Sunday, December 13, 2009

Gainful employment

Oh, hello there! I wasn't slacking off last week - in fact I was working. At a job! In a library! Where they pay me! After five months of unemployment, this is a very exciting development, despite the odd-job aspects of this position.

There is a lesson here about networking, making contacts, and using them to your advantage. I've been sending off resumes all over the place and getting interviews, but no offers. So recently, in addition to sending out resumes I've been keeping professionally active with conferences, taking a continuing education class, and volunteering to join a committee. Then, at the NELA Conference this fall I attended a resume review session. I would have done so anyway, but when I saw that one of the resume reviewers was from the Cambridge Public Library - where I have applied for many jobs over the year, to no avail - it seemed a perfect opportunity.

Having someone review your resume is a great way to force them to read through the entire thing. Not only did I get helpful advice about how to better organize it, but the reviewer commented on the great experience that I have, and which was apparently not well highlighted on my resume. She also suggested doing informational interviews at libraries where I was interested in working, so I promised I would call her soon to talk about her library.

This is the important part: following up! I called the next week and set up an appointment. It was a few weeks off because they were in the midst of opening a brand new library building, so that gave me plenty of time to prepare. Helpfully, I was taking an online class from Simmons at the time which is all about resumes, interviewing, networking, and other job-search skills (I'll talk about the class more in another post.) I used advice from the resume review session and the class to overhaul my resume, and also got some great advice on informational interviews. Interview day came and I was prepared. I had my new, impressive resume and a list of questions as well as talking points about myself and my experience.

Before I continue, let me just say that from everything I have heard, this is NOT typically how informational interviews go. In fact, you aren't even supposed to bring up the subject of hiring or to give the interviewer your resume unless they ask.

At my interview, the HR person (who had reviewed my resume) gave me an opportunity to talk about my experience and what I'm looking for, the challenges faced in my job search, and the type of library in which I'd like to work. She then told me a bit about what she liked in my resume, and let me know about what was currently available, a non-professional temporary position. She and the director said that they would like me on staff, and the temporary position is what they have available now but it was mine if I wanted it.

Earlier in my job search this may not have been quite so appealing. The position is low-paying, it's not an MLS position, and the schedule is, shall we say, chaotic. But after a 5-month vacation I was ready to be in a library again. Here was the opportunity to work at a spanky brand new shiny library, and at a number of branches, doing different things all the time, and getting out of my house during the most bleak months of the year. Most importantly, it's a great way to get my foot in the door and when a professional position opens up, I'll have a distinct advantage over other applicants.

In the meantime, I get to spend time in this lovely new library, do the kind of work that I enjoy, and meet lots of fun and interesting people. I'll post updates if anything exciting develops, and I'm crossing my fingers that it will. The moral of the story? If you're looking for a job, follow every professional lead you have and network at every opportunity - it can't hurt, but it sure can help!


Trinity said...

Hooray! I am glad you landed there for the time being. And, thanks for the links to the new building. I attended the chick lit book club group that Kelly Linehan ran at the temporary location for that library. I am normally not a chick lit reader, but that book club was a great one. I am pretty sure Kelly still works there, so if you see her, would you tell I say hello?

3goodrats said...

I will tell her! Also, I knew she looked familiar when I first met her there, and realized that we were at MA Library Leadership together this summer - how funny! It's such a small world.