“Realize that a 60-year-old still has many years of work life ahead of them and will be extremely loyal employees (especially if they’re paid enough to live).”

Cadence has spent most of their happily chaotic life moving from one career path to another. Thanks to an unexpected layoff and the fact that their now grown children were starting their own lives, Cadence jumped at the chance to study for their master’s degree in library science, focusing on archives. The timing of their graduation – December 2019 – has since resulted in 3 years of a frustrating and fruitless job hunt, but they still hold on to that thread of hope.

Your Demographics and Search Parameters

How long have you been job hunting?

√ Other: Since December 2019

Why are you job hunting?  

√ This is the next step after finishing library/archives/other LIS graduate degree

√ I’m underemployed (not enough hours or overqualified for current position)

√ I’m employed outside of the field and I’d like to be in it 

√ My current job provides insufficient or no benefits (Healthcare or beyond)

√ My current job is boring 

√ Other: Because I want to work in this field

Where do you look for open positions?  

ArchivesGig, ALA, JobLIST, Glassdoor, LinkedIn

What position level are you looking for?  

√ Entry level

√ Clerk/Library Assistant

√ Other: Truth be told, at this point any position level as long as it’s full time and pays enough to cover rent & bills

What type(s) of organization are you looking in? 

√ Archives 

√ Public library 

√ Special library 

What part of the world are you in?

√ Midwestern US 

What’s your region like? 

√ Urban area

√ Suburban area 

Are you willing/able to move for employment? 

√ Yes, anywhere

√ Yes, as long as at least some of my moving costs are covered

√ Other: Though Hawai’i and Alaska are too far to be considered

What are the top three things you’re looking for in a job?

Steady work, good pay, opportunities for learning

How many jobs have you applied to during your current search? (Please indicate if it’s an estimate or exact)

Estimate – 450

What steps, actions, or attributes are most important for employers to take to sell you on the job?  

√ Pay well 

√ Funding professional development 

√ Other: Make an offer that’ll make this 60-year-old late bloomer happy

Do you expect to see the salary range listed in a job ad?

√ Yes, and it’s a red flag when it’s not 

Other than not listing a salary range, are there other “red flags” that would prevent you from applying to a job?

Requiring a master’s degree while paying less than $15 an hour

Listing the job as entry level then requiring more than 5 years of experience

The Process

How much time do you spend preparing an application packet?

At least an hour

What are the steps you follow to prepare an application packet?

Revising my resume and cover letter to focus on the skills and qualifications the job requires  

Ensuring that everything is grammatically correct and spelling is perfect

Read everything in the online job application form to ensure I am submitting all the information they want and need

Pray to St. Jude for this hopeless cause

How do you prefer to communicate with potential employers?

√ Phone for good news, email for bad news 

When would you like potential employers to contact you? 

√ To acknowledge my application

√ To tell me if the search is at the interview stage, even if I have not been selected

√ Once the position has been filled, even if it’s not me

√ Other: To tell me why I wasn’t chosen and steps to make to improve chances

How long do you expect an organization’s application process to take, from the point you submit your documents to the point of either an offer or rejection?

No more than a month

How do you prepare for interviews?

Panic, followed by researching the company and reading through their website. Go through my information from past interviews and rehearse answers that focus on the needs of the interviewing organization. Then, try to reduce stress by remembering they probably will choose somebody much younger so it doesn’t really matter

What are your most hated interview questions, and why?

Tell me about yourself. How far back do I go because my past has shaped me in ways no other applicant can match 

Why do you want to work here?  The main reason is that I need a job and you posted a role that is full-time, greatly interests me, and one I would feel comfortable in and would do a good job at. Just hire me!

During your current search, have you had any of the following experiences:

  • Submitted an application and got no response  √ Happened the majority of the time or always 
  • Had an interview and never heard back  √ Happened more than once 
  • Interviewed for a job where an internal candidate was eventually chosen  √ Happened once  
  • Asked for an accommodation for a disability  √ Not Applicable
  • Withdrawn an application before the offer stage  √ Not Applicable
  • Turned down an offer √ Happened once  

If you’ve turned down an offer (or offers), why?

It was a full-time position located in Los Angeles and they offered $15 an hour. Still regret it, even though I’d be living in my van.  

What should employers do to make the hiring process better for job hunters?

Be honest in your job listings. Be realistic about the requirements, responsibilities, and pay. Realize that a 60-year-old still has many years of work life ahead of them and will be extremely loyal employees (especially if they’re paid enough to live).

You and Your Well-Being

How are you doing, generally?

√ I’m maintaining 

√ I’m despondent

√ I’m frustrated 

√ I’m running out of money 

√ I feel alone in my search

√ Other: Should have taken that $15 an hour job in LA since I’m going to be living in my van soon anyway. At least LA is a lot warmer than Wisconsin.

What are your job search self-care strategies?

Follow the gospel of Dory: Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming.

Do you have any advice or words of support you’d like to share with other job hunters, is there anything you’d like to say to employers, or is there anything else you’d like to say about job hunting?

Job hunters: It might happen, it might not happen. Either way, continue on as life needs things to live and the alternative is unthinkable

Employers: Just hire me, please!!

Job hunting: There’s gotta be another way! 

Do you have any comments for Emily (the survey author) or are there any other questions you think we should add to this survey?

Thank you for your thoughtful questions.

Job Hunting Post Graduate School 

If you have an MLIS or other graduate level degree in a LIS field, what year did you graduate? (Or what year do you anticipate graduating?)

December 2019 (Three months before Covid hit)

When did you start your first job search for a “professional” position (or other position that utilized your degree)?

√ Less than six months before graduating with my MLIS/other LIS degree, but still before I graduated 

In relation to your graduation, when did you find your first “professional” position?

√ Other: Technically before I graduated. It started as a semester fieldwork assignment and was hired as a regular employee at the end of the semester. Unfortunately, it was only 13 hours a week with nothing in the budget to increase that number. Paid well though. Would still be there if I could have been full time

What kind of work was your first post-graduation professional position? 

√ Part Time 

Did you get support from your library school for your first job hunt (and/or any subsequent ones)?


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