So I have been creeping around on library job boards, Facebook groups, linked in discussions, etc. A common theme comes up in the library community: It’s really hard to get a good library job. Post after post I see people complaining it has been 1, 2, 5, and 10 years since they graduated from library school and still have yet to find meaningful employment. Many people attribute this to an over abundance of qualified people, under funded libraries, management slashing jobs, etc. I have another theory.
Since the internet has taken off as the primary way of finding information and applying for jobs it has become easier for anyone and everyone to find jobs and apply for them. The same is true for library jobs. In the field of librarianship there is no shortage of applicants, I am not going to argue against this. What I am going to do is say that there are more people applying for less jobs that are so easy to find and apply for. This is causing a massive problem in librarianship and INALJ is not helping any.
INALJ.com was founded by Naomi House in 2010. It started when Naomi sent an email out to several of my Rutgers MLIS friends asking for ideas on sharing jobs we all found through listservs. (INALJ.com – About) Now it serves all of North America and has spread to some overseas area in Europe and the Middle East. In theory this is a great tool to help people find jobs, and has likely helped over a million people find some type of library employment. Unfortunately this site has also been the crutch that so many library workers that it also has had the reverse effect on helping library enthusiasts para-professionals and professionals.
Here is how all this plays out. Library professionals are supposed to be information professionals. We are taught how to find, assimilate, distribute and assess information both digital and tactile. So without INALJ many professionals have the skills and knowledge to find jobs on our own without a job host like INALJ posting everything. So why are we so dependant on the site?
Many will argue that it is convenient and centralized and allows you to find 100 different jobs in one place. This is all true, but also it allows any other person on the planet (who otherwise would not apply for a job like this) do the same thing. Competition becomes a problem. Now on a local/ state/provincial/national level each job doesn’t only have 20-50 applicants it now has over a hundred, and in some cases several hundred applicants (think New York, Toronto, LA). This is a problem. Employers can’t personally sift through that many resumes so algorithms are created to pick the best 10-20 resumes and it becomes a game of not who the best fit for the job might be, but who can write the resume that will fit that algorithm so it is chosen for the interview.
Another problem is not just sheer numbers but types of people applying for the job. Just look at the side bar next time you apply for a job and see the different titles that you can apply for. Most people think this is a great way to branch out into other fields, which it is. The negative side is that people who are fully qualified for those fields when performing a search on google and find INALJ. The search algorithm will bring them to the INALJ site and they will apply for jobs that they normally wouldn’t apply for, thus flooding the application pool with people that are equaly, if not more qualified for these jobs than you are.
The opposite is also true. If someone comes upon INALJ who is looking for a Library Assistant position and sees library tech or librarian they may simply fire off resumes into positions they are not really qualified for and flood the market with under qualified people, some of which may be getting jobs they should have no business in.
The old way of finding a job as a librarian weeded out the under qualified, lazy and just fed up people, who are now complaining about not being able to find a job. Librarians could use their skills and determination to search the web for jobs, each applying for only a couple each week. The lazy and disenfranchised searchers will become fed up and fall to the wayside. These types of people are those employers really don’t want working for their institutions anyway.
Today you have 100’s of applicants to every job, people are applying for multiple jobs every day, some people I know have been out of school for 6 months and have put out 200+ resumes so far. INALJ is making it too easy for people to apply, and making it too hard for employers to find good library workers. INALJ.com is a contributor to your un/under employment, people just havn’t been shown how this is happening.