Job hunting retrospective : index

One of the things I knew I wanted to do once I was hired for the awesome new job was to write up my thoughts and (general) experiences about the current state of library job hunting.

That grew.

In the links below, I focus on aspects of job hunting that are specific to libraries. I should note clearly that I was looking at college/university libraries, independent school libraries, and public libraries, but not public schools (I don’t hold a teaching license) or special libraries (corporate, medical, etc.)


This is mostly about my experience, based on a lot of reading (both within the field and outside it), my experiences, and my conversations with various colleagues, lists, and other resources.

In fact, this isn’t so much ‘advice’ as ‘here’s some stuff to be aware of, so you can make better informed decisions about what you want to do.’ Doing this stuff doesn’t guarantee you’ll find a job (it’s a really tough market). I do hope, however, it’ll help you figure out some things that might make your own search easier, give you more questions to research, or otherwise get you further along your way.

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20 comments to Job hunting retrospective : index

  • […] You can see the full index of posts over here. And you might want to read the disclaimer note there. […]

  • […] Here’s my thoughts on the places it’s different. (And I welcome comments on my blog in general, but I’d really love them here, from other people in the field.) Index of posts is over here. […]

  • […] (as always with this series, you can also get to the index.) […]

  • Pigbitin Mad

    Everyone knows that most people do not actually get jobs out of library school unless they are part of some public library sponsored program. I graduated in 2006 (WHICH IS FIVE YEARS AGO) and while I was working for a book wholesaler, it will never be regarded as professional library experience unless I just lie on my resume. I keep seeing ads for “recent” library grads. This really makes me angry as I have been searching almost nonstop for five years. I came very close once to getting a very substandard part time job (20 hours per month), but the offer was rescinded a day later probably after the person who hired me got cold feet and made up a bunch of lies (ie. the person I would have replaced decided not to leave after all…YEAH RIGHT! And I have a bridge I would like you to buy).

    I don’t see why someone in this economy should be excluded from applying after a period of time.

  • Jen

    It’s just a really rough market out there in general, unfortunately. (And for everyone, I think: most of the people who I was interviewing with were frustrated by the process, too, in some ways: they want to find awesome people to work with, after all, and they generally don’t like having to say no to lots of awesome librarians.)

    Honestly, I’ve seen enough very-last-minute changes in budget that I don’t assume anything without more evidence (like seeing the job reposted a few weeks later or noticing someone new showing up on their staff list in that position within a month or two.) I spent the time between getting the call with the offer and actually showing up at work going “Is it real yet?” a whole lot at my friends, because part of me was sure that it was an illusion that wasn’t helped by the actual physical offer letter taking a while due to overlapping vacations. (I felt a lot better after getting an email from my library director going “You have a mailbox, it must be real…”)

    In terms of excluding people after a period of time – I didn’t see tons of ads that were exclusionary. I did see some “This would be a great entry-level position” or “Recent grads encouraged to apply”, but that falls into my ‘wants vs. preferences’ discussion in this series. In those cases, what I did – and it seemed to work moderately well, in terms of getting me to a phone interview, at least – was to apply, and make sure my cover letter talked about whatever I thought they were aiming for with their new-librarians-welcome.

    So, often, mine said something like “I’ve had lots of related experience with [whatever tasks], but I’d love to shift into academic library work” or whatever. And then a sentence or two about what I could offer that would be equivalent to new grads – that I’d done continuing education work on this or that, or that I’m up on whatever technology they’re interested in, or that I’ve been exploring [whatever they’re looking for someone to do] on my own, and discuss it on my blog over here.

  • […] Job hunting retrospective : index    Library job quirks: clothing […]

  • blkorchid

    I found the best thing I ever did was get a job in a library while I was in library school. I started in 2007, left a decent paying corporate job and got a low paying assistant job at a prestigious Museum in NY that lasted a short time. After that though I went to a library temp agency and snagged a bunch of really great temp jobs that lasted till I graduated in ’09. I was very lucky to have found a job quickly after and I believe it was due to the amount of experience I built up while I was in school. Of course this meant moving back home and living with my parents for a few years and if it can be done for some people out there, I suggest doing it. I can’t say how much it helped since part-time and assistant work does not always pay all the bills. But having either big names or a list of experience to show when you go for the “big” interview will always help.

  • My anger lies with The Palmer School. It was their moral responsibility to tell me that no one would hire an unexperienced 55 year old man for an archivist position. I am also disappointed that my Archives professor promised that we would not have to worry about digital archives for another ten years. I wish I had all that money back I wasted on tuition. I have put more effort into finding a job than anything else in my life. I am so bummed. I have lost my ability to think positive. Do not attend this institution. Its all about the money. Ever notice how they try to keep you hooked with seminars and organizations through Kiosk?

  • […] Job hunting retrospective by A Modern Hypatia – Included is information about cover letters, what to wear, how the interview process might go. I learned from every one of these posts. A must read for anyone applying to library jobs. […]

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  • […] Job Hunting Retrospective – Librarian┬áJennifer Arnott‘s fantastic guide to her job search […]

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Hi, I’m Jen

Librarian, infovore, and general geek, likely to write comments about books, link collections, and other thoughts related to how we find, use, and take joy in information.

I'm the Information Technology Librarian at the University of Maine at Farmington, the small liberal arts college model campus in the University of Maine system.

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