by Josh Rimmer, Senior Editor, INALJ Missouri, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Kentucky, Louisiana
How to Tread the Waters of Uncertain Job Prospects to Stay Afloat and Keep Your Head Above Water.
No matter the amount of articles written about job hunting, or the amount you have personally read. The job hunt affects all of us differently, as we all have different social, economic, and personal issues to deal with on the hunt. Our emotions can run high with a new job “hit”, an upcoming interview. Or run low during a “job drought”, when hours spent completing job applications seem futile after failing to produce employer’s interest. I won’t lie, spending 45 minutes completing an application –mainly work history- and to have nothing transpire is an incredibly disappointing feeling, and it is okay to feel dejected.
As Naomi touched in her article “Sometimes You Can’t Stay Positive on the Job Hunt, and That is OK too!” These feelings are okay, and normal, as you are putting the effort in to make a transformative change that will significantly impact your professional career. However, when bitterness, negativity and apathy start to enter the conversation. It may be time to step back, reevaluate your attitude/outlook and stop job searching momentarily. Although, that may be easier said than done, as bills and other “mouths” come into the equation.
As I have chartered the waters over the past year, I have experienced the highs of multiple hits in a month (5) to a prolonged job search drought (6 months). It stinks vacillating from one end to the other, and it can be mentally draining on your psyche. While my pearls of wisdom may be no different than suggestions shared in other articles, or from what you may have read; nevertheless, they may be able to help you in trying times.
1) Press Pause on the Job Search – You can still look of course, but I would suggest giving up the hunt for awhile. I gave up the job hunt for a month to give more time to my personal life. I traveled, went to concerts with new people & friends, and did things I enjoyed. Whatever gives you comfort and enjoyment, do it! Take at least 2-3 weeks for yourself. A fresh mental outlook can do wonders as you will feel rejuvenated and will be able to reexamine things with a fresh perspective.
2) Reevaluate Old Cover Letters – The point of the exercise is not to beat yourself up here, but look for little mistakes. As someone who is looking for work in Technical Services, for the longest time I had a little blurb in my cover letters about performing outreach. Now while my intentions are true about libraries and outreach, it does seem oddly placed in a cover letter directed towards a position as an acquisition assistant. Look for incongruences in your cover letter, as they may be there; make corrections and move forward.
3) Seek Outside Council – I try to save old job ads, maybe you do too. Try to have others outside of the profession examine your cover letter, resume and the old job ads during your hiatus. Too much jargon; are you too vague? Did you go buzzwords galore hoping the HR software would flag your cover letter? Find within your social circle, honest people who you can trust to give you critical feedback. You want individuals like the little child from the Emperor’s New Clothes. If you’re a member of the NMRT check out their resume & cover letter service.
4) Reflect, Be Honest, and Change Approach – Many of you have been involved, or associated with libraries a good portion of your life. You have experience and skills that trump my educational experience. As someone late to the library game –always loved libraries mind you- I realized that even with volunteering digitally and physically for a year, I still lacked a lot of experience that is outlined on an “entry level” position. Besides finding another volunteer opportunity to expand my skillset, maybe shooting for a paraprofessional job in the meantime would be more suitable for my professional development and situation. The quicker you can realize your faults and shortcomings, professionally speaking, the quicker you will be to devise a plan of attack and strengthen your weaknesses. DON’T FEEL BAD, OR GET DOWN! Be honest with yourself, make a change for the better, and your outlook will improve. It certainly has in my situation.
At times, job searching can be overwhelming but don’t get discouraged and give up. I’ve understood from the get-go the process takes times, albeit I didn’t think I would be iterating these remarks at this point, or still job hunting for that matter. Don’t compare yourself to others, or former classmates, as they embark on a new professional opportunity. Focus on you, on developing your skills, and be open to new opportunities, and you will stay afloat throughout the process, I promise you. Best wishes to those in your continued search and those soon to beginning your search.