Job Hunting Recommendations

So to start, a disclaimer: I certainly don’t claim to have all the answers or claim to be an authority on all hiring situations. It is very likely I’m about to express ideas that directly contradict what others have told you in the past, which is pretty common; everyone has specific ideas about how to best position yourself for being successfully hired and those ideas tend to be all over the map. The reality is that job searching is complex and hiring managers and HR reps are unique, so I highly recommend you use whatever tactic feels best in the situation.

Resume and Curriculum Vitae:

  • When applying to early career positions, a two page resume is warranted
  • When applying to mid career positions, a three page resume is warranted
  • When applying to late career/leadership positions, a CV is warranted
  • All faculty positions (tenure track or otherwise, early career or late) warrant a CV
  • Sending in a longer resume than is warranted for the position will likely only annoy the person reading it
  • For anything measurable, make sure there is a number included, even if it seems like it will be embarrassingly small, the point is to not make it look like you are blowing smoke
  • Include supervisors on your CV for the various positions (Thanks Nicole!)

Who the Job Posting is About:

  • Always follow instructions to the letter when applying for positions
  • HR reps have been known to stick to what may seem like pretty arbitrary rules as a means of making their lives easier (“I would never hire someone who doesn’t send in a handwritten thank you note”) so be very careful to follow instructions
  • The job posting is not about you, it is about the needs of the organization, and the hiring manager and HR rep aren’t thinking about you during the interview process (ultimately) they are thinking about how you will make their lives easier and fulfill organizational needs
  • You are invested in you as a person, they are invested in their organization
  • With that in mind, your goal isn’t to get an interview by showing how awesome you are, your goal is to fulfill the job requirements so completely that they are excited about how much you will benefit the organization

Overall Strategy:

  • One exercise to make sure you are addressing all stated needs in the job posting is breaking down all the different requirements (educational, experience, technical skills, etc.) into bullets and then mapping out how you want to address them in an outline for the resume and/or cover letter
  • Highly measurable or acronym rich elements will be good for the resume (“Planned and executed 15 instruction sessions over Autumn Semester 2020”, “Cataloged over 1,000 books using AACR2 and RDA standards and adept at MarcEdit.”)
  • Anything confusing or narrative that needs a bit more room to breathe will be good for the cover letter
  • Keeping a cover letter to one page will help ensure that your reader doesn’t tune out halfway through (they have probably read a boatload of these) and shows that you can be efficient and concise in your communication (skills that are in general, often lacking)
  • Use a modular approach to writing resumes and cover letters to save time and make this whole process less onerous (because sending out loads of applications is incredibly draining)
    • Keep your CV up to date at all times so that you can just pull the relevant blocks from it when writing a resume
    • Save all past cover letters so that you can pull sentences/paragraphs that you were proud of in the past that fit in with the current job description
  • Never send a blanket cover letter and resume to every posting. It is much easier, but you will have a much lower rate of interviews; always customize for the job at hand
  • This can be as simple and changing up some of the language used so that it mirrors the job description (maybe this library refers to users as “customers” instead of “patrons,” if so you should too)

Sundry Notes

  • Have an identical header across your cover letter, resume, and references sheet (and any other submitted documents), this makes it easier to keep them together when printed out and just looks cleaner
  • (This idea shared on Twitter from an individual who I cannot track down now, thank you awesome Twitterer!) Make filenames easy to read, and provide all required information. For example one scheme might be:
    • LastName, FirstName – Position Applying For – Document Type
    • For example:
      • Dewees, John – Supervisor Digitization Services – Resume
      • Dewees, John – Supervisor Digitization Services – Cover Letter
      • Dewees, John – Supervisor Digitization Services – References
  • Take notes during the interview, it allows you to slow down and think about the question, and also showcases a valuable skill
  • I’m always generally at least a little suspicious of folks who don’t take notes and usually figure I’ll have to repeat myself to them; you can showcase that won’t be a problem right from the jump
  • Read the mission/vision/values for the organization for which you will be applying and use those terms in your application packet and interview process