I’m officially done with graduate school now, my graduation was June 8, so I am officially a librarian now – even if I am working in a job where that’s not my title. Like all part-time library school students, I started looking for librarian positions during my second last semester since I only had a few courses left. Since starting applying to things last summer I’ve had a few interviews and even managed to make it to the second choice once. But I’ve definitely had more rejections and ghosts than anything else which is incredibly disheartening and frustrating, especially considering how much of a roller coaster my personal life was in the first half of 2022. It’s taking me back to 2010-2014 the period between when I graduated undergrad and was earning (and then graduated from) my library technician diploma and desperate to get my first full-time job in a library or information services role. The month that I started my first full-time library gig in 2014 I wrote a piece for INALJ on dealing with disappointment related to job hunting and that’s the headspace I’m back into now. It was a LONG four years and I NEVER want to go through a job hunt that long again so every rejection feels just a little sharper than the one that came before because I’m scared. I’m scared of the fact that I didn’t have an offer for a librarian role before I graduated because I’ve seen so many other people from my own program and others who are graduating this year with me or who are still a ways away from graduating already getting jobs and it makes me question myself and makes my imposter syndrome rear its ugly head. I think this is a topic we don’t talk about enough so I’m putting myself out there and being vulnerable about it even though it scares me to talk about job hunting because I am lucky enough to have a job that I really love doing and we often feel like when we’re in that position we shouldn’t be talking publicly about maybe wanting to move on from that role in order to grow. But we do, we need to talk about it because otherwise we have to stew with the disappointment and its attendant emotions alone and that can impact our mental health and eventually our performance and maybe even lead to burnout! So, let’s talk about job hunting and how to deal with the disappointment.
Searching for the perfect job means kissing a LOT of frogs
Statistically speaking most job seekers are like me, they’ll pile up way more rejections than they do interviews and job offers that’s just the way the math works. There are so many factors and there can only be one successful candidate for every job. So it’s OKAY to not get a job right away and it’s okay to just keep applying to things even when it feels like it’s not getting you anywhere. Just like in a fairytale we have no idea which frog is going to be our prince(ss) so we may as well kiss them all. The same is true for jobs you can’t know without trying which one is going to be the one for you so cast a wide net and don’t be afraid of applying to jobs that might be a stretch, the rule of thumb I’ve always been told is that if you’re at least 70% qualified you should apply!
Success is going to look different for everyone
This is a point I emphasized back in my 2014 piece and it’s still true and still something I struggle with reminding myself about. I talked about this a bit in the opening of this piece too when I mentioned that I suffer from envy of people I know who’ve gotten offers while they’re still students, it’s totally normal to feel that envy, but you can’t let it grind you down. Success is going to be different for you from the person next to you because no two people have the exact same path so try not to measure or compare yourself to someone who has a completely different set of life circumstances. This is one of those emotional responses you have to try and logic yourself out of, which I know is the hardest thing for me.
Let the Genie out of the Bottle Sometimes
Job hunting is an emotional process, especially for people with rejection-sensitive dysphoria, those from minority groups, and those with disabilities, woe betide you if you fall into any of those intersectionally because it’s going to be a hard time. So let the emotions out, don’t suffer in silence. Find people you feel comfortable talking to and people whose advice you trust. From there make a regular point of talking to them about your job hunt and how it’s making you feel and why. Getting the negative emotions out in conversation will help keep them from creeping into and ruining your applications and interviews.
Be Kind to Yourself
Remember that job hunting is a long and drawn-out process and you need to be kind to yourself. Job hunting is stressful and you need to take time away from it to enjoy your hobbies and take care of your life! Don’t let your hobbies lapse and remember to spend time with the people you love. There’s no point in getting burnt out on the job hunt or you won’t have anything to give once you do finally land a role!
And please remember the most important things:
- Follow Alison Green‘s advice, the minute you hit submit on a job application put it out of your mind and move on to something else, don’t stew over a position all you do is make yourself crazy especially given how often libraries and organization will ghost your application if you don’t get an interview.
- Remember that you’re not in this alone there are literally thousands of us going through this together at the same time. Let’s help each other how we can!
It has been a pleasure writing for the HLS audience these last few years while I studied, but I am relieved to be done and god do I ever need a break! Please feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn if you want to :), I love making new library friends!
Huge thanks go to my very good friend and professional mentor Matt Rohweder for breaking me out of my writers’ block funk to inspire this post and helping me kick ass in library school.
Lauren (she/her) just graduated with her MLIS from the University of Alberta in June 2022. She holds an honours BA in English/Religion & Culture and a BEd, both from Wilfrid Laurier University. Her interests are copyright; open education; scholarly communication; accessibility; and diversity, equity, and inclusion in LIS. Lauren is the Copyright and Reserves Supervisor at Wilfrid Laurier University, serving on the Library’s Accessibility Committee, and the Student Advisory Council. She also co-hosts a bi-weekly Twitter chat on library issues and trends (#lisprochat) and was a research assistant on the Opening Up Copyright project in 2020-21. Find her: @rendages, @lisprochat | about.me/laurenbourdages