On celebrating all victories in the job hunt
by Mary-Michelle Moore, Senior Editor
One of the greatest things about volunteering as a senior editor for INALJ is the opportunity to see and work with people who have found jobs/internships/volunteer opportunities using our site. My favorite INALJ articles to read and to write are the success stories of people who have found a new job either through INALJ or through other means. However, one thing I’ve noticed in the last few times I’ve reached out to some jobseekers to ask if they would share their success story is, nearly all of them have asked me if their new position counted as a success story.
At first I thought this was odd, because of course finding a new job where you will be happy would count as a success story. People found new internships where they will pick up new skills and training, or a part-time job in the wrong department at their dream library, or even moving up in a paraprofessional position that will help them move on to the next step. But then I realized, I was guilty of the same type of thinking. A few months ago I started a new position – a lateral move in my same library but in a different department. I was happy in my previous position but I needed some more experience in different types of work before I could get that librarian position I truly coveted. So I didn’t announce my new position widely – and, if you go back and read how I’ve described not only my job hunt success but the frame I’ve put around the others’ positions, you should be able to see part of what’s happening. Go back and read, I’ll wait.
Did you see it? The description I gave of every new job where the person wasn’t sure it counted as a success was framed in terms of the next job, the “real” success. Librarians are a goal focused group, and that plays into how we tell our stories and how we measure success. So as the year continues to unfold, one of the things I’m dedicating myself to is celebrating all successes on the job hunt.
At this point, my librarian job hunt has lasted a little over two years (thankfully, I have a full time paraprofessional position, I can afford to be picky). I haven’t given up looking for my first librarian position in an academic library, but I’ve been looking for a job for so long it’s too easy to get bogged down. Sometimes filling out an application after taking a few months off a job search is a major accomplishment. Getting called for an interview is cause for celebration. Being offered a job, even if it isn’t the final dream job, is a major accomplishment. These things should all be at least acknowledged privately, even if you do not want to celebrate every step along your way.
We also need to start looking at why we think certain jobs don’t count. I don’t know about you, but I spend more time at work and volunteering in the library community than I do any other single activity (8 hours at work + 3 hours commute and breaks + 2-4 hours a day volunteering INALJ and other organizations). What does that say about most of the jobs in our profession if you’re convinced that it doesn’t count unless it has librarian in the job title? By sharing our accomplishments along the way we can help to further add to the community of supportive feedback that INALJ has created over the past several years. There are wonderful people in this community who give insightful, helpful feedback on Twitter in the #INALJChats, in the LinkedIn Group and in the comments on the articles.
One thing our community does particularly well is include information professionals and librarians of all backgrounds and interests. It’s not something that I always feel the luxury of being able to do (I’m not going to go into the politics of saying a library assistant and a librarian are the same thing here, but if you’ve worked in a libraries where this is contentious, you know). So please, if you have had a success or victory of any kind, share your story with someone else today, your example may give someone who’s mired down in a long job search the hope that they need to keep going.