Previous studies have examined the challenges faced by those seeking a professional position within academic libraries, as well as the skills and qualities preferred by Library and Information Science (LIS) employers. However, less attention has been paid to the common approaches, characteristics and experiences of first-time job seekers who successfully find employment within academic libraries. This paper presents the findings of a cohort study that investigated the academic job search process for entry level professionals. The cohort was comprised of graduates of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s School of Information and Library Science (UNC SILS) who completed their degrees between May 2011 and May 2013, and who were working within academic libraries when the study was conducted. The study used in-depth, qualitative interviews to ask participants to share the experiences of their initial job search. Topics addressed within these interviews included: supplementing classroom training with relevant library experience, finding job postings, creating application materials that capture a search committee’s attention, preparing for phone and on-campus interviews, and negotiating a job offer. The results of this study will help LIS students, recent graduates, and others seeking their first professional position in an academic library improve their candidacies by drawing on the collective experiences of this cohort of recent graduates. The results will also be useful for new library professionals, hiring officials, and LIS educators who mentor LIS students by providing insights in how candidates approach and prepare for the application and interview process.
A cohort study of entry level librarians and the academic job search