Q&A: Finding a library-specific career coach or resume writer

Q&A: Finding a library-specific career coach or resume writer

Posted by Ellen Mehling

Q: I am wondering if there are library specific career coaches/resume writers out there. I have been receiving conflicting information when I have my resume reviewed, and the comments I am getting are more appropriate for business and sales, which are very different worlds than the library one. I want to show myself at my best, but I’m confused as to how to best do that, when it seems that some people look at what you have achieved, and being at my current job as a temporary employee for more than a year, but not getting more responsibility because I’m not even a part-time employee.

EM: (Full disclosure: I have been a career/resume advisor and instructor for librarians/info pros and library school students for over ten years.)

Yes, there are library-specific advisors who can give you feedback on your resume and make recommendations regarding your career development. As you noted, advice that is geared towards other fields may not be ideal for an information professional.

You can start with local, regional or even national professional organizations that have mentorship programs or offer resume-reviewing or other job-search assistance services. Such services may come with membership or there may be an additional fee for, for example, a resume or cover letter review, or a one-on-one advising session. Sometimes resume-review services are offered at conferences.

You can also ask trusted librarians in your network if there is anyone they’d recommend. As with any kind of advising or any paid service, you’ll want to get some info about the person providing the service, either from their website or LinkedIn page or via direct communication, to be sure this is the right one for you:

• How long have they been advising librarians? What are their qualifications as a career/resume advisor?
• Have they been a hiring decision maker (hiring manager, member of a hiring committee, etc.); have they reviewed resumes and interviewed info pro job applicants in real life?
• Does their LinkedIn page and/or other online information support the qualifications or provide samples of their advice for info pros? Do they have recommendations from other info pros re: their advising?
• What exactly do their services include and not include, and what are the fees for the services? For example, do they provide one-on-one advising or coaching, cover letter reviews, mock interviews? Do they provide resume reviews or offer a resume writing/re-writing service? (If they offer resume writing/re-writing, that is going to be more expensive than a review.)

There are also some red flags to look out for: if a potential advisor pressures you in any way, or makes unrealistic promises, such as definite interviews or even job offers, I’d steer clear. If an advisor has not been job hunting him/herself in decades, their advice may be out of date. In general, if you don’t feel comfortable with a certain potential advisor, keep looking.

You say that “it seems that… people look at what you have achieved” and that is true; a resume is a tailored account of your work history, skills, strengths, and achievements. If you are concerned that you need more library-related experience, a reputable advisor can discuss with you how to get that experience.

Good luck to you!

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