7 Tips for New MLS Graduates

Spring is here, and by June many new MLS graduates will be on the job market seeking that first toehold on the career ladder (or career jungle gym). The time to begin looking for a new job is now. Why? Many employers – in all kinds of institutions – take months to respond with a job offer. So if you want to start working this summer or fall, you need to start looking for jobs even before the ink is dry on your degree.

Here are 7 tips to get your job hunt off on the right foot this spring:

  1. Join professional organizations before you graduate. It becomes much more expensive after your get your degree. Use this opportunity to network and establish yourself within communities of library professionals. Developing contacts is one way to learn more about a particular institution’s culture and sometimes find out about forthcoming opportunities.
  2. Do your research. If you haven’t already been scouring the job ads, start doing it immediately! Get a sense of who is hiring and what types of jobs are available. Find roles and institutions/companies and  locations that interest you. Look closely at the requirements listed on the job descriptions. Assess your skill set and figure out what you need to do to qualify for the job you want.
  3. Polish your resume and cover letter. Even if you don’t have a lot of experience in the library field, tailoring your written materials to a specific opportunity shows you have thought about why you make a good candidate. If you aren’t getting interviews, revisit how you are responding to job postings at the written phase. Demonstrate that you understand the job posting and articulate why and how your skills match the requirements.
  4. Give your online persona a makeover. Check your Facebook, LinkedIn, Tumbler, Twitter, blog and other social media profiles to be sure they convey a sense of the emerging professional you are. Patting yourself on the back for not having any social media presence? Stop right there. Most employers expect to find something when they search for you. If you have nothing, set up a few accounts – LinkedIn at a minimum – and establish an online persona.
  5. Consider an e-portfolio. Many library schools now require graduating students to develop an e-portfolio, and many search committees like to see them from candidates. Use this space to go beyond your resume and give potential employers an enhanced view of your professional materials and skills. If your school doesn’t offer e-portfolios, consider creating (a free) one using wordpress.com or Google sites.
  6. Conduct informational interviews. Most professionals are happy to share their time and expertise with you. Be respectful of busy professionals’ time by making a list of questions in advance, being focused, and keeping to the time you’ve been given.
  7. Be patient. The career market has been tough for the past few years. Recognize that you may be looking for a while. Temper your expectations about the kinds of roles that may be available to you – but don’t let that prevent you from reaching for an opportunity. It is  rare that a candidate meets every single requirement listed in the job posting. Focus on reading the job description carefully and understanding how you would fit into the organization.

Happy and successful job hunting to all, from us here at Library Career People.

Further Reading:

Factors that Increase the Probability of a Successful Academic Library Job Search. Max Eckard, Ashley Rosener, Lindy Scripps-Hoekstra: The Journal of Academic Librarianship, Volume 40, Issue 2, March 2014, Pages 107–115. [open access]

Job Hunting Tips & Links. Mr. Library Dude. 8/5/2013.

7 (Must-Have) Tools for Your Job Hunting Kit. Naomi House: INALJ, April 22, 2014.

Surviving Your First Library Job Search. Steven Hoover: Library Journal Archive Content on September 15, 2009.

Ten Simple Steps to Create and Manage Your Professional Online Identity. Susanne Markgren: College & Research Libraries News. 72 (1), 31-35. January 2011.

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