Between March and July, I applied for 43 jobs. I applied for part-time and full-time positions, children’s librarian positions, teen librarian positions, school librarian positions, and academic librarian positions. I applied for editorial assistant positions, academic advising positions, and administrative assistant positions. I applied for jobs in Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Chicago and elsewhere. Jobs I thought I was qualified for, jobs I didn’t. Jobs that paid a good amount of money, jobs that paid nearly nothing.
I was considered for 7 professional positions over three months. I interviewed face-to-face for two public librarian positions in suburban Connecticut and one in southern Massachusetts. I had a Skype interview for a big-deal fellowship and did an all-day campus interview at an academically ridiculous boarding school. I had a phone interview or two.
I rented my first car and drove 3+ hrs away by myself for an interview. I bought a suit jacket. I turned down a job offer that didn’t seem like a good fit. I cancelled an interview at the last minute because I got a better offer. I still managed to show up to two different jobs every week while all this was going on. I still do not have a smartphone. It’s been a bit of a ride.
Some generic words of wisdom. I think what helped me get a job was working hard for a number of years, filling up my resume diligently with stuff I actually wanted to do that would be useful for my career. It wasn’t always easy to execute, requiring sacrifice and time management and all the other bullshit I complain about in every other post for the past 700 posts. But after I sat around for almost a week, fretting about whether or not I would accept an internship or take on another job, I decided that I was tired of fretting and I was just going to say “yes” and figure out the rest later. I remembered this again and again as different opportunities came up – just say yes.
Every internship and job and other opportunity I pursued was because I wanted to, because I thought it would be fun, because I thought it would be a good way to spend 10-20 hours a week. Maybe this was a luxury, but if you can overload yourself with professional stuff you like to do rather than watching Netflix, you should probably do that.
In terms of applying, I knew that I would be anxious and stress about every.single.application. So I decided to just apply for everything, that way I would constantly be applying for something new instead of stressing about any that were pending, if I got a rejection there would always be another iron in the fire, and it just all became a somewhat annoying painful lifestyle instead of a million personal affronts. I’m not sure that I would recommend applying for as many as I did – yes, the cover letters you breeze through will suffer for it. However, I managed to get interviews for cover letters both mass produced and individually crafted, so there’s that.
One tip that helped me immensely with my last few interviews was bestowed upon me by my darlingest of roommates who is a notoriously amazing interviewee. After so many interviews that were good-but-not-great, many of which had led to “no’s,” I needed help. She was a bit flummoxed, though. She said something like, “I don’t know what to tell you… I just tell them that I’ve been working hard for three years or more to have a position like this and that you would be happy to take the job if offered.” That was the key that unlocked something in my brain – I could see how at all my previous interviews, I’d vacillated between dangerous bravado and unnecessary humility. Either I was a cocky rockstar, too cool to work for your library, or I didn’t give myself the credit I deserved; neither attitude inspires confidence in an interviewer. The solution: just tell them you’ve been working hard for three years and that you’d be happy to take the job. I did both of those things at my next interview and got hired.
So, that is how I got a library job after grad school. The end. It is comforting to think about how this is the only job hunt that will feel quite like this one. I will never be a new grad again. I will likely be looking for a new job while currently employed, or have some sort of defining criteria (location, salary requirements, etc), and from here on out I will have at least this little bit of full time experience to rely on. Thanks for everyone’s support and thanks – it was cathartic to come to this space and try to parse out how this job hunt was going and how I was feeling and whether I was going in the right direction. and thanks for reading along.