Job Searching

It seems like library positions are being more difficult to find, and competition is high. Often it can feel like job searching is a full time job in itself. Having recently been a part of a hiring committee, I thought I would share some advice with you regarding job hunting and applications.

There are multiple outlets and descriptions for library technician and/or assistant jobs. Positions for technicians and assistants are not always classified as “library”; sometimes they are called “administrative” positions. When doing a job search on a website such as try searching with both terms. Archive and museum positions often need similar skill sets as library technicians. The trick is to keep looking, and be open to gaining experience in other organizations.

Associations such as BCLA have a Partnership job board on their website, which has postings not only in BC but globally. Social media is another place to keep an eye on when job searching online. There are groups created on Facebook to share information regarding job postings, and you will also sometimes see job opportunities being tweeted about.

While the internet provides a wealth of places to conduct a job search, don’t discount your local newspaper. My first full time library position was advertised in my town’s paper and on the organization’s website, however I didn’t realize the organization had a library! If the ad hadn’t been mentioned to me by someone in passing, I would have missed the opportunity.

Something to be aware of is the internal versus external postings. When a job posting closes, if there are internal applicants they will be reviewed as potential candidates before external applicants. Don’t be dismayed by this! It might mean that it will take longer for you to hear back about the position. One tip I have about this is to try and get on with an organization in another department or as auxiliary staff; your application is then considered internal.

When writing your cover letter and resume, make sure you discuss all the major points in the job description. Doing this may be the difference between having your application read or not. It is important to not assume people will know what you know (i.e. stating you have your library technician diploma does not necessarily mean you are aware of certain programs). Whenever I get my cover letter and resume ready for a job application, I print the posting off and highlight key points to remind myself to focus on them within my cover letter. I mark the posting up with notes and examples that come to mind while reading it, and then have starting points for when I am ready to write.

When you are writing your application, try to avoid the use of jargon. Specialized language is great, provided everyone knows what it is you are talking about. However if your application is read by Human Resources not Library staff, they might not be familiar with library jargon. Along the same lines is the advice of don’t assume people know what you are talking about. Explain what you mean, and avoid using acronyms.

Most importantly, be yourself and let your passion and joy for the job shine.


5 thoughts on “Job Searching

  1. Ashley, do you have any specific suggestions for someone looking to get into a university library? I have a feeling that it might not be a realistic goal for a freshly graduated Library Tech. Any thoughts about that? COOPs, volunteering, other training, shelving jobs as a “way in”? Thanks!!!

  2. Hi Dane, thanks for your comment.
    My advice would be to either a) work as a co-op or work experience, or a student position to gain experience (and a reference!) and to b) apply for temp pools as well, regardless of whether or not the position is within the library. This is because you are considered an internal applicant when you apply for the library position.
    And keep trying! It could take a while to get a call back or position in the economy today.

    1. Thanks Ashley! I’m not sure if I’ll get lucky with Langara’s coop program ie. I hear UBC and SFU aren’t big on accepting work experience terms (I suppose due to their unions) but I’ll definitely put forward the suggestion when it comes time to request placements. And the temp pool idea is an excellent one … hadn’t thought of it that way … thanks!!

      1. Hi Dane, maybe private post-secondary libraries would be more likely to accept practicum students? For example, the Art Institute seems to have a library. Good luck!

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