by Ashley Wescott
Last semester I took an Academic Libraries class that required me to interview an academic librarian. I reached out to Courtney Young to help me complete this assignment. Ms. Young is Head Librarian & Associate Professor of Women’s Studies at Penn State Greater Allegheny and the 2013-2014 President-Elect of ALA.
The goal of the project was to get a real world perspective on some of the special academic library issues we had discussed throughout the semester. While I drafted interview questions to address this objective–I couldn’t help but see the interview as an opportunity. I was pretty confident that my interviewee had a hand in hiring at her library. Getting an interview can be tough, getting feedback from a hiring manager can be even more difficult. Knowing the struggle that many of my peers are facing in the job market, I thought it would be a good idea to ask her what she looks for in a job candidate. Courtney Young had some brilliant and unexpected advice that I hope you can put to use as you look towards the future and begin your job search.
Takeaway 1: Passion matters
As Ms. Young and I discussed the issues of job candidates, she indicated that passionate prospects stand out to her. She urges job hunters not to apply for any and every open position–but the ones that they are truly excited about. If you apply for everything, the “any job will do” spirit will come through in application materials. As I think about Ms. Young’s advice, I can see the merits of saving your time and resources applying and researching jobs that you are genuinely interested in–instead of spreading yourself thin trying to apply for everything.
Takeaway 2: Put your cover letter to work
Ms. Young had a great take on resumes and cover letters–“The resume is the skeleton. The cover letter is connective tissue, muscle and fat that build up the skeleton.” While your resume shows the basics–use your cover letter to convey your excitement about the position and show how you are a great fit. Be sure to use your resume to put a positive spin on a job requirement you may not live up to. If you’re passionate about a job, don’t give up in your cover letter. Be upfront that you’ll need to grow your knowledge in the area–and communicate your enthusiasm to do so.
Job searching is hard work. Hopefully you can take these tidbits and put them to use. Happy hunting.