The reality of the MLIS job search: 5 tips for the library professional

So your almost done your MLIS, maybe you were just laid off or are transferring into the profession. In any case the reality of the job market, even for consummate professionals such as ourselves, is not the greatest. I have been graduated for about three months, and job hunting for five months. I’ve sent out countless resumes and usually get nothing back to confirm my application status beyond “we have received your application.”

So this is somewhat daunting, but here are five realities of the job search that have become apparent through my short tenure as an applicant:

1. There are jobs out there, but there is also a lot of competition.

This can be seen as a blessing and a curse rolled into one. Unlike other professions and career choices there are jobs out there, but there is also many graduates looking for work in our field. I applied for one job that had 96 applicants.

2. It takes time

Applying for a library job is not like getting a pizza delivery job, no instant hire, “can you start in 20 minutes” interview here. The typical application to interview to hired process is close to 3 months, longer if it is a large academic institution. One of my applications was replied to in July that I had sent out in mid April.

3. Replies to the plethora of applications sent out are few and far between

Don’t expect every employer to get back to you, in fact don’t really expect any of them will get back to you. With the internet making it so easy for everyone to apply for everything the employers are inundated with dozens of applications, they don’t have the time to reply to every applicant.

4. When you do get a reply in your inbox, stay calm

The rare employer who does reply to you may be asking for an interview, but thus far in my experience it is a short email that says your resume was excellent but you did not make the cut. I used to get emails from employers I had applied for and would get excited, only to be shot down as I read the dreaded line “Thank you for applying, but…..” The ratio for this seems to be around 4 rejections for every 5 emails sent back to you.

5. Stay positive

Even though the job search in itself is a full time job with no benefits, keep on plugging away. Keep yourself active, go to a conference, volunteer, pad that resume. Eventually that elusive interview that goes perfectly will present itself.

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