Interviewer: Ellen Mehling
EM: What was your first professional position?
JK: Accounting Librarian at Price Waterhouse now called PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC).
EM: How did you get it?
JK: I built a relationship with the individual who ran the Career Services department at the library school I was attending. It was then called Rutgers University – School of Library and Information Services (now called School of Communication and Information). The department was manned by one person and she needed someone to run the office while she was out on summer vacation. I was going to graduate in August, so I covered for her and was able to see the job opportunities before I posted them on the bulletin board for the rest of the students to view. In 1984, there wasn’t any online job sites like there are today. A few business librarian positions came in. One for Price Waterhouse (PW) and one for Deloitte Haskins & Sells (now called Deloitte). A position also came in to work at the New York Public Library’s (NYPL) Mid-Manhattan branch.
I applied for all three and interviewed at NYPL and PW. Two weeks later PW called me and offered me the position. NYPL called me back nearly four weeks after the interview and offered me the position but I told them “the early bird gets the Jackie”. I remained a business librarian working at PWC and then McGraw-Hill Financial until 2011 when I started a new life with my family in North Carolina. I wanted to continue working in a library but not in a high-stress corporate library environment. A part-time position opened at a community college library in 2012 and have been here nearly four years.
EM: To what do you attribute your job search success?
JK: On the day of my first year anniversary at PW, I asked the person who hired me what made me stand out apart from all the other candidates. She was honest and told me “It was the suit”. No one else interviewed in corporate attire. I was puzzled. This is a Big 8 accounting firm, everyone wears suits [I thought,] but according to her that was not the case. I also showed confidence and most importantly technical expertise in the “new field” of online research. I told her I beta-tested the Dow Jones News Retrieval database in library school and had been using the Dialog databases since I was a library student worker at Fordham University.
EM: What advice do you have for librarian/info-pro job hunters?
JK: I was fortunate to find employment during the recession recoveries of 1984 and 2012 respectively but it is still a challenge to look for employment in the library field.
My advice is to convince yourself that you are better than anyone else competing for the position.
Do due diligence by researching the organization and the position you are applying for.
I cannot stress enough how important it is to utilize your library association memberships. Many have job search strategy classes, resume review services and job support groups.
Networking sites such as LinkedIn are also critical in finding connections and contacting them about upcoming positions. I knew about my current position before it was even posted from a school media specialist in the middle school my daughter was attending. Network, network, network!
Don’t minimize [the importance of] your references. They are your brand managers. Have a proven track record of exceptional work at your past positions and your references will sell you.
Jackie Kilberg is Library Technical Assistant – Western Campus Library, Wake Technical Community College, Cary, North Carolina.