For Public Review: Unnamed job hunter 15

Welcome to crowd-sourced resume review for LIS job hunters!

Please help the job hunter below by using the comment button to offer constructive criticism on her resume. Some guidelines for constructive feedback are here, and the ALA NMRT has brief tips for reviewing resumes here.

This 3 page resume was submitted by a job hunter who says,

 I have been using this resume to apply for public library positions ranging from director to children’s librarian to cataloger. I’ve been looking for work for 2 years. I’ve had very few interviews and no job offers.


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Filed under For Public Review, Resume Review

12 responses to “For Public Review: Unnamed job hunter 15

  1. K

    To shorten your resume combine the two sections of bullets into one section of bullets. You don’t need the words accomplishments or responsibilities. Also education should only consist of your formal degrees. All workshops, etc. could be in their own section.


  2. 3 pages seems like a lot, even at the director level. I like the easy readability of bullet points, but I think they could be better employed in only the Accomplishments subsection. The Responsibilities sections could be condensed into 2-line summaries, perhaps listing the same points or calling out unusual ones. (Presumably the hiring manager for a position you want or have done will know what that position’s responsibilities entail.) Some of the Accomplishments restate the Responsibilities; you can probably remove some redundancy by focusing on what is notable about your work there and letting that point stand for “I am responsible for this thing and I did it well because [metric].”

    If your language skills are rusty, might as well leave them off unless you’re applying to a specific position that might value classical Greek or conversational French. They can be included in your cover letter if they’re relevant. Consider re-sorting your Education sections across rows by year, then school, then title; it’s easier to read at a glance if they’re lined up in columns.

    Also, is it possible that your resume is not making it through keyword searches? I noticed that you have an MILS and at first thought that was a typo. Most job descriptions in my location (West Coast) specify an MLIS, and some also mention an MLS (or, more rarely, MIS) as an option, but I have yet to see “MILS” in one. This may be different for you if you are looking for work near your alma mater, where they probably know what it’s called locally.

    My overall impression from the anonymized resume is that you held director positions briefly at 3 different (perhaps smaller) libraries, 15-20 years ago. Then you moved to another library and took a position with less administrative responsibility, where you’ve stayed since without promotion. You might want to preemptively answer the questions this might raise with hiring committees, like:
    -What is it about the most recent position that made you stay for 13 years? / Why did you leave the other positions so soon?
    -What have you done in your current position that will be an asset to a new employer? Why haven’t you been promoted/looked for promotion within the library? Do you especially enjoy aspects of this position? (You’re looking for a new one, so obviously you aren’t completely content.)
    -Are you looking for the same amount of responsibility, or more, in a new position? (will depend on the job listing; it wouldn’t hurt to have 2-3 versions of the resume) Can you handle administrative responsibilities?
    -Are you up to date on current technologies? (indicated already in your Education section — how have you applied these skills in your current position? Be specific.)


  3. Malina

    The first thing that jumps out at me here is that you served for many years as a library director before (seemingly) moving down to a reference librarian position. It may be difficult to explain this career move on a resume, but I’d make absolutely sure to address it in your cover letter when you apply for jobs. I’d also consolidate and streamline your “responsibilities” and “accomplishments” sections under each job. The two of them make each entry look a little bulky and add extra length that’s not necessary. Lastly, under “Education” I’d just list degrees acquired. Other courses should be listed under something like a “Professional Development” heading along with any professional organization affiliations/activities.


  4. Sylvia Nurse

    I would recommend adding a Career Profile section to the top of your resume and tailoring it for each job application. You may also want to consider adding a Technology Skills section too. This is a great way to emphasize your experience/transferable skills and catch the hiring manager’s eye.

    Bold your job titles and put the library and start/end dates on the same line.

    I would combine responsibilities and accomplishments. Then think about which of your job accomplishments can be flushed out and quantified. For example, did expanding main branch hours lead to increase in usage plus how many reference questions did you answer? Read this:

    If you have you done volunteer work for local and/or national library associations add it to your resume.

    If possible try reducing the length of your resume. Have a look at the first resume (and cover letter too!) at:

    Good luck!


  5. I like the layout of your resume and that you included accomplishments for each position. I agree with the previous poster about the length of your resume. One thing you could do would be to decrease the margin size–0.75 on all sides is one I prefer to use (though your mileage may vary).

    I noticed that the beginning of your phrases under Accomplishments aren’t capitalized and it threw me off. I suggest using standard grammar–you don’t want that to be a point against you in the hiring manager’s eye.

    Instead of merely listing tasks, describe what you did. For example, under Budget, what aspects of the budget did you manage? How much did you manage. This will give hiring managers an idea of what you’re capable of doing.

    Good luck!


  6. A Rae

    If I was a hiring manager, I might find your resume a bit confusing. Considering the high number of applications most open positions draw, that could be one reason you’re not getting more interviews–there isn’t always time to figure out an applicant’s story when others have clear trajectories.

    It looks like you began working as library director shortly after earning your MLS, held several director positions less than a year, and now have been working as a reference librarian for 13 years. Why that change to less responsibility, and what are you looking for now? Address in your cover letter why you’re applying for a particular job–you’ll really need to customize each letter (and your resume) to explain your fit and highlight relevant experience since you’re applying for a wide range of positions.

    I like the bullet points, very easy to read. But I would combine responsibilities and accomplishments and provide more substantial information for each position. Can you add more numbers or other forms of value to your entries? For instance, in your current position, the cataloging manual–first ever for that library? shared with other libraries? something else that makes it noteworthy? Another would be “keeping other catalogers informed of new developments..”–can you say more? How many other catalogers? Was it formal–did you organize something like a lunchtime update series of talks, or bring back information from professional organizations or continuing education to the catalogers? Something that shows your leadership skills. You have impressive professional accomplishments—capital campaigns, successful grant proposals, personnel–highlight these by providing some meaningful details.

    I would also put your continuing education in a separate category from your degrees–shows your commitment to growth and the profession so make it stand out. Also, current arrangement makes it difficult to see your MLS.

    Unless you are fluent in speaking or proficient in reading another language, remove that section.

    Are you involved in any professional associations, local or national? Committee work, conference organizing, etc….would be good to include, even if only membership.


  7. Anonymous

    As someone who works in academia, I disagree with both other posters on length. I am used to CVs being at least 3 pages long if not much longer, with robust listings of accomplishments, tasks, committees, schooling, and citations for research/presentations/posters/articles. Bullet points don’t work well for us, we always want to know more details. Guess that is the difference between public and academic. To me, the layout is more of a resume of someone starting out. I would describe more and give details of the higher level tasks assigned or supervised. Usually a resume only lists no more than the last 10 years of work experience, with jobs before that time listed but not expanded. So

    Other work experience:
    Library Director, blah-blah library, town 1994-1998
    Collection Development Librarian, blah-blah library, town 1990-1994

    I would capsize experience earlier than 10 years, then expand out all your larger duties from your more recent jobs. The capsized parts are kind of a teaser. People looking at the resume can see a progression of jobs, and if you get an interview it is something interesting they can ask about if they want. I still list Whale Watch Naturalist under mine, even though it was 15 years ago, because it is an amusement. Capsizing will give you plenty of room for the newer details. I would also change the Education section to just your degrees, then have a separate section for Continuing Education which might include conferences too.

    Being up on the new trends and technology is necessary in our field. Your current resume doesn’t state anything in that regard. You could put a section of Technical Proficiency and list all the programs you know, any web or graphic design you are capable of, or if you understand network or desktop support. My section was so long that I added a separate section for Library Technical Proficiency which lists everything from ILLiad, and OCLC Connexion, LibGuides, LibChat to different ILS systems I have used. I would think that anyone looking for a librarian or above job should list all of that. It should look like you know your stuff technology wise.

    Hope that was somewhat helpful. Good luck finding a better job!


  8. Unnamed 15

    Remy, I’m curious about your comment about my degree. Do you think I should list it as an MLS even though that isn’t the official title?


    • I think you should list the degree that you earned, with its title at the time (MILS). I also think that your resume might pass the quickest of initial keyword searches if it mentioned “LIS” or “Library Science” somewhere — perhaps in your career profile header, or if your Education section were retitled “LIS Education”. You can also call out “LIS” or a full “Master’s in Information and Library Studies” (or is it Library Science?) in your cover letters, even if you don’t take the space to explain the difference in degree title there. (If it comes up at all, it’s very simple to explain in an interview. It made sense to me after only a few seconds of closer reading.)


  9. Unnamed 15

    I know you all are trying to be helpful, so I’m going to explain my situation and ask for advice. I stayed such a short time in my directorships because I was following my spouse’s job transfers.
    I have stayed so long in my current position because I was homeschooling my children, so part time work was perfect. I have not been promoted because it is a smallish library with no path for advancement.
    Now my children have graduated and I want to work full time. I do find my current job fulfilling, but want the benefits and salary of a full time position.
    I have been in leadership in my church in the meantime, so I have kept my administration skills up, but I am afraid to put that on my resume because it may give too much information about my personal beliefs.
    I have not maintained professional association memberships because my library didn’t pay for them and I couldn’t afford to on my own. (Now I wonder if I could afford NOT to, but it’s too late). I have been giving presentations at library conferences lately as well as at my church.
    So how would you suggest I address these issues in a cover letter?


  10. Dani-El

    The use of color is questionable, especially the blue shade as it does not stand out well on white.
    I like the use of Accomplishments and would emphasize these more, perhaps leading with these. The capitalization of these is should follow the pattern of the Responsibilities section.
    Your cover letter will need to explain the gaps in your employment.
    The Languages section should be dropped.
    Differentiate between your formal education and continued training. I think the training should be included as it does show you are keeping current.
    You may want to practice interviewing with a confidant


  11. Taylor V.

    Hi – A few people have commented on the languages section already, but I’d like to add a different take. I’d imagine that the languages you’ve studied have been very useful for cataloguing, correct? If that’s the case, you may want to indicate that you have proficiency in those languages for the purposes of cataloguing library materials.

    On another note – I agree that your resume has a lot of white space, and that you’ll want to tighten things up a bit. If you decide to retain the Title, Responsibilities and Accomplishments sections under each job, make sure that the amount of space between the final bullet point and the next section/header are the same for all positions. This will give your resume a more polished look.

    Lastly (and someone may have mentioned this), where do you list your education? Ah – I see it… it’s mixed in with the continuing education. Yes, definitely separate the professional degrees from the continuing education.

    Good luck!


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