I emerge from a pile of job applications to share with you some tips on applying for librarian jobs.
1. Follow directions. If they ask for a resume, don’t send a CV. If they want a cover letter, resume, and references, send all three. If they ask you to reference a job number, do so on all items you send.
2. Attach your cover letter, resume, etc as attachments. Do not put them in the body of your email. Email sometimes distorts formatting and looks unprofessional.
3. Make it very clear what job you are applying for. Assume there is more than one opening, even when you don’t think there is.
4. Keep your cover letter formal. Do not start with “Hi my name is _____!” Do not discuss personal issues, even if they relate to why you are applying. Write, “I am willing to relocate” not “This job is closer to my parents, which is great since I need their help watching my son following a divorce.”
5. Avoid typos at all costs, especially on detail-oriented jobs like cataloging.
6. Write a new cover letter for each job (you usually don’t need to do the same for resumes). The cover letter should address your ability and willingness to do the job as described in the job ad.
a. If you do not have much practical experience (Hi recent grads!) show your passion for major aspects of the job and, if possible, discuss ONE OR TWO classes that relate to that job.
b. Do not list every class you’ve taken/every job skill that you have in your cover letter or resume. Highlight those most relevant to the job.
In short, don't write:
At [Graduate School] I took courses on reference, cataloging, information literacy, interlibrary loan, library ethics, copyright and collection development.
In my information literacy course taught by X I discovered a passion for teaching. During animated discussions in and out of class, I learned about [topic with the field meaningful to you] and was able to apply it by [coursework].
7. Unless you are applying for a higher level/management position, strive to write a cover letter that is a full page long; no more, no less. Longer feels like padding, shorter makes it appear that you do not take this position seriously.
8. While it is a good opening to mention what interested you about the particular job, be sure that the bulk of your letter highlights what you can do for them, not what they can do for you.
9. Add a header with your name and the job you're applying for (or job number) to all documents that are over one page long. Many people still print out (or at least the ones they’re really interested in) and you don’t want your material lost.
10. Ensure your resume includes your degree. If you earned (or are about to earn) your degree this year, include the month. This is particularly important if a degree is required for the position.
11. Do not fluff your resume. Do not add, for example, your elementary/middle/high school. A short section that includes personal/recreational interests is okay, as long as it is kept very short. It is okay, new grads, if you resume is on the short side. It really is.
12. Do summarize your duties and/or major responsibilities or accomplishments at each job.