This webinar is a co-production with Urban Librarians Unite and was moderated by Davis Erin Anderson, the Assistant Director for Programs and Partnerships at METRO Library Council and Lauren Comito, Neighborhood Library Supervisor at Brooklyn Public Library. The panelists include Marzena Ermler, Career Services Manager at New York Public Library, Djaz Zulida, Job Information Resource Librarian at Brooklyn Public Library and Steven Davis, Managing Director at Renaissance Solutions Inc. 

As of this writing, 14.1% of Americans are unemployed, and that only counts those who are actively looking for a job. This is staggering and historic and we want to acknowledge the suffering that people are going through during this moment in history. 

Our panel discussion focused on two aspects of the employment crisis: the library and archives workers who are directly impacted by furloughs and job losses, and our patrons who are looking at similar challenges. Our discussion with Djaz Zulida, Marzena Ermler, and Steven Davis started with first aid for library workers who are facing a disruption in employment.

If you’re facing job loss, our panelists advocate to give yourself a few days to mourn. In the midst of chaos, it helps to re-ground yourself as much as you can. Perhaps we’ve left people or communities who we’ve grown close to during our time at that job. Looking for a new position is incredibly emotional; accepting what happened is difficult at best. It can be challenging to remind ourselves that we are not our resumes. Give yourself time and space to go through the grieving process. 

When you’re applying to the next opportunity, begin to rework your resume. Change your resume slightly everytime you apply to a new position to fit the needs and skills required. Our panelists suggest creating broader types of resumes to tweak as necessary.  Zulida noted that content and format in a resume does not reflect the way we speak in our everyday lives. Davis added that the goal of your resume is to secure an interview. For this reason, it’s important to  keep your resume direct; aspects of your personality can be added to a cover letter instead. It’s especially important to try to match the skills located in the “must-have” qualifications sections of job ads. 

Library and archives workers have an abundance of transferable skills that can be used in many professions relating to data and records management and research (to name a few). Think about what you’re qualified for first and then think about what you’re passionate about. And if you’re currently in a stable position, it’s still a great idea to be proactive and revise your resume whenever you’ve learned a new skill or accomplished a new task. 

Another facet of this crisis involves the patron and student base that we serve. This employment crisis is not limited to librarians/archivists; many industries have been hit hard by the lasting effects of Covid-19. Brooklyn Public Library (BPL) created a resume help email address in order to give patrons written feedback on their resumes. BPL also  schedules  Zoom calls for “in-person” advice from a librarian. Ermler shared that New York Public Library (NYPL) has a similar model with career and resilience coaches available through phone, email, Zoom, and Skype. 

Both public library systems are trying to reach as many people as possible by using platforms patrons have access to and are familiar with. However, our panelists  acknowledge that this could serve as an obstacle to those who may not have access to the Internet and devices to access it. These are often the patrons that need this service the most. 

Virtual networking during this time can be beneficial to a job search. Our panelists suggest  joining a happy hour or a movie club with fellow librarians/archivists as an example of reaching out in an informal way that keeps your connections strong. This is a stressful time for many. Finding balance between meeting the needs of others and processing our own emotions is important. It’s a work in progress!

We thank all of our panelists for their insights and advice for us during this time.

Practical Tips

  • Our panelists recommend creating a file naming convention that includes information like your name, the word “resume,” the month, date, and year. If there’s a specific job title, or company name, you can include that too. Either way, it’s going to be a long title, and that’s fine. 
  • If you want to be even more organized, make a job log with links to each resume and job listing.
  • Linkedin is made to network with others and compel a recruiter to ask you for your resume. Don’t include your entire resume on Linkedin; only add pertinent information and relevant job experience.
  • Another tip for LinkedIn: focus on your headline. This is the only section of your profile that is initially searchable by recruiters by keyword searches. Include your job title or the type of job you want and relevant skills. 
  • Give yourself time to grieve. Losing your job is difficult and emotional.
  • Network, network, network! Find a fun way to keep your work connections intact if possible. 
  • Be proactive! Keep adding to your resume as you achieve more. 

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