Thursday, September 25, 2008

College reviewing service to find the academic library of your dreams

If you're a footloose job seeker looking for work in an academic library, you could really go to any community that you want--provided that they are hiring. And you can use a college reviewing service to do it.

There are the mainstays: the Best Colleges from the US News and World Report, the Princeton Review Best Colleges, the Peterson's Undergraduate College Search--which is one of the few that has information on community colleges--or the new college reviewing site,, that solicits comments from real students about what campus life is like. You can also try Epinions to find "customer reviews" of colleges and universities. You can combine your search with a scan through the Chronicle of Higher Education's Almanac (not all free), and check out the job postings at the same time--and you should be reading the Chronicle if you see yourself working at an academic institution in the US.

Once you have selected some of the colleges or universities that you are interested in, see if they have an RSS feed for employment--make sure this feed covers library positions, as well as any other administrative positions that you are interested in--and make your own Yahoo! Pipe or Rollyo search engine so you can get an updated listing. You can also pull the feeds into your RSS reader, but I thought making your own search engine just makes you seem so savvy.

Now keep in mind that these services and sites are talking about student life, but you can still get valuable information about the work environment, where the college is situated and what it looks like. If the entry really blows your mind, you can put in the name of the city--or local suburbs or towns located nearby--and start contacting the local Chamber of Commerce or Visitor Center, to get any publications or resources that they have about their city. The more you know about a community, the more you will have to say at the interview when they try to find out how much research you have done in regards to the campus community. You won't sound like a local, but you won't sound like you're clueless either. You can also nix communities from your list if you find out the cost of living is too high, or if there isn't any work for your partner or if you find out a library is closing.

A little bit more research than throwing a dart at the map, but if you don't like to look for stuff, aren't you in the wrong career?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

On the bias

Jobacle had a post yesterday that encouraged people to explore their biases when it comes to careers--stereotyping by career, an outgrowth of Krumboltz's occupationism. The post linked to Project Implicit, a project that explores biases and I urge you to take some of the tests on the site to explore your biases.

Biases affect us in hiring and working with others, whether they are colleagues or clients, and a greater awareness--and an attempt to neutralize your biases--can only help make the workplace more fair.

In case you think I am chiding interviewers, no, job seekers have the same biases: a fat interviewer won't like me because I am so thin and beautiful, old people are afraid that young people will take their jobs, and they won't hire me because I am too old and a white male. I could go on with all of the nervous, half-beliefs that we all possess, which we believe are gospel in times of stress. Analyzing your biases can help you recognize them when they prey on you and help you mitigate or remove their effects.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Interviews are like blind dates?

Well, this analogy might work for you--how interviews are like blind dates--but this analogy could convince me that a nunnery is a good idea. If I found an order that also needed secular workers, I would be set. I also wouldn't have to worry about the dress code anymore...hey, wait a minute: does this mean that offices are the new monasteries?

Just stick with their metaphor.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Do you want to work in a smaller city?

This isn't a proper review of Job Searches Beyond the Big Cities: Finding Employment in Medium to Small-sized Markets, which is a scaled down version of the Guide to Internet Job Searching. Job Searches Beyond the Big Cities is an ok starter resource, but it shouldn't be the last place that you search, especially if you are looking for work in a "smaller center".

There are basically two different types of "smaller center": a small city or town, or a town or city that is the satellite of a much larger city. If you are fine with commuting, you have more options if you live in a satellite--but the cost of gas and the cost of living outside of the satellite may negate the benefits.

There are also three types of job seeker who look for work in a smaller city:
  1. Footloose. Can go anywhere, but want to live in a smaller city. These job seekers have the freedom to choose any city or town--provided that there is a job at the end of the rainbow. These job seekers sometimes forget about smaller cities in their rush to court a big city. For a footloose job seeker try looking with vertical search engines, such as indeed or simplyhired, or my favorite widget on the right. Read Cities Ranked and Rated and Who's Your City? to find communities that match with the lifestyle that you would like to have.
  2. Trailing. Partners of academics used to be called the trailing spouse--just some extra baggage that you brought along to your tenured position. I use the term trailing here to invoke that image of the person who puts love first, who followed someone home for love...a person who has an aging parent or sick family member. You may be heading back to a community that you know, or a place where your partner will have ties and some clout. You need to make use of the network that your partner or family has created.
    Try searches on the Inside Higher Ed Dual Career Search. Make like Lysistrata until your partner contacts someone with human resources who can tell you about hiring policies for the partners of academics, or if there is a service that will help the "trailing" partner of an academic. For a trailer, you need to make the most of your network, or the connections that your spouse or family has built. Look at the Chamber of Commerce, every directory you can lay your hands on, and make a Yahoo! Pipe that will keep you up-to-date on job matches. Military spouses can also take advantage of any career services, networks or job boards that are available to them--and they should.
  3. Trapped. This is not a judgment on smaller cities, so don't send me any hate e-mail. Sometimes, people get trapped in a city: they own a house, the kids are happy, your partner still has a good job, you finally found a good veterinarian...but your well seems to have dried up. First step: are you going to stay with the type of library that you have always worked at? Can you transfer from academic to public to school to special? If not, what are you going to do that is similar to library work and still in your community? Is there a library type job that you can do as a telecommuter? Finally, will you stay in libraries? Is this the time to explore another alternative? You are looking for information on a career transition, so your local labor market information office--state, provincial or municipal--can get you started. In that case, you will need Job Searches Beyond the Big Cities: Finding Employment in Medium to Small-sized Markets, since it has all of the links to labor pages in all of the states. If you live in Canada, try Service Canada, Looking for a Job, or select your region for local labour market information.
People begin or find themselves in a smaller center for a variety of reasons, but they have to tailor their job search to match their region, as well as their professional needs.