How to be an Unemployed Librarian

Photo from here.

Photo from here.

I graduated with an MLIS degree three years ago. And although the MLIS degree has been called “The Worst Master’s Degree for Jobs” – I have found that it’s opened the door to a number of different positions. Aside from a brief stint as a librarian, I have also worked as a library assistant, a library course instructor, and I’ve just started a new gig as a bookstore manager. But in between these jobs I’ve had to deal with some compulsory downtime: unemployment time. And it can be rough. That being said, I’ve learned a few things along the way.

Start NOW

Apply for jobs immediately. This Radical Personal Finance podcast, “You just got laid off. Here’s what to do next!” is full of great advice. Something that stood out to me was the importance of applying for jobs IMMEDIATELY. Take a day or two off to sort yourself out, sure. But then get moving. It takes time for your application to be looked at, and it could be a couple weeks MINIMUM before hiring managers are ready to make a move – and sometimes, the better the job is, the longer the selection process. Be prepared for a waiting period, and get moving fast – otherwise you can lose momentum. It’s a great podcast and it will give you the fire you need to set yourself ablaze with motivation.


How many of us have gotten a job because of someone we knew? At least half of my jobs were a direct result of personal connections, and hey, it makes sense. People like to hire someone they know a little about. So get networking! You can do this at conferences, at interest groups, etc. The options will vary depending on where you’re living. If LinkedIn is your thing, reach out to people online. Start by making a list of your top 50 employers of choice. Yes, FIFTY. Now rank them in order of preference and start at the top. Contact the hiring manager or someone in a position similar to what you’re looking for. Remember: you’re not asking for a job, you’re networking. A great introductory message could be something like, “Hi, my name is Alexis. Your library is an employer of choice for me, and I was hoping I could take you out for coffee and discuss how you launched your career.” Apparently, if you send out ten of these messages, you might have a success rate of 20%. So don’t lose heart. Keep at it. Meet with people and learn from them. Bonus: they will keep you in mind as new jobs pop up.

Develop Your Skills

Maybe you never had time to learn how to use screencast software like Camtasia. Now you do. Myself, I joined Toastmasters in order to improve my public speaking skills. It’s a great way to keep yourself busy and keep your confidence up. Look at job postings and identify where your gaps are. Now fill them. You’ve got the time.

Consider Other Sectors

When I couldn’t find work in a library, I started working at a jewellery store. Customer service skills are always useful, but more importantly, I discovered a passion I never knew I had. We are not one-dimensional. You may have other interests that you’d like to pursue, and now is the chance to dabble in them. Who knows? You could find a new career, a side hustle, or a job you’d love to do during your retirement. Keep an open mind and explore different things.

If you have any tips to share, please comment below!


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