New job for Fall 2014

College of San Mateo Library

I’m happy to announce that I’ve got a new gig for Fall 2014! I am Cataloging, Online and Digital Resources Librarian at College of San Mateo. I just completed my first week, and I’m excited to be joining their team.

The campus is beautiful; the students are fantastic; and the faculty, staff and administrators have all extended a warm welcome. I’m looking forward to the new adventure.

College of San Mateo view of Bay

A view from near the library, overlooking San Francisco Bay.

How I Got My New Library Job – Part 2: Organizational Success

New Year, New Job

My new job at John F. Kennedy University Libraries is going well. I genuinely love it. I’m feeling more and more comfortable with my primary job duty of cataloging (50% of my job), and am little by little, getting introduced to everything else. I find opportunities to learn and think all the time. It is quite satisfying. I mean, how lucky am I?

But Does Luck Have Anything to do With it?

It doesn’t hurt. But, honestly? Between the external and internal factors that affect hiring in libraries and archives (the economy, administrative priorities, etc.), luck is not to be relied on. More important, is self-awareness, organizational efficiency and focus.

Initially, my job search was unfocused. However, after I assessed my strengths and weaknesses, needs and future goals, I was better able to target my search to positions that were a better match for me. Because they were a good match for me, I was also a better match for the organizations hiring for these positions. This gave me a better shot at landing an interview. An added bonus, was the time saved by targeting my search more narrowly. Once I began getting short term jobs through a temp agency, time was in short supply, and I needed to get organized in order to increase my efficiency. My approach was methodical, and involved the use of organizational tools, my mobile device, and cloud computing.

Finding Organizational Success

To get organized, I started by prioritizing my job search activities, and making sure they were accessible to me where I was, whether at home or on the go. Because I was now working while searching for a job, this meant I was very busy, and at times, needed to use my commute (via light rail and bus) and breaks as productive parts of my day. I found myself needing to use my mobile phone, as well as computers at home, and on occasion, at work.

Bear in mind that to me, the job search is a process much broader than just looking for job postings and sending out applications. I include thorough research about each hiring organization as well as social networking online and in person, keeping abreast of current LIS issues, staying informed about related areas of interest, and other professional development activities.

Finding Focus: Reducing Distractions and a Consistent Daily Routine

In managing all of this, I organized my personal space and my digital space, and kept both as clutter free as possible, to decrease potential distractions. I also developed a consistent daily routine (as much as possible while working temp jobs) which helped me to fit in all the various activities I wanted to get to. For example, I used my daily commute for social media use and reading LIS and technology themed articles and blog posts.

These activities for me were closely related, as I like to discover and share information on Twitter. But this can be a big distraction for me, if I don’t deliberately limit how much of it I do. When I used social media in the morning, I could use the rest of the day to focus on my job and job search.

Each day, I also needed to recharge. As much as possible, I would use my lunches for just that, lunch. This gave me a chance to clear my mind and relax. Even enjoy, and get outside. Sometimes, I’d lunch with a colleague, and sometimes alone. Either way, lunch was often refreshing and reinvigorating, which allowed me to stay focused and motivated. However, there were times when a deadline was looming and I would use this time to work on an application packet, instead. In those instances, it was really important that both my physical and digital spaces were easy to use.

Efficiency through Organization

Physical Space. This may seem very basic, but I made an effort to keep my physical space neat and tidy to reduce distractions while I worked. I also kept my desk well stocked with the supplies I needed (printer paper and ink, for example) so I wouldn’t run out when they were needed most. I kept a binder with print-outs of the information for the jobs I had already applied for (filed by application date), a folder for those I was planning to apply for (filed by priority/deadline), and folders as necessary for information about jobs I was in the process of applying for.

Digital Space. Cloud computing tools such as Google Apps and Diigo proved very useful to me as I navigated the use of my phone and multiple computers during my day to day job search. With Diigo, I was able to manage bookmarks from wherever I might be. I regularly used Gmail, Docs, and Calendar as part of my daily regimen, but also used Reader to manage my RSS feeds. My best use of the cloud was an Excel spreadsheet, which I uploaded to Google Docs so I could access it on the go. It included three tabs: 1) an application status sheet, with a prioritized, detailed listing of each job I planned to apply for; 2) a job search resource list; and 3) a volunteer position information and status sheet. The application status sheet included fields for position information (job title, location, keywords, links, full time or part time, etc.) and application status (references, dates, deadlines, notes, etc.).

Another useful document I created for each job I applied for was a fact sheet, which served as a tool to organize my research about each position and hiring organization. I then used it as a checklist when writing my cover letter and resume or c.v. for each application packet. This proved useful as an easy reference, so I could address each point in the job description and requirements. Additionally, because there is no guarantee that the person doing the initial application review and screening is an information professional or specialist in one’s field, I believe it is important to match the language of the institution from the website, mission and vision, and job description as best as possible. I mirrored this language in each fact sheet, so I could accurately reflect this language as part of my application packet.

Conclusion

Finding tools that work for you is important. I recommend job seekers take some time to discover the best tools for their routine. Organization, efficiency and focus all work together to make the job search process more successful.

Documents

How I Got My New Library Job – Part 1: Becoming Self-Aware

New Year, New Job

Hard to believe I am two weeks in to my new job as an information professional, and its only January 15th. I have entered a new phase of my life. I have a job in my chosen field and am working full-time in an academic library, which is right where I want to be.

I started as Technical Services Librarian at John F. Kennedy University‘s Robert M. Fisher Library January 4th, 2012. It has been amazing… I am learning new things, in my element, and looking forward to the opportunities and challenges that come my way. That said, I have had a number of job seeking librarians, LIS students and paraprofessionals ask me how I did it.

While I wasn’t on my game every instant, and occasionally I let the job search get to me (who wouldn’t in today’s job market?), ultimately, my strategy paid off. I found a library job that suited me within the timeline I set for myself. Additionally, my efforts at social networking ended up providing me with contacts for support and further professional development.

How I Got My New Library Job

So how did I do it? I used a holistic approach. I wanted to understand not only the job market and the jobs I was applying for, but I also wanted to understand myself, what I wanted, as well as my strengths and weaknesses.

A False Start and a Reality Check

However, I should back up a little. At first I launched right in to the job hunt. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a plan or even a system in place to organize the search. Needless to say this approach didn’t work… And deep down, I knew it wasn’t going to. So, I decided to get serious.

Facing the reality of searching for a job during a time when state and local budgets have been cut and many libraries, archives and other organizations hiring information professionals have experienced hiring freezes, reduced hours, and other service cuts as a result, is daunting. I knew that I needed to get serious in order to find a job that I would really like. Honestly, I didn’t know that I would even have that luxury. I knew that the job market was so tough that I might not be able to pick and choose. But I hoped that I would be able to. I thought, maybe if I really focus, and work my tail off to get my name out there through social networking, refining my online presence and essentially develop a professional brand for myself, I just might be able to get what I wanted out of my first professional position as an information professional.

I started reading and thinking. I checked out online resources through my alma mater, SJSU School of Library and Information Science, I visited professional association websites and followed job resource listings on blogs and social networking sites. I read How to Stay Afloat in the Academic Library Job Pool edited by Teresa Y. Neely (which I recommend). Basically, I informed myself about how to look for a job. Not only did this process give me a much needed wake-up call, but it invigorated me. It gave me tools to formulate a plan and ultimately, to experience job seeking success.

It also made me realize that I would have to identify just what “job seeking success” would look like for me. So, in addition to my ongoing efforts to learn about the job market and job search strategies, I started to look inward.

Using Self-Awareness as a Job Search Tool

I began by thinking about the basics of my life. What needs did I have to meet in order to be happy and healthy. Food, shelter, health insurance, time with my husband, time to develop professionally through writing and leadership, etc. What did I want my life to look like down the line, say in five years, or ten years. After identifying what I wanted, I was better able to determine the kind of job I wanted. I mapped out an ideal scenario for myself, and set a deadline for getting a first professional position that met these criteria. I gave myself a year to get a job in a Bay Area academic library working in technical services (using my academic emphasis at SJSU SLIS) or reference (using my many years of customer service experience from the retail world). This wasn’t an arbitrary time frame. I chose something that worked for me based on finances. I also knew that after just a few months I would have to work part-time during my search in order to make ends meet.

Next, I began to evaluate myself professionally. I identified my strengths and weaknesses so I would be able to play up my strengths, and develop areas I perceived as weaknesses. The end results of this process of self-evaluation turned out to be a huge asset during my job search. I understood myself better, and in the end it became easier to identify jobs that were a good match for me. This meant that I could more easily show the search committee what I could bring to the job during the application and interview process.

In order for this to work, of course, I had to be honest with myself. And, I had to be optimistically willing to try new things. I found it was easy to “play up to my strengths”–I already enjoyed fine tuning my web presence, working on my website and finding relevant blogs to read through my Twitter feed. I could spend all day on those things. It was harder for me to reach out to information professionals in person. So, I decided to make a concerted effort to do just that. I contacted temp agencies and went on a couple of interviews. I collaborated with colleague Cyndi Varady of Dueling Librarians and co-founded the Information Professionals Social Club. I scheduled lunches with colleagues from school and reached out to some of my instructors from SJSU SLIS. All of a sudden, even though I was unemployed, I was legitimately busy.

I had heard it said before, but it wasn’t until I was in this position that I realized looking for work is a full time job. Applying for jobs, social networking, and professional development is a handful to juggle. Yet, I found myself happier as a result of keeping busy, feeling productive, and having the support of those in my growing professional network. I attribute much of this to my efforts to understand not only the job market, but myself.

Then, just when I finally had a handle on submitting applications, having professional lunches, keeping up on LIS topics via the blogosphere, and organizing the IPSC, I got a temp job. Game changer. This gave me more reason to prioritize and work at managing my time effectively. In Part 2 of How I Got My New Library Job I will talk about how facing this challenge changed my approach for the better.

New Look for LIS Lady Blog

Aside

I’ve given the LIS Lady Blog a make-over! A new look, and a new page. More changes are to come as I integrate the look of the blog with my lislady.com website, which is currently under development. For now, since I’m on the job hunt, I want to be sure that my work experience is featured as part of the LIS Lady Blog. With this in mind, I’ve added a resume page. Feel free to have a look, and let me know if you have suggestions for improving my resume or the look and layout of the blog or site!

Thanks,

Stephanie

IPSC Makes Some Noise at Jupiter

The Information Professionals Social Club met at Jupiter in Berkeley tonight, and despite the noise of the crowd, I was able to make new acquaintances and catch up with familiar colleagues. Records managers, librarians, and students with varying emphases made for a good mix of individuals, representing the information profession.

A recurring theme (not surprisingly) is of course the economy and job market. I had a great discussion with colleagues Cyndi Varady and Amy Rogers about successfully working with temp agencies to land a library/archive/or other gig.

My experience tells me that it is important to make sure to develop a solid connection and build rapport with the recruiter. Have a conversation, don’t just leave a message. Then, stay in touch.

The extra time and energy can eventually pay off, even if it is down the line.

The Job Search and The Temp Job

So, as a recent graduate from the School of Library and Information Science at San Jose State University, I can officially append MLIS to my name. But, as three months have passed since my graduation and I still (like so many other recent grads) haven’t yet landed the perfect gig in my field of choice, I have decided to explore the world of temporary employment. I get a paycheck, and can look for the perfect gig (I truly believe it exists) on my own time. Which, as it turns out, is more difficult to find when you are working full-time–but I’m adjusting to this as I work away, at my new job.

The title of my current temp position–administrative assistant–doesn’t sound as though it is related to library and information science, but in fact, I am happy to say that much of my work rather resembles my manuscript processing internship at Bancroft Library last fall. Well, it is of course, different, because, for one thing, I am working with documents generated as part of a corporate environment. So I’m dealing with archival documents, rather than manuscripts. From an archival perspective, you could say I’m on the records management side of things, as many of the documents I handle are still active as part of the document life cycle. Nevertheless, they are being archived and stored at Iron Mountain, and I am helping to manage the transition of these documents from the creation and active use stage of their life cycle to the inactive and ultimate disposition, either disposal or storage.

In launching my library and information science career during a difficult economy and job market, I know how important it is to stay relevant. Finding the time to do it while temping can be a challenge. But I can think, read, and write LIS. I plan to keep bringing it. As I navigate this process, I hope to bring stories of my adventures and tips for making the most of it.

So, stay tuned…