It’s time for my final post, and is of course obligatory here at Hack Library School, I’ll be writing about finishing school and that dreaded job hunt.
As Melissa so perfectly put it last year, Searching For Jobs is Terrible. I know it’s awful everywhere, but I somehow think it’s even worse in Canada, where jobs are far fewer. For instance, I always intended to be a children’s librarian, but I can count on one hand the number of children’s librarian jobs that have been posted, Canada-wide, in the last six months.
And even when that perfect job shows up, there’s no guarantee you’ll get it! One of those children’s librarian jobs was my absolute perfect dream job, involving collection development for a system of 100+ libraries, organising author tours, and (of course) the occasional storytime. It was definitely not an entry-level job, and I am flattered to have made it as far as I did in the recruitment process, but I was still very sad when I did not get it!
Know the “right way” to search for a job is so difficult, because everyone tells you something different. Some people have told me to keep my cover letter to one page, others have assured me that spilling over to a second page is no big deal. Some will tell you to apply for literally everything and others will say to focus all your efforts on jobs that you have a real chance at. One piece of advice I received during my job hunt was to never picture yourself in a role, to never get too invested in it; while that is terribly depressing, it’s also pretty useful in practice, because fact is, you’re not going to get every job you apply for. There’s always a chance that the library you’re applying to will choose someone with a bit more experience, or they’ll prefer a local candidate, or they’ll just not see you as the right fit for their team or community. Or, worst of all, they might have known who they wanted to hire even before they posted the advertisement. It’s unfortunate, but it definitely happens.
The good news is, you will get there eventually! While I’m not currently working as a children’s librarian as originally intended, I am a public librarian, in a job that I really enjoy. I work with the community, I organise events, I offer reference services and readers’ advisory, and I spend a fair bit of time playing with some very cool tech. I do a couple of storytimes each week (it’s my joy!), and I get to plan really fun programs (like the Life-Sized Candyland game I’ll be hosting this summer). I have a wonderful supervisor who encourages me to try new programs and ideas, and to pursue opportunities for professional development. I’m in a rural library system, which I never saw coming, but I enjoy it as much as I once enjoyed working for a library in London that served millions. Perhaps the only downside is that the position isn’t permanent– but hey, contract work is just part of life for a beginner librarian!
I was pretty lucky in that I’ve been working here since finishing my degree. A lot of people do spend months applying to jobs before they are successful, but everyone gets there in the end– so if it takes a while for you to find the right job, don’t be discouraged! The best thing you can do is get your foot in the door, any way possible. Volunteer, apply to be an on-call library assistant, even ask for informational interviews with libraries you want to work for so that you’ll be a familiar face when a position does come up.
And, eventually, you’ll be in the place you want to be. I am! For now, at least. Maybe one day I’ll find a job where I get to spend all my time purchasing children’s and YA materials and meeting famous authors… and, once my student loans seem a bit less insane, I’m sure I’ll find myself researching PhD programs. And then, I suppose, I’ll be back to hacking library school!
Featured image from Pexels.com.
Kait is a recent graduate of Western University’s Master of Library and Information Science program. She currently works for a large rural library system, managing collections and delivering programs and outreach to the community across six different branches (it keeps her busy). Keep up with her on LinkedIn, Instagram, or Twitter.