My Job Search Game Plan

As I approach graduation from my program, the “Oh God, I need a job” panic is starting to set in. As I work on applications, I’ve found that having a game plan makes the process infinitely easier. HLS is full of awesome advice for the job search and everyone has a different process. Here are some of my tips for success while on the hunt.

Get Organized

Spreadsheets are your best friend. My spreadsheet lists all of the jobs I have applied for or plan to apply for. It lists the name of the position, institution, salary, application deadline, date I applied, link to the job posting, and other notes.

I also keep a Word doc of the job descriptions for every job I’ve applied for. Once the application deadline has passed and organizations take the listing down, it’s a good idea to have it around to review before the interview.

Don’t limit your search

It’s wise to check multiple job sites every day. ALA Joblist is a great place to start. Your state likely has a website listing open positions; for example, in Illinois it’s RAILS and in Colorado it’s LibraryJobline. Other general sites like Indeed and Idealist are useful too.  

Do your research

Your cover letter and resume/CV need to be specific to the job or members of the search committee will breeze right past them. Go through every page of the institution’s website. If it’s an academic library, look at both the library and the main institution. Read strategic plans, annual reports, newsletters, and blogs. Search committees can tell if you’ve taken the time to get to know their institution.

Don’t forget to look for information about the community as well. Get an idea of real estate prices and local culture. You need to consider whether the organization is located somewhere you will be happy living.

Ask for help

Your graduate program most likely has a career advisor on staff. This person can help you with everything from proofreading cover letters to coaching you for interviews. My advisor caught all sorts of things I hadn’t thought of – her feedback really improved my resume and helped me feel more confident. My program also offers a resume review service, in which they hook you up with a librarian in your field to go over your resume. 

Also, if you have a contact in your field that has landed a job, reach out to them. They probably have oodles of advice and would love to help you out.

Give yourself feedback

After my first video conference interview, I sat down to reflect on what went well and what didn’t (and trust me, I made mistakes). Then I wrote a note in my application log of ways to improve for future interviews. For example, the location I chose for my interview was way too loud. I made a note to find a quieter place for next time so the honking of cars wouldn’t be too distracting for my interviewers.

You may ask the institution for feedback if you’d like to know why you didn’t get a position. However, keep in mind that they are not obligated to respond to your request.

Don’t be discouraged

Rejection letters hurt. Applying for dozens of jobs without any response is frustrating. Keep in mind that we’ve all been there. Commiserating with my peers make me feel better, as does reading success stories.

Finally landed that interview? Check out this post for some super helpful advice.



What advice do you have for recent grads on the job hunt? How did you land your first gig?


Photo from Flickr Commons. Licensed under CC 2.0.

7 replies

  1. Hey Brenna! Great post! I just wanted to recommend a program I use to keep track of notes and job postings rather than Word. It’s called Evernote. I use it for ALL things in life (notes, recipes, check lists, random thoughts, etc.) but it’s particularly useful in that, with the click of a button, you can automatically copy entire webpages (or PDFs) into the program and they become full text searchable. I have a notebook entirely dedicated to the “Job Hunt” where I’ve saved countless job posters, blog posts with advice, and tips and information for my interview prep. Then I just search by keyword if I need any of it again 🙂 It saves me a lot of time and makes me feel rather organized! I’ve also successfully incorporated it in my professional life as well.

    Good luck on your job search!


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