I have been job hunting since about February 2013 in the fields of music and library and information science and archives. The strange title number sequence is a shorthand of my journey so far: 0 job offers, 5 interviews (with 1 interview invite I had to decline due to a change in circumstances), 26 applications. This post will share what I’ve learned.
Look about you, because there are lots of resources and information available online. I’ve found many, many useful blogs, websites and information from professional associations. Disadvantages being that it can tend toward information overload and it’s quite time-intensive to keep up with everything! Some of the most useful advice for new professionals came from this blog post by The Wikiman (more on that later). Other useful blogs: Off the Record, Manchester NLPN and various other librarian blogs. My memberships in professional associations (CILIP, IAML-UK&Irl) have been great ways to network and see what’s happening by attending their events; next I want to join SLA.
Pay attention to the negative space. What I mean is not necessarily looking for things that aren’t there but for things that you may not have been looking for or didn’t know you needed to know…For example, a skills test I did (ok, kind of bombed) during an interview process was helpful because it highlighted some gaps in my knowledge. Similarly another conversation with a potential employer resulted in learning information I didn’t know I needed to know about working abroad and archiving vs. librarianship.
Importance of remaining proactive, persistent and indefatigable. Let’s face it, it’s tough handling rejection after rejection, but the only way to get anywhere is to be proactive and persistent in keeping up the hunt. I’ve also done a lot of speculative emailing to try and get voluntary work (even this proved difficult since I often struggled to get any response), but my work at WYAS and M&S Company Archive is a result of speculative emails. I’m learning to be indefatigable because, as someone close to me says, it takes work to get work!
In a related vein, I’ve been thinking about two suggestions from TheWikiman’s post: 1) How can I proactively anticipate my career needs (i.e. start building the skills I’ll need in the future NOW) and 2) Where can I make things happen for myself (i.e. starting projects, writing articles, etc). I’ve started compiling a list of skills I want to work on based on job descriptions for posts I’m excited about, and I’m thinking creatively about where I can make things happen. Currently natural ways to do this include writing research-based blogs about my voluntary work projects and creative thinking regarding my new role as Bursaries Administrator with the Music Libraries Trust.
Importance of social media. Thank you PennyB for this one: actively using social media is more important than ever to network and promote yourself in a super competitive field. Also since none of these technologies are going away, it’s best to get on board now, especially because many institutions already are! I’ve also seen social media related things on job applications, so I definitely want to demonstrate an active engagement with this area. Hence I’ve starting blogging more and using Twitter; I was already actively using Facebook and LinkedIn. It’s proven quite useful so far in terms of networking, gaining awareness of the field and promoting my contributions to a wider audience.
Basics: write a good CV and keep it updated (I’ve also written a one page biography), use an email signature, dress professionally for everything, do your homework on the places you apply and ask questions.
Sharing time, over! Any advice or suggestions are very welcome!