6 Jul 2015

Advice for LIS grads entering the job market

Some variation of the above question is one that librarians often see in their Twitter feed. With that in mind I thought it might be helpful to gather together some such tips into one place. Rather than just having my tips I decided to ask others librarians for their personal tips and advice. What follows, in no particular order,  are mine and their tips.

"Get on Twitter. And when on Twitter - spend time on your bio. Let people know who you are. And then engage, engage, engage: Tweet, Retweet, discuss articles, engage in dialogue with others. Follow key #lis people. Use the lists function to manage those you follow.
Network. Librarians are know for their collegiality. If somebody offers to help they mean it. Keep their email on file for down the road when you might need advice. Use those you meet working in the field as mentors. We want to help the next generation.
Create your brand and keep it updated. Use Twitter, LinkedIn, Blogging. Don't let it get out of date. And don't put stuff on social media you wouldn't want an employer to see or know. Employers do look at social media platforms when hiring people. Put your best foot forward.
If you don't want to have your own blog do guest posts - @Libfocus encourages guest bloggers.
Apply for anything to get experience. Expect to start at the bottom of the heap. In the near future I expect a library qualification to be a basic requirement for an entry level job.
Expect 50 people to apply for every you job you do.
But persevere - librarianship (and related field jobs) rocks..."

"I think my top tip is to keep it about the work. Don't get bogged down in finding a permanent job, just keep focused on doing work you find interesting, be it voluntary, paid whatever. If you're focused on doing work you enjoy you will always be learning, you will be moving forward and enjoying what you are doing, which is the main thing."

"Getting experience is the key.  I did a great internship with Royal College of Physicians of Ireland (RCPI) it helped me get on the ladder. (Controversial, I know to be praising internships).
Really work on your CV and cover letter, with huge competition for the few available jobs, you only have seconds to make an impression.
Make sure your CV / cover letter is tailored to the job you're applying for.
Keep a Continuing Professional Development (CPD) diary-  (I use Google sheets) - to keep track of examples of your CPD for future reference for interviews.
Get involved with LAI groups / sections, go to CPD events, write guest blog posts, put all this on CV. It shows your dedication to the profession."

"One suggestion I would have is to keep your skills updated - learning doesn't stop when you finish your MLIS."

"Know the library sector you are entering. For example if you wish to enter the legal sector, know the issues, the challenges, the current topics, for and of the area. Look up current material - journals within the sector or conferences that have been given, assess what they have been talking about. 
Whatever the library sector is (a) understand different types of library management systems, even if you have never used them have a knowledge of them and (b) the users of the library so again if in the legal sector you have a range of users, and you also have students or trainee solicitors that you may need to look after. If it is the public library sector know the local authority and the community that uses that library. 
Be prepared for long interviews, with two or more on the panel.  Be prepared to know Irish for Public library positions and be prepared to have a full drivers license as a requirement in some cases for public library positions"

"I would say be very ambitious and apply to loads of different places, not just libraries. Apply to anything or anywhere related to information management, customer service, IT or IT support And apply for loads of jobs.  If you don't apply don't expect anything to happen. Also get extra ready for interviews, find a mentor and ask for coaching before every interview"

"Volunteer if you can afford it. Say yes to as many opportunities as you dare. Join a professional organisation. Join a committee."

"Every interview/role deserves a fresh version of you and your CV. This is your chance to convey in your cover letter, cv and interview that  you understand what is involved in the job, how you meet the requirements (and exceed them!) and that by hiring you will add to the expertise and development of the workplace.
Make sure everyone you know, knows you are looking for a job. Many jobs are not advertised in the public space, often roles are minimally advertised so having a number of people keeping an eye out for you can help. It is important that they know your skills and interests as non-traditional library roles might need some translating.
Stay connected to your classmates, teachers and your professional network.  Join the LAI - students have free membership during their period of study and for one year after they graduate.
Keep looking for ways to keep your CPD up to date not just with library skills but with IT, communications, and people skills.
Looking for a job is very hard and it can take a lot of you, especially given the competitiveness of the market. It is important to remember that this is only one part of your life at this one time. It does not define you.  You will find work, it may take time and you may have to take step sideways to get to where you want to be."

"I would say don't be afraid to try something different to what you expected. This can help you gain valuable experience and skills. For example if you want to work in an academic library don't discount non-academic jobs. I Would also advise having some sort of blog / website to showcase your online presence. Make sure employers can find good things about you online."

"Don't knock something and be unwilling to try it if you think it's not well paid enough. Think of what skills will you learn from trying it instead. Go outside what you think is the zone for that job to learn skills to use in that job."

"Though there are glimmers of hope for new and recent graduates over the past year or so, it’s still challenging to get a foot in the door in the workplace. A few tips I would suggest (having been unemployed for a short time myself or let’s just say ‘in between jobs’!). Keep in touch with people – be on Twitter, attend networking events, meet colleagues for coffee – basically keep in touch with the ‘Library world’. It’s really easy to fall out of the loop when you’re not working in the field you want to be.  You have to make a conscious effort to keep involved.
If you can, keep improving your CPD, look out for events run by, for example, the NPD or LAI CDG or ANLTC and attend them if you can. Have a look at doing a MOOC – again, improving your CV each time. And most of these suggestions are free.
Don’t lose hope! That’s really important to just keep positive about things, sometimes your career path will bring you on a scenic route, but that’s ok – you’ll gain skills and experience that will keep boosting your CV and can be transferable for further job opportunities."

"Be adaptable, be familiar with new tech & for ***** sake dont give anyone the 'I love books' line on why you want to be a librarian ;)"

"... LIS grads getting-a-job advice, that's a tricky one.
The one advantage of completing the UCD / DBS course is that you could potentially work in many different employment contexts. Keeping an open mind regarding a chosen/preferred "career path" (an oxymoron in itself of course) is therefore one thing to consider from the outset.
If the determination and aim is to settle into an academic library setting, I would emigrate for a few years before entertaining Jobbridge or underpaid short-term contracts. I know from talking to recent graduates (here and outside) how seriously exhausting and difficult thing still are. A lot of people are very demoralised. As you know, competition is still more than stiff in Ireland for academic library jobs. If I happened to just come out of library school, I'd skip the circus here and pitch for a job abroad.
This is probably something you didn't want to hear, but that would be my honest advice to anyone looking for an academic library job."

"In 140 characters? ;) 1) NETWORK 2)  Find a niche - a specialism, something you either enjoy or are good at 3) Don't be afraid of internships - these can be a foot in the door. Join the LAI & attend as many seminars/conferences as you can - they often have student/unemployed rates. Oh and join Twitter :)"

"Attend free conferences and networking events! Take any opportunity you can afford to. You never know where a three month contract might lead."

"Get connected. Join the LAI, attend events and if possible get on an LAI committee. As well as meeting lots of people it looks good on CV"

"Persevere... and try and view everything and anything as an opportunity to gain experience! #goodluck"

Hopefully these tips and advice will be of use to those of you seeking work in some area of the LIS world. They are geared towards the Irish sector but many will hopefully be transferable to elsewhere.
And perhaps some of you reading this will have your own personal tip(s) not covered above, if so perhaps you might like to leave a note in the comments, we'd love to hear them...

And finally, a big thanks, in no particular order, must go to the following for their tips and advice:
Laura Rooney Ferris Jenny O'Neill , John McManus, Jane BurnsAlexandra OulamaraHelen Fallon , Michelle Dalton,  Shona Thoma , David Hughes, Alex Kouker, Laura Connaughton, Elaine Harrington, Claire Sewell, Mick O'Dwyer, Siobhan McGuinness and finally Rudai23


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