Career Q&A: A Librarian's Real-Life, Practical Guide to Managing a Successful Career

Obtaining a Librarian Job After a Long Hiatus

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).

Visit our website for more Q&A’s on dealing with resume gaps, and utilizing transferable skills.


About Susanne Markgren

Susanne Markgren is the digital services librarian at Purchase College, State University of New York. Previously, she worked in public libraries, a theater library, a government library, a seminary library, a university library system, and a medical school library. Susanne has held responsibilities (some concurrently) in inter-library loan, reserves, access services, cataloging, reference and instruction, web development, and systems and electronic resources. She is a past president of the Greater New York Metropolitan Chapter of the Association of College and Research Libraries and continues to serve on the executive board. She received her BA from the University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire and her MLIS from the University of Texas at Austin. In her spare time (or because she just might be insane), she is completing a master of fine arts, teaching a for-credit information literacy class, coordinating a mentoring program, serving as a mentor, writing a career column, helping to plan conferences, designing logos and websites, trying to figure out this Twitter thing, remodeling a house, raising three kids … and still wondering, what’s next? Susanne is the co-author of Career Q&A: A Librarian's Real-Life, Practical Guide to Managing a Successful Career.

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