Further Questions: What is the most productive way to spend your pre-employment unemployment?

This week we asked people who hire librarians

What can recent grads do to make themselves more appealing to employers? What is the most productive way to spend your pre-employment unemployment?

Laurie Phillips

1.       Read – read journals in your field. Keep up on what’s going on. You’ll do much better in interviews!

2.       Take the time to write excellent cover letters to address the qualifications employers are looking for. Also, do as much research on your future employers that you can so you can speak intelligently about how they work.

3.       Work – get a job in a library. Any job. Learn about working in libraries. I did a little bit of everything pre-graduation (special collections/archives, circulation, cataloging, music and art reference, computer lab assistant) and it all ended up serving me well. Even if you work in retail, you can use that to talk about your customer service philosophy.
– Laurie Phillips, Associate Dean for Technical Services, J. Edgar & Louise S. Monroe Library, Loyola University New Orleans

angelynn kingRead, read, read. Professional development doesn’t have to cost anything — there are a million sources of information out there that will enable you to keep current in the profession. Librarianship is about lifelong learning, and if you stop learning when you receive your MLS, you will not be able to impress a search committee.
-Angelynn King, Head Librarian, Delaware Technical Community College, Owens Campus

J. McRee ElrodVolunteer work to gain experience.
Study another language.
Learn to program.


– J. McRee (Mac) Elrod, Special Libraries Catalouging


Christine Hage - Dark backgroundLook at your job experience and see where you might be weak.


  • If you have never worked in a library get a volunteer position that you can list.
  • If you have web skills, offer them to a non-profit so you can provide samples of your work for future employers.
  • If you want to work in children’s services make sure you have experience working with children.  Offer free story times at a local bookstore, day care center or church.
  • If you have decent computer skills offer free training to senior citizens or children in a community center or senior housing development.
  • If you have any journalist skills write articles for your small local newspapers or newsletters.


I believe it is important that you are a person spreading the library word, even if you have yet to land a library job.

– Christine Hage, Director, Rochester Hills Public Library


Thank you as always to our contributors for their time and insight.  If you’re someone who hires librarians and are interested in participating in this feature, please email us at hiringlibrariansquestionsATgmail.com.

Thank YOU for reading!  If you liked reading, you’re going to really love COMMENTING.


Filed under Further Questions

4 responses to “Further Questions: What is the most productive way to spend your pre-employment unemployment?

  1. Frustrated and lied to

    Nice advice, but what good does it do if libraries are taking full time MLS positions and breaking them into two non-benefited position. What about the glut of librarians out there. I’m in SoCal, and I may as well forget it. I graduated in 2013 and haven’t had anything worthwhile but a pile of dear john emails.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve been looking since I got my degree in 2009. The Great Recession along with the current glut of MLS graduates didn’t help my prospects. All my local libraries hemorrhaged positions and many branches closed or had to rely on volunteers to keep them alive. After a few years searching (and being told those library jobs are not coming back), I started volunteering at a library and museum in the hopes of getting a foot in the door while also looking for jobs in retail or anything. The library jobs in my area are slowly coming back and I have had a few interviews, but no success yet. It’s not impossible to get a library job, yet it is tough. Most want library experience, yet you can’t get that experience because no one will hire you. I did have a librarian internship as well, though it was nearly six years ago. Hopefully, things will turn out for the best for all of us.


  2. Pingback: Further Questions Questions | Hiring Librarians

  3. Pingback: Return to Further Questions Questions | Hiring Librarians

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.