Goldilocks Jobs: don’t wait for ‘just right’ to apply

Charissa Brammer, Head Editor, INALJ Maine

Goldilocks Jobs: don’t wait for ‘just right’ to apply

charissabrammerAs a new professional, it can be difficult to find a job that matches your knowledge and experience exactly. Personally, I have a tendency to always look for that Goldilocks job position: the one that will fit everything that I have to offer and make it likely that I will get the interview. I want to make sure that I am the person that they are looking for. The problem with this approach is that it is making the assumption that you can infer all of the things that an employer is looking for from a short job announcement – one that, in the world of academic libraries, was probably primarily crafted by HR. Disqualifying yourself from applying for a position means that you never get to make contact with the people who might want to give you the job. The human element in hiring, the hiring committee, can have drastically different wants and needs than you might think, and if you never get your resume in front of them, you are only doing yourself a disservice.


Unknown Factors

There are several unknown factors that might positively affect your ability to get hired into your reach position. One is the number of applicants. In some instances, a job announcement will have to be sent out multiple times because they are simply unable to get a pool of applicants. It is possible that you might be up against a pool of 100 people, but it’s also possible that you will be one of five applicants. While this is a lot more likely to happen in a small, rural academic or public library, it’s possible anywhere and I think that it’s something that should encourage job seekers to go for that position that might be just a little outside of your application comfort zone.


Hiring Committees

Another factor is the hiring manager/hiring committee. These hiring bodies can have vastly disparate qualifications that they are looking for in a desirable candidate. You never know if you are going to find a committee that is interested in hiring a younger candidate with more up-to-date skills in order to complement their longtime, somewhat stuck in their ways staff. They also might be charmed by some of your extracurricular activities, or be looking for someone with the grant-writing experience that you just happen to have. Never underestimate the random things that a group of people tasked with hiring will find themselves interested in.


Success Stories!

Just this week, I heard about two people who were hired into positions reserved for more experienced librarians fresh out of school. One took on a supervisory position in electronic resources as her first professional position, and the other was hired as a library dean when he had less than five years of experience. I am sure that there are a lot more stories like this one, and if you want to be one, you have to submit those applications that might be just a little above what you think you are qualified for.

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. 


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