Q: I am e-mailing because I’ve been having the hardest time finding a librarian job in Atlanta, yet I can easily find jobs elsewhere. I have my application in at a few colleges and public libraries in Atlanta, but I haven’t heard from any of them. I finally snagged a job in Albany, GA, at a college library. I’m trying to figure out what I should do: I would rather be back in Atlanta, but I know I can’t leave until I find something else. Need some advice. Thanks.
TA: It must be very frustrating for you to have a job in a city other than your first choice. I can hear the chorus of recent grads now, so let me just go ahead and acknowledge the obvious – at least you HAVE a job and are gainfully employed, which is more than some can say. And at the very least, you have something to do (and a way to pay the bills) until you find the job of your dreams, or at least a job closer to Atlanta.
One thing we tell all of the graduating MLS students we work with is that geographic mobility is one of the best things you can have working for you when looking for a job. Let’s face it, there are just some places that are more appealing to live than others. But what’s so great about human beings is that some people like snow, while others like the beach. Some folks prefer the mountains, others, the plains. Another great thing, we can also usually endure more than we think, so in the interest of the greater good (or just getting the first job) we can do what we have to do, not just what we want to do. Let’s think of Albany as a learning opportunity and a time for personal growth (What doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger, right?).
Here’s how to make the most of your time in Albany, while still planning your exit strategy:
- Do a great job in your current position. The one thing I didn’t hear you say about Albany was that you were unhappy in your work. That’s a good thing. A great job can go a long way to compensate for a geographic location that’s lacking. While you’re in Albany, work hard, impress people, and make yourself invaluable. Learn everything that you can and continue to grow professionally. Look for opportunities for professional development, to attend professional meetings or conferences.
- Network, network, network. The more people you know (and who know you) the more likely you are to hear about positions opening up elsewhere – perhaps even in Atlanta. Look for alumni organizations in your area that will give you the chance to reconnect with other former Atlanta residents.
- Do not burn bridges. Don’t let the folks you work with now feel like a second choice. If all they ever hear from you is how much you hate Albany and how much you want to be back in Atlanta, especially if they’re Albany-born-and-bred, they’ll grow pretty tired of you pretty quickly. It’s okay to let people know that you have connections in, or a fondness for Atlanta, but don’t let that be all they know about you.
- If the nightlife in Albany isn’t all that you had hoped for, or you’re having a hard time finding things to do socially, use this time to concentrate on yourself. Take an online class, volunteer in the communityâ€¦ Remember, everything you do right now will affect your future “employability.”
- Keep your resume up to date and continue to watch the job boards, web sites and e-mail lists. Check the larger regional sites, as well as school sites from the Atlanta area. Several of these, such as ARL’s Career Resources and SOLINET’s Job Bank, allow you to limit searches by geographic location. Georgia Public Library Service also offers a “Jobs in Libraries” site, which searches library jobs in Georgia and other southeastern libraries. You can also contact a few of the institutions you’re most interested in and ask to schedule an informational interview. (See the previous columns on the purpose of, and how to conduct, an informational interview.)
Keep in mind that the folks in Albany hired you as the best candidate for their position; they probably weren’t thinking of this as a temporary placement. Give them the professional courtesy of at least a year in the position, and, once you have another offer, as much notice as possible. They believed in you, and gave you a chance. You should repay that kindness with hard work while you’re there, and an easy transition when it’s time for you to move on.