working two part time jobs, but I wasn’t in a position to accept job number one. I’m geographically bound to a specific area – at least until my husband finishes up his program – and full time library jobs within an hour or so commute are rare. Library and information science is a difficult field to break into and you have to make sacrifices to get your foot in the door. I’ve realized that finding a full time job might be not possible, or at least will take some time, and I don’t want to delay getting crucial library experience before I graduate from library school.
So, once I realized how much my reluctance and financial inability to apply for, and thus potentially accept, a part-time library job, was hindering my job search, I decided to do something about it. I’m trying to set myself up so that I can apply for any position of interest and not worry about the consequences of a part-time job or lower salary. Besides, even though I would prefer a full time job, I know that a part-time job would allow me the schedule flexibility I need to volunteer or intern in a library as well as spend extra time on my professional commitments, thus having more impressive content on my resume! I chose this profession for a reason and my personal happiness is worth making some sacrifices.
Once you have identified your roadblock(s), craft a plan of action. Here are a few steps I’m taking to overcome my roadblock:
1. I’ve cut back on unnecessary expenses or found ways to reduce expenses. Couponing and meal planning or fewer trips to Starbucks are a good place to start, but here are a few specific things I’m doing: I canceled a few fun weekend trips I had planned this year to save money for conference travel. I was looking forward to those trips, but I’d rather look forward to going to my job! I also bought a package for a year’s worth of online barre classes that costs less than the cost for one month of unlimited barre classes at a studio. I’m trying to get used to living on less now so a lower salary or hourly wage won’t sting so much.
2. I’ve started saving money to have a cushion to fall back on. This is what you should do with the money you save in step number one!
3. I vow to be proactive about job searching and apply for jobs I find within 24 hours of the posting. I don’t always feel sharp enough to write a fabulous cover letter after work, but I know sometimes the applications get cut off before the deadline arrives and I want to make the cut.
4. I will update my MLIS portfolio with content from my classes and post every few weeks on my personal blog. My portfolio and blog have been neglected and I want to keep my information fresh for prospective employers.
5. I’m doing my best to maintain a positive attitude because I’m taking the steps necessary to get the job I want. It’s easy to get discouraged or feel hopeless, especially if you are currently working a job that makes you unhappy, but being proactive and intentional keeps you focused. Once I decided to just go for it and gave myself permission to apply for part-time jobs, I felt like a weight was lifted off my shoulders, and I’m sure that comes across in my cover letters and interviews.
You may be in an entirely different position. However, regardless of your situation, we all face roadblocks while job searching. Perhaps there are positions that caught your eye but you didn’t have some of the required skills. Enroll in a Photoshop class or take a MOOC to brush up on some tech skills. Or maybe you’ve seen a few jobs that require evenings and weekends and those hours conflict with your daughter’s ballet classes. Perhaps arranging a carpool with a fellow dancer is worth it to get your foot in the door? Figure out what your personal job searching roadblocks are and make a plan to tackle them head on, so this will be the year that you get your library job!