Starting your Job Search

by Jennifer Devine, Senior Assistant, INALJ Maryland

Starting your Job Search

Jennifer DevineThe beginning of your job search can seem daunting. What should you be doing? Where do you start? Well if you’re reading this you’ve found INALJ! *Pat your self on the back* you’ve discovered a great resource. We list jobs by states and provinces’ and provide articles such as this one on everything you need to know about job searching! But there are some steps you should follow.

The first step to take is creating or improving your resume:

When first applying to jobs I chose to tailor my resume to each position. After a while I have a long list of resumes to use. I still tailor my resume, but I have multiple standard resumes. I have one for Libraries, Special Libraries, Museums, Archives, Preservation/Conservation and Customer Service/Reference Resumes’. I use these resumes as templates for each job and then tweak per job.

If you are applying to mainly academic positions it would be best to have a CV on hand as well. I do not apply to a lot of academic positions, but I keep an updated CV incase I need it for any positions. That way I do not have to create one from scratch when I need it.

The second step is Job application:

You want to read the job description a few times before filling out the application if there is one. Much of the info is similar to what is on your resume. You want to make sure you are filling it out correctly and check the requirements. Some applications want a resume, cover letter, references, and transcripts and have a questionnaire so you want to make sure you know what they require and what documents you will need.

If you need to use references make sure you pick professional people and ask them if it is ok to use them. I typically use the same three and I make sure that they have an updated copy of my resume if I think they may be contacted.

Optional Steps include:

Craft a Cover Letter.

In your cover letter you want to make sure it is one page. You can use a template, but make sure you customize it for each position. Try and find who to address the cover letter to. If you can absolutely find no one then it is acceptable to use To Whom it May Concern or Hiring Manager/ Human Resources Manager, but make sure to do your research and look at the website for the job, LinkedIn and a Google search before you use a generic address for the cover letter.

Join Organizations:

Joining organizations is very important. It shows your commitment to the field and there are many valuable organizations you can join. The first to join is national organizations, local and related.


American Library Association (ALA)

Association for Library and Information Science Education (ALISE)


State Association

College/University Association

Related (Archives, Art, Law, Special Libraries):

The Society of American Archivists (SAA)

Art Libraries Society of North America (ARLIS)

American Association of Law Librarians (AALL)

Special Libraries Association (SLA)

Memberships can be tax deductible however check with your Tax Specialist to see if you should claim them as tax deductible. A lot of the time they are not worth claiming because it would cost you a higher price for a different form (they are not included on the 1040EZ), but if you are already working on a form that qualifies them then go ahead and claim them, but just because something says its tax deductible it doesn’t always mean that is the best path to choose.


Contribute to the filed by volunteering. There are many places that you can volunteer weather you are giving back or working on your skill and gaining experience. Look into local libraries, archives and museum. Send an e-mail or if you are visiting a place you’d like to volunteer at ask someone and they can direct you to who you can talk to about it or give you the contact information for the person you would need to discuss it with. If you are strapped for time or do not want to commute you can volunteer virtually! INALJ a volunteer based website and there are many others that you can seek out just look for calls for volunteers or inquire with, most people will not want to turn down free help. If you are interested in volunteering with us visit INALJ Volunteer to learn about are volunteer opportunities or e-mail us at

If you have a tips on how you start your job search leave them in the comments!