Monday, 3 June 2013

Week 50: Job Hunting 101

In my 38th week at the Mayme A. Clayton Library and Museum, I attended an IMLS Careerfest in Riverside, California.

I felt very fortunate to have met Dr. Patricia Smith-Hunt at the MCLM board meeting and I happily accepted her invitation to her IMLS Career Festival in Riverside, 60 miles east of Los Angeles. Dr. Smith-Hunt is one of the administrators for an IMLS grant to increase diversity in librarianship for the Inland Empire area of southern California. The majority of their participants are current students in MLS programs and the grant supports them with funding for tuition and professional development. Their program had funding to pay for me to spend the night before the event in a hotel in Riverside. This way I would not have to fight traffic out of Los Angeles to make it to Riverside for the 8:30 AM start time. The day was jam packed with guest speakers and opportunities to network. The best part of the event is that all of the information was geared toward individuals that were starting careers in special, school, academic and public libraries. I learned about trends in the job market and how we can frame our experience to be more attractive to employers.

The career counselor for San Jose State University spent the entire afternoon talking about resumes, interviews and cover letters. She even workshop-ed our resumes at the end of the day. I have not seen my paper “bleed” that much since my freshman honors English class. She encouraged me to be more direct with the information in my resume with less narrative; and focus on my accomplishments. She also recommended that I use “Related Experience” rather than “Employment History”, so that I could put my volunteer experience alongside my “work” experience. Prior to the HistoryMakers, I had read so many books about resumes and assumed I had a strong one, but I thought that her advice was sound and I am going to spend some time updating mine. She also said that every resume should be tailored to fit the job that you are applying for, no exceptions. She recommended that we create a master resume that lists everything that you have ever done and just pull what is extremely relevant when drafting the resume for a prospective job.


One of the speakers gave one fact and asked one question that pointed to the fundamental problem of any job search. The fact is that the overwhelming majority of people find their jobs through networking and when she asked how we felt about networking; the answers were awkward, forced, fake, and uncomfortable. She encouraged us to re-frame the way that we look at networking and just take the time to get to know one new person at a time; it doesn’t have to be business card collecting marathon. With the MLS degree as the common denominator for everyone in the room; it was nice to hear how we can manipulate our skill sets to work in a grand variety of atmospheres. I am guilty of just entering “archivist” in the search field and wondering why I don’t get very many hits; why not enter “content manager” or “researcher” or “metadata” and see what comes up? Libraries and archives are not the only places that need archivists. Overall, I took five pages of notes and talked to a good number of folks that are excited about pursuing careers in information science.       

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