How INALJ.com is ruining your chances of finding a job

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.

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18 thoughts on “How INALJ.com is ruining your chances of finding a job

  1. greatnewseveryone!

    Scott,

    While I understand your point that INALJ is letting in a lot of amateurs who are getting in the way of library professionals, let me give you another side of it.

    As someone who finished their MLS last year and was working 2 part-time jobs throughout grad school, let me say that I didn’t have the time to visit every single website, of every library system, or every single possible library, in my immediate area or in other states every single day of every single week. Nor did I have the time to personally visit every library or call every library that could possibly have jobs.

    Now, perhaps the people who have been out of the work force who don’t have to worry about providing their own food, shelter and clothing on their own have the time but I, as a young professional who had (have) huge loans to pay and two schedules to juggle, don’t have the time for library systems to get it together and post library jobs so they are searchable.

    Quite honestly it is ridiculous that our profession relies on a blog to post jobs at a better and more consistent rate than the professional association who demands dues! Saying that librarians should use their skills to find jobs to keep out the riff raff is pointless when the other part of our job is making information searchable as well as accessible. If even librarians are having a tough time finding jobs and need a blog to collect them it is because library systems aren’t doing their own work well enough to make the jobs easy to find.

    Also, I’m not going to cry for larger system libraries because they get a large amount of unqualified candidates. Website or not, when an LA branch library opens a job, everybody thinks they can handle working in the “peaceful and easy” library until they get asked how they would handle a drunk person or a screaming mother of 4 who refuses to pay for fines they know they incurred. That’s public perception, not INALJ’s fault.

    So really we shouldn’t be saying INALJ is bad for libraries. We should be asking why state systems and the ALA aren’t stepping up to emulate them so libraries can get better talent.

    Reply
  2. Becky Wiegand

    Wow, this post just reads like “Wah, wah, I can’t get a job so I need to blame anyone but myself for it.” As someone who claims to be part of a community of information specialists one would think you would support dissemination of information to everyone, rather than your desired super-secret, elitist lists that only you have access to.

    Ridiculous to point fingers at literally hundreds of volunteers who have contributed their time and energy toward creating and maintaining INALJ to provide greater access and opportunity to everyone! I have no affiliation with INALJ and I’m not a librarian, though I have profound respect for the work done in libraries and the guiding principal of expanding access to information, services, and knowledge across communities. I visit my local libraries a couple of times per week and always make a point to let the staff know how much I appreciate their work. Would you withhold job information from patrons because it may increase competition for yourself? If your answer is yes, then perhaps you picked the wrong vocation.

    Is there some rallying cry among libraries that they’re hiring the wrong candidates? No. Budget cuts, hiring freezes, and library closures mean it’s tougher to find jobs for everyone. Faux protectionism based on your personal criteria and limiting access to job information is not going to help you get a job. Libraries are posting their openings on more and more listservs and job sites. Where’s your outrage at Craigslist? Or Idealist? Or Monster.com? Or any host of other job sites? Wah, wah, wah.

    Grow up and maybe go to a neighborhood library workshop on writing a better resume or cover letter. I have no doubt there are librarians in your area offering it.

    Reply
    1. lordatwater Post author

      Thanks for the comment, though very scathing I understand your point of view. It being the internet everyone is entitled to their opinion, you, me and anyone else on the planet. For the record I do have a library job, and I am not crying over spilled milk. The point of this blog is to throw thoughts out into the great wideness of the internet and get people talking. As this topic has generated great discussion it has been a resounding success. I have nothing against INALJ as I was once an assistant editor with them, but It is an observation and a musing I began considering about a month ago.

      Reply
  3. Elizabeth

    How very old school you are. Should only those individuals with specialized expertise have access to knowledge? From my POV, Naomi and her team are facilitating access to quality information, which is everything a twenty-first century librarian should be.

    Reply
    1. lordatwater Post author

      sure, but things in the world of access are not all positive, there is always a negative to everything done in the world. This is a perspective that has produced a lot of discussion that I am sure would otherwise not been brought up.

      Reply
  4. JP Porcaro

    “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.”

    Reply
  5. Billy Hinshaw

    As a recent MLIS graduate and a former INALJ Assistant Editor, my grievance about INALJ is that it narrowly focuses on jobs within a literal library or jobs where a library science degree or library experience is a written and printed job requirement. I argue this is narrow because it accidentally leaves out two major groups: 1) people who may not necessarily have literal library experience, per se, but have worked in fields such as customer service, marketing and teaching, where there are transferable skills that would prove successful in a library; and 2) positions that may take place in the private sector and don’t immediately appear related to librarianship or information science (a big one is Digital Asset Management) but the actual job responsibilities are similar, if not the same, and thus would not only equally appeal to MLIS students/grads, but would also be positions where said MLIS students/grads would succeed.

    Reply
    1. skall46

      ? INALJ.com has DAM (digital asset management) jobs and outside the box jobs up all the time. ? They share and post jobs not just in libraries every day.

      Reply
  6. bmljenny

    I’ve been on many librarian hiring committees over my 19 years at a big academic research library. We do *not* get more librarian resumes now than we did before INALJ and we do *not* use automated filtering to remove all but the “best 10-20”. We do use automated filtering to weed out resumes that don’t have the basic educational qualifications – we get folks applying for every job we have who have no qualifications whatsoever and yes, we do weed those out.

    It’s one thing to “throw thoughts out” and “get people talking” but I wanted to reassure your readers that those thoughts don’t necessarily match reality, at least not at MPOW.

    Reply
  7. betty lou spence

    Have you conducted any peer-reviewed research to back up your musings? Has the existence of INALJ caused an increase in library applications? Do libraries grant preference to applicants who conduct their own research? Do library hiring managers believe that information should be restricted in the ways you are suggesting?

    Reply
  8. AcaPubCybrarian (@AcaPubCybrarian)

    I’ve not read or heard anything that would support fears around the perils of big LIS job aggregation sites, but I’m always glad of alternative perspectives and exploring possibilities.

    I do however, think that the site owner’s lack of boundaries and overall professionalism has far more negative potential to (new) job-seekers in the field.

    Reply
  9. Becky

    10 months later, you found this post and thought it was necessary to post a personal attack about Naomi? And you are commenting on HER lack of professionalism? Pot, kettle. How will that harm a job-seeker who is finding jobs through the site?

    As something that started as a side hobby and has never paid a salary, the most that could be said is that *maybe* INALJ has gotten popular enough that it seems like it should not have any personal identifying stuff on it about its founding volunteer/creator. But it’s still a side hobby for her, so I don’t see the problem, or for her defending herself when she’s being attacked about having PDFs (god forbid!) and posting that she has to scale back because of medical reasons (the horror).

    Reply
    1. Renee Jones

      Oh, good grief, Becky, calm down. People are just exchanging their interpretations of things, and it’s beyond ridiculous for you to take any one of those interpretations personally on behalf of someone else. Go find something productive to do.

      Reply
  10. Leah Smith

    I thought that INALJ is a good site, but there are so many broken links. Also, there is a list of all of the museums under the Smithsonian Institution, which is great. The problem is there are 20 libraries in the very vast Smithsonian Institution, but if you work for them you work for Smithsonian Institution Libraries-not the individual museums. I have worked for Smithsonian Institution Libraries for years in one of the museums.

    I just think it would save a lot of people a lot of time to know that.

    Reply
  11. Joyce

    I am always amused by the smug ones coming out. Librarianship according to the Occupational Handbook is only going to grow 2% over the next 10 years. There seems to be a cut throat unsupportive attitude among librarians due to the fierce competition to acquire jobs and name calling of those who do not land a good job. The problem is supply and demand. And ALA needs to tell the truth, and stop christening new programs, especially online. It is just like law school now, and people need to start suing for lies of the plentiful jobs fed to them by the ALA and the schools that need their money and know the jobs aren’t there.

    Reply

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