Career Strategies for Librarians
Hey Library Graduates! The Lowdown on Finding Your Dream Job
by Kasia Piasecka
There have been a plethora of library job finding articles published in the last few months alone, never
mind the last year. There are many contenders that have blown your mind of overwhelming pieces of
advice. You must do this. You can’t do this. Apply to this. Apply to everything. You’re not doing this. Do
this. Your brain must feel like mine felt prior to obtaining amazing job. Obliterated. The truth is, I didn’t do
half of the things you are supposed to do. More importantly, I don’t think they are completely necessary
and may even be harmful. My advice is: Apply to jobs you think you’ll love. Spend time on your application.
Don’t rush. Prepare for your interview. Presto. You will get a job in no time. That is a promise, unless you
live in eastern Utah and don’t take my points seriously.
Don’t believe me? I can’t convince you to trust me, but I hope my wit and charm will win you over. Also, I
think the fact that I graduated in December, applied to only twelve positions, and won a position in April
gives me away. I’m not trying to brag; I’m only making a very important point.
You know the articles that aggressively push you to apply to every job on the face of the planet Earth?
Hit the ignore button inside of your brain. Yes, please hit it. Hit it twice if you need to. Not only is this
virtually impossible, it will inevitably ruin your chances of getting your “dream job” because you were too
busy slaving over random job application #4,389 to spend enough time on the job application that was
most important to you. How many sleepless nights have you encountered applying to a job that you
became less and less interested in, the more you worked on it? Zero? Okay, you, in the blue shirt, you
can skip this bullet point. Seriously, please do not apply to every job. Apply to a select few and work on
those applications hard. Get a tutor. Get a scribe. Reward yourself for every paragraph that you write.
Whatever you need to do.
Use a planner or online organizer to take note of all the positions you apply for, save your resumes
and cover letters for those jobs, and save the job descriptions for each position.
This is pretty important stuff. Whether you use a napkin or Google docs, save all of the pertinent
information and materials related to each job that you apply for in a safe place. Many employers delete
their listing, which includes the job description, once they stop accepting applications. It’s very handy to
have the job description when you’re preparing for an interview or applying for the job after the deadline
passes. Since many library directors are putting candidates through longer selection processes, it’s
better safe than sorry when it comes to having all of the application materials within arm’s reach.
Write incredibly hard-to-put-down cover letters that spell out your greatest achievements as they
relate to the position and use excellent examples of your work.
If you didn’t ace Writing 101 in college, then get a tutor with an English or History degree. Seriously,
those guys know how to write well. Don’t copy and paste your friends’ cover letter. Don’t copy and paste
from opencoverletters.com. You can spend ten minutes updating your resume, but spend at least thirty
to forty-five minutes on your cover letter. Use specific examples that highlight your skills and
achievements. Remember the what, how, why, and outcome of what you have done.
Forget about all the listservs that you subscribe to and all the library job websites you’ve
bookmarked. You only have to scroll through one daily listserv when looking for a job - subscribe to
INALJ (I Need a Library Job) for a comprehensive, state-by-state daily job listing.
It’s also helpful to look at your state library and information office and/or your state library association’s
website for posted jobs.
Well, that’s it! You will be golden if you follow these simple rules. Also, don’t break the bank going to
library conferences to try and find a job, network as much as possible, and volunteer or find a part-time
job at a library doing what you love in the meantime.
As a little bonus, here are articles that are an enormous help to library job-seekers:
About the Author
Kasia Piasecka completed her MLIS degree at the University of RI in December 2011. When she's not
writing, Kasia is working as a Young Adult Librarian at the Tiverton Public Library in Tiverton, RI and
dedicating herself to INALJ and YALSA projects. Kasia’s professional interests include young adult
services & library spaces, social media usage in libraries, emerging reference trends, and improving
accessibility to information for people of all abilities. You can find her on twitter @teenielibrarian.
Article published May 2012
Disclaimer: The ideas expressed in LIScareer articles are those of their respective authors and do not necessarily
represent the views of the LIScareer editors.