03 October 2007

How To Impress Your Future Employers

by Rebecca Blakiston

It can be tough applying for jobs after graduation, especially when you are in there with a large and competitive pool of experienced candidates. How can you compete when you are just getting out of library school? Well there are some simple things you can do now as a student to gain valuable experience while at the same time boosting your resume. Here are some suggestions:

  • Work in a library. This is a simple one, but I know people who have failed to do this and it has really hurt them when looking for a job. Even student employment (the UA Library hires a ton of student workers) can give you valuable skills in customer service, collection maintenance, circulation and reference. It will also expose you to the library work environment. Internships and graduate assistantships are often even better, so be sure to take advantage of these.
  • Attend conferences. This can be extremely valuable. Attending conferences is a great way to network with professionals around the country. It’s also one of the best ways to keep on top of current hot topics in the field. Many conferences will be too expensive on a student budget, but local conferences such as AzLA in Mesa and Living the Future in Tucson are possibilities. Plus there are always student rates for these conferences you should take advantage of while you can. And of course there’s the Symposium, which is not only local but also completely free.
  • Publish. Even a small student publication, such as BiblioTech, can be put on your resume under “Publications & Presentations.” If you’re planning to work in an academic setting, especially if there’s a possibility of tenure-track position, this shows you’re taking an interest in publishing. It also shows you know how to write. There are a lot of other opportunities to publish – the library world has a lot of publications – so why not try submitting something and see what happens?
  • Present. Almost all professional librarians have to present on a somewhat regular basis, whether it be at conferences, in front of their colleagues, or to the community. A lot of positions even require a presentation as a part of the interview process. So get practice now. The Symposium offers a great opportunity to do just this in a low-key setting. Another great way to add content to the “Publications & Presentations” portion of your resume.
  • Associate, Professionally. Professional associations are another thing that will inevitably be a part of your library/and information science career. Get started now by joining the Library Student Organization and attending meetings, perhaps even becoming an officer. This shows leadership skills and interest in the profession, which will go a long way with potential employers. In addition, it’s a great way to get to know your colleagues in school and start expanding your network.
  • Get your name out there. In the online world of self-publication there are a lot of chances to be heard. Try making an insightful comment on a famous library blog, such as librarian.net or tametheweb. Contribute to one of the ALA wikis. E-mail an inspiring professional and ask them a question. Blog, and tell others about your blog. Think how much easier it would be to land that job if the employer had actually heard of you and was impressed by your work.

The library job market can be competitive, and it’s important to have experiences that will make you stand out from other applicants. Taking the initiative now will place you ahead of other new librarians, and your chances of landing that interview just got a little bit better.

1 comment:

  1. Great article, great advice! About getting involved, in addition to LSO, there is another organization for those interested in special libraries. SLA is the Special Libraries Association and we have a student chapter at SIRLS: http://sir.arizona.edu/sla
    SLA is encouraging distance/virtual students to join, and we make our meetings accessible over the web.