Applying for positions in libraries—public, academic, school, special, or other—can be intimidating.
Few MLIS students and recent graduates know how the hiring process works. It’s easy to get anxious wondering if you’ve put too much or too little information, or included all the relevant details, in your application. To help shed light on what makes a good application, LISSA invited a human resources professional from our own University Libraries to speak at our November 6 meeting. Here’s a summary of what our guest speaker, Kathy Bradshaw, Human Resources Librarian at Jackson Library, shared with us:
(Link to recording here https://sas.elluminate.com/mrlst?suid=M.47C7C9442D6DBCB7814655A1F96F39&sid=315. Due to technical difficulties, only half the talk was recorded.)
-Different types of libraries have different application requirements. Follow closely all the instructions given in the specific job listing and/or submission guidelines; including whether paper or electronic copies of application materials are preferred (or both); how many copies are wanted; and by what date all application materials must be postmarked or submitted online.
-Note whether the application requires you to give professional references now, with the initial application, or if they want you to provide them later per request.
-Keep your cover letter two pages or less in length.
-Do not reuse the same cover letter for different applications. Tailor each cover letter to the specific job position.
-You may sometimes need to tweak your resume, depending on what you want to emphasize for a certain job position.
-Proofread all application materials several times. Check for typos and grammar—more than one or two typos will greatly reduce your credibility.
-Do not repeat your resume in your cover letter. In the letter, expand briefly on your successes in relevant past positions, but do not list your job history again.
-Include library-related volunteer experience in your resume but list it separately from your professional (paid) experience.
-Many library jobs do not post salaries. If a job offer is made, you will get a salary offer. Before this happens, it is a good idea to know what amount is acceptable to you to live on.
-For academic library jobs, start the job search early! It can take several months from the initial job posting to get to the actual interview process.
-Academic library positions are usually chosen by a search committee, so more than one person will be involved in the decision process.
-At UNCG, once all applications for a library position have been reviewed, a small pool of finalists will receive a phone call. At this point, each finalist goes through a 30-minute phone interview. Be sure you are ready to describe yourself and talk about why you want this job!
-UNCG will generally narrow it down to two candidates in the final stage of the hiring process. Each one will be invited to campus for a two-day in-person interview. All travel and lodging expenses are paid by UNCG.
-Academic library jobs involve presentations, so be sure to practice your public speaking skills! At UNCG, the in-person interview involves you presenting before the hiring committee, so be prepared.