Apologies, this post was obviously intended to be published much earlier (been in post 8 months now) but has been languishing in my drafts folder…
I recently was appointed to a one-year post as a school library assistant (and half-time music support teaching assistant). This offer culminated six months of job hunting and, as the blog title states, 7 interviews (out of 11 shortlistings) and 32 job applications. For my thoughts mid-search see this previous post. As I reflect on this whole process, I thought I’d share on my blog, especially for those still looking for a job, and perhaps for my future self when I at some point am back on the job hunt…Apologies for a long read.
- Because of my personal situation, I had the luxury of being able to focus on a specific field (as opposed to applying for any job just to pay the bills). This was a useful strategy for actually reaching my goal of a library job, since I could focus my time and effort on jobs that were actually relevant to what I want to do. And despite what the media says, there are a LOT of positions out there, and you can easily get overwhelmed if you’re not focussed.
- That being said, it’s worth looking for jobs slightly outside your target area which might offer transferable skills. I applied for a few arts administration jobs since I have experience in that area and, while not ideal for library work, would still offer some relevant skills (didn’t get any of those jobs though!).
- I was continuously tailoring and tweaking my CV, application forms and cover letters. In my ‘Jobs’ folder on my computer, I’ve got 10 different cover letters and 19 versions of my CV! The more research I did, the more ideas I got about how to improve these integral parts of the job hunt. For example, advice I incorporated included: letting my personality come through in a cover letter, adding month/year to work experience entries on my CV, totally redesigning my CV after seeing an example I thought was in a clearer, more pleasing layout.
- I built up my skills, experience and network through voluntary work while I job-hunted. Again this is dependent on if you can take time not working. If that’s not an option, join a professional associations, follow library folk on Twitter or take a free online course such as a MOOC. You can attend events, and many (like library camps) are usually on Saturdays.
- In the end this particular job was the right fit. I read that somewhere on a blog about getting academic posts, and it seems to be true in my case. It also is the sort of organisation that, dare I use a CV cliche, ‘thinks outside the box’. After realizing I’m a music specialist, they decided not to put those skills to waste and basically created a position for me, split between the library and music department. I also got invited for two other interviews after getting this offer, but in the end decided that this job would best build up both my library and music experience, and develop many of the skills I’d seen on job descriptions for higher level roles. Which leads to my next point…
- Think for the future! (i.e. either your next job, dream job or library school) and compile a skills “to do list” while you are immersed in job descriptions and from your interview feedback. I’ve compiled a list of Skills I Have and Skills I Need, and hopefully will be gaining some of the latter. Another tidbit, someone suggested a ‘skills I have but can’t prove’.
So that’s how I got my job! Thanks for reading!