How I Job Search

An interview I did for a LIS management class at UNCG. I’m pretty driven to find a job before/soon after graduation after being unable to find work when I graduated college in 2008.

1) How many applications have you sent out and what was your general strategy?

I have sent out 36 applications since October. All of them were submitted online with one requiring that I physically mail in an unofficial copy of my transcript. I have had 5 “hits” so far and have received 12 rejections or the position was eliminated letters.

My general strategy:

  • I first went to the Career Center to get help fixing up my first cover letter and CV. I then realized they weren’t of much help since they were used to working with more general job applications.
  • I used this Excel form from here so I could track of my job applications.
  • Set up a Job Search folder on your computer. Create a folder for every job you apply for and save a copy of the cover letter, CV/resume, references, etc. other material you submit for each one in its own folder.
  • Have a master sample cover letter and CV which you can open and then resave in the folder of the job you’re applying to. This will help ease some of the stress of writing 50 cover letters.
  • I looked for jobs on a variety of online resources. If you want my list, let me know!
  • When I find a job ad that I want to apply to, I copy and paste the URL and the text of the job ad into a section in OneNote.
  • I then look at the due date. I then schedule a day for me to apply to the job in Google Calendar using the Task function. I call the task “Apply to this” (or “APPLY!” for very important jobs) and then include the job title, location, and URL in the comments section of the task.
  • As a member of ALA, I joined the New Member Round Table and sent a sample cover letter and CV off to be reviewed. I got a response about 4 weeks later.
  • I also created a list of references (with their permission!) which has the same header as my CV which you’ll see below.
  • I can now apply to a job in about an hour.

2) Could you post a couple of cover letters and resumes that worked for you leading to interview?
These cover letters and CVs may not be for the same job, but each of these have been successful.

  • Cover Letter 01 (pdf)
  • Cover Letter 02 (pdf)
  • CV/Resume 01 (pdf)
  • CV/Resume 02 (pdf)
  • References (same header as the CV/Resume)

3) What are some tips you have for the entire process including the interview and post interview thank you’s….

We’ll break this into sections…

Cover Letter

  • DO some research and find a name to address the cover letter to.
  • State the position title, the employer’s workplace, and where you found out about the job in the first paragraph.
  • Try to be a little creative with the body of your cover letter. As in, if they say “expert at such and such”, use their language “such and such” but say something more like, “I used such and such skills when I re-engineered the space shuttle to the moon…”
  • Try to stick to a page, but if you absolutely CAN’T, that can be okay every now and then when they want very specific examples for every single requirement.


  • Congratulations! You’re in the big leagues now and can have a resume/cv that is longer than a page long. I’ve been told no longer than 3 pages for new grads.
  • If you can, use numbers/stats to back up how awesome you are. For example, “Increased production by 500%” or “Managed 22 employee”
  • Try to use action verbs when describing your achievements. Here’s a list of some verbs that you can use.
  • Have your last name, page number, and phone number in the top right of your header.

Phone Interview

You’ll probably receive an email to schedule the time from their HR/secretary. Be EXTREMELY courteous to this person.

  • Print out the job ad, your CV, and cover letter that you sent in.
  • Look at their website and do some research on each of the people you’ll be speaking to on the phone. Write down their title, their degrees, any major accomplishments that they have done. These are conversations pieces you can refer to during the phone and in-person interviews if needed. It is VERY IMPRESSIVE to have done your background reading on them.
  • Write down your answers to: 1) Why this job? and 2) Your responses to each of the required and preferred qualities listed in the job ad.
  • Write down a list of questions to ask them about the job, location, etc. that you couldn’t gleam off their website. Next are some sample questions that I’ve asked. You’re usually allowed to ask 3 questions when they’re done grilling you:
    • What goals will I be expected to meet in the first year in this position?
    • Tell me about the people that I will be working with/supervising.
    • (If tenture-track)What support will I have in reaching tenure-related goals? or How will I be supported professionally?
  • Sound excited!
  • Thank them for calling.
  • IMMEDIATELY write thank you emails to each of the people that were on the phone with you. If you don’t have time for that, send it to the head of the search committee and ask them to express your gratitude to the rest of the committee.

In-person Interview

  • You’re in the top 3-4 candidates! Be confident that you have the skills they need. At this point, it’s seeing if you are a good fit for their culture.
  • They’ll probably pay your way, hotel, and food. Lucky!
  • Dress in a business suit/skirt, comfortable shoes, and check the weather of the location you’re traveling to.
  • If flying, take one personal item (purse, briefcase) and one carry-on. Make sure your personal item is big enough to hold any papers they give you during the interview.
  • Be gracious, kind, and polite to everyone you meet. Wear a smile as often as possible.
  • If you’re going for an academic interview, you’ll be there for probably TWELEVE HOURS. Usually people are sympathetic and will lay off on you towards the end. Remember, they’re getting tired too.
  • If academic, you’ll have to give a presentation. It sucks, but you can do it. Usually you are given the topic and it will be expected to be done in PowerPoint. Bring it on a USB stick. Then bring a back-up one.
  • Make sure you take notes throughout the day and have questions to ask them. Grill them. You’re interviewing them as well.
  • Ask specifically about people’s management style, what the town is like, the cost of living, what to do for fun, if its likely your partner will find work…

Post Interview

  • Send a thank you email to the head of the committee. You should probably send one to the dean as well (if you’re looking at an academic library).
  • If you can, send a thank you email to each individual of the search committee.


Quick notes from the GA Orientation:

  • I brought my photographer/librarian boyfriend with me so we could take photos of the faculty, staff, and the new GAs.
  • The GAs were fine with it, the teachers were not.
  • The two teachers who suggested that we ambush the faculty for photos (since they tend to run away from planned photo events), forgot and were equally surprised by the photos.
  • Apparently I got the wrong time to show up since I was there 45 minutes before any of the other GAs showed up.
  • I moved Nancy’s Jeep and was terrified the whole time.
  • I sat behind all the new GAs and randomly inserted blurbs and played the role of the Geek chorus asking pointed questions on behalf of the nervous newbies.
  • The department forgot to get me all my keys so I could get in and out.

My amazing boyfriend processed all those photos and most of the teachers rejected them even when they looked way better than their current ones. Ack!

Quick notes from the new LIS Student Orientation:

  • I was early yesterday, late today.
  • It didn’t matter, I just stood there and exercised my jaw with the other “oldie” GAs.
  • Dr. Chu surprised us and had the GAs give a short blurb about themselves. I promoted the department socials. Come on, people! Don’t let me be the only kid who dresses up!
  • While in the process of moving the food stuff upstairs, I was grabbed and told that I had to go present to the students on campus parking and book buying RIGHT NOW!
  • I knew about this (since I’m the student organization, LISSA, vice-president), but I didn’t realize I’d be presenting to ALL the new students at once.
  • While the students went to meet their advisors, the president and I wandered downstairs for awhile.
  • The Charlotte GA and LISSA person showed up. Awkward conversation ensued.
  • Then the students poured down the stairs, sent by faculty, who had disappeared, for the GAs to take them to lunch.
  • Cue my suspicion that the faculty were all having a good time at a fancier restaurant while we ate in the student union’s food court.
  • I cleared tables, pushed tables together, and directed traffic so all our students sat together.
  • I ate lunch upstairs with the president and three new students.
  • I gave my honest opinions, insight, and experiences about the department to them.
  • For the next three hours, I then assisted with the technology bootcamp.
  • Quickly it became apparent that all the material needed for the class needed to go on the website.
  • I scurried to get it online.
  • Pro-tip: Don’t post file exentions that end with “x.” The computers think they’re zipped.