Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Surviving the Job Search, Part IV

Our guest blogger series on surviving - and succeeding in - the job search continues with Peter Coyl, librarian at an international K-12 school in Taiwan.

Job searching can be tough. But it’s even tougher when there is economic hardship and Library jobs are being cut all over the country. Some people are lucky to live in an area that has an abundance of options, while others live in an area that seems to be saturated with more job seekers than there are jobs.

My job search began when I was 4 months into my studies at Drexel. I applied for jobs all over the United States. I applied for jobs I was underqualified for as well as overqualified for. I sent out resumes and job applications and learned quickly that most places were not acknowledging their receipt and many of them didn’t even respond after the job had been filled. They were simply overwhelmed with applicants.

Having said that, don’t be discouraged and take your time. Make sure you craft your cover letter to speak to the job you are applying for. Sure, being a Librarian is pretty general, but if the job posting speaks about program planning, make sure your cover letter does too. If it talks about supervising other employees, address that, even if your supervisory experience was at a Chicken Shack during your sophomore year of college. Your cover letter is your introduction and some would argue even more important than your resume.

I had a schedule I kept. Every Monday I would check the job postings first for my local area, then the surrounding states and region and then spread out from there. I kept these all bookmarked in my browser. Then, when I found one that I wanted to apply for, I printed out the job posting and began crafting my cover letter. I’d keep notes on the job posting of when I sent the application materials (hard copy or email) and then keep that in a file folder on my desk so I knew where and when I had applied for a job.

It was tough for me. I applied for over a hundred jobs and received a handful of responses and in some cases they stated how many people had applied for the job (over 150 for 1 job in a small library in Iowa). I had a handful of first interviews, but never made it to a second one. I began to get discouraged, but then after nearly a year of searching I began applying for jobs overseas. I applied to an international school in Taiwan, where I had lived before and was offered the job. Their Librarian had left suddenly and there was a backlog of work to do. So I packed up my things and moved to Taiwan.

I was lucky in the fact that I found a job in a place I wanted to live. I know the job market is hard and many people have been searching for a while. There were times where I wanted to give up and find something else to do because I was not finding a job, and that might be the answer for some, but if you really want to stick with it, do. It might take a while but you will find the right job for you.

Peter Coyl earned his MS in Library and Information Science with a concentration in Youth Services from Drexel University in 2010. He was awarded the Dorris Keller Hossler Endowed Fellowship from Drexel and the Knower Award from the Philadelphia Chapter of SLA. Currently, he is the Librarian at Hsinchu International School in Hsinchu, Taiwan, ROC. He blogs at http://www.adventuresofaguybrarian/ and you can follow him on Twitter @petercoyl.

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