Hi, you might recognize me from such emails as weekly BC Jobs updates on the LTAS listserv. After jobhunting as a new graduate, then as an experienced Library Technician in a new city, I’ve learned a few things that might be helpful for others.
If traditional library jobs are thin on the ground, consider other areas where you can gain experience and skills that relate to library work. For example, when I couldn’t find work as a new graduate I started applying to video rental stores (yes it was olden times) because they involved customer service, reader/viewer advisory, circulating materials, and shelf maintenance. Non-library work with organizing information, doing research, managing records, digitization, or using office software could build up your transferable skills. Customer service work in other environments is good experience for public positions in libraries.
Remember that a non-library or entry-level position in a unionized organization can get your foot in the door for internal postings. One of my LTAS colleagues kept her public library page job during lib. tech. school, then worked her way up even though that library didn’t require lib. tech. diplomas for positions. Her access to internal postings was a big advantage. Likewise, casual staff at both academic libraries where I work have an advantage over external applicants when positions open up.
You’ve probably been told to research an employer before applying, but it really is important. While working at an engineering library I received resumes from people who thought it was a law library. This did not help their applications advance. During my own recent job search, questions at every interview required familiarity with the organization. That included public and academic libraries plus health records positions.
One of the hardest parts of those interviews was answering questions I hadn’t thought of during preparation. Sometimes my mind flails when put on the spot like that, but I’ve found interviewers are patient if one says “Let me think a moment…” or similar. One interviewer said we could return to questions later if needed, and that was very helpful for thinking of the perfect example from my past experiences. It seems better to take a moment and give a fitting answer than to respond quickly with a weak rambling answer.