Monday, May 9, 2011

Surviving the Job Search, Part I

SCALA's guest blogger series debuts with advice from recent Drexel grads on surviving - and succeeding in - the job search. The first post is from Kiyomi Deards, Assistant Professor and Science Librarian with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln University Libraries.

Job Search Timeline:

November 2009 – Submit first job application
June 2010 – Graduate from Drexel
July 2010 – Receive job offer from University of Nebraska-Lincoln
July 27 2010 – Move to Lincoln, NE
August 2 2010 – Start work at University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Total time from first job application to job = 9 months

Advice for Job Seekers:

1. Be selective.

Only apply for academic library jobs you are truly passionate about. None of the applications I completed for positions which were interesting but not in my area of expertise led to a phone interview. Looking solely at my applications for science librarian positions I had approximately a 55% response rate.

2. Remember that no one succeeds alone.

Have 2-4 people review your resume and cover letter; at least one of these people should be a non-library person. Remember many of the applications you send out will be pre-screened before being given to the search committee; too much jargon can kill a great cover letter. Ask for advice from your professors and working librarians and then act on it.

3. Balance customization with practicality.
Some people will tell you that every cover letter should be written from scratch; however, I believe that this is a waste of time and energy. Most likely the positions you are interested in are in a single or similar domains. While each letter should be tailored to the specific institution you are applying to sentences, greetings, and even whole paragraphs can be lifted from previous cover letters. Tighten your language, become more concise, but never feel like each sentence of every cover letter has to be completely original.

4. Explore alternate career paths in librarianship.
There are some engaging and fun places to work that don’t fit into the traditional categories of academic, public, and school libraries and archives. Check into SLA (Special Libraries Association), international librarianship, and the Peace Corps. Even if you take a traditional path exploring all your options will increase your confidence in your career path.

5. Online presence–you need to have one!*
If you aren’t in the first three to five search results for your name, or your name combined with the word librarian you have a problem. At the very least you should have a LinkedIn account; this is the first place that many human resources personnel and hiring managers will search for you. If you aren’t on LinkedIn you need to make sure you are findable elsewhere such as: a personal website,, Twitter, or Facebook.

Success isn’t easy; dedication and enthusiasm can create its own brand of luck. Do your best, follow your passions, and the rest will follow!

Kiyomi Deards is an assistant professor with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln University Libraries. She is the librarian for chemistry, biochemistry, biological sciences and the Cedar Point Biological Station, and the incoming physics librarian. Kiyomi belongs to several professional organizations focused on libraries, education, science, and technology. She is the outgoing manager of the website for the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) Residency Interest Group. Her research and educational interests are in STEM education and career issues, diversity, library management, mentoring, and teaching. She maintains a personal blog and website, The Library Adventures of Kiyomi.

*Need to develop your online presence? Participate in our LinkedIn LinkUp and the webcast Leveraging You! Online Presence for the Job Search and Beyond.

1 comment:

  1. This is helpful advice! I like the timeline, too.