Q: Hello, I am a fairly new librarian with some professional experience, but not much. I got a job quickly out of school, but I was laid off and I am now starting a serious full time job hunt. I am looking for a mentor, someone to help me in my search and guide me to where I need to be to get a job. I also would like someone in the field to give me a critique of my cover letter and resume. Can I send you my cover letter and resume to you for review? Thanks for your time.
SM: Finding a mentor is a great idea for any new librarian (whether you have a job or not), and for those who are looking to switch career paths or move into different roles. Mentors can provide invaluable advice and much needed encouragement, and they can help to mold your career. We wrote a post about mentoring a few years ago that talks about the benefits of the mentor/mentee relationship and offers links to additional resources.
To find a mentor, you should look in your area for local library organizations that you can join. Some of these might have formal mentoring programs, and some might have members that are interested in taking on the role of mentor. Look for a local SLA, PLA, or ACRL group, or your state library association, and find out what programs and services they have for new librarians. You can also look at national organizations, such as ALA, that sponsor mentoring programs like the New Member’s Round Table Mentoring Program (some state library associations have these as well).
As for reviewing cover letters and resumes, unfortunately we cannot offer that service in the context of this site. However, in your search for mentoring programs, you will most likely find that many of them offer resume and cover letter reviewing services to their members. And, a mentor will be able to review your cover letter and resume. As good practice, we recommend that you always have someone review your cover letter and resume before you send them out. Another option is to find a librarian that you know and respect, ideally someone who is in a role you desire, and ask that person to be your mentor. Before you approach him/her, write down your expectations for the mentor/mentee relationship (e.g., how long should the “relationship” last? what parts of her job do you want her to show you? how do you expect her to help you in your job search? etc.) and your career goals, so you can share them with your mentor.
Also, look into your library school’s Career Services Office. Their services are typically designed for current students, but as an alumnus you might be able to take advantage of their services (which may include resume and cover letter reviewing, mentoring programs, and job search and job transitioning assistance). In addition, we can recommend the following:
ALA’s New Member’s Round Table Resume Review Service (for NMRT members)
LIScareer.com’s Consulting Services (fee service)
Music Library Association’s Resume Review Service (for MLA members)
North Carolina Library Association’s Resume and Cover Letter Review Service and Mentoring Program (for NC NMRT librarians)
Texas Library Association NRMT Mentor Program (for TLA NMRT members)
University of Texas School of Information’s Career Services Office (for students and alumni)