Q: I am a librarian currently looking for full-time public library work. Although I love working with kids and single-handedly run my library’s children’s department, my current position is only part-time. A full-time position in adult reference has just opened up in my area, and I am interested in applying. I have experience with working at the adult reference desk and took classes in graduate school in working with an adult patron base, but most of my 4 1/2 years of library experience come from working in children’s departments. Do you have any suggestions for what to highlight and emphasize in my resume and cover letter to show that I can work just as effectively in adult reference as I can in children’s reference? Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated.
TA: This can be a tricky transition, moving from the children’s department to adult reference (although I have seen some adults in my lifetime behave much worse than children!). You’re wise to acknowledge there’s a difference and to think about ways to make the transition, like your previous work experience and coursework—be sure to highlight these in your application materials. Additionally, think about the transferable skills you’ve gained over the last several years working in the children’s department. Have you managed a budget? Supervised employees, students or volunteers? Created a desk schedule and delegated work? Examined new products and trained others on how to use them? Have you worked with parents on how to meet the literacy needs of their children? Make your resume and cover letter an invitation to talk more about your interest in the position and your ability to do the work. Also know that as an internal candidate, you’ve got a professional network inside the organization. Be sure to make a positive impression in all of your interactions and have people prepared to speak positively on your behalf.