28/11/2011 § 6 Comments
For those of us preparing to graduate in the next several months, it’s time. Time to get ready to job search. Or, as I’m known to do, it’s time to prepare to get ready to job search because, hey, you can’t be overly prepared, right? This piece isn’t about applying for jobs themselves–for that, turn to Heidi’s post from earlier this year– but the few weeks or months of preparation before you start: the “holy crap where do I even begin to look or know what I’m looking for?” stage, if you will.
I am by no means a job-seeking expert, but I do have a running joke with my family that I collect part-time jobs, so I’ve been friendly with my resume and cover letters for a while. Spending time tweaking and polishing your official application materials is important but I’ve found that the job search preparation process is just as important. What am I talking about? Here’s a few tips to make your search a little more organized.
1) Face the facts
For the last semester, I’ve subscribed to just abaout every relevant job-seeking listserv out there. Among my favorites are I Need a Library Job because you can sort by state, Lib Gig Jobs because I don’t have to sort through dozens of non-relevent job openings, ALA Job List because even though they have a lot of intermediate and upper-level jobs I get a sense of where my career could be headed, and ILI-L, ALA’s Information Literacy and Instruction listserv because that’s the type of job I’m looking for.
The benefit of subscribing to listservs is 2-fold: first, you can get a sense of what’s out there now. Do you really want to move back home to Ohio but in 4 days you only ever see 1 job opening? You might want to consider another location, at least temporarily. Do you have your heart set on cataloging in a special library? In a few days, you’ll see how many positions are out there. It’s a good reality check. And don’t forget: ain’t nothing wrong with part-time (for now)! Second, you can see where your skill sets are useful and what needs to be improved on. For me, after reading dozens and dozens of job descriptions, I have a pretty clear understanding where my shortcomings are and because I still have several months until I graduate, I can start working on them now.
Be warned: subscribe to the digest version if you can! Because the last thing I want to do is get distracted by potential jobs during finals, I have a list-serv folder in Gmail, subdivided into the specific list-serv, and I have all the emails directly routed to the folder. That way I can look at them when I’m ready. Check out Lauren’s post on special libraries and Annie’s post about art libraries for resources.
2) Get the word out
If you’re going to ask people to be your professional references, which, by the way, you should always ask, give them plenty of notice. Some people want to be notified of every job you’re applying to so they can be prepared to be specific, others just want a sense of the types of positions you’re looking for, and others still might want to write you a stock letter of recommendation. The point is, now’s the time to figure out who will be your references for what kinds of positions and to give those people a heads up. Many academic positions want letters from your references and the more time you can give them to write it, the better the letter will be and the more your reference will like you (no one wants a 1 week deadline). It’ll also open the conversation for your professional mentors to talk to you about their job search, what skill sets they see in you, and any tips they might have.
I have a Google Calendar to keep track of deadlines, required application materials, and an estimation of how long the whole application will take me to put together (overkill? That’s my middle name). Point is, figure out what works for you to keep up with deadlines and whatnot. Now’s the time to nail down an organizational structure. For example, I have a “job search” folder on my hard drive, and within that folder, I have folders for every position I apply for that includes the job description, any research I might have done on the organization, my resume, cover letter, references, and any supplemental materials they require. I like to group them by type: academic, public, instruction, outreach, etc., but that’s just me. Again: what works for you?
What strategies do you use for the job-search preparation process?
20/10/2011 § 3 Comments
During my first semester of school, and into my second semester I read children’s books because I had been told it was an important part of being a children’s librarian. Over the past year I have found that this is true—but it takes more than a belief in this theory to keep reading, to keep blogging and avoid burn out.
Semester One: The Rookie
A year ago I started library school. I began my coursework with a children’s literature survey to balance out the rigor of my metadata class in my first semester. “Literature for Youth” covered historic and current trends in youth literature while also discussing evaluation models for children’s books. Throughout the semester we read top picks across genres, eras and award winners. The class required me to keep an ongoing blog that discussed one or two books I had read each week. The class was great, blogging was even better, and I fell in love with children’s literature. At the end of the semester I made the naive vow that I would keep reading and keep blogging because it would make me a great librarian someday—and it was fun.
Semester Two: Payoff
My children’s literature class was over—finding time to read got a bit harder. In my first semester reading was built into my coursework—it was for school—I had to do it. In my second semester, my courses required a different kind of reading. Keeping up with my blog took time and commitment, but I was still eager and up for the challenge. Eventually my work paid off. At the end of my second semester of school I started part-time work in a children’s library. I owe a lot of the credit to my blog—it was a great source of conversation during my interview and my comfort level with children’s books gave me a lot of confidence in the process.
Semester Three: The Summer of Burnout
This summer I took two classes, I worked a full-time job and I started my part-time library job. I began the summer semester with the expectation that I would read and blog as I had in the previous semesters. I loved reading, I loved blogging, I had a new library job—I would make time for reading. What was I thinking? I’m not sure how other people do with summer courses—the two classes I took were beyond difficult on a 10 week timeline—especially with my workload. Reading and blogging began to feel like a burden. Not living up to my expectations for myself felt worse.
Semester Four: The Rescue and Renewal
At the end of the summer work eased up and I had more time to read. However, I realized that reading children’s literature with the idea of being a better librarian was not enough reason for me. The theory made sense but it didn’t make sense when all I did was read in my “spare time” or chastise myself for not reading. One of the adult librarians at my job recognized my burn out and she rescued me. I was expressing my frustration with adolescent protagonists–she asked me what kind of grown up books I like to read. I responded with David Sedaris. She stepped away from the desk and returned with a copy of Carl Hiaasen’s Skin Tight. I read like a grown up for a while, when I didn’t want to read—I didn’t read. I took a break.
In the past few weeks, I’ve been faced with some serious readers advisory work. My patrons never cease to challenge me. During these readers advisory sessions I have discovered and internalized why I need to read children’s literature. There is a frustration on both sides of the desk when I can’t help a patron find the right book. Yet nothing feels better than a genuine book talk that leads to a happy patron. In the practice of helping patrons, I have found the truth in the theory I learned in my first semester of library school. Being a great children’s librarian takes a commitment to children’s resources. Reading children’s literature is part of the job. At the same time, a job is a job and a work/life balance must be struck. I’m learning to identify when I am bored or bogged down with kids’ books or blogging about kids books. When that happens, I indulge myself with a mystery (written for adults)—or a break.
08/06/2011 § 16 Comments
Hello, newly minted and soon-to-be librarians! I’m visiting today from Librarian Wardrobe to give you some ideas on how to dress like a successful librarian without having to spend the large amounts of money that librarians tend to make (joke, of course). I was in your shoes recently, wondering how librarians dress for interviews and a first professional position, so I started Librarian Wardrobe as a fun reference point for LIS students, early career librarians, and anyone else wanting to see examples and share what they wear to work.
Let’s look at a few different scenarios: « Read the rest of this entry »
13/05/2011 § 3 Comments
36 credit hours complete. It felt pretty wonderful to see that on my transcript this past week. After 5 semesters and about 20 months, I have completed my MLIS degree. Still feels a bit surreal. Probably won’t hit me until I walk at graduation next week. It’s exciting, though. And made more exciting as I am very lucky to already have full-time employment as a Research Analyst.
It all has me thinking, though, how will I stay connected now that I will not be going to class and interacting with other students on a regular basis? How will I keep myself a part of the profession? In my previous career I became pretty insulated and it was hard to continue that learning process. I really want to make sure that doesn’t happen to me now, especially working in a fairly private environment.
11/05/2011 § 14 Comments
About a month ago I wrote a post titled: Some thoughts from a #n00brarian. The day that post went live, I was offered the position at my dream job as the Library Director of Muir Library in Winnebago, Minnesota. Unfortunately, I couldn’t announce it because it had to be approved by the City Council, but that’s neither here nor there anymore.
I have a job and I love it. I’d like to just play with the idea of my transition from student to professional for a few minutes. (Spoiler Alert!! If you’re looking for a post about how easy the transition is, don’t read this one)