Preparing to job-search: Some considerations

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.

3)    Organize

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?

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§ 6 Responses to Preparing to job-search: Some considerations

  • Ge Ge says:

    Hi Rebecca,

    Thanks for the awesome post and wonderful ideas. In addition to your suggestions, I also use http://www.simplyhired.com to search ‘library’ and [insert state/location]. Many organizations are strapped for funds so they may use these boards to get a rich applicant pool. I also would suggest my favorite company TRAK http://www.trakcompanies.com/ – this premiere company makes its business by searching for talented library and information professionals as well as executive administrators and paralegals. I love this company because of its professionalism and hardworking employees who do a fabulous job matching clients to employers. Also never count out your state association, by volunteering I was able to land a part-time position, which led to full-time employment. It’s all about networking, analyzing the hiring trends, and making yourself employable.

  • Jen says:

    Hi – I’ve been out of library school for a few years, but I did spend a year job hunting for a library job before finding my current awesome one in July. I wrote up some extensive notes on the process – what worked for me, what I think helped me, what didn’t, how I handled a lot of the admin details. I don’t think what I did is the only way to do it (far from it!) but I wanted to share in case it helped other people figure out what worked for them.

    My notes are up as a series of posts at my blog – the index is at http://modernhypatia.info/2011/08/job-hunt-index/

  • Good point about the part-time work. There’s really nothing wrong with it. And if you are able to share accommodations, move back home, or otherwise live on the cheap, you might not feel the pinch too badly. Part-time work can provide real experience — and it gets your foot in the door.

  • Brenda says:

    Wonderful advice and suggestions. Being organized and having a plan is a plus. Being prepared is a must in this economy.

  • [...] other job search ideas, you may enjoy the resources Preparing to job-search: Some considerations and Job tips for future/recent LIS grads. (They have some really great advice that I wish I had [...]

  • […] Preparing to Job-Search: Some Considerations - Rebecca Halpern Job Tips for Future/Recent LIS Grads - Heidi Schutt Tips for Your Job or Internship Application - Rose L. Chou What Not to Do When Applying to Library Jobs - In the Library with the Lead Pipe Hiring Librarians  Open Cover Letters […]

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