As spring rolls around, I know that many of us are “cleaning” up our resumes/CVs and wordsmithing our cover letters. It’s time to find that job…whether it be a graduate assistantship, summer practicum, a fall internship, a part-time library job, or a full-time job.
It can be a daunting task. Especially when you are juggling course work, other jobs, and your social/family life. It was so daunting to me that myself and fellow HLS writer, Dylan, came up with a hashtag.
So in honor of #TheBigSearch, I rounded up some of the best advice and tips I am using for my #BigSearch. We job seekers need to band together! I’m also very optimistic about this – I’m the person who looks at a glass half-full.
Goals are helpful. Even just writing them out helps to solidify what you want at a particular moment in time. The best part about goals is that you can change them. For me, when I started #TheBigSearch, I tried to imagine what sort of job I wanted or could see myself doing for several years. My goals have changed as the search goes on but it has been helpful when I have started feeling stressed.
Make the internet do some of the work for you
I don’t know about you, but I have set up countless email notifications and have a bookmarked folder of sites called “Library employment.” Notifications help you streamline the process of diligently checking every day. My semester seems to be so unpredictable, I can’t reliably check 20 sites every day. So I set up notifications to fill the days when I can’t check. I sometimes even save the emails for when I have a couple of hours to devote to #TheBigSearch. When I sit down, I already have some material to go through and it makes the process more systematic and not as bad then just sitting down and blindly searching.
Find a support group
You do not have to go through this all by yourself. Make an appointment either with the Career Services for your department or the grad one through your university. Start a Google Doc Shared folder for you and your friends to upload cover letters for peer feedback. Talk to a faculty member or one of your references for some pointers. Ask a family member or friend that isn’t in your program to look over a cover letter just for a fresh perspective.
An additional support group is the vast and wide internet. There are lots of librarians online, many who have probably written about finding jobs, internships, and practicums before. An insider tip I learned this year is the website Open Cover Letters. Librarians submit cover letters that have worked well for them in the past. It’s a great site for inspiration and to get a feel for cover letters.
Broad searching is both overwhelming and helpful
When you do start looking for jobs, internships, practicums, etc, sometimes it is helpful to keep your search broad. If you narrow your search too early, you might miss out on an opportunity that is up your alley (and you just don’t know it). It doesn’t hurt to look broadly and narrow in on your ideal job over the search process. Although I do know that searching broadly can be overwhelming, so do what you think is best for you.
This one is the hardest for me. I’m the type of student who likes do the readings and feels bad if I have to skip some because there just aren’t enough hours in the day. So making time for #TheBigSearch is sometimes an internal battle. Searching and applying for jobs is always on my to-do list, but often gets shoved to the bottom. I have to remind myself every day that the job search is a priority – the readings will be there next week but that great opportunity might not.
Don’t back down
This is a phrase my friends and I picked up from a movie we watched Won’t Back Down. It’s both an inside joke and a serious mantra for us. When things get tough, we ask each other, “Are you backing down?” It’s a go-to pep talk because it reminds us that just when things get tough, doesn’t mean we should stop.
To be completely honest, as I think ahead to May and to graduate, I get a little anxious. It has to be the unknown-ness glaring at me. Taunting me, really, because I feel like I’m standing on a ledge where I don’t know what is the next step. However, I am fortunate to have a solid support group and many good friends who help stop the stress train. I can’t do #TheBigSearch alone and neither should you.
So I wish you the best of luck on your #BigSearch. Let me know what’s been helpful in your search, in the comments below, tweeting to me @hailthefargoats or using the hashtag #TheBigSearch. We can do this!
Featured image and Open Cover Letters homepage were taken by the author.