Tagged: job search

ALA 2011: Job search and networking

I attended a presentation called How to Be Successful When Searching for Academic Library Positions: An Insider’s Perspective, by Brian Keith, Assistant Dean, University of Florida. I like to attend job hunting workshops to find out if I am on the right track or not, and for the most part, it seems that I am. Some useful advice included the following:

  • Communicate why the job makes sense for you.
  • Look for opportunities in your current job or in ALA that will demonstrate your engagement, enthusiasm, and leadership skills.
  • Presentations made as a part of an interview are heavily weighted and heavily attended.
  • How you interact with the staff will be considered.
  • Explain why you chose each reference with a statement such as: “Ms. Smith can speak to my experience with project management.”
  • If you are applying to a land grant institution, know what a land grant institution is.

An interesting bit of information was that UF will hire someone whose MLIS degree is in progress with the provision that it be finished within a year. I felt this was good to know because I am close enough to start thinking seriously about applying for positions. However, one of my professors thinks it’s still too soon for me to be seriously hunting for an academic position. I will be finished May 2012. Sometimes it feels like a long way’s away; sometimes it feels like it is coming soon.

The presenter highly recommended the SJSU SLIS and career center sites which was really good to hear. I have looked at other library school’s websites, and I agree that SLIS’s site is excellent. I have wondered if I like it because I am familiar with it, but I don’t really think so. I like it because it’s outstanding.

I was able to get a resume review appointment but not a career counseling appointment. It seems like my resume is pretty good. We discussed whether I should have a CV instead of a resume (perhaps not yet because at this point my CV would look just like a resume). We also discussed whether I should put my education before or after my experience (keep education at the top of the resume until I get a librarian position).

I was hoping for a career counseling appointment to discuss a specific question about a position I recently applied for. I am currently a library services associate at a community college library with 52,000 books, and I supervise six people. I interviewed for a head librarian position at a public library with 14,000 books and one part-time employee to supervise. So my question is: Is that a move up or not? My current job is at a bigger library, supervising more people, but with a narrower area of responsibility. The position I interviewed for has a better job title, with a broader scope of responsibilities, and pays more money, but is a smaller library with a smaller staff. A more general question I wanted to ask the career counselor was about switching types of library. If I really want to work at an academic library, is it a bad idea career-wise to take a position at a public library?

I enjoyed the SLIS reception, and I met many different people, most of whom did not have business cards. Why did so few people have business cards? There could be several possible reasons. Companies aren’t providing them for their employees due to budget cuts. People forget to have their cards with them. People don’t enjoy networking or don’t believe it’s effective. I think that the more you network, the more likely it is that you will benefit from it. A person who doesn’t like to network might try it a few times with no obvious results, and then conclude, “I knew it! Networking is a waste of time. I’d rather curl up on the couch and read a book.” If that same person were lucky enough to get a really positive result in the first couple times trying it, she might become a real believer in networking. This is basic human nature. Try something unpleasant (assuming you don’t like networking), get a negative or neutral result, don’t try it again.