The job search process is stressful. I’ve been perfecting my materials, scouring jobs boards, and taking in as much advice as I possibly can. Luckily, I’ve received a ton of advice since starting my search for library jobs after graduation. The vast majority has been extremely useful, especially because I’m new to the library job search process and it’s more complicated than I thought; however, there are some pieces of advice that I feel work better for people without significant others, families, or location restrictions. This advice includes applying nationally, to not being afraid to apply for that job in the middle of nowhere, and to be open to relocating if necessary. Library jobs, especially academic jobs, aren’t always conveniently located in your city, and I’ve watched several of my colleagues move across the country to take a position. While I think this is great and can increase my chances of nabbing an academic library position, there’s other factors I’m considering in my own job search.
I’ve been with my significant other for over three years. He has a job that he enjoys, and he is also trying to kickstart his own career. We’ve had several conversations about my job search and what that might mean for him. When I look at a position out of state, I consider if it’s viable for both of us to live there. What’s the overall job market in this city? Can he get a job too? Will we both be happy in this state? A lot of times, what’s perfect for me may not be perfect for him.
My job search situation is not unique. Some people have families to consider when searching. Others are caretakers and cannot leave their city. Some may need to live next to a major hospital due to health considerations. Other people may live the opportunities certain locations afford them and would consider their quality of life diminished if they had to move. All of this makes the library job search a bit harder. It’s not impossible, but I won’t deny that it’s been difficult.
I’ve thought a lot about my own job search and what strategies will be helpful. Staying local or being picky about locations isn’t a guaranteed career ender. I’ve been given some ideas, and have been using some myself, to balance my career aspirations with my relationship.
This seems so obvious, but it’s been important in my own search. My partner and I have communicated so much about jobs recently that we’re kind of over it. Communication is important in any relationship, but it’s been especially important as I’ve applied to jobs. Several people I’ve talked to have mentioned that they sat down with their significant other, pulled out a map, and marked locations that they were both willing to live in. While I haven’t used a map, we’ve both been clear about where we absolutely are unwilling to move. I’ll also send job postings to my partner for feedback, will let him know what prospects look like for him in the area, and try and remain as open as possible about what I’m applying to and when I’m applying. He’ll do his own research as well. The academic library job search is also a complete mystery to him, so I have to be cognizant of this as well. We haven’t always been perfect communicators, but we’re figuring this out as we go.
There has to be some element of compromise during this process. I think compromise looks different depending on the couple or the individual. Do we compromise on a career? Can we agree on a location? Do we live apart for a year? There aren’t always easy answers to these questions, but we’ve had to ask them.
I asked a panel of library professionals what advice they had for people job searching with location restrictions. A piece of advice I received was to be open to all possibilities. This might mean searching for a public library job when you really prefer academic, or considering alternative careers. Some recommended volunteering in libraries while working a paid job. Essentially, it’s easier to find a job in a location you want if you’re patient and willing to look at all possibilities.
Networking is incredibly important in libraries because our world is so small. It’s especially important if you want to stay in your local community. Many places have local organizations and networks that put on cool events and are worth joining. Getting to the know the library community in the city you want to live in might be the edge you need to land a job.
I don’t have all the answers when it comes to job searching with a significant other. I’m still feeling out this process for myself. It’s sometimes difficult and stressful, but we’ll see how everything plays out.
What challenges are you having with your own library job search? What are your experiences with job searching with a partner?
Melissa DeWitt is an MLIS student at the University of Denver. You can find her on Twitter.
Categories: Job Searching