Further Questions: How should job seekers display their degrees and certifications?

This week we asked people who hire librarians

How should job seekers display their degrees and certifications in documents like resumes or signatures (in cover letters or emails)? Should they put “John Smith, MLS, MIS” at the top of their resume or when signing a cover letter or email, or should that information be included elsewhere, as in an education section, or text in the cover letter? Does etiquette change if the degrees are terminal such as a PhD or JD (or the MLS)? What about librarians who hold other degrees beyond the master’s level such as a subject area PhD, EdD, etc.?

Laurie PhillipsNo. I personally think it’s pretentious. It should be in the education section of the resume. I wouldn’t ding someone for doing it, but it’s unnecessary. We require an ALA-accredited MLS (or equivalent degree) for our faculty positions and we do not require any other master’s degree or Ph.D. or Ed.D. Some do for Dean or Director level positions and some do for subject-specific librarian positions (for example, I believe a friend of mine completed her PhD in musicology for a position at UC Boulder, where they have stringent tenure requirements and she’s now teaching in the music school). Many of us have or have had second master’s degrees in a field. I have an M.A. in musicology but I would never put M.A., M.L.S. after my name. For hiring, it’s just not necessary. If someone were applying for a position as a law librarian where a J.D. is required, they might do it, but truly, putting the initials after the name is not necessary.

– Laurie Phillips, Associate Dean for Technical Services, J. Edgar & Louise S. Monroe Library, Loyola University New Orleans

J. McRee ElrodAt least once as initials, e.g.,

J. McRee Elrod,  A.B., MA, MA (CLT), MLIS




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

MargaretI personally don’t use my degree as part of my signature, so I really don’t notice it much when others do. Put all your education and degrees on your resume, most definitely, but putting a Ph.D. or JD after your name won’t be something I’ll note in a cover letter or email beyond a superficial sort of acknowledgement. I think those things probably carry more weight in  academic libraries than public, where specialization can be a very important part of the job (like having a Master’s in English and being the library liaison to that department).

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

Celia RabinowitzI think it is important for a job seeker to be sure potential employers know about their academic qualifications and credentials.  A resume or cv will have the person’s educational history and so I don’t think it is necessary to include the degrees (e.g., MLS, PhD) at the top of the document.  I think it is appropriate to put those at the bottom of a cover letter in the signature much as many of us do in our email signature files.  It makes most sense to include required or terminal degrees, but not others.  So – MLS holders already have a BA (or BS, etc.) so it is not necessary to include that.

Including that information in your personal or work email or other correspondence is partly a matter of personal preference, I think.  They can certainly send a message or reminder to our colleagues on campus about our professional preparation which is useful.  That might be preferable to feeling as if we have to tell people we have one, or more, graduate degrees.  So – for job applications and letters be sure you educational achievements are clear (what degrees, which institutions, what program), and for your ongoing digital or print identity, whatever makes you feel most comfortable about you represent yourself.
– Celia Rabinowitz,  Dean of Mason Library at Keene State College in Keene, NH
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.

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2 responses to “Further Questions: How should job seekers display their degrees and certifications?

  1. Pingback: Further Questions Questions | Hiring Librarians

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