On the Move: Focusing the Job Hunt

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Around this time last year, the most pressing decision on my mind was what I was packing in my suitcase for a rapidly approaching cross-country roadtrip. Midterms were a close second. I’d caught a severe case of senioritis. I was slated to graduate in mid-December, and I’d hardly thought about what to do post-graduation. I’d found myself as one of those Old Spice commercials, but for grad students: “Look at your student, now back at mine. Sadly, your student is not mine. Mine is prepared. Yours is not.”

While this story doesn’t end on an “I told you so” note, it does include several weeks of academic scrambling, a few all-nighters, and one instance of trying to edit a cover letter on my phone in the middle of Arizona on I-10. Up to this point, I’m that girl your mom points to and says ‘don’t be like her.'” However, lesson learned. (I’m sorry mom, you were right.)

In mid-December 2014, I suddenly found myself joining the job hunt once more, but thanks to a few great professors and mentors, I at least had a sense of which foot to put in front of the other. Since I’d now achieved my MLIS, I was bound and determined to find a job I wanted, not just a job I needed.

Before I delve into the job hunt, there are a few things needed to be said about me. The first is my weakness for spreadsheets. I have spreadsheets for everything: packing lists, passwords (probably not the best idea…), movie nights, you name it. The second is that I was never planning on moving away from Brooklyn. I’m not a ‘fly by the seat of your pants’ person. I like plans, lists, spreadsheets…but I digress.

Now, so you don’t end up in a tizzy like I did during my final few months before graduating, here are some of the insanely useful bits that I learned- the hard way, or by accident.

Getting Organized
My first step was to organize the applications I’d sent, and the positions I’d applied for. It’s very easy to come across double listings when searching multiple listservs and websites. It made following up on applications a breeze, and I could prioritize the jobs from most desired to least.

  • Date applied/ followed up
  • Job title
  • Salary
  • Organization
  • Link to job listing

At the beginning my job hunt, I focused my search on New York City. When I moved on to jobs located outside of the metro area, I added the column for “Location” to the spreadsheet.

Where to look
While looking for jobs to actually fill my spreadsheet, I found commonalities that fell into a few categories:

The Institution: If there are any particular places – companies, organizations, businesses, etc. – that you want to work for, always go directly to their website. I’d have a list of the websites of individual museums, libraries, archives, etc., that I wanted to apply to, and I checked those once a week to see if there were any new job openings.

The Organization: Find professional organizations in your field and frequent their websites. There will always be a page, an e-blast, or a subscriber listserv dedicated to job openings, or better yet, join field related organizations. This is a fantastic way to network, make professional connections, and boost your résumé.

The Independent: Often times, there will be various field related websites or blogs dedicated to sharing position openings. An example in my field is the website inalj.com, where they have a comprehensive list of job openings all over the US and the globe, organized by state & date posted. (MLISers, this is an amazing tool to keep in your back pocket)

Broadening the search area
Looking for a job that’s located outside of your local area is tough, but not impossible. In fact, if you keep a few things in mind, it’ll seem a lot easier than it sounds. Moving between cities, states, even countries, doesn’t have to be a hassle. Here are a few tips I picked up along the way.

  1. Cost of living – When thinking of a salary range, always remember the cost of living is different. When I moved from NYC back to Kansas City, Missouri, I was sticker price shocked. A $35k annual salary in NYC was the equivalent of living on a $15,700 annual salary in KCMO. This can severely skew your requested salary numbers, and could possibly cost you an interview (it nearly cost me a job). The Cost of Living Calculator on CNN.com is quite useful.
  2. Employment rankings – This seems like a given, but many people get the travel bug and decide on a certain city, state, or region before taking the job pool into consideration. ASU has a state-by-state ranking of job growth, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics has a customizable online tool as well.
  3. Timing – Employers sometimes take weeks, months even, to get back to applicants, so plan accordingly. (I’m just now hearing back from jobs that I’d applied to in January!) I would always focus on finding a job first, then a place to live. It’s better to have a source of income prior to having more bills to pay. Craigslist, Zillow, ApartmentFinder, StreetEasy, are all great online search tools that allow you to look for places by neighborhood. Also take into account the amount of time you will need to physically move cities. If you’re driving, add a day to decompress. MoveHub is especially helpful when moving out of the country.
  4. Research the Job – Prior to applying to or accepting a new job, do a bit of research. Knowing more about the company or institution you’re applying for, or have been accepted to, will always get you one step ahead. It will make you more prepared in discussions and interviews with potential and future coworkers and supervisors, and it allows you to see a rough map and timeline of the position.
  5. Networking – Networking doesn’t always happen at work events or designated functions. Always keep it at the back of your mind. The most unlikely people and places will prove to be a wealth of knowledge. Keep your media profiles updated and pruned to how you want to look to outsiders: make sure your LinkedIn profile is constantly updated, and don’t neglect it. I’ve gotten into the habit of checking my LinkedIn profile once or twice a week. I’ll look over my resume at least once a month, and I have Word documents where I keep track of phrases, paragraphs, descriptions, etc., that I use in cover letters, interviews, or conversations. Check out Meetup.com to find groups of people with like professional goals, jobs, and related interests.
  6. Keep the city in mind – Remember that not all people and places mesh. If you’ve found a good job in a city you hate, then it’s not a good job. Don’t sacrifice your happiness, because if you’re not emotionally and mentally happy, it will show in your work, and your work will suffer. Waking up each morning dreading work, or dreading walking outside will repeatedly wear down your mental state. Mental health is just as important as physical health. I’ve had great jobs in cities that I didn’t mesh with, and I’ve had not-so-great jobs in cities I adored, and I would choose the latter any day of the week. Remember that a job can be as temporary or as permanent as you’d like, but moving is a much more committed decision.
  7. Transportation – Remember to figure out how you’re going to get around! Public transportation isn’t as common or as handy as you’d think. In 2014, Business Insider published an article that listed the top 10 cities in the US for public transportation. The American Public Transportation Association has a web tool where you can search public transit systems across the country as well!

Happy job hunting!

EMILY’S USEFUL LIST TO DE-STRESS JOB HUNTING

  1. Listservs: Find a few accurate, reliable job listservs for your field. LinkedIn is a great place to find these, or look at professional society websites.
  2. Have a target area in mind, but don’t be afraid to search in a larger geographical area for employment. When you’re prepared and ready, it’s not as scary as it sounds. I’ve moved across the country twice in the past two years – once for school, the second for a job – and I don’t regret either decision.
  3. Network, network, network! Moving to a new city can be nerve-racking, but once you’re there, there are plenty of opportunities to make friends and meet people who can help further your professional career. Look at local meetups, start conversations with strangers at the bar, hand out business cards. Even if you aren’t employed, or don’t work in the field you’d like to be employed in, business cards are an easy way to get your name out there.
  4. Schedule everything. Time management is key. We’ve all heard it since our first day of college, but when balancing job, classes, homework, and trying to hunt for a job, don’t sacrifice the important things: personal health, in my opinion, is the most important. Designate a block of time one or two times a week where you peruse job openings, update your resume, or fill out applications.

Tools, Links, & Sites

MoveHub: Catering to those wanting to move abroad, whether it’s comparing the least expensive to the most expensive countries to live, compiling moving rates, or having a list of necessary paperwork for those wanting to move abroad. Many of their articles and blog posts are applicable to moving between cities, as well.

BLS Job Data Search: The Bureau of Labor Statistics is always a great resource, but sometimes their articles of data lists are hard to decypher. This tool is as customizable as you want it to be. You can search for specific industry jobs in states, metro areas, and cities. The data is broken down month-by-month, and updated very regularly. This is a great tool to look at when thinking of moving out of state.

ASU’s Current State Rankings: ASU has a great ranking list that lists each of the 50 states’ past and projected job growth rankings. This is updated each month, so it’s up to date, and easy to navigate. You can filter the results by industry, time period, and state.

Cost of Living Calculator: CNN’s cost of living calculator quite literally saved me from botching a potential interview. While the city list isn’t as comprehensive as it could be (it only lists the top metro areas in each state), it’s a great way to get a ballpark estimate on the cost of living difference if you’re moving for a job.

APTA Public Transit Search: The American Public Transportation Association has a fantastic search tool that lists public transportation systems by state and county. If transit links are available, they’re also listed.

EmilyCrouchEmily Crouch
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Raised having “Madame Librarian” sung to me constantly by my family, I was essentially doomed to become a librarian since the beginning. After receiving my BA in History from Coe College in 2012, I began to look for the perfect MLIS degree program, and found Pratt. January 2013 saw me moving from Kansas City, Missouri, to New York, a (very cold) bundle of nerves, excitement, and that wonderful, shiny “I’m-going-to-learn-EVERYTHING” feeling you have on your first day of school (or maybe that feeling was just me). A whirlwind two years later saw me completing the final course in the MLIS program and, with a bittersweet ending, moving back to Kansas City. February of 2015, I joined the reference staff at Linda Hall Library of Science, Engineering and Technology, where I’m actively searching for hidden books on time travel.

Outside of work (and sometimes at work), I’m a massive Marvel and comic fan. I love dragon boat racing, Ray Bradbury & JRR Tolkien, singing, & playing my cello. Week nights will find me at music rehearsals, book club, or bar trivia with said book club.