Tuesday, December 11, 2007
- I am thrilled. After relocating to a major large city, I thought it would be a snap to find a job as a librarian. I must have been mushugana. I beat the pavement for nearly 2 months...day in and day out before the offers started to literally pour in. I am now gainfully employed. And I'm jazzed.
The hardest part was watching my savings account get smaller and smaller and smaller each week. I was glad I rarely touched my vacation time, as at the end the More Northern™ Library cut me a check for this amount.
After going on many interviews, I noticed that a lot of public libraries do not feel obligated at all to:
a) Confirm the receipt of your application
b) Call to set up an interview - you'll call them to see if they got your application - they may ask in passing then for an interview
c) Send a letter out to applicants that the post has been filled
Oh Public Libraries. What a sad impression you left.
I wouldn't mind - if the organization was huge. But I know for a fact that 3 of the libraries I applied to have less than 100 staff members. I am glad I do not work for these organizations, as they are obviously disorganized and inefficient.
Why advertise for a job if you have no plans on starting an interview process?
I must say that all of the Universities I applied to did all of the above. They confirmed receipt of my applications, called to set up interviews, and sent follow up letters when they hired.
The few private libraries I applied to were a mixed bag. Often, they were a challenge to contact to follow up. I wasn't surprised.
And now, I have the most amazing new job. It's Jewish. It's a library. It's a museum. It's brand new - and I'm the first librarian. I can't wait to make my mark on the library world with this new job.
A few tips for librarians looking for work:
a)Have an MLIS, and be able to explain what it is for. Not everyone knows what it is, even if they know they need a librarian.
-some organizations want a librarian, and want to pay them $8.00/hr - they don't realize we need Master's degrees.
b)Dress up. And I don't mean in a holiday sweater with extra jewels. Brush that cat hair off yourself. I wore a bow tie to several interviews. I got competitive offers from each of those organizations. -Even if you will wear jeans to work each day, don't start out by wearing that to the interview. Do yourself up, like you are going to a good dinner with a long lost colleague you'd like to impress.
c)Bring copies of your resume. I don't care if you've faxed it to them, bring at least 3 copies, and your references with you. And make sure your references are alphabetized. You are trying to get a library job.
d)Bring a notebook and pen THAT WORKS. Nothing says "I could give a shit about what you are saying" like just sitting there. Jot down notes, write down names. Jot down the questions they ask you so you don't forget and start to ramble.
-Libraries tend to ask the same questions, this method of writing down the questions will allow you to practice a great response.
e)Write thank you cards to everyone you interviewed with. By hand. Send them out the day after the interview. Make sure they are professional, not cute ones with puppies.
f)Do your research. Be prepared for the "what do you know about our organization?" question. Nothing says "I don't give a shit" like a surprised look and some nonsense reply about "well, you have books."
g) If you have multiple offers, and there is one job you like more than another, share this information with that organization. It increases your stock - if they want you, they better act soon. Be cool about it, don't rub it in.
h) Salary requirements are so awful to talk about. I prepared a letter that noted mine - and give figures like "high forties to low fifties". It is OK to bring up salary and benefits in a call back interview, but NOT in the first interview.
i)When not using your functioning pen and notebook, sit on your hands. This will prevent fidgeting. Sit towards the edge of your chair too.
j) Make eye contact with the interviewers. This can be a challenge if you have several people interviewing you at once.
k) Follow up. If they haven't called you in 7 days, and unless they have said they'd contact you by then, call them back. -Re-express your interest in the position, and ask how their search is progressing.
l)Don't be discouraged when you get a rejection letter - you actually get to write some of your own later!
m)Writing a rejection letter to them: When multiple job offers roll in, you must write letters of rejection to those organizations that made offers, but you decided not to work for. This makes you look professional, and you won't be burning bridges for the future. This letter should thank them for their time, and energy. Let them know it was a tough choice, and that at this time you must decline their offer. Don't send this letter unless you really are ending that chapter.
n)Know what kind of salary your community pays library professionals. There are many sites out there that can help, such as www.salary.com. Some organizations don't know they are underbidding - they often don't know what we do.
o)Network. I found this job through a great site...that had nothing to do with libraries. http://www.linkedin.com/
p)Librarians don't have to work in libraries. I'm living proof. I have worked in a skyscraper for an Ad Firm as a librarian, I've worked in a University Art & Design department as a Slide Curator (yep, and functioned as a librarian), and now I am working in a museum, as a librarian. Think outside the box. We are research specialists...lots of companies need that expertise.
q)Make sure your CV is on good, non-marbled paper. Marbled paper doesn't fax well.
r) Write a good cover letter. This can be tweaked for each job you apply for. Just save it to your jump drive with the name of the organization added to the title.
s) Make looking a full time job if you can. I did. I decided that I didn't want to work at the mall. I got up everyday, showered, shaved, and got dressed like I was going to work. I applied 9-5, Monday through Friday. I took weekends off. Just like the job I hoped to get, AND GOT.
t) Keep a good list of the places you have applied, contact name, and the date. This is two-fold. You'll know when to follow up with an organization - AND when they call you, you won't be all "WHO??" It is embarrassing to confuse organizations.
u) Be prepared to wait. I am now a crossword puzzle expert. I did them during the day to prevent myself from shopping all day long, which would be a huge mistake given my financial situation.
v) Get out of the house at least twice a week to take a walk, talk on the phone, go out to lunch with friends, and read some professional journals/websites/blogs. Keep on your game. It takes your mind off the job hunt, and the idea of being unemployed.
w) I didn't realize how strongly my self identity is wrapped around my job title. I almost didn't know who I was. Luckily, I wore my red enamel "librarian" pin on my sports coat each day - even without a job, I was still the best damn librarian in town.
x) This maybe when you realize the profession isn't for you. Good Luck and Good Night. I don't want to work with people who aren't into the job anymore - and don't keep applying for librarian jobs just because you have a MLIS. It only means something if it means something to you.
y) Get a good haircut.
z) Hang in there. There are hundreds of jobs out there, I know, I applied for all of them. It really is a game - knowing a few tricks can make it easier.
Moral of this blog: Hot job + Hot Librarian = ME