Susanne is right—we had a wonderful time at the conference (#IL2013) and really enjoyed the programs and presentations, as well as meeting and connecting with other conference attendees. In addition to hearing a lot of questions about returning to librarianship, we also heard a lot from folks with questions that centered around moving from one type of library to another, or from one type of position to another. Law library to academic? Government docs to research and instruction? So here’s another Q and A from the conference…
Q: I currently work in a special library and would like to move to an academic library. Any tips on making this transition?
A: Of course we have tips! There are several ideas to think about and a lot of different ways to get started. First, start looking at vacancy announcements for positions of interest. Even well ahead of when you’re ready to make the move, look at the required and preferred qualifications of the positions you’re most interested in. This will allow you to assess your strengths and weaknesses in terms of the qualifications of the job, and will give you time to grow in areas that need development—you can take an online class, volunteer in another position to gain valuable (and required) experience, develop a stronger online presence, etc.
Second, when you’re ready to apply, present your application materials in a way that will make it easy for the reviewer to draw direct parallels between your experience and their desired qualifications. Although you’ve been working in a different type of library, the work experience is still applicable and transferable. Try to mirror the language that you see in the vacancy announcement. For example, if you refer to “customers” in the special library context, but the academic library refers to “patrons”, modify your cover letter and resume using “patron”. This will facilitate the reader’s ability to draw connections between your experience and their position.
And finally, be prepared to consider small steps to get to your final destination. Sometimes, when making big transitions, it’s not always a direct path. You may need to move sideways first. Be open to all opportunities and remember progress is key—find joy in the journey as well as the final destination.
For more career advice, take a look at our blog, Library Career People and check out our new book, Career Q&A: A Librarian’s Real-Life, Practical Guide to Managing a Successful Career.
Thanks for reading!