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.

IPSC Invites SF Bay Area Info. Pros to join our Nov. 20th Meet-up at Toast in Oakland CA – 4pm

You are invited to join the Information Professionals Social Club for a meet-up before this season’s holiday madness begins. We will gather at Toast Wine Lounge in Oakland’s Rockridge neighborhood on Sunday, November 20th at 4pm. Quality and sustainability are the key ingredients on Toast’s menu, while the wine-list features small production vintners. Please RSVP on our Facebook event page or to either Cyndi Varady or Stephanie Roach. Hope to see you there.

Happy Holidays!

Cyndi Varady and Stephanie Roach
Information Professionals Social Club Co-Founders

Toast Wine Lounge
5900 College Avenue
Oakland, CA 94618

Information Professionals Social Club meet-up is 8PM Friday 10/28/2011 at Bourbon & Branch in San Francisco

Information Professionals Social Club October 2011 Meet-Up

Come join IPSC for their October Meet-up, Friday October 28th at San Francisco’s Bourbon & Branch in the Library. Just ring the buzzer and use the password “books.” You will be escorted to the secret location with floor to ceiling books. The fun starts at 8pm until the ghosts come out to play. This venue promises amazing cocktails and specialty spirits to make even the most discerning palate “ooh” and “aah.” Bring your costume (optional), your favorite ghost story (if you have one), and gear up for the spookiest IPSC meet-up ever!

Please RSVP on our Facebook event page or via email to either Cyndi Varady or Stephanie Roach

The IPSC‘s mission is to promote networking between information professionals of all walks, this includes seasoned professionals, new graduates, and students. Our informal meet-ups are designed to stimulate conversation, share employment experiences and educational advice, and above all make new friends.

Meet-up Details

Friday October 28, 2011 – 8PM

Bourbon & Branch
501 Jones Street
San Francisco, CA
94102

(415) 346-1735

Information Professionals Social Club Hosts Lunch Meet-Up at Souley Vegan in Oakland, CA 9/24/2011

Information Professionals Social Club Lunch Meet-Up

Kick-start your fall and join the Information Professionals Social Club at our September Meet-up Saturday, September 24th at Souley Vegan in Oakland, CA, at 12:00 p.m. We promise, this eatery won’t disappoint, so don’t let the word “vegan” scare you off.

If you plan to attend or have any questions, please RSVP on our Facebook event page, or to either Cyndi Varady or Stephanie Roach. We look forward to seeing you there!

Eat, Drink, and Be Nerdy,

Information Professionals Social Club

Soul Food: Cornbread, black-eyed peas, greens, and yams.
Souley Vegan
301 Broadway,
Oakland, CA 94607
510-922-1615

The IPSC mission is “to promote networking between information professionals of all walks, this includes seasoned professionals, new graduates, and students. Our informal meet-ups are designed to stimulate conversation, share employment experiences, educational advice, and above all make new friends.”

Information Professionals Social Club’s August 29th Meet-Up at Cafe Flore in SF

 

Cafe Flore Bar with Customer

Cafe Flore Bar with Customer

Information Professionals Social Club August Meet-up

You are cordially invited to the Information Professionals Social Club‘s August meet-up at Cafe Flore in San Francisco on Monday the 29th at 7:00pm. Cafe Flore is situated in San Francisco’s Castro, and features nightly drink specials. Please mark your calendars, check out their menu, and RSVP  on our Facebook event page or to either Cyndi Varady or Stephanie Roach.

We look forward to seeing new faces and reconnecting with our “regulars.”

Eat, drink and be nerdy,

Stephanie Roach and Cyndi Varady
IPSC Co-Founders

IPSC’s mission is to promote networking between information professionals of all walks, this includes seasoned professionals, new graduates, and students. Our informal meet-ups are designed to stimulate conversation, share employment experiences and educational advice, and above all make new friends.

Cafe Flore
2298 Market Street
San Francisco, CA 94114
(415) 621-8579

*The IPSC was co-founded by LIS Lady, Stephanie Roach.

IPSC July 18th Meet-Up Now at La Furia Chalaca in Oakland, CA #infopros

Aside

UPDATE – VENUE CHANGE

The Information Professionals Social Club’s Monday July 18th Meet-Up has been changed to: La Furia Chalaca, 310 Broadway, Oakland, CA at 7 PM.

We hope to make it to Souley Vegan in the near future.

Visit the Facebook Event Page for more details.

IPSC to Meet July 18 at La Furia Chalaca* in Oakland, CA #infopros

*UPDATE – VENUE CHANGE

It’s that time again. The venue for the Information Professionals Social Club‘s July meet-up has been chosen, and this time, it’s going to knock your socks off!

Join the IPSC for food, cheer, and merriment at La Furia Chalaca in Oakland, CA, July 18th at 7pm. We promise, this eatery won’t disappoint. Check the link above for more information on this tasty place, and check out their menu.

If you plan to attend or have any questions, please RSVP to either Cyndi Varady or Stephanie Roach. We look forward to seeing you there!

Eat, Drink, and Be Nerdy,

Information Professionals Social Club

La Furia Chalaca
310 Broadway,
Oakland, CA 94607

The IPSC mission is “to promote networking between information professionals of all walks, this includes seasoned professionals, new graduates, and students. Our informal meet-ups are designed to stimulate conversation, share employment experiences, educational advice, and above all make new friends.”

Are you #ALAleftbehind in the SF Bay Area? Join the IPSC for it’s June 26 Meet-Up!

Information Professionals Social Club: June Meet-Up

Are you #ALAleftbehind and live in the San Francisco Bay Area?

Get your professional networking done closer to home! Join the Information Professionals Social Club for a fabulous San Francisco lunch at Gordon Biersch, 1 PM on Sunday June 26th.

The IPSC’s mission is to promote networking between information professionals of all walks, this includes seasoned professionals, new graduates, and students. Our informal meet-ups are designed to stimulate conversation, share employment experiences and educational advice, and above all make new friends. You can also join the conversation on Facebook.

IPSC Meet-Up
June 26, 2011
1:00 PM

Gordon Biersch
2 Harrison Street
San Francisco, CA 94105
phone: 415-243-8246

RSVP and point your comments or questions to IPSC co-founders Stephanie Roach (stephroach73@hotmail.com) and Cyndi Varady (CynthiaVarady@gmail.com).

Hope to see you at Gordon Biersch!

Information Professionals Social Club to meet in Berkeley, CA Tuesday May 24th, 2011

Time
Tuesday, May 24 · 7:00pm – 10:00pm

Location

Jupiter Cafe: 2181 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley, CA.


Created By

More Info

Come celebrate summer with the Information Professionals Social Club!

The IPSC invites Bay Area information professionals, students and alumni to join us at 7pm on May 24, 2011 for our next meet-up at Jupiter in Berkeley, CA. Jupiter, while out of this world in taste and ambiance, is located at 2181 Shattuck Avenue in Berkeley, CA.

The IPSC mission is “to promote networking between information professionals of all walks, this includes seasoned professionals, new graduates, and students. Our informal meet-ups are designed to stimulate conversation, share employment experiences, educational advice, and above all make new friends.”

Join us on Facebook, where we share information on the profession, tips on interviewing and landing the job you want, and stories and news that touches the bookworm in all of us.

The IPSC was founded by LIS Lady, Stephanie M. Roach, and Cynthia Varady.