Mastering the Curriculum Vitae

How well-written is your Curriculum Vitae? Does it make prospective employers swoon? Or cringe?

Don’t be the guy in this stock image. You can do this!

There are two parts to any professional job application: the cover letter and the resume/curriculum vitae (CV). In academic library-land, the CV is the preferred format (and can be a LOT lengthier than a resume). If you’re looking for an academic job in this market, you’ve got to be sure that your CV reflects your true awesomeness!

If you’re starting from scratch, organize your employment history as well as educational, committee, and volunteer history as well as other personal information before you begin. You’ll save yourself a headache later!

The CV is different from a resume – the Purdue OWL explains the basics.

Here’s a list from Dartmouth Graduate Studies on what to include:

  • Applicant Information (Name and contact info)
  • Education
  • Awards/Honors
  • Grants/Fellowships
  • Research Experience
  • Teaching Experience
  • Publications and Presentations
  • Related Professional Experience
  • Languages
  • Other — Memberships, Associations, Conferences
  • References

Standard resume advice is not to exceed two pages, but it’s very common for CVs to be three or more pages depending on experience.

If you have an existing resume/CV, here’s 6 Small Changes you should make (from AskAManager). Objectives are outdated and a NO-NO. Also, don’t just list your duties from each position you’ve held. Stand out from the crowd by listing what you accomplished at each position.

If you’re stuck, look at other job seekers’ CVs. One of my favorite things to do is Google the CVs of librarians with the sort of job that I want. For instance, I’d love to be an instructional librarian, and I can see what experience real-life instructional librarians have and how they structure their CVs.

Remember that for each application you need to craft a custom cover letter that, along with your CV, addresses each point in the job posting and how your experience meets it. Search committees will be scoring your application based on the job posting. Make their job easy! Here’s a fun post from The Chronicle on What Search Committees Wish You Knew.

Cover letters are a post for another day. Is there advice you would give to someone crafting/perfecting their CV?

Change your perspective: Make happiness a habit!

It’s easy to be unhappy! There’s so much that can get you down. And sometimes unhappiness is like a virus that’s spread through complaints.

Happiness, on the other hand, can be a choice that you make. Through a happy convergence of the blogs I read, I hereby offer you a brief overview of what makes your attitude swing one way or the other.

The becoming minimalist blog lists 9 Places Unhappy People Look for Happiness. Are YOU looking any of these places? (Spoiler: these 9 places won’t make you happier!)

In contrast, The Everyday Minimalist breaks down the key factors of happiness for you, based on a blog post from The Art of Manliness. You might be surprised to learn that happiness does not increase beyond a salary of $75k! (I know, I know, you work in a library and don’t have the problem of knowing that firsthand!)

You may also be surprised to learn the impact that your trips to and from work have on your personal happiness. You’d have to make 40% more at your job to make up for a long commute!

Of course, it should NOT surprise you that job satisfaction plays into your life satisfaction. After all, you spend half your waking hours at work or going to/coming from!

Check those posts out. Since you work in a library, you probably appreciate good research, so here’s an entry from UC Berkeley about the effects of keeping a gratitude journal on your happiness. It’s based on the work of psychologists.

The basic practice is straightforward. In many of the studies, people are simply instructed to record five things they experienced in the past week for which they’re grateful. The entries are supposed to be brief—just a single sentence—and they range from the mundane (“waking up this morning”) to the sublime (“the generosity of friends”) to the timeless (“the Rolling Stones”).

But don’t just go through the motions! You’ve got to OWN what you’re writing down. See further tips about how to get the most out of journaling over at Greater Good.

How do YOU find happiness and meaning in your life?

Your Move: What’s ahead in your library career?

I had a friend once that asked me: what’s your five-year plan? He said – if you don’t have one, you’re going to be in the same place five years from now.

I thought about that. And then I got myself a five-year plan. In fact, my plan now goes longer than that. If you don’t know where you are going, how are you going to get there? 

Especially in library-land. What do you want out of your career? Do you want your MLS? Do you have your MLS and want to be a librarian? Are you a librarian and you’re unsure where you’re going next?

These students are figuring it out. What about you?

Get a plan. The plan will change, but it’ll keep you moving.

First – what do you want to do? Are you happy where you are, or do you want a change? The library school at San Jose State has a solid library career development website. The Occupational Outlook Handbook has a page listing careers in Education, Training, and Library Occupations. The SimplyHired blog offers Top Ten Tips for Planning Your Career.

Many library staff decide that they want to pursue an MLS. That’s a big decision! Think about what you would accomplish with your MLS. Odds are very good you’ll be accepted to library school, but think hard about what you’re going to do post-MLS, especially if you’ll be in debt for it. The job market is improving, but library careers can be very competitive.

Still, there are success stories. American Libraries has advice for Toughing it Out in a Tight Job MarketMr. Library Dude offers job hunting advice for MLS candidates. Hint: figure out your career BEFORE you graduate. Also: experience, experience, experience!

Common advice is that “geographic flexibility” will be required if you want career advancement. ProQuest offers that and more advice on how to snag a library job.

As for right now: be a great employee, do good work and network with colleagues. Give and get great references. Be happier at work. Read awesome job blogs, like Alison Green’s Ask A Manager. Green has FANTASTIC advice on writing resumes and interviewing. Check out Naomi House’s I Need A Library Job page to get an idea of what jobs are out there and what skills you need to work on to get them. AzLA has job resources. The MPLA has a Job Line.

Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t recommend joining Toastmasters to work on your speaking and leadership skills. (Full disclaimer: I’m an officer for Twilite Toastmasters in Tempe.) A Toastmasters meeting is a “learn-by-doing workshop.” It’s fun, it’s a supportive environment, you’ll make new friends, and you’ll gain skills that will help you get ahead.

Project Information Literacy


How do college students start their research? Most academic library employees know the quick answer: Google and Wikipedia! But there’s more to the story. How do college students move through the research process in the digital age, and why do they approach it as they do?

Project Information Literacy‘s (PIL) mission is to reveal the answers to this question. PIL is a nonprofit that is partnered with University of Washington’s i-School. Their goal is to re-shape research skills curriculum to help students as they are, not as we wish they would be.

PIL has already completed six major studies since 2008 in an attempt to “to investigate how they find, evaluate, and use information for their course work and for addressing issues that arise in their everyday lives.”

One of their findings is that while students’ lives are dramatically different in this age of technology, many college professors stick to old-fashioned teaching methods:

Despite the seismic changes in the way that information is now created and delivered, 83% of instructors’ handouts for research assignments PIL analyzed in 2010 called for the standard research paper. Few handouts asked students to present findings using other formats, including multimedia and oral presentations.

PIL also studies how students’ research skills carry over into their personal lives and post-graduate jobs. Even classically “information-literate” students still struggle in the workplace. In a column from late-2012 over on Inside Higher Ed, one librarian summarizes a key report from PIL documenting the struggles of recent college grads:

What they hadn’t learned was how to deal with questions that didn’t have an answer that could be found in a text, whether online or in print. Their work assignments lacked the structure and instructions that college assignments had, their deadlines were tighter, and the stakes were higher. They felt their jobs were at risk. One key need graduates identified was finding mentors and informants. As one focus group participant put it, “the biggest hurdle for me was getting used to talking to strangers” (19).

Even with the prevalence of social networking, students might still need to work on their social skills to help themselves get ahead in life!

Check out this overview of PIL that features super-hip music:

Is the STEM worker shortage a myth?

The online magazine Slate discussed a new study that shows only 1 out of every 2 STEM graduates is actually employed in a STEM job.

The full report, from the Economic Policy Institute, concluded that both computer science and engineering majors produce fifty percent more graduates than are hired. Unemployment has risen while wages have fallen in the last ten years. However, the number of skilled guest-workers in these fields has increased in the same time-span.

And in contrast to reports that the United States has a failing education system, authors showed that the U.S. has the world’s largest share of high-performing students.

So what’s going on, and how can we help STEM students find employment in their fields?

Definitely check out the thought-provoking slides and let us know what you think!