Tools for an Organized Job Search

“Job search prep” has been on my To Do list since mid-summer. I’m an aspiring academic librarian graduating in May and I know that the job hunt can be a very long and involved process. I’ve been updating my resume and keeping track of job ads that interest me in an attempt to prepare ahead of time. But now as fall whips by, “prep” is looking more and more like actual searching. I have Rafiki’s words from The Lion King echoing in my head as motivation: “It is time!”

There are so many resources available for job-seekers and, as with most things on the web, the volume can be pretty overwhelming. My aim here is to round up some of the tools and resources I’m utilizing so far, and to open the floor for more tips and sharing.

Image via photologue flickrCC

Image via photologue flickrCC

1. An RSS Reader. I did not fully appreciated the power of an RSS reader until I began to look at job adds. Essentially, RSS (rich site summary) readers allow you to aggregate “feeds” of content from various websites. So, instead of obsessively checking every site that posts jobs, you can check your RSS reader for new content in one place. I’m currently using Digg, which a friend recommended to me, and I think it’s clean and easy to use. There are, of course, lots of other options out there.

This page has information on library job sites. Try your regional ALA chapter and library school sites as well. Unfortunately, not every job site offers their content as an RSS feed, but it’s a great place to start.

2. Email Listservs. Many topical or regional library associations post jobs in their areas. Are you a member of a professional library association? Does your library school have a job listserv? Subscribing to listservs is a great way to find out about jobs that may not come through your RSS reader.

3. INALJ. If you aren’t familiar with the incredible resources over at I Need a Library Job, I’d highly recommend that you check it out now! Browse the lists of jobs compiled by volunteers in each region, read articles with advice on the entire job-hunting process, and find inspiration from success stories.

4. A Spreadsheet. Every time I’ve applied for something in the past—schools, jobs, internships—I’ve kept a spreadsheet with information for each application: deadlines, names, addresses, required materials, and my progress. It’s a simple but effective way of keeping track of applications.

5. Cloud Storage. As you begin to draft resumes and cover letters, make sure that you back up your application materials in some form of cloud storage. As Brianna points out here, you’ll have backup in the event of an emergency and you’ll have quick access to those materials from anywhere, just in case you find out about about a job opening at the last minute and need to get an application in ASAP. I use a combination of Dropbox and Google Drive.

6. Motivation. I think that staying positive and motivated is an important part of orchestrating an organized job search. Surround yourself with supportive people and motivating ideas. I’m rather partial to Kid President and this kid who just learned how to ride a bike.

Further Reading

Preparing to Job-Search: Some Considerations – Rebecca Halpern
Job Tips for Future/Recent LIS Grads – Heidi Schutt
Tips for Your Job or Internship Application – Rose L. Chou
What Not to Do When Applying to Library Jobs – In the Library with the Lead Pipe
Hiring Librarians 
Open Cover Letters

This is certainly not a comprehensive list of job search tools and resources. What do you use to stay organized? Any favorite sites? Apps? Email listservs? Let us know!

20 replies

  1. Hi Julia!

    The job search for graduating library students can be a very daunting and exhaustive endeavor, but it has to be done. You provided some great resources that I will look into so that I can be prepared by the time I graduate from my program next fall. I would also like to offer another resource I’ve used to find my current role and that is, which is a career aggregate site that pulls listings from other job sites into one place. It’s a very nifty site with a Googlesque layout and search feature. Great post!


  2. Also, and I hate to say it, it often really is who you know, which is terribly difficult when just finishing school or moving to a new place (and doubly so if you’re doing both). The advice I just gave to an underemployed attorney was to get on social media and insinuate himself into communities of people with his interests.


    • I have to agree. I am doing many of the things on this list, but when I started my current position, I found out two other non-MLIS library positions I had applied and interviewed for went to people the hiring committee was already planning on hiring.

      And I am now beginning to get into the social media world of library networking. Not easy for me, but I know (hope) that it will be a useful endeavor for when I graduate and look for librarian positions. Plus, it gives me a good look into what is going on in libraries where I would like to work.


    • Great points about the power of networking. I recently met with the career counselor for my program and she reminded me that building your network is also an important part of job searching – whether that’s through informational interviews, LinkedIn, or other social media conversations. I knew that “who you know” can be really important, but I hadn’t really thought about actively working on that as part of my job search. Thanks!


    • Absolutely! Even though I am still several months out from the job search, I’ve been on a campaign to contact professionals I admire and set up informational interviews if at all possible. Involvement in your regional professional associations is also a great way to meet people!


  3. Julia, I’m going to create an RSS feed based on this article. It makes so much sense not to have to bookmark and visit so many job sites!

    My only other advice would be to cast a wide net. Especially for public and school librarian positions, my experience is that jobs may not be advertised beyond the local government website and/or regional library network. If you have a particular area of the country in mind, definitely check local job listings as well as the national and state-wide agencies.


  4. Really nice article! Thanks for mentioning old-school stuff like email lists and RSS. Even if Google doesn’t believe it, RSS is still a great tool for keeping up with a lot of things you’re interested in.

    At Academic Library Jobs (, we have a general RSS feed for all the posts, and also individual RSS feeds for each state (you can find those by clicking on “Jobs by State” and then visiting a state’s page). So if you’re an RSS user who’s interested in working in academic libraries, we’ve got you covered. 🙂


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