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Organizing the MLIS Job Search

By Katie Maynard


In our Silverfish alumni survey, we uncovered some tips for job-hunting from iSchool graduates.  Here is advice who from a current MLIS candidate, who is graciously willing to reveal some of her secrets:

if only i had a jobIn reality, I started looking for a job in this field two months before the MLIS program started.  I was determined that I would not be a boomerang child at the age of 33 and, more importantly, was intrigued by what types of positions I might one day hold. I subscribed to a bunch of related email lists and began my compulsive bookmarking of job announcement sites.  Some of my friends have giggled a little bit at my mania, but it’s definitely helped me keep focused on life after grad school, when student loan repayment begins.  So, I thought I’d share some of the things I’ve learned along the way. 

  • Make two folders for job announcements, such as “To apply for” / “Applied for” to avoid confusion especially when you are sending many via postal mail.
  • You can use your awesome database skills to create an easy method of keeping track of applications and due dates.
  • Ask your references to prepare letters ASAP.  Some applications require actual letters from at least three references, and this can be a pain in the butt to pull together to apply in time.  If they have the letter pretty much ready to go they can easily customize it for the positions as they come along.
  • Talk to everyone, constantly, about the kind of job you are looking for.  You never know who has random connections somewhere.
  • If you are comfortable, ask a former employer (especially one that adored you) what stood out about your cover letter or resume.
  • Ask a librarian that you know, especially one on a hiring committee, to review your resume and give you some pointers for effective language
  • Keep in mind that some professional organizations have resume reviews or mentor hookups, designed just for us!
  • While they are the easiest way to find job listings, don’t rely on job boards, or professional association listings.  Often, jobs are only listed on an organization’s own website.  So, if there is a place where you’d love to work, check their employment page.
  • If you are looking for a job in the nonprofit sector, keep in mind that they might not advertise their openings in the same way as a university or corporation.  Their job titles may also stray from the standard ‘Librarian’
  • If you are searching a mega-listing site like Career Builder make sure to try many different keywords, or at least truncate.  (Do I need to tell you this?)
  • Most MLIS programs around the country publish recent job openings for their students, but there is nothing to stop you from checking them as well.  This is especially helpful if you are interested in relocating somewhere in the vicinity of another MLIS program, like the beautiful city of Kent, Ohio.
  • Also, a note to those not beginning the job search just yet-- Take a look at job descriptions and then examine your resume.  Any gaps?  DFW’s and independent studies are a great way to fill ‘er up!


April 7, 2008
Vol. XII Issue 3

link to the iSchool blogroll

Find more at the Silverfish Blog

Ridiculous Library of Congress Subject Headings
139 Responses Received!

Where do they work?
- 37% academic library
- 28% public library
- 21% in non-library settings
- 11% in special libraries
- 3% school library

What do they have to say??

See the results..

Words NOT to use in your MLIS portfolioirregardless, succulent, manipulate, lackluster, Bacardi, synergy, poseur, bloodshot, technological muscle, litter box, existential, beleaguer, The Wiggles, importune, lascivious, America’s Next Top Model, baby penguin

Courtesy of Jamie Hancock and Katie Maynard