Our Job Search and Application Processes

This is a collaborative post by multiple Hack Library School writers who are currently on the job hunt. Inspired by Hiring Librarians’ job hunter survey, today we wanted to share our experiences.


Types of position I’m applying for: Digital scholarship, scholarly communication, and data management/curation jobs in academic libraries. Some are librarian positions; others are IT/alt-ac positions within the library (think coordinator, curator, or specialist jobs).

My job search process: I find jobs through the Code4Lib listserv, ARL website job list, and occasionally DigitalKoans. Sometimes I will check other sites like ALA JobList or I Need a Library Job if I want to make sure nothing has slipped through the cracks. I am flexible about geographical location though I am somewhat picky about which institutions I apply to.

My application process: When I find a job I want to apply for, I write my cover letter first then complete the application from there. There’s nothing too unusual about this part.

I maintain a folder on my Google Drive that contains all of my submitted cover letters. It also contains a Google spreadsheet where I track the job title, institution, link to the job description, link to the Google Doc version of my cover letter, who I used as references, date submitted, and any phone or in-person interviews resulting from the application. When I started my job hunt I gave my four references a link to this spreadsheet so that they could access these materials at any point. Having this spreadsheet has been ideal for my job hunting needs.


Types of positions I’m applying for: Teen/youth services and outreach in public libraries/non-profits.

My job search process: I am geographically bound to the Chicago area, which helps narrow down my search — but of course limits the jobs available. The majority of my job search is simplified by adding sites to Feedly that I can save for later within the application or bookmark in my desktop’s “Apply for Jobs” folder. Favorite non-library specific sites include Idealist and Link Up because I can refine my search and still get a broad range of job descriptions. Library job sites I rely on the most include Reaching Across Illinois Library System and I Need a Library Job (since INALJ is a static page, it cannot be added to an RSS reader). My school also has an “LIS Professional Jobs” forum that I subscribe too.

My application process: Like Brianna I always start with my cover letter to make sure it caters to the specific position; if I need to tweak my resume at all I do so afterwards. All my documents are kept in my Dropbox account, which includes two base resumes (library and non-library specific), three base cover letters (adult/teen, teen/youth and non-library specific) and an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of applications. The spreadsheet template I found by searching the Excel gallery for “job search log” and tweaked to my needs. Once I finish all application materials I send them off in PDF form, add the date and details to my spreadsheet, and bookmark that job as “applied!”.


Types of position I’m applying for: Reference and instruction positions in academic libraries, with possible additional duties including liaison work, outreach, access services, and/or digital resources.

My job search process: I check a bunch of job list RSS feeds on the bus every morning using Digg Reader (thanks to many previous classmates). ALA JobLIST and HigherEd Jobs are the ones I tend to pay the most attention to. I also check I Need a Library Job every few days, and search the human resources pages of a few individual institutions whenever I’m feeling particularly thorough!

My application process: Before beginning a cover letter or adjusting my resume, I like to do a bit of a close reading of the job ad. For example, I highlight key phrases and summarize responsibilities and requirements. Taking the time to do this first helps me to focus on what makes each position unique and what excites me about each in particular. Then I move on to writing my cover letter, tweaking my resume, and writing any other required documents. Like Brianna and Casey I keep a spreadsheet to keep track of documents, submission dates, search committee contact info, etc..


Types of position I’m applying for: Academic instruction and outreach positions, especially in the sciences; Digital project management and data presentation work leading to library administration.

My job search process: I picked a number of geographic regions in which I’d like to live, and started looking for institutions in those areas. Syracuse’s career center provides an excellent listserve for LIS students, with lots of job listings, so I’ve used those resources as well as many of the other sites already mentioned above.

My application process: When I’ve found a job that looks good, I also start with my cover letter. I try to address all of the requirements mentioned in the posting, but also to introduce myself, especially when the job is more entry-level. (I tend to think out loud/on paper, so drafting and re-drafting a cover letter may be a long process.) After I have my cover letter, the resume/cv I’ll use for the posting (Yes, they should be tailored), and my references prepared, I’ll finish whatever application the institution uses. After that, I use a spreadsheet to track the institution, the job posting, and my application date, so that I can keep in touch with an organization if I haven’t heard from them in a while.


Types of positions I’m applying for: I’m a little bit of an odd duck here, I am a recent MSIT grad. Here are some job titles I’ve applied for: Blog Content Coordinator, Online Forum Manager, Virtual Community Organizer, Education Technology Consultant and Librarian (in schools and on US bases overseas).

My job search process: I am incredibly open in terms of location which is both wonderful and daunting. Like Topher, I have narrowed down to a top few just to have some structure to my search. I have a list of sites I visit regularly like idealist, usajobs, and the university websites in a few cities where I might like to live. I’ve honed my search terms but sometimes will just do a “search all” and see what comes up. When I read or hear about an interesting organization, I check out their site to see if they are hiring or what jobs do they have available – some will even just keep resumes on file. I also just put it out there to my social network (and reminded people at intervals) that I am looking — I’ve had a few very promising things come to me that way.

My application process: I usually see an interesting ad and then research the organization. The posting will sit in a browser tab for a day or so while I percolate on the position. Then I’ll craft a coverletter to highlight specific skills that are relevant and present what I can offer. Application submitted, have a spreadsheet of where and for what I’ve applied (and where I found the opening). Most importantly, I stay positive and repeat my constant mantra: it only takes one.

Job hunters out there, what’s your process like?

Categories: Job Searching

11 replies

  1. Whoa – Brianna’s method of having a spreadsheet of applications that her references can access is incredible. I may have to adopt this technique for future searches!


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