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Unemployed Librarian

18 Feb

I recently attended a library workshop organised by a CILIP special interest group.  To begin we had to go round the room introducing ourselves, including where we were from.  It was mainly university library staff with some library school students (who also all had employers too) and a couple of public librarians too. Then we came to my turn to speak;

“Hi I’m Laura. I’m not from any organisation as I’m unemployed at the moment”

Not my greatest professional moment. Although I’ve put on brave face and kept up a positive persona, at that moment I wanted to run for the door.

For most even the shortest  spell of unemployment can cause stress about money and the future, leading to depression and feelings of low self-worth.  Not having a job slowly chips away at your soul when you love your career and what you do. The last few years of my life have been almost wholly defined by my career in libraries and information.  Our jobs construct a large proportion of our identity. For me being a librarian is about more than just the job however the longer you don’t have a job the harder it becomes to identify as a librarian.  It’s easy to fall down the route of depression and self-pity but thankfully I survived my short period of unemployment with the help of the following strategies.

  • Structure – One of the hardest things about not having a job is often the lack of structure and routine. I found it easiest to treat job hunting like a regular 9-5 job with a lunch hour.  Although it didn’t always work perfectly it helped to set an alarm for the same time everyday and to take a lunch break away from my computer.  I always walked to and from work, so I started my day with a short walk to put myself in the right frame of mind whilst job hunting at home.
  • Flexibility – To succeed in finding a job readjustment of your plans might be required. Compromise is likely to be important especially if you’ve been out of work for a while or don’t have the luxury of being able to take your time to find the next dream job.  You may not need to compromise but I recommend thinking about what area you would be willing to compromise on.  If you can’t move for a job then you might want to broaden your search criteria to include non-traditional roles or non-traditional environments. Or if your heart is set on working in particular sector then think about how far you are willing to relocate.  The dream for me would have been an information related role in Liverpool as that’s the type of work I love, in the city I love. Unfortunately as that is unlikely to happen anytime soon, it has been a choice between the location or the job.  My compromise has been letting go of specific ambitions about a ‘dream’ job for the chance to live in a ‘dream’ city.   I was offered a great job but the location wasn’t right so I turned it down because I knew I wouldn’t be happy. In the end I’ve found a job I’d never considered before which offers the chance to live in a city that I’ve always wanted to move to.
  • Positivity – Positivity is required to survive unemployment. Unemployment makes everything seem bleak. The lack of jobs. Putting everything into applications only to never hear anything.  Rejection emails. Having no money. Visiting the job centre. It is all quite rubbish but finding small ways to stay positive helps a lot.  Volunteer to gain new skills or take up a new hobby to fill your time when not applying for jobs.  Anything that helps give back a little self-worth will help in the job hunt.  Remember that you never know what is just around the corner. A week ago I was filling in my job seekers book and feeling depressed about the fact I hadn’t even been paid job seekers allowance for all my troubles yet.  Now I have a job to start next week.

I won’t sugar coat the reality. Unemployment has been a rather rubbish experience.  I’ve only had to do this for 6 weeks, and I’m aware others have it a lot worse, but it has felt like a very long time.  Tomorrow I will send my job seekers allowance book back to the job centre and hope to never have to explain to the staff there that a librarian does more at work than give people books.

Good luck to anyone reading who is struggling with unemployment at the moment. I hope there is something good just around the corner for you.


A Never Ending Job Hunting Cycle

30 Jul

Job hunting seems to be never-ending cycle.

In my experience the job hunting cycle goes something like this:

1) Relief – being offered a job
2) Joy – enjoying the new job
3) Worry – uncertainty of what next and when best to start looking for the next job
4) Panic – over the lack of jobs to apply for and the lack of response to applications submitted
5) Suspense – waiting to hear back applications and interviews

I don’t know for sure, but based on some loose assumptions, it seems that fixed term work and short-term contracts are the employment situation faced by many new professionals (and all job seekers at the moment!).  These opportunities are great as they mean lots of variety in the early stages of a career but job security can be a big disadvantage.

Jobcentre Plus by J J Ellison

When I was at library school stressing about finding a job, I somewhat naively thought that once I was employed the worry about job hunting would end. Since graduating and finding a job I’ve discovered that the worry doesn’t go away. At least not for those who only secure employment on a fixed term contract.

To give some background to my employment situation I started job hunting about halfway through the MA course.  I didn’t plan on looking so early but I found myself caught up in the general panic and stress of my peers about the job market. After a lot of disappointment and panic about unsuccessful applications over the summer during my dissertation I was offered a job the day after handing in my dissertation. Perfect timing but there is always a catch with a great situation.

Initially I was only employed on a 6 month contract so not long after starting I found myself worrying about what my next job would be and more importantly when I should start looking for it. Unfortunately my job hunting was fruitless, but fortunately I was kept on for another 6 months. Having another 6 months of work lined up was a huge relief but in light of the failure of my previous job hunting efforts, it was not long before I started to worry about finding another job.  A new opportunity arose at work that I was able to apply for meaning I am now contracted until the end of 2012.  Time seems to be rapidly passing however and job hunting is once again on my mind.

For now I’m able to focus my job seeking efforts on opportunities that fit with my interests and aspirations as I’ve got the security of a job until the end of the year. However  I’m dreading December appearing out of nowhere and being in a position where I haven’t been able to find the next job move that I really want, and needing to resort to the apply for anything and everything approach which is not ideal.  I’m not specifically looking for a permanent position although I’m starting to think that a break from the worry about where the next job will come from could be quite nice.

I hate job hunting.