Further Questions: What advice do you have for long-term job seekers?

This week we asked people who hire librarians

What advice do you have for long-term job seekers, i.e. those who have been looking for over a year (see our stats on Hiring Librarians; about 40% of those who have taken our survey of job hunters have been searching for a new position for over a year, see the second question under the demographics section)? When it is obvious that a job hunter has been looking for awhile (either by graduation date or lack of a current position in the library world, etc.), do you consider this a red flag? How can job hunters stay fresh throughout a long job searching process?

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.

MargaretKnowing how tough the job market is, I don’t automatically raise the flag if someone has been out of work for a while. I’m more concerned with serial job hoppers-you know, the people who only stay in a job for six months or a year over and over again and then give vague answers as to why they left. That’s my biggest red flag (unless that person’s spouse is in the military or something, I’ve had those before). My advice is to keep your skills up. Volunteer (I know…I know…), stay active in professional list servs and organizations and show that, even though you’re not getting a paycheck, you’re working. Bring it up in the interview, don’t be shy. Talk about what you’ve been doing to keep your skills fresh, talk about trends to show you’re staying abreast of innovations in the library world (appropriate to the questions, of course, don’t just bust out with knowledge apropos of nothing. RDA! Data-driven acquisition! Makerspaces! STEAM! Cloud computing!), etc.

– Margaret M. Neill, Regional Library Branch Manager, Main Library, El Paso Public Library

J. McRee ElrodIf not currently employed in a library, do volunteer work in a library such as the local public library or a charity.



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

Christine Hage - Dark backgroundIf you have actively been interviewing for a year and have not gotten a job, I would go back to at least one interviewer, well after the position has been filled, to see if they would critique the interview and your resume.  Approach them for advice or very short term mentoring.


Sometimes the candidate pool is so rich that unless a candidate really shines, they won’t stand out in the crowd.  There might be problems with the resume or cover letter.  It might be a lack of confidence in an interview situation.  It might be the way a candidate dresses for the interview. Any number of things can rule out a candidate from a position, but the losing candidate needs to analyze their presentation/behavior.


The job market can be very competitive.  The employer may only have your paperwork and 15 minutes to evaluate you.  Sometimes it is something as simple as the lack of a smile that will eliminate a candidate.  I can train people for a job, but I can’t teach them to smile.  An interview, like librarianship, is a two-way conversation.  You have to come across as a likeable person in all interactions.  If the employer does feel you are likeable, you’re a dead duck.

– Christine Hage, Director, Rochester Hills Public Library

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2 responses to “Further Questions: What advice do you have for long-term job seekers?

  1. Pingback: Further Questions Questions | Hiring Librarians

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