Tiffany and I attended our first Internet Librarian Conference a few weeks ago and we had a blast. The people we met were friendly, the presenters were innovative, and the overall vibe was one of collegial sharing in a nerdy, cool and relaxed-California way–oh, and the sea lions at the wharf made for excellent alarm clocks. We both came away with new ideas for engagement in our libraries and our communities.
The main reason we were at the conference was to promote our new book, Career Q&A: A Librarian’s Real-Life, Practical Guide to Managing a Successful Career. At the reception on Monday evening, we had the honor of sitting with other ITI authors to sign books and meet the attendees.
For an hour on both Tuesday and Wednesday, we manned an advice table at the Information Today booth, and answered career-related questions from conference attendees. During these “sessions” we talked with several motivated librarians. I am sharing one condensed Q&A with you here, and later this week, Tiffany will post another.
Q: I took a break from working in libraries after having a baby and for the past few years I’ve been working part-time in another industry. How do I get back into libraries and get a librarian job?
A: Look at job descriptions of positions that you want. Assess your skills and experience and compare it to the requirements of the job. Be prepared to acquire new skills and/or experience in some capacity before you can land your dream job (e.g., taking classes, volunteering, learning new programs/technology). This will take time, energy, and (potentially) money.
Retool your resume and emphasize transferable skills. These could include customer service, communication, instruction, design, research, writing, and more. Use the same language as in the job description, and move the important (required) skills to the top so the reader doesn’t have to search for them.
In your cover letter to the hiring committee, address any gaps in your work history. Be honest, confident, and professional. Show them that you have the skills and experience they need by using examples, and convince them that you really want their job (not just any job).