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Thursday, August 18, 2011

It's not you (or is it?) - on why you can't get a job

Karen Schneider of Free Range Librarian, has an excellent post, Why you didn't get an interview. I started writing a comment and realized I was probably 2000 characters over the limit. ;-) I did leave a brief comment but I'm blogging my thoughts.

Karen points to 5 main factors: TMJS (the job market sucks - definitely true), the Known Quantity (libraries hire what they know vs. an unknown I can learn/do/be the job - in other words newbies with little experience or professional reputation), CV/resume problems, you're not the Main Event (libraries have other things to do and tons of applicants to wade through - especially in TMJS environment) , you're not selling yourself and finally, the job hunt (and hiring) process is somewhat of a gamble.

All of those are definite factors. Recently I attended a twitterchat on the job hunt process; most of the people in the chat were marketing or IT, but several common threads came out which reflect Karen's thoughts. (..and yes, that is the kind of thing I do for fun when I'm not shooting photos, making art, or doing yoga... LOL - you can follow me on twitter if you like) We had a lot of discussion about resumes/CVs/coverletters. ALOT. I reviewed resumes and cover letters for ALA's NMRT for 5 years or so and I consistently gave the same feedback.Things haven't changed that much except everything is just magnified.
  • Network professionally - seriously you have to do it - because if you are not, another applicant is. Use social media effectively. 
  • Cleanup your digital footprint. What is Google saying about you? If you haven't already done this and you have some not-so-professional stuff out there, you need to work on that. Nothing is almost as bad as something less professional (almost) Why? Because nothing says 1)you do not believe in technology or 2) you do not use technology. Seriously, who wants that person working in your library? There are alot of tools out there to create your digital identity if you haven't already (linkedin, are good resources). Because someone on the search committee will Google you. Possibly everyone.
  • Get some library experience - In this TJMS, that is a very big strike against an applicant.  Volunteer, internships, practicums, committee work, etc. count as work experience. True they will not have as much potential weight as the work of an internal candidate doing a similar job but that is going to be a hard person to compete with anyhow. SO do include them in your cover letter (state why they important to the particular job for which you are applying) and then add them in your resume. For those of you with experience, continue to accumulate it  any way you can. Serve on a committee professionally. Volunteer - even community groups and nonprofits have libraries or collections. For that matter, you may not even need to work with a library. If you need instruction experience, volunteer to teach a class on a particular topic. It's not enough to develop the skills the job needs. Plus, all of those people you come in contact with = potential references!
  • Resumes and cover letters
    • Use the job posting to craft your resume and cover letter. Hit every qualification that you can.
    • Length of experience generally will impact length of the resume/CV. If you are  new to the profession, chances are you will not have an overly long resume - unless you have been very active professionally. Regardless, please don't pad your resume to make it longer. If you include a CV that is very lengthy, please do a summary of qualifications.  
    • Develop flavors. Tailor your resumes and cover letters to match the job. Have different flavors that you can quickly adapt. I have a webdesign flavor that is completely different from my library flavored resume. Same with my art work. 
    • Make it relevant. If you're applying for a tech services job and you point out all of your teaching experience in your cover letter, explain why it is relevant. (and it can be... prioritizing, detail, developing lesson plans can translate to training and writing procedures; students> grading (evaluating work). 
    • Spell names correctly. Spell the job correctly. Use the spellcheck tool (seriously, who doesn't use that?)
    • Proofread, proofread, proofread.
    • No personal info. Do not include information about political or religious affiliation OR any other personal information. It is okay to include that you organized or cataloged a church's library (if you feel comfortable including that info) or that you organize programs for the local homeless shelter. Those go under volunteer WORK experience.
    • Axe the irrelevant. On final readthrough, is there anything potentially irrelevant to the job for which you are applying? Axe it.   
    • Resume review - use it. Use NMRT Resume Review if you can. Hit up your teaching and writing friends to review it.

1 comment:

K.G. Schneider said...

Great post! In terms of personal info--I go ahead and post things that clearly suggest my sexual orientation.