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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

My NewLib-L Recent Post

(email sent by Colleen to newlib-l after long discussions by folks about how there are no jobs, adn how dare MLS programs not inform students of their bleak prospects, etc etc ad nauseam ad infinitum)



I think it would be best to qualify what people mean when they talk about lack of entry-level jobs. Do you mean lack of entry-level jobs you'd be willing to take? Probably. I got my current job a year ago after 4 months of searching. In that time, while I sent out a ton of applications, they were all written to that specific job opportunity (which took a lot of time), and I made sure to highlight how I met the required and the preferred qualifications. While I understand not everyone has the ability to go cross-country for a job, I think it behooves people to understand that the MLS is not likely to get you a job close to home, especially if you live near an MLS-granting institution.



Just recently, I decided to toss out 2 applications to dream jobs, though I'm perfectly happy and pleased with my current job, and I was offered interviews (at no cost to me, other than some vacation days from work) at both. Both are still entry-level, which I don't mind, since I'm only one year in. I find it hard to believe, given the success of last year's job hunt and this year's feelers put out, that there is such a serious dearth of positions. While I consider myself active in the profession, I am most decidedly not one of the *rock stars* who gets flown about the country to tell others about my awesome programming, developing, or new projects. I'm just yer ordinary librarian, librarianating.



Not only do I *not* see a dearth of positions advertised (are you all subscribed to the same listservs as I am? Perhaps not, because my inbox chokes on the number of job opportunities), in my experience (and that of most other librarians I know - public librarians, folks in the private sector doing info work, and others, as well as my academic library pals), what we're seeing are sub-par applications. Yes, positions are being eliminated, but at no greater rate than they are in any other industry due to automation, position elimination and 'spreading the job,' or simply hiring less skilled workers for less pay.



It's one thing if you are geographically stuck due to whatever circumstance. In that case, yes, you're going to find it quite difficult to find something close, because that's not how library openings work. You must go to the work, the work does not come to you. And while you could market your MLS into information-skillz, if you want to be an official quote-librarian-unquote, your choices will be rather limited. Unless the situation was unexpected, you have no one to blame but yourself if you find yourself saddled with an MLS and no close job to ride off to.



I'll also note - as we do on this list from time to time - an MLS is not a guarantee of a job. Neither is an MBA for that matter, and we're graduating far more of those in this country than MLS folks. As a veteran of quite a few graduate programs, I don't think it amiss to say if you're about to invest a ton of money and time in a graduate program, it's your own danged fault if you didn't look at the job prospects ahead of time. It is not the academic program's job to "be more proactive in informing graduates about the job market sectors are looking for librarians" - the job of the program is to give you the opportunity to complete the degree. The job hunt is just that - a HUNT, requiring effort, planning, and the proper tools and weapons. It's not something that falls into your lap because someone else does the research for it, particularly since everyone's needs and wants will differ. There is very little expectation in other disciplines (at least according to my grad experience beyond libsci in PoliSci, Education, English, Fine Arts) that the *program* helps you find a job, or even keeps you informed about the market. That is your own responsibility as an engaged about-to-be professional.



If you are not taking advantage of social networking to meet and talk to other librarians or information professionals (who become friends, offer to help with resumes and letters, and keep you apprised of job openings that may not make it to bigger lists, or may throw your name in for consideration), if you are not making it a point to do professional development (most LIS programs offer free or discounted opportunities, and working in a non-library sector while applying does not preclude you from using vacation or sick time to attend conferences), then I am afraid I don't know what to tell you. You get back whatever effort you put in. Apologies if that sounds harsh, but it's truth.



Colleen (my opinions, of course, do not reflect that of
my employer or colleagues, who would likely be horrified by my crankiness)

12 comments:

Brandi Tuttle said...

bah, that wasn't so cranky! that all you got? :)
and btw, I agree! get involved, be ready to move or be flexible in the beginning, and have a good attitude (and lots of resumes!).

John Fink said...

I don't read newlib, but this is a pretty spot-on screed as far as I can see. There are so many opportunities for library schools students to do networking before they graduate -- and thankfully, a lot of these opportunities are free and don't require travel, like blogs (start one, people -- the first thing I do when I think about interviewing potential librarians is to try to find a blog) and other social networking stuff.

amy said...

AWESOME.
so happy you posted this.
and cuz i know you'll love it - enjoy the flamewar that follows...

amy

Aaron the Librarian said...

I, too, am on ol' WarMaiden's planet -- positions are available (lisjobs.com for starters anyone?) even entry-level jobs.

Huge dearth of "quality" applications. Note I did not say "quality *applicants*" I said applications.

Welcome to the real world, grammar and spelling count. No, really. You have a Masters Degree, and are supposed to demonstrate "excellent communication skills."

Application reviewing rant over, sorry about that.

Bobbi Newman said...

I unsubscribed a while back because of the constant whining about lack of jobs. Well that and I realized I'd been around too long to be considered a new librarian. But mostly the whining

Karin Dalziel said...

Sometimes I wonder if people realize that we're in a recession- yes, this affects libraries too. It's gonna be tough to find a job for a while, yet.

Ray said...

Despite the stats, I see thousands of 125K jobs posted on employment sites:

http://www.linkedin.com
http://www.monster.com
http://www.realmatch.com

There are tons of jobs if you look.

Megan said...

Oh snaps to you!

I'd love to point those newlib-ers to a couple of posts on my blog too, since I've been in the position several times of being on hiring committees for entry-level positions.

An Open Letter to Job-Seekers and An Open Letter to Job-Seekers, Updated for 2007

Miss Cybrarian said...

@ bobbi newman:I unsubscribed for the same reason.

Anonymous said...

Why don't you tell us what those listservs are, instead of just berating us for not knowing about them?

Colleen said...

Anonymous - I dont tell you which lists to subscribe to because it largely depends on your specialty. I subscribe to libref-l, newlib-l, ili-l and others because I do reference and instruction, but that doesn't help you much if you're a cataloger. What helps most is if you figure out what lists cater to you by joining organization sections that cater to you, following blogs by folks in your area, joining some of those listservs (that you can easily look up on google if you were so inclined) and generally joining the conversation. If you can't take the first small steps by yourself - or with the advice above - then I'm afraid I can't help you, but I wish you luck.

Anonymous said...

...please where can I buy a unicorn?