I have been looking for a full-time library or information professional job since September. I had heard (correctly) that academic libraries take a ridiculously long time to process applications and make decisions, so I figured that by getting started 4 months before graduation would be plenty of time to get a job before I had to move out of my apartment at the end of January. Obviously, that was not the case as it is now March and I’m writing a blog about being an unemployed librarian. I’ve learned a few things over the past months about job searching and thought I would take the opportunity to share this with you.
- Apply early. Many jobs claim to be “open until filled” and usually that means you can submit your application at your leisure. In today’s economy, however, this is no longer the case. I have received two letters during my search that says I was too late; they’ve received too many applications to get to mine. So open until filled isn’t actually the case. My advice: as soon as you find the posting, apply for the job. Hopefully your application will get in the stack that actually gets reviewed and not thrown in the trash.
- Don’t apply for a job you don’t want. I learned this one the hard way. Back in January I finally got an my first face-to-face interview at a small town public library. I was prepared to move to a small town and prepared to take on a job that might be over my head. Or so I thought. The more time I spent at the interview, the more I realized that I’m not cut out for public librarianship. I thought that I could take a public library job until I found an academic one, but soon after leaving the interview, I realized that I would be doing both the library and myself a disservice if I took a job I didn’t want. I would be unhappy thus my work, and consequently, my patrons, would suffer. I was offered the job soon after the interview and turned it down. My dad keeps asking me if I regret it two unemployed months later and my answer is still no. But lesson learned: don’t apply for a job just to apply. Only apply for the jobs you are prepared to do and jobs in places you are willing to live.
- That said, don’t be too picky. I know that I want to eventually end up in a larger research institution. However, that isn’t stopping me from applying to small colleges, community and junior colleges, and special research libraries. I need to get some experience before I can apply to large universities. These smaller institutions will provide me with the experience I need.
- Patience. Having patience is good advice in life and great advice in job searching. It is not a virtue I’m known for, but I’m definitely working to improve myself in that respect. I know that if I keep applying, continue to follow up, and remain patient, I will eventually get a job I want.
What have you learned from job hunting? Feel free to share!