Q: I worked in public libraries for 10 years. I dropped to part-time after I had my first baby. After two years, I feel ready to go back to work full-time but there doesn’t seem to be anything available in my region (North Dallas). I’m also looking for a job change; I feel I’ve accomplished all I could in public libraries and would like to switch to corporate librarianship. Could you please tell me what’s the best way to go about doing this? Would taking online business courses help? I’ve always been interested in business research but my degrees, MLS and MA in literature, don’t include any business classes. Thank you for any advice you can give.
SM: Your interest in a particular job or field, and your motivation to succeed and to learn, combined with adequate skills and experience are often more important in the eyes of prospective employers than your background or undergraduate degree. You have a lot of experience under your belt, even if the last couple of years have been only part time. Ten years of library experience will benefit you as you look for work elsewhere, but your resume probably needs a little updating and tweaking, especially since you are looking to switch environments.
Moving to the corporate world will take a considerable adjustment, and your resume and cover letter should clearly reflect your desire to “make the jump.” Emphasize your transferable skills in public services and/or technical services, and your use of specific online and print business materials such as Lexis-Nexis, Hoover’s, ABI/Inform, Standard & Poor’s, or specific directories. Public libraries are, by default, corporate libraries for the public, where members of the community go to use (the often very expensive) business resources. You may have more knowledge of business resources than you think.
Taking business-related courses, online or in-person, is a good idea and shows prospective employers that you are truly interested in the business world and motivated to learn more. I would also highly recommend getting any kind of experience, paid or unpaid, working in a corporate library setting. Visit some libraries in your area and interview the librarians. Find out if you can volunteer or do an informal internship. This type of experience could even help you segue into a job, and will give you a better sense of what is involved in corporate librarianship while highlighting the similarities and differences between corporate and public libraries.
Many corporate libraries use recruitment agencies to find librarians for both temporary and permanent positions. Find out if there is a librarian recruitment agency that covers your locale, give them your resume, and talk to them about available positions. Corporations often post job listings in non-library specific job sites, so look at the general sites such as Jobs.com as well as your local newspapers.
Finally, get involved in your local SLA chapter and/or at the national level. Networking and socializing are important aspects of the profession and will only help to improve your chances of finding a job that you love. I have listed some resources and informative web sites that might be of interest to you. Best of luck!
An online social network dedicated to connecting business librarians.
IA: Intelligent Agent
A Blog by Robert Berkman, Editor, Information Advisor
The Corporate Librarian
Addressing issues of general interest to corporate librarians
Business Librarians’ Discussion List
“Corporate Librarian 2.0: New Core Competencies”
by Alexander Feng
“Crafting a Winning Resume”
By Tiffany Eatman Allen