As with everyone in library school looking toward graduation, I am deep in the process of applying to jobs. There have been many posts about this on HLS in the past, but here’s one more just so that you can see someone else’s process. Getting started, it was really helpful for me to hear about how multiple different people were navigating the job search, so hopefully this will be helpful for someone else.
Taking after several other bloggers here, I decided to make myself a spreadsheet to track everything. On it, I list the job title, institution, application requirements, deadline, and a link to the job posting. At first, I was simply saving job postings, but this quickly got out of hand and I’ve found that it’s much easier to keep everything in a single document. I can then easily reference it to find links and deadlines.
On the subject of deadlines: there aren’t many! This, for some reason, caught me by surprise and has made applying to jobs more stressful. Deadlines help me get things done and having no deadline means I tend to put things off. To combat this, I am considering creating another column stating when the job was posted, which I think would provide me more motivation to get applications in. If you’re just starting out creating your own spreadsheet, definitely consider this.
After I applied to a few jobs, I realized that I was starting to forget which ones I had applied to. This is where tab two of my spreadsheet comes in, where I keep track of all the jobs I’ve applied to. Unfortunately, my information here is somewhat incomplete because I did not track everything from the first few jobs. Nevertheless, here I stick to the same basic set up from tab one, but I replace the deadline with the date I applied. If I had to work on this more, I would probably also add a column for the date when I heard back about the job (assuming I heard back at all).
So far, the spreadsheet system has been great at keeping me organized. One final column I’m considering adding is something tracking the different sorts of jobs I’m applying to. Unlike some people, who target specifically digital librarian positions or specifically young adult librarian positions, I am targeting mainly residency positions, which tend to be all over the place in terms of responsibilities. Some are more heavily focused toward instruction while others have a broader focus. This, of course, affects my cover letters immensely, so it would be nice to have this information easily available. The job titles don’t always make it clear what the job is actually all about.
The Application Materials
For those of you who are looking ahead to your own job application process, I’ll start by saying that I started very early. Before job postings to which I could conceivably apply started going up, I had already been working on my resume and CV to get them into good shape. This includes updating them as new things come along, such as job title changes or new conference papers. While I did get a little ahead of myself timeline-wise, I don’t regret it, because by the time I started applying to jobs, I knew I had my resume and CV thoroughly revised. If you’re just starting out, definitely take your CV or resume to your career center or other mentors to have it looked over. This has made me much more confident overall.
As for cover letters, writing the first one was terrifying. Definitely check out Open Cover Letters and your career center for help with this. I am here to tell you that after the first one it gets better. Some other bloggers on HLS have suggested keeping a Google Docs file with all your cover letters so that you can easily share them with potential letter of recommendation writers. I haven’t done this, simply because many of the jobs I’ve applied for have not asked for letters of recommendation. I do have a dedicated folder for my cover letters, though, which I can refer to as templates for creating new cover letters.
Having a template to work from has helped a lot, in terms of my cover letter writing. I have also developed a system in which I pull out the key elements of the job posting and make a list detailing how I meet each of those qualifications. I first had to do this for a job based out of an Australian university, which asked me to send my qualifications for each of their specific criteria, and I found that process so illuminating that I now use it for every job application I come across before turning those bullet points into a letter. This not only helps me to make sure I cover all of the job posting’s points, but also gets me thinking about how my experiences mesh with the job.
I’ll have to get back to you on this, since I haven’t had many interviews yet, but my one tip so far is to save the job posts for every job to which you apply. If you’re applying to more than two or three, they will start to run together and when it comes time for an interview you will not be able to tell which is which. Before an interview I make sure to re-read the job post and make notes (again) about all of the major points and how I fit into them. This is also a good opportunity to note if I have any questions about the position before the interview starts.
To those of you in the midst of applying right now: good luck! To those of you looking for advice and getting ready to start your own process: take what I’ve done and then change it to what works best for you. Everyone’s process is different and you’ll figure it out by exploring and applying. Good luck to you too!
Featured image from Flazingo.
Categories: Job Searching