Job Searching & Networking in a Tough Economy

by Rebecca Sullivan


While the economy seems to be stabilizing, the job market is still tight. How can you best utilize your skills to find the job that will be the best fit for you? It is still possible to find a position as a librarian, but in order to do so, you will need to evaluate your skills, think creatively about how to present them, and network, network, network!

Evaluating Your Skills

Often this is an overlooked first step of the job search. It is easy to say, of course, I know what job I want and am qualified to do. Create a list of all jobs and the skills you have can allow you to see additional opportunities. Focusing on your transferable skills – those which can be taken from one job to another – can be especially helpful if you are transitioning from a different career into librarianship. Many requirements for library jobs can be demonstrated through non-library experience – providing customer service, working in teams, teaching, and presenting – to name a few.

If in evaluating your skills, you realize that you are not matching up with the requirements for specific jobs, now is a great opportunity to develop these job specific skills. Technology skills are often one area where you can take free classes at universities or public libraries. Look for opportunities to learn additional useful skills – and perhaps meet other individuals who may be able to help with your job search.


Networking is crucial for a job search. There are many opportunities to meet people who may be able to help you with your library job search. Conferences are one of the more obvious places to meet other librarians. If you are focused on a specific geographic area, participating in the state library association by volunteering or attending the conference allows you to meet potential employers and make a favorable impression on them. National conferences can provide great opportunities if you are geographically mobile in your job search. They can also allow you to focus on a specific aspect of librarianship – the PLA conference for public libraries, ACRL for academic libraries, etc.

Informational Interviewing

Informational interviewing is another great way to network. Unlike in a typical job interview, you are the one who asks the questions in an informational interview. It is a great way to gather information about a specific career track, get advice as to where to look for jobs, and learn about the work environment. Going into an informational interview, you should have questions prepared. While you may not get information about a specific job, it can provide you with a lot of information about a specific organization and with advice for your job search.

How do you find someone to be the subject of an informational interview? Just ask! Most librarians are happy to share information and consider it a compliment to be asked about their profession. You can also look at who is presenting at various library conferences – national, state, and local levels – and seek out the individuals who are presenting on topics that interest you.

Free Resume Reviewing

All NMRT members are entitled to free access to the Resume Review Online Service and the reviewing service at the ALA Midwinter and Annual conferences. The service matches job seekers with resume reviewers who will review your resume. Many of the reviewers who volunteer with this service are deans, administrators and human resource specialists in the library field and can provide feedback for specific library fields. Although their feedback and input is not one of a professional, licensed counseling service, it can allow you to get the advice of a professional who is involved with the hiring process.