I feel I was pretty fortunate in getting my past two positions. My first library job was the result of a library school project, and with my second, connections and good references really helped. Honestly, I don’t feel like it was as tough as I’m experiencing now. But I haven’t given up hope yet. Here are a few things I’ve had to learn or remind myself in my new job search:
Don’t let one rejection (or five!) discourage you.
There are a lot of fish in the sea, and there are a lot of librarians in the field. Jobless librarians. Experienced librarians. When there are fifty applicants for one position, there’s a good chance that you may not measure up when compared to the others. But that doesn’t mean you’ll never measure up. The list of available library jobs may be small, but take the time and patience to apply, apply, apply!
Apply, apply, apply!
The more applications you put in, the more you can improve your resume, cover letter and interview skills and the better the chance you’ll have at getting a job. You may think there’s a perfect job at the one perfect library, and you won’t be happy anywhere else, but the time you spend waiting for that job to open at that one library is time you could be spending gaining experience elsewhere.
Learn how to sell yourself.
You may think you have a reputation that precedes you. You may have great connections and references. However, just because you have volunteered or worked for a library before and have done a wonderful job doesn’t mean you’re a shoe-in. Each interview – even if it’s with the same hiring supervisors over and over again – is a new one. You’ve got a new crowd of applicants to compete against. Learn how to translate your skills and abilities to fit the position, and be confident! You don’t have to embellish, but explain how your years of serving tables or selling retail demonstrate your customer service skills, etc.
Waiting to hear back on an application is the toughest part. I know. Some hiring processes are much slower than others – especially when there are 50 applications to dig through. If you’re concerned that they may not have received your application, it’s okay to check in on it, but you don’t have to call in every three days asking for an update. That’s bugging. If you’ve sold yourself well enough in your cover letter, they’ll contact you.
Be grateful – and show it!
Hiring supervisors are busy, and the hiring process takes a lot of their time. If they give you an interview, close it by expressing your gratitude for their time and consideration. Sending a quick thank you letter or email afterward is also nice too. It shows that you care enough about the position and that you’re professional and considerate of their time. If you don’t get this particular job, they may remember you for the next.
You may not get the job you really, really want. I didn't, and it’s been tough. But like I said, I’m not letting it discourage me. Some of my trouble may be because I’m hyper-localizing, but I know there’s a job out there for me, and I’m working really hard for it. To anyone who’s in the same position – keep at it! We’ll get there! Good luck!