The Challenges of Young Librarians Finding Employment a commentary by Heather Tomar
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Added: 2 months ago
From: Valerie Desjardins
HEATHER TOMAR: I would like to thank the Library Radio Network for allowing me to speak on their show. My name is Heather Tomar, and I have a BA in Psychology from Rutgers University, and an MLIS from Drexel. I spent three years working as a records specialist for Deloitte and Touche, a job that was comparable to being a reference librarian. For the next eight months, I was the librarian for a popular trade school in Philadelphia.
HEATHER TOMAR: Unfortunately, trade schools are taking a financial hit, and I and several of my colleagues were downsized. This was back in December, and I had been looking for a job since, but it has been very difficult.
HEATHER TOMAR: I see three issues in the library job market ... It's hard to break into the field, there is a decrease in available positions, and the applicant pool is too large for the jobs available.
HEATHER TOMAR: Like so many other industries, the library world sets applicants up for a bit of a Catch-22. Employers are all looking for three to five years of experience, but it's very hard to get hired to accumulate the appropriate experience. I think they need to be more open to at least interviewing recent graduates. Every professor I've ever had made it clear to me that you learn more in the first few weeks of a new job than you will learn from years of schooling. Their point was that no matter what experience you have, be it educational or professional, you will still have to learn the ropes at every new job. Employers need to take a look at inexperienced applicants who have the intelligence and business acumen to learn the new job quickly and accurately.
HEATHER TOMAR: Another problem is that the job market is getting smaller. As technology takes over, it eliminates the need for humans in certain positions, but students are still choosing to major in the field. I have been told by professionals that technology will eventually create positions, as more and more companies move toward electronic filing and archiving. But, based on what I have seen in the want ads, those will likely be contract jobs and temporary positions.
HEATHER TOMAR: Finally, there are just too many applicants for each job. Thirty five years ago, when my parents finished school, there wasn't as much competition. More people go to college now, and more of those college graduates are continuing on to graduate school. We are graduating with much higher student loan debts, and are not able to make a living and pay those debts on entry level salaries. So, while a handful of financially supported graduates are vying for entry level jobs, dozens more are fighting over the few higher paying ones. Baby Boomers are also working later in life, to support aging parents and boomerang-generation children. So that means competitors in the job market who have much more experience.
HEATHER TOMAR: The truth is that all I need is to get my foot in the door with an interview. Most interviewers are impressed by my demeanor, and my ability to think on my feet ... So how come no one is calling? The answer is that digital applications and emailed resumes are not cutting it. It can be difficult for recent graduates to stand out in a pile of resumes. To combat this, I'm trying to bring back the personal touch.
HEATHER TOMAR: Before the internet, how did people get jobs? They made phone calls, they showed up in person, and they handed off their resumes. They made actual human contact with employers, and became much more than just faceless qualifications.
HEATHER TOMAR: I know it's a bit ironic, but I've started a blog to chronicle my attempts. You can check it out at "www dot hirelibrarian dot blogspot dot com." I just felt that I needed to do something creative to really put myself out there.
HEATHER TOMAR: I also hope to help others with my blog. One of the most recent blog entries was about a company that never contacted me, because they misread my resume and thought I didn't have the degree they were looking for. I want others to see that making phone calls can help.
HEATHER TOMAR: Finally, if I could use this forum to tell prospective employers listening right now one thing about myself, it would be that I am determined and I learn quickly. Five years ago, when I heard that I would be working with a blind student, I ran to the library and borrowed every book on Braille. Within two months, I was able to transcribe all of my student's homework, as well as a few childrens' books. Thank you.
The Challenges of Young Librarians Finding Employment - a commentary by Heather Tomar
Heather Tomar is a young librarian seeking a new position. In this candid commentary, Heather focuses on some of the challenges facing librarians trying to find their first or second career position. Heather offers the library community some important points to consider, and this commentary is certainly worth a listen for both current job seekers as well as for those in management positions seeking new talent.
This entry was posted on Monday, April 11th, 2011 at 11:55 am and is filed under Uncategorized.
Sorry, I didn't mean to leave for so long, but not much has been happening. I think, when I last posted, I had just called a large law firm about my application. They did call me back, and were very pleasant, but I never actually heard back about the job. C'est la vie. Following that, I applied to work for a small, start-up web company. They contacted me before I could even call them, and I went for an interview. I had a lot of concerns about taking the position (killer commute, no group insurance, possibility of company failing), so I wasn't too heartbroken when they went with someone who had more project management experience. Other than that, I haven't really seen too many new jobs on the job boards; except at universities, and I think we all know how I fare calling them. I applied, but the lack of phone calls gave me nothing to blog. The reason I'm posting today is to let everyone know that I've done something to try and further my cause. A while back, I applied to work for a new radio station for librarians. Try as I might, I could not find a phone number with which to contact the media outlet running the station. I did, however, come across an email address for a gentleman associated with it. I contacted him to see what he would be willing to do for me. After all, one of my favorite high school teachers taught me a long time ago that you don't get anything if you're too scared to ask. He wrote back and told me that he would love to feature my story on one of his shows. After a few edits and one major format change, I recorded a 5 minute commentary on the challenges of finding a job. FYI, it took me almost 2 hours to get it recorded due to some very loud neighbors and a dog-friendly neighborhood. Every time I'd get the words out smoothly, my camera would pick up a dog barking or my upstairs neighbor falling. I am proud of my final effort, but next time I'll go to a recording studio! Now, everyone go and listen to my podcast!
I'd also like to send a special thank you to Bob Kieserman for encouraging my efforts and being willing to put my piece on his network for the whole country to hear!