Vol. 10 No. 7 — July/August 2002
The Info Pro's Survival Guide to Job Hunting 
by Mary-Ellen Mort
MLS • Director • JobStar
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When I wrote "An Information Industry Survival Guide" for Information Today in 1998, the future looked bright despite what the editor termed "a number of interesting developments in the information industry." Those interesting developments were "the closing of EBSCO Document Services; the consolidation of Gale Research, IAC, and Primary Source Media into the Gale Group; and The Dialog Corporation's move of its headquarters from California to North Carolina."1 Those were real storm clouds on the horizon. Since then the economy has slowed and left us with a new buzzword — "dot-gone" — to describe the evaporation of thousands of Internet ventures.

In 1998, my brief was to compile as many useful Web sites for industry career and job information as I could. This time I want to shift the focus to the strategies involved. Rather than compile one more "all you can eat" set of links to add to the other sets of links out there (many of them quite excellent), let me outline an effective online job search strategy you can adapt to your own career focus and industry target. I want to show information professionals how to think about searching for work. I'll cover the worst way to find a job, the easiest way to find a job, and then map out "The Invisible Job Market for Information Professionals." As information professionals, Searcher readers have an unfair advantage in the job market — you know how to focus, find, and put information to use. If you think it's wrong to use this unfair advantage to find a better job, please stop reading now.

Why Most Job Searches Fail
I have worked with job seekers for 15 years, first as a public library business librarian, later as a job search trainer for libraries and career programs. Since 1996, I've helped millions of online visitors (over 20,000 a day) at JobStar: California Job Search Guide []. JobStar began with federal grants from California libraries and continues with advertising revenue from CareerJournal, the online job site of the Wall Street Journal. If you add the 10 or so daily e-mails I receive as Electra, the Electronic Librarian, asking for individual assistance, I've answered 25,000 since 1996. You'll see that I've thought long and hard about where most job searches get bogged down or fail.

When it comes to unique job search activities like writing a resume or negotiating salary, all of us know of our need for information and guidance. But just as most people think they do a pretty good job searching the Web (because they never know what they're missing), the average job seeker rarely realizes how much strategy it takes to look beyond the obvious. The average job seeker thinks job hunting is just common sense.

Common sense says that companies hire by running an ad in the newspaper or at a big online employment site where job seekers congregate. When most people look for employment online, they picture a finite number of virtual "hiring halls" and imagine their biggest challenge will be identifying the "best" spots online. Check the Sunday paper and check some big online sites — if there's no ad for a chemist in my town, then no one in my town is hiring a chemist this week.

Most job searches fail because the job seeker obeys the dictates of common sense. It's not until the job seeker runs out of relevant ads, or sends hundreds of electronic applications into the cybervoid, that anyone suspects a problem. Too often job seekers conclude that the fault lies in them — in their qualifications, work history, or resume — when the real error lies in their conception of how the job market works.

To make matters more confusing, the common-sense approach does match exactly how the public sector hires. When a city or a county agency has a job vacancy, it announces open positions in public places. No opening listed on the county Web site? Check back next week. A not insignificant irony is that the local librarian — who may be asked to prescribe information to a stuck or failed job seeker — is herself a public employee and found every job she's ever had following the path of common sense.

It took me years to realize that the private sector hires in a very different, seemingly illogical way. And until I understood how the private sector job-hunt was organized, I could provide little strategic help to my patrons. If they asked me the right question, I could answer it. But I couldn't tell them what the next question should be.

I've found that steering job seekers to more effective strategies is never as simple as just mapping the way. Once you leave the safety of the public employment hubs and the relative comfort of common sense, you'd better have a high level of information skill. It's as if the best job search strategies required a working knowledge of calculus — or in this case, superior research skill. But you don't work with job seekers for 15 years without realizing that seizing the unfair advantage is the best advice of all. As a reader of Searcher magazine, you've got that advantage. Let me show you how to put it to use.
What Color Is Your Database?

"OK," you say, "I've got the solution for the Neanderthal job-hunt system! Just make every employer enter job openings in a single database — set it up properly and we'll have one-stop shopping.", one of the three commercial Internet success stories (along with and eBay), attempts to do just that. Millions of job seekers spend hour after hour posting resumes and keyword searching the database because appears to validate the common-sense approach.

Spend some time looking at the numbers and you'll see that what really does best is attract job seekers (41 million unique visitors in January 2002) and store their resumes (15 million). It does not excel at connecting a wide range of applicants with the best job in their community. First, there's the huge disparity between the number of job seekers (41 million per month), client/employers (95,000), and jobs (1 million). That's roughly one job for every 41 job seekers, 15 resumes in the resume bank for every job listing, and 400 job seekers for every employer3.Those aren't great odds for the candidates.

Then there's the broad scope of the database: The listings at the local level of this global database are similar to the display ads in your Sunday newspaper employment classifieds. It's nice to have a source like this — and I will show you how to put it to creative use in your job search — but it hasn't replaced the Neanderthal job-hunting system on the applicant side. It only feeds the job seeker's illusion that all you need is a whole lot of job ads in one place.

Should you then avoid these sites completely? No. Use the massive dimensions of sites like to your advantage. Post your resume, set up an account, and get automatic notification. Use the rich resources on job search and salary. Explore the job postings and spot new employers, setting, job titles. But then you must put all this information to use in your own job search campaign, which will involve your own targeting, networking, and researching.

"But is doing so well! The employers must be happy, right?" Certainly the site's business model depends on employer satisfaction: Employers must pay to post jobs or search the resume database. But few employers ever find employment mass marketing effective — online's special appeal is the cost ($305 to post a single job on for 60 days vs. $1,000 a day for an ad in a major newspaper). According to a recent study of hiring behavior by six large employers, fewer than one in 100 of their new hires is made at large job boards like The percentage of hires made through's largest competitors (HotJobs, CareerBuilder, and range from four in 1,000 to two in 1,0006.

Millions of available local jobs are never advertised to a mass market because job ads remain the employer's least preferred search method. Many of the best jobs are filled long before the employer considers placing a classified ad or signing up for Monster.com7. For those employers who make use of a mass market site like, the final insult is the noise in the database. I call this "the neurosurgeon factor." If I can apply for a job as a neurosurgeon, then so can my mother and my nephew, a clerk at WalMart. That's one seriously dirty database. The poor employer has now paid to swim in a sea of unqualified candidates from Boston to Bahrain, all of them eagerly cutting and pasting electronic resumes 24/7.

Central job sites like don't give employers exactly what they really want — quick and easy referral of three stellar local candidates — but the cost is right. (By the way, companies already know how to get those three candidates: work through a recruiter. They also know that standard recruiting fees are generally about 30 percent of the candidate's first-year salary.)

In tight job markets, employers use sites like Monster to get the word out about their companies and to grow their pools of potential applicants. Employers can also benefit from the marketing of their corporate brand (one of the same reasons large employers do buy display ads in newspaper classifieds) to let candidates know that these companies are large and active and worth considering. When the economy is slow and companies are not growing as fast or competing for candidates, some employers will think long-term development of their "brand," while others find less value in tapping into large numbers of potential applicants.

Do Parallel Lines Meet in Infinity?
You need excellent information skills to succeed in the job market because in order to find that one job — the perfect one for you — you have to search the way the employer wants you to search...not where you're most comfortable. Richard Bolles, author of What Color Is Your Parachute?, calls this "Our Neanderthal Job-Hunting System":

The job hunt is still basically done in the same way as it was done 30 years ago, despite all of the technological changes. For Parachute, I created a diagram called "Our Neanderthal Job-Hunting System." It's a large pyramid, segmented by different job-hunting techniques. Employers start at the bottom of that pyramid. They try to fill vacancies by looking internally and hiring from within. Only after that do they go up the pyramid to other methods, such as contacts, employment agencies, unsolicited resumes, and ads. But the job hunter takes exactly the opposite direction — exactly the opposite! The job hunter starts by mailing resumes and looking through ads, and only then moves down the pyramid to the strategies that employers prefer. The job hunt hasn't changed one whit in 30 years. It's just as Neanderthal today as it was then2.


Every time I see Bolles' pyramid at right, I remember the most mind-altering concept I encountered in library school. "The Principle of Least Effort" posits that we tend to choose the most convenient path over the most effective path. Job seekers and employers fail to connect because the convenient path for one is incompatible with the convenient path of the other. An optimist would observe that each party adopts the most efficient strategy based on familiar resources and skills. A pessimist would say that each party attempts to reduce the amount of work and attention devoted to tasks that the job candidates find uncomfortable and the employers find urgent.

What's easy and natural for the employer — using resources inside the company (employees, employee recommendations, former contractors) — is the opposite of what is easy and natural for the potential employee (checking the newspaper, finding job ads, and mass mailing resumes). Parallel lines meeting in infinity. As a librarian, I find this such a fascinating information problem that I've spent 15 years staring it in the face. I realize that my clients don't share my fascination. When you're out of work, what you mainly feel is frustration. You don't want to study it; you just want it to be over.

How Does Anyone Ever Find a Job?
"So, if the job-hunt system is as bad as all that, then how does anyone ever find a job?" Even in the worst of times, millions of Americans find new jobs without even breaking a sweat. If you're properly positioned, sooner or later the perfect job walks right up to you. A friend forwards a juicy job lead or mentions that Sheila is retiring at XYZ so the department head position is up for grabs. Your neighbor tells you his law firm wants to hire a skilled LexisNexis searcher. There's even a name for this easy method: "the passive job search." You don't pound the pavement, but you gladly jump when a better job comes along.

Read any career guide and you will be admonished to network, network, network. This means to "properly position" yourself so that job opportunities will find you. In our Neanderthal job system, the employer's first search strategy is to look internally or to ask current employees for candidate recommendations. This networking effort is initiated on the employer-side. If you're the job seeker, your goal is to be part of the right employer's network.

Bad networking is handing out business cards to strangers or asking people on the bus to hire you. Good networking is nothing more than making a mutual connection with those around you: learning about them and having them learn about you. Though your goal is to connect with the employer's network, that doesn't mean you focus only on those people who can obviously help you. I've had wonderful clients referred to me by my dry cleaner and by the fellow who runs the deli across the street. I like to chat. Other people love to chat too. So when one of his customers mentions that she needs a Web site, my dry cleaner thinks of me. "Leave me your card and I'll pass it along to Mary-Ellen. Nice lady, good customer too." In my case, these contacts are potential clients, but if I were looking for a job, they'd be potential employers.

If you're not in a hurry or out of work, this is the easiest way to find a better job. In fact, it's how most people find new jobs...good times and bad.

The Invisible Job Market — How to Work It
We've covered the worst way to find a job (focus solely on high-traffic job bank sites) and the easiest way to find a job (hold still, your network will bring it to you). What's left is something the career world calls "The Hidden Job Market" and defines as all those job opportunities never advertised because the employer prefers other recruiting strategies, as outlined in Bolles' pyramid.

Before the Internet came along I used to run support groups for unemployed executives facing challenging job searches. The classic Hidden Job Market search was made up of equal parts networking and "in your face" marketing. We used research to inform and direct the networking, but when it came to making those "cold" sales calls with decision makers, success hinged on the candidate's sales skills and ability to tolerate rejection. Even when done properly, the Hidden Job Market search was a brutal, ego-bruising experience. Candidates endured it because it was often the only way to find an equivalent new job.

The Internet has so transformed the Hidden Job Market until I think it deserves a new name — the "Invisible Job Market." Just as the invisible Web is made up of information never registered by popular search engines, so the invisible job market is made up of thousands of job listings and job leads that never make it to the online employment shopping malls. By focusing on this segment of the advertised job market, you no longer need the skin of a rhino and the sales ability of a car salesman. Nor will you be one of a thousand applicants or just another resume in a million resume databank.

The Invisible Job Market exists because the Internet makes it easy for the employer to place a job ad on the company Web site or post a position on an industry- or profession-specific site. Typically, once the hiring manager realizes that an in-house candidate can't be found, the following process starts up: prepare a formal job requisition, post the position on the corporate Web site, enlist HR or a search firm to undertake other recruiting efforts. Current employees are often asked to assist in the search and they help by networking and by posting the job listing on professional mailing lists, for example a listserv for Oracle users or technical service librarians.

Smart employers will target their job outreach efforts to appropriate settings or disciplines to cut down the noise in those large job banks. Looking for a mechanical engineer? List job openings on sites visited by mechanical engineers (and not visited by my mother or nephew). Is the job in Los Angeles? List it with the L.A. chapter of a mechanical engineering association. It's easy for employers to accrue expertise when hiring the same kinds of candidates on a routine basis. Hospitals know how to recruit nurses; academic libraries know how to recruit academic librarians. "Traditional" jobs in the information industry involve settings in which the employer knows exactly where to look for candidates with our information skills — because they hire this type of candidate on a regular basis.

Many employers, especially when looking for a candidate for a new or specialized position, simply don't know where to look. When the position requirements lie outside the employer's usual realm of expertise, employers tend to target their recruiting efforts toward industry sites. An employer may want a knowledge manager or an indexer, but if their real business is making shoes, they don't know where knowledge managers or indexers "live" on the Web. So they list the job on a site they do know — a footwear industry portal. When you look for a "nontraditional library job," you can't assume that the employer knows exactly who you are or where to find you. Instead you must focus on their information universe: Where would they post such a position if they had no idea of where to look for someone with your skills?

Focus, Focus, Focus
Now you see why you need great search skills to navigate these waters. First, you absolutely must focus on a job title, industry, and location. Your search statement should be quite narrow: "Information manager for a large shoe manufacturer in Los Angeles." Then you'll need to research variant job titles and learn more about specific sub-industries to find out what's realistic. Finally, you assemble a prospect list of potential local employers and research each in depth. At that point, you will either have discovered several fabulous current job listings or you'll have all the information you need to contact the employer and market your relevant skills and experience.

As you map out your job target, stop at each step to locate appropriate national and local associations. Employers who look beyond networking and posting the position on the company Web site will next look to trade and professional associations in their effort to target the best candidate pool.

Don't forget to locate and subscribe to relevant mailing lists for your job target and setting. If multiple listserv subscriptions will swell your mailbox to unacceptable proportions, sign up for the DIGEST feature.

You can also form an informal job search club: Ask colleagues with slightly different job targets or locations to share relevant postings with the other members.

OK, Explore and Then Focus
Trust me, I know what you're thinking. "Sure, sure, now I have an idea of how to get to where I want to go. But how do I know where that is? Maybe there are some great jobs or settings I've never thought of." While losing a job can be traumatic, it's also a time when we pause to shift gears and to dream of new career directions. I often work with groups of job seekers struggling to focus and find myself recalling that old movie Harvey, the one about the invisible rabbit (or as Jimmy Stewart's Elwood P. Dowd calls him, "pooka"). When someone asks Elwood, "May I help you with something?" his invariable response is, "What did you have in mind?"

Because my focus as a librarian and researcher is the job search rather than the career development process, I feel strongly that the two activities should remain separate. Career development addresses issues such as job fit, personal and career values, preferred styles of working, and long-range life goals. In my experience, trying to work on all those issues AND look for work at the same time rarely results in a good outcome on either score.

Why? First, because figuring out what you have in mind can really slow down a job search! You'd be amazed by how many accounting managers I've met who, after 25 years on the job, decide that they want to be a golf pro or a motivational speaker. A few will make the transition, but none quickly. Most go in circles for a year or so until they decide to get another accounting job ASAP because they've run out of money. Because their job search is now so rushed, they have to take the first thing that comes along, often at a lower salary since their predicament has left them with little leverage in salary negotiations.

How can you avoid this "transition trap"? Simple. Start working on your direction, possibilities, and focus while you're still employed. Think about your career, your goals, your skills, and your interests while you're relatively comfortable and paying the rent. Start with the Career Guides in the Toolkit and begin thinking about what appeals to you.

Though I am not a career counselor, I'll share my favorite home remedy with you. Keep a career journal and jot down job titles, settings, and directions that excite you. Spend some time searching the Web for information and connections to people already working in that area. Look for patterns and directions that might seem crazy — except the very thought of them makes you feel like a million bucks. I get some of my best ideas from reading obituaries. One of my career inspirations is Lillian Shedd McMurray, a woman who stumbled on a stack of old blues records in the attic of her husband's furniture store in 1949 and who went on to open a record department in the store, then a recording studio, and, finally, became a producer for her own gospel and blues record label4. Not so different really from a librarian deciding to create a career information Web site supported by the Wall Street Journal.

Information Professionals' Career Toolkit Career Guides
Nick Corcodilos of Ask the Headhunter [] has coined the term "the Library Vacation"5 to describe his approach to career planning: Take off 3 days (or a week) and spend it at the library thinking about and researching your new direction. Start thinking about new directions and settings while you're already employed — and possibly already in the library. Trust me, it's more fun this way!


For Information Professionals

The Information Professional's Guide to Career Development Online . Sarah L. Nesbeitt and Rachel Singer Gordon. Information Today: Medford, NJ, 2002. ISBN 1-57387-124-9. $29.50 pap. 401 pages. Index.

Packed with ideas, resources, and strategies for career planning and the job search for the new librarian as well as established professionals. Sections include online networking and current awareness; professional associations and conferences; professional and continuing education (including distance learning); electronic resumes, online job search, and researching employers. The links in each chapter of the book are updated and available online:

Electra's Top Picks for Those "What Do I Want to Do When I Grow Up" Issues

What Color Is Your Parachute? A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career-Changers. Richard N. Bolles. Ten Speed Press: Berkeley, CA, 2002. ISBN 1-58008-342-0. $24.95. 411 pages. Index.

If you haven't looked at this since you were in college, it's time to look again. Updated annually, Parachute incorporates "on the ground" as well as online resources and approaches. Appendix A, "The Flower Exercise: A Picture of the Job of Your Dreams," has helped millions of people to focus on their dream job. It takes a weekend to complete — I recommend you start now. See also Bolles' Web site:

I Could Do Anything If I Only Knew What It Was: How to Discover What You Really Want and How to Get It. Barbara Sher. Dell Trade: New York, NY, 1994. ISBN 0-440-50500-3. $11.95 pap. 322 pages. Index.

Psychologist and career counselor Sher discusses all those resistances and fears that keep us from focusing on our own life goals and moving our careers in new directions. While I find this book extraordinarily useful in mapping out practical steps, it might also inspire you to find a great career counselor and work one on one. Sher's Web site is

Finding Your Own North Star: Claiming the Life You Were Meant to Live. Martha Beck. Three Rivers Press: New York, NY, 2001. ISBN 0-8129-3218-8. $14.95 pap. 380 pages. Index.

Beck goes a bit "deeper" than Sher, incorporating depth psychology, Zen, and a blend of New Age and Organizational Development theory into many exercises, questionnaires, and case studies. Electra loves this kind of stuff...but not when you need to find a job tomorrow! You can read some selections from Finding Your Own North Star at

Online Career Resources

What's My "Natural Fit"? Figuring Out Your Professional Personality

Ulla de Stricker, an experienced librarian, walks you through various style, setting, and value choices that will impact your job target.

Librarians: Information Experts in the Information Age

Occupational Outlook Quarterly, Winter 2000-01.

This caused quite a stir when it came out last year — as a group we're so accustomed to not being photogenic! But this snapshot of who we are, what we know, and what we do makes us look exciting, skilled, and desperately needed! Olivia Crosby's article covers a wide range of settings, salaries, training, resources and "What else you can do with a library degree?"

The Information Professional

Available to Special Library Association members and non-members: background information on careers and roles, selling points for special libraries (and special librarians).

Competencies for Special Librarians of the 21st Century

SLA's 1996 report on how special librarians add value to information and organizations.

IAKM Careers

Kent State University (Kent, OH)

The new master's degree program in Information Architecture and Knowledge Management offers an EXCELLENT career guide for careers in Information Architecture, Knowledge Management, Information Use. Each section includes a substantial description of the setting and skills and lists sample job titles, potential employers, resources, and professional associations.

Opportunities for Law Librarians

An outline of basic areas of practice for law librarians: settings, qualifications, resources.

Proposal for a School of Information Management and Systems

School of Information Management and Systems, University of California, Berkeley. December 6, 1993.

Scroll down to the bottom of this long document to "Appendix I — Potential Employers and Functions" for a map of the new work environment for those with information skills. Yes, the document is almost 10 years old. Call it "visionary"!

The Independent Information Professional

The Association of Independent Information Professionals (AIIP) guide to settings and activities: business and industry, legal research, healthcare, public records, banking and finance, government and public policy, science and technology, and document delivery.

A Career in Medical Librarianship

Medical Library Association guide covers settings, job titles, education and training, salaries.

So You Want to be an Archivist

Overview from the Society of American Archivists: settings, training, salaries and benefits.

Handbook for Records Management Careers

This extensive guide includes "An Archivist's View on the MLS Degree" (hint: it helps), as well as how to get a job, salaries, etc.

New Roles

Since the dawn of recorded time, information professionals at conferences and in industry publications have been discussing, "Who are we and where are we going?" (The subtext is always, "How far can we move away from the library building and still be librarians...while getting more respect and better pay?") The articles below tickled my fancy. Research your own setting — indexing, licensing, children's service, distance learning, whatever — and discover which new roles, new settings, and new job titles beckon.

Librarians in the 21st Century

Created by MLS students at the School of Information Studies, Syracuse University, this well-organized and informative site will get you thinking about new directions! The "Career Possibilities" section describes jobs, trends, and resources for 10 job titles (some conventional, such as academic librarian, and some less-traditional, such as information broker and information architect). The "Non-Traditional Jobs for Librarians" section includes a pathfinder with Web and printed references.

"New Roles: A Librarian by Any Name," Linda W. Braun, Library Journal, Feb. 1, 2002, pp. 46-49.

Discusses the new duties and organizational structures emerging from the impact of the Internet on public and academic libraries.

"How a Librarian Can Live Nine Lives in a Knowledge-Based Economy," Brunella Longo, Computers in Libraries, November 2001.

An entertaining and inspiring account of what a librarian discovered about her own professional identity as her work took her away from libraries and towards the Web.

"The Changing Roles of Information Professionals: Excerpts from an Outsell, Inc. Study,"Mary Corcoran, Lynn Dagar, and Anthea Stratigos. ONLINE, March/April 2000.

Outsell, Inc. surveyed corporate librarians in May 1999 to learn more about roles and responsibilities. Major roles are: conducting research, evaluating and selecting content, competitive information analysis, managing content solutions and intranets.

"Search Master: A New Role for Information Professionals," Darlene Fichter, ONLINE, March/April, 2000.

Fichter outlines how librarians can add value to corporate intranets by selecting search engines, making decisions on content and indexing, developing collections, adding metadata/cataloging, evaluating performance, and filtering.

"Distance Education and Virtual Reference: Where Are We Headed?" Steve Coffman, Computers in Libraries, April 2001.

The role of libraries and librarians in supporting distance education and information services to remote users.

"Building Successful Relationships with IT Professionals: Speaking IT and Staying a Librarian," Martha K. Heyman, Information Outlook, April 2001.

The value of librarians in creating and maintaining "sense-making tools" and then collaborating successfully with corporate IT.

Job Titles

Weird job titles were one of the best parts of the "New Economy." When I miss those days I hop over to "Job Titles of the Future," a feature at the site [] and check out "Chief Lizard Wrangler," "Curator of the Enlightened Orchard," "Knowledge Sorceress."8

But joking aside, once you step outside of the public sector, job titles like "Senior Branch Librarian III" start to disappear. Catalogers find out themselves becoming Taxonomists or Data Miners. Reference librarians assume the mantles of User Experience Architects or Electronic Services Specialists. The good news is, those salaries aren't necessarily pegged to what a librarian earns. Witness the career counselor who recommended her librarian client reposition himself as an "information-management specialist," increasing his salary from $27,000 to $100,000+ at the same time9.


Position Descriptions in Special Libraries, 3rd edition. Edited by Del Sweeney with assistance from Karen Zilla. Special Libraries Association: Washington D.C., 1996. ISBN 0-87111-451-8. $32; SLA members $25. 242 pages.

Eighty-seven full position descriptions submitted by 23 libraries. The 3rd edition includes information systems and computer support functions. View the table of contents at

Online Job Title Resources

Job Title Generator for Library and Information Science Professionals

Michelle Mach, the Webmaster of this site, collects job titles for our field from library job ads and librarian contributors. View the whole amazing list or surprise yourself with the automatic, random title generator. My favorite is "Wired for Youth Librarian."

View MLS Job Successes

Indiana University School of Library and Information Science

Extensive list of new graduates, their position titles, and employers. You'll see a mix of traditional, special, and "new economy" titles.

SI Careers: Who Is Hiring SI Graduates?

University of Michigan, The School of Information

Interesting placements include Human Factors Specialist at AT&T, Usability Engineer at, User Experience Architect at Answer Think.

Where Do SIMS Graduates Work?

University of California, Berkeley, School of Information Management and Systems.

Lists past employers and job titles of recent graduates and includes this most excellent of sentences: "The average starting salary for the class of 2001, excluding bonuses, was $73,400 with a maximum salary of $92,000."

Mine the Job Databases for New Titles

When looking for new settings and new titles, the central job sites are the best place to look! Using the keyword search function creatively, you can unearth all listed positions requiring an MLS or proficiency in a special type of software or system (e.g., Java, Inmagic, or LexisNexis). Take time to search for additional skills or keywords such as "thesaurus," "intranet," "user satisfaction."

In addition to seeing the position announcement — kind of a mini-job description — you can also identify settings and potential employers to add to your job plan.


America's Job Bank

For more job databases:

Riley Guide: Job Banks and Recruiting Sites

Resumes and Cover Letters

In my experience, the type of resume that works best for librarians in traditional settings (public libraries, academia, large special libraries) does not work as well in less traditional settings. When your future boss is also a librarian, you can use library jargon that assumes common understanding of terms such as "collection development" or "ready reference." If your new boss will not be a librarian, you must write a resume that translates those activities into terms that apply to your new setting. In such cases, a functional resume is almost always mandatory. Use the resources in this section to review and revise your resume for your job target.



Writing Resumes That Work: A How-To-Do-It Manual for Librarians.

Robert R. Newlen. Neal Schuman Publishers: New York, NY, 1998. ISBN 1-55570-263-5. $45.00 pap. 144 pages. Index. [Also available: Writing Resumes That Work Diskette, $20: 28 sample resumes in WordPerfect 5.1 format.]

Excellent resume guidance for any librarian looking for a job in a traditional setting (academic, public, special). Packed with 28 sample resumes, this manual consistently demonstrates how to create a flexible resume tailored to a job objective and employer needs.


The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Perfect Resume, 2nd ed. Susan Ireland. Alpha Books: Indianapolis, IN, 2000. ISBN 0-02-863394-6. $14.95 pap. 394 pages. Index.

Excellent guidance and examples for job seekers and career changers. At every step Ireland addresses common problems and solutions (e.g., gaps in work history, lack of required degree, age discrimination). Includes discussion of electronic resume formats as well as cover letters and thank you letters. [Editor's Note: See Sue Ireland's article "A Resume That Works," beginning on page 98.]

Sample Resumes

Real-Life Resumes

Resumes of Librarians and Information Professionals

Resumes posted at These will give you an idea of a "working" resume in some library and information settings.

Information Professional
Resume Resources

Resume Writing and Interview Skills

Toronto Chapter, Special Libraries Assn.

Ulla de Stricker, Career Guidance chair, offers 10 tips for librarians writing resumes. Contact her to learn more about her resume review service for librarians.

"Market Yourself Online!"Rachel Singer Gordon and Sarah L. Nesbeitt, Marketing Library Services, October/November 2001.

How to form an online network, a professional resume, a professional Web site, and how to promote them online.

General Online Resume and Cover
Letter Resources

JobStar's Resume Section

Brush up on resume basics by learning about resume types (including electronic), samples, and cover letters.

The Resume Guide, Susan Ireland's Resume Service

Rich with information and samples: 70+ resume samples, 50+ cover letters, 20+ thank-you letters. Susan Ireland is the author of several best-selling resume and cover letter books. Her video on electronic resume formats provides a lively and straightforward presentation of the ins and outs of formatting your resume e-mail and job bank postings (E-Resumes video, Atomic Productions, $29.95).

Rebecca Smith's E-Resumes and Resources

The focus here is exclusively on electronic resume "how-to's" and related job search issues. Includes how to handle electronic cover letters.

The Riley Guide: Resumes and Cover Letters

Margaret Riley Dikel, Electra's librarian sister in arms, provides a metalist to all matters resume-related, particularly when used in the online job search. She also includes selected resources on cover letters and references.

Salary Surveys

The most useful salary information comes from surveys conducted by professional and trade associations. While some of these surveys are available online for no charge, many more are a benefit of association membership and — even then — available only for a fee.

Online Salary Surveys

JobStar's Profession-Specific Salary Surveys

Annotated links to over 300 current (and FREE) online salary surveys from trade publications and associations. Information professionals should check out these most relevant sections: Libraries, Education, Government, NonProfit, Computer Fields.

JobStar's Salary Surveys — Cost of Living

Links to online calculators comparing local buying power from city to city.

Special Library Association Salary Survey

Summary data from an SLA survey of special librarians and information personnel. The full report is available for $54; $45 for SLA members.

ARL Salary Surveys

Surveys and data from the Association of Research Libraries covering university and non-university research library positions.

Placements and Salaries

Annual review of starting salaries from Library Journal for new library school graduates.

Career Journal — Salary and Hiring Trends

Free salary reports by industry or job function from the career Web site of the Wall Street Journal. Includes a salary database from Salary; search by job title and location.

Employer Directories

The following provides only a few examples of useful print or online employer directories, essential resources for compiling a list of potential employers. Because online directories are created for a global audience making purchases online, few find location important. As a job seeker it's up to you to know (or find out) which companies lie within commuting distance of where you are or where you want to be. When location is included, too often it is only to the company headquarters. Local business directories — rarely found online — do pick up business locations including offices, subsidiaries, divisions found in the area of coverage. The best local business directories are on the shelf at your nearest large public or academic library.

To get an idea of some of the local online resources available, see JobStar's Researching Companies section []; the focus is on California, so you'll have to apply the research suggestions to locations in the other 49 states.

Finding Tools for Online Directories

The Riley Guide: Targeting and Researching

An excellent guide to online employer research from Margaret Riley Dikel.

Selected Business Web Sites

Selected by the Rosenberg Corporate Research Center at Stanford University and arranged by industry.

Directories in Print, edition 21. Gale: Farmington Hills, MI, 2001. ISBN: 0-7876-5314-4. 2 volumes, $425.

Index of 15,500 active rosters, guides, and other print and nonprint address lists. Check your public library's list of available online electronic databases for Gale's Ready Reference Shelf, which includes Directories in Print, Directory of Special Libraries and Information Centers, and Encyclopedia of Associations.

Directory Index at Alameda County Library

The librarians at the Business Library at the Fremont (CA) Main Library index their collection of directories appearing in monographs, periodicals, and pamphlets. International, national, and local sources (CA ) are included. I use this free online tool ["music"] to identify local directories and get clues about related online sites. Example: Directories, Subject = Music.


2001 Automation Vendor Company Reports

An overview of the market and directory of vendors from ALA's TechSource.

Competitive Intelligence

Society of Competitive Intelligence Professionals — Job Marketplace

Job descriptions, background on the competitive intelligence field, resources, and more.


EContent Magazine's Guide to Current Companies to Watch

Descriptions of companies and product lines for major electronic publishers.

Information Brokers

Burwell World Directory of Information Brokers

Free online directory of 1,000 U.S. and international "professional information intermediaries": Search by location, expertise, and more.

Association of Independent Information Professionals — Member Directory

Providers of "information-related services as online and manual research, document delivery, database design, library support, consulting, writing and publishing." Search by name, location, type of services.

Information Industry

Information Today Directories

A collection of library and information-related annual directories including American Library Directory, American Book Trade Directory, AV Market Place, and Library Resource Guide.

Library Resource Guide

The Web site is a free supplement to the print guide. Advertisers may pay to be listed in the Web version. Request a free copy of the complete directory ($3.95 for postage and handling) by calling 1-800-300-9868.

Library Journal Buyer's Guide and Web Site Directory

Online version of the annual supplement to Library Journal and School Library Journal: browse by company name, type of product/service, or search the database.

Yahoo! Commercial Directory — B2B > Information

Directory of commercial databases, document delivery services, consulting organizations, library services, information brokers, and more.

Knowledge Management

100 Companies That Matter in Knowledge Management

KMWorld annual feature also includes articles and upcoming events.


LibWeb: Library Servers via WWW

From Berkeley Digital SunSite: links to 6,100 library Web sites from over 100 countries (academic, public, special, consortia, and state libraries).

School Libraries on the Web

International in scope and arranged by location.

Librarians' Index to the Internet — Library Topics

Selected sources for academic, public, school, state libraries and more.

Medical Libraries

Medical Library Association Directory

Online membership directory available to members.


GuideStar: The National Database of Nonprofit Organizations

Free searchable directory of more than 850,000 IRS-recognized nonprofit organizations.


Acq-Web Directory of Email Addresses of Publishers, Vendors, and Related Professional Associations, Organizations, and Services. 

Also includes links to Web sites.

Literary Market

Register (free) to search the database by company name, location, subject, etc. I made a quick and easy list of all the publishers in Oakland and Berkeley for a friend who wants work at a publishing Web site.

Special Libraries

Who's Who in Special Libraries Online

The "Buyer's Guide" lists online and other suppliers; SLA members can search the Membership Database by name, company, unit, or location.

Virtual Reference

A Registry of Real-Time Digital Reference Services

"A categorized listing of libraries that offer real-time library reference or information services using chat software, live interactive communications utilities, call center management software, customer interaction management software, Web contact center software, bulletin board services, interactive customer assistance system, or related Internet technologies."

Professional Associations

Associations do much of the career "heavy lifting" on the Web in terms of creating and organizing profession or industry-specific resources. Most associations offer a career guide and links to relevant sites. Some offer salary surveys, job banks, or employment-related mailing lists. As associations develop these portions of their Web services, they are seeing how valuable they are: a real benefit to paying members. The trend has been for associations to wall off these sections for "Members Only." Take the time to check out the "Member Only" sections of the associations you belong to. Consider joining other associations to have access to this valuable information.


Guide to Employment Sources in the Library and Information Professions

Extensive lists of specialized library associations and groups, state and regional library associations offering employment information.

Google Directory — Reference > Libraries > Library and Information Science > Associations

There are 1,000 associations and 100 directories out there. Start looking here.


Gateway to Associations Online Search Directory

Free database of 6,500+ online associations for the American Society of Association Executives: Search by keyword, category, location.

Gale Associations Unlimited

Large public and academic libraries may license this online version of the Encyclopedia of Associations through their WebPac to library cardholders. Includes entries for 158,000 associations — international, national, state, and local. Search by subject, SIC or keyword.

Networking Online

Let's say you're at a conference and doing your best to mingle and strike up conversations with strangers. One of my favorite conversational topics (after we've exhausted the niceties) is, "What kind of electronic mailing lists do you subscribe to? Which are your favorites? Why?" It's not unusual to discover that, aside from professional interests, my conversational partner is also a passionate left-handed badminton enthusiast or a collector of "Hello Kitty" coffee pots. If chatting seems trivial to you, then think of it as "intentional networking": creating '"egocentric" networks that arise from individuals and their communication and workplace activity."10

General Guides

JobStar's Get Networked!

How to network, where to network, and how to behave online.

Networking, Interviewing, and Negotiating

Margaret Riley Dikel's collection of how-to articles and online resources.

Directories of Online Mailing Lists


Like Yahoo! for online mailing lists.


Library-Oriented Lists and Electronic Serials

Washington Research Library Consortium maintained directory. Browse by title or subject; search by keyword in various fields.


There are two ways to use conferences in your job search. One is to attend, network, and make use of any employment or hiring service. The other is to visit the conference Web site and explore lists of speakers, attendees, and exhibitors at current or past events. These lists can help you explore new job titles and spot potential employers.

Librarian's Datebook

National and international events listed to 2013.

Information Today, Inc. Calendar

Current and upcoming events in the library and information fields.

CIO — Events Calendar

IT events and conferences worldwide.

Library Journal — Events

International library and book-related conferences.

ALA Placement Center

Information center for job placement in conjunction with American Library Association's Midwinter and Annual Conferences. "Conference Placement Services" is a free service listing all open positions at the latest conference: Browse by state and type of institution or search by keyword.


I'll admit that, to me, recruiters are the tooth fairies of the job search world. If I only had a dollar for every unemployed middle-level professional who thinks that a recruiter will help them find their next job! And then another dollar for every working middle-level professional who gets a call — out of the blue — from a recruiter...lets the recruiter interview him about setting, skills, salaries, technologies...and never hears from the recruiter again. Well, if I had each of those dollars, at least I'd never have to work again.

First, you must remember that recruiters work for the employer and rarely find an unemployed candidate attractive. After all, the recruiter has to "sell you" to an employer for big bucks to make the 30 percent commission. Hard to do that with an unemployed candidate. Use the sources below to learn more about how this process works and to see if it might work for you.

How to Work with a Recruiter

A nice collection of articles about working with search firms from C. Berger and Company, a Midwest recruiter of librarians and knowledge workers.

Ask the Headhunter: Frequently Asked Questions

Nick Corcodilos, a working recruiter,gives no-nonsense advice on working with search firms. Bottom line: Most recruiters don't take calls — they find you.

Directories of Recruiters

The Riley Guide: Directories of Recruiters

The Riley Guide: Executive Search Firms

Detailed information on free online directories of recruiters as well as fee-based directories.

Executive Search Firm Survey report on the top 20 national executive search firms.

Information and Library-Related

Placement and ExecutiveSearch Firms

SLA directory of temporary, permanent, and executive search agencies specializing in library- and information-related placements.

Executive Recruiters

Society of Competitive Intelligence Professional's listing of recruiters who regularly search for CI positions.


One of the little maxims career folks say all the time is, "Resumes get you interviews, but interviews get you jobs." Because the interview is where the hiring decision is made, there's a tendency for job seekers to want the "right" answer to each question. Big mistake on several counts. First, the interview is the job seeker's chance to evaluate the company and the position firsthand. So the questions asked by the job seeker and the job seeker's own impressions of the company are equally as important. Second, nothing is more irritating or self-defeating than a candidate who answers questions with "canned" responses. As information professionals we are (or should be) skilled interviewers ourselves! Treat the employment interview the same way you'd approach buying a house. Learn all you can about the neighborhood, walk in with an idea of the pluses and minuses, be prepared to learn and change your mind, see the possibilities, get an outside opinion if necessary, and then move ahead if it feels like a good investment. It helps to know in advance the kinds of questions you might encounter. These resources will help you prepare.


The New Rules of the Job Search Game: Why Today's Managers Hire...and Why They Don't. Jackie Larson and Cheri Comstock. Bob Adams, Inc.: Holbrook, MA, 1994. OOP. (Check your library's collection.)

This is my favorite book on interviewing (alas now out of print) because it focuses on the employer's perspective. Chapters 8 and 9 are wonderful — "How to Survive the Telephone Interview" and "How to Turn a 'No' into a 'Yes.'" If you can't find the book, here's how it comes out: The best job interviews are just like a great reference interview. The candidate has to listen, ask questions, and discover the employer's real need — and then show how s/he can collaborate with the employer to address them.

The Overnight Job Change Strategy. Donald Asher, Ten Speed Press: Berkeley, CA, 1993. OOP. (A few copies are available at $19.95 from the author, call 415/543-7130. Or check your library's collection.)

My second favorite book on interviewing is also alas out of print. Asher describes an aggressive, sales-based approach for use in the private sector that involves using the telephone to get an interview, selling during the interview, and then closing the deal. Even if you're not an aggressive sales type, you'll learn some helpful tips!


Interview Questions: A List of Tested Questions

Indiana University Bloomington Libraries' list of common questions for an academic library environment.

Advice on Interviewing collection of links and articles on the job interview for the information professional.

Information-Related Job Board Metasites


The Guide to Internet Job Searching, 2000-2003 Edition. Margaret Riley Dikel, Frances E. Roehm. NTC/Contemporary Publishing: New York, NY, 2002. $14.95 pap. ISBN: 0071383107. 288 pages. Index.

An essential reference for the information smart job seeker! Sites are well-chosen, annotated, and organized by two great librarians. Job sites are sorted by sector/discipline (business, social sciences, humanities, natural sciences, engineering, government). Background information includes how to job search, create an electronic resume, and network online. If your job target lies outside the library world, use this guide to map out your new information universe. Also visit The Riley Guide: Employment Opportunities and Job Resources on the Internet [].

Online Library Metasites

If you seek job postings from organizations that routinely hire library and information professionals, this is just about the only site you'll need to get started:

Guide to Employment Sources in the Library and Information Professions

Compiled by Darleena Davis, American Library Assn., Spring 2001.

Smart employers who hire librarians and related information types should look no further than this wonderful list of where to announce job openings. Information professionals looking for traditional job titles and settings will find this their one-stop site for "The Invisible Job Market." Sections include general sources of library and information jobs, library job hotlines, specialized associations and groups with employment postings, state and federal agencies and sources, library schools, even agencies hiring part-time and temporary librarians.

Library Job Postings on the Internet

Compiled by Sarah Nesbeitt, Booth Library, Eastern Illinois University

Excellent collection of national and international library-related job listing resources organized by type of setting and/or location served. "Received job postings" section lists individual job announcements sent to the site (15-25 entries per week). — Jobs for Librarians and Information Professionals

Rachel Singer Gordon, Franklin Park Public Library, IL

Sections: "Current job listings" from libraries and other employers of librarians (browse by setting; search by keyword or state); "Jobs for Information Professionals by State" — job banks operated by state libraries and local associations as well as links to individual library employment pages; "Job Banks for Information Professionals outside the U.S." — job exchange programs, non-U.S. databases of library job postings; "PublicResume Bank" — post or view librarian resumes. Other Features: Free e-mail newsletter, Info Career Trends; career advice articles on interviewing, salaries, and getting started as a librarian.

Sample Information Industry Job Listings

You'll see from the comments below that job banks often fail to purge old job listings. Use this flaw as a "design feature" and look at the OLD job listings as well as the new. If you spot a great job or a great employer, visit the employer's Web site. You might find a similar current opening that was never posted to a third-party site — or you might find other jobs of interest to you. (All sites were evaluated April 3, 2002.)

AIIM The Enterprise Content Management Association — Job Bank

Location: National

Job Titles: Sales, imaging specialist, project manager, team leader, business analyst, training, programming Company

Types: Commercial, government, recruiter

Comments: Out of 177 jobs listed, only 14 were posted within the last 14 days.

Cost: Free— must register.

Society of Competitive Information Professionals — Job Openings

Location: National

Job Titles: CI analyst, business intelligence specialist, project manager, senior marketing manager

Company Types: Pharmaceutical, financial sector, biotech, aviation, consulting firms

Cost: Free.

ASTD Job Bank

Location: National

Job Titles: Training, e-learning, instructional design

Company Types: Healthcare, manufacturing, retailing, publishing

Comments: Out of 80 jobs listed, 11 were posted in the last 14 days.

Cost: Free.

EDUCAUSE Job Posting Service

Location: U.S. and Canada

Job Titles: Access services department head, collection conservator, cataloging librarian, science librarian, serials librarian

Company Types: Academic libraries, large technology companies

Comments: View new jobs only feature; closed positions are archived.

Cost: Free.

International Association of Business Communicators — Career and Job Postings

Location: National

Job Titles: Communications specialist, technical writer, financial analyst, account manager, sales engineer, marketing communications coordinator

Company Types: Electronics, PR agencies, Fortune 500, networks, marketing

Comments: Out of 125 jobs listed, 80 were posted in the last 14 days.

Cost: Became a member-only service in June 2002.

Association of Records Management and Administrators — Career Opportunities in Records and Information Management

Location: National; job listings divided into regions.

Job Titles: Records manager, records analyst, archivist/librarian, document control, automation analyst, imaging services manager

Company Types: Archives, government, consulting firms, biotech/pharmaceutical, law firms

Comments: Twenty current jobs listed on a recent visit.

Cost: Free.

Society of American Archivists — Online Employment Bulletin

Location: National

Job Titles: Archivist, reference librarian archivist, imaging services manager, curator, collections supervisor, county historian

Company Types: Government, museums, associations, education

Comments: Out of 28 jobs listed, four were posted in the last 14 days.

Cost: Free.

ASIST Jobline Online

Location: National

Job Titles: Information specialist, research analyst/consultant, Web information architect, chief information officer, digital library Webmaster

Company Types: Academic, government, private companies

Comments: Individual job listings are not dated.

Cost: Free.

News Library Job and Internship Openings

Location: National

Job Titles: Researcher, reference librarian, information specialist, fact checker, archivist, database editor, indexer

Company Types: Newspapers

Comments: Six jobs posted.

Cost: Free.

Dot Org Jobs: The Online Employment Resource for the Non-Profit World

Location: National

Job Titles: Issue researcher, project manager, research analyst, curriculum developer, Intranet coordinator

Company Types: Foundations, museums, nonprofits, education

Comments: These job categories are most relevant: Research/Writing, Technology/Internet

Cost: Free.

OpportunityNOCS: A World of Non-Profit Opportunities

Location: National

Job Titles: Executive director, senior research associate, academic program coordinator, program manager, grant writer

Company Types: Non-profits

Comments: Keyword search and/or view jobs by state, organization type, date of posting.

Cost: Free.

LITA: Jobs in Library and Information Technology

Location: International

Job Titles: Reference/Web development librarian, technology and building supervisor, librarian — Internet services, integrated systems library manager

Company Types: Academic, public libraries

Comments: Updated weekly.

Cost: Free.

Special Libraries Association Career Connection

Location: National

Job Titles: Informationist, image metadata specialist, law librarian, project manager, corporate librarian, video archivist

Company Types: Academic libraries, law firms, government, private corporations

Comments: Out of 34 jobs listed, 22 were posted in the last 14 days.

Cost: Free to members and non-members.

North American Serials Interest Group (NASIG) Job Listings

Location: National

Job Titles: Serials and acquisitions librarian, catalog librarian, technical services librarian, coordinator for digital acquisition

Company Types: Academic and public libraries, pharmaceuticals, science research

Comments: This site compiles serials-related job announcements from the following listservs: ACQNET, AUTOCAT, COLLIB-L, INNOPAC, LIBJOBS , LITA-L, PACS-L, SERIALST, SLAJOB, STS-L.

Cost: Free.

Association of Research Libraries (ARL) Career Resources

Location: National

Job Titles: Webmaster, archivist, dean, cataloger, project manager, team manager, librarian, research specialist

Company Types: Out of 125 job listings, 15 were posted in the last 14 days.

Cost: Free.

HR Careers

Location: National

Job Titles: Human resources, trainer, compensation analyst, technical recruiter, consultant, instructional design specialist

Company Types: Banking, consulting, finance, associations, commercial

Cost: Free.


Location: National

Job Titles: Most relevant sections are Web/Info Design, Education/Teaching, Nonprofit Sector, Writing/Editing.

Company Types: Everything from start-ups to Fortune 500 companies

Comments: This San Francisco Bay Area community bulletin board has become a local employment superstar. It has expanded to serve 12 other U.S. cities, one site in Canada, and two in Australia.

Cost: Free.

Finding Local Online Job Resources

Because location is critical in the job search, spend some time finding and bookmarking local job boards and resources. Here are some places to begin:

If you live in California:

JobStar: California Job Search Guide

Serves four regions of California: Sacramento, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego. Lists local job banks, online newspaper classifieds, career centers, libraries, directories of employers, job hotlines, summer jobs, job fairs, and more.

If you live somewhere else:

Finding Local Work Opportunities

Selected, annotated links to local resources: Browse by region or state.

State-by-State Government Job Resources

Links to city and county home pages, online newspapers.

State and Local Resources

America's Career InfoNet organizes links to state employment services and local newspapers.

Job Resources in the U.S. by State

International Job Resources

Great resource from links to local online job sites for each of the 50 states or worldwide.

My favorite trick for finding local employers in any area:

FlipDog, now owned by, spiders the Web looking for employment pages on company Web sites — kinda like a Google for jobs. Select your location, then type of work, then type of employers (great feature: you can turn off the recruiter/agency ads). Since employers don't enroll to be included, the spider just finds them. Why apply through FlipDog? Visit the employer's Web site and see all the listed jobs, then apply directly. 
Job Search Focus Worksheet

Job Title:

Variant Titles:

SEARCH TIPS: If you're searching for a private sector job, go to (or similar large job databank) and keyword search a specific term that might appear in your target job title. For example, searching nationwide for the phrase "knowledge manager" resulted in five very different job titles on the day I visited: Manager, Global Knowledge Manager, Business Integration Manager, Editor — Knowledge Center Coordinator, Technical Product Manager, Vice President of Human Resources, and Component Based Development Administrator. Searching for the two words (no phrase) technical librarian gives me 33 results with titles such as Technology Analyst I, Tape Librarian, Photographer/Librarian/ Archivist, Document Control Librarian, Library Support VIII, and — my favorite — Quality Engineer, Change Control.

Relevant Associations:

Relevant Listservs:



Allied settings (suppliers,distributors, etc.)

SEARCH TIPS: It is an axiom of job searching that a job seeker can change job function OR industry, but rarely both at the same time. This is because you'll need to find transferable experience, skills, and accomplishments to make any change. It's extremely difficult to translate both your job experience and your industry experience in one move. So if you pick an adventurous job target, stick close to your current industry. If you've been working in medical libraries for 10 years and now want to be an indexer, it makes sense to focus on some setting within the healthcare field as you make the transition. If you're already an indexer for a medical publisher and want to break into the consumer magazine field, try to make the leap as an indexer, rather than as a Webmaster. You might pull off a change in job title and industry — remember that the employer may have no idea where to look for the right candidate. But be advised that this maneuver is the triple toe-loop of job hunting.

Relevant Associations:

Relevant Listserves:

25 Potential Employers:

Dream employer (if any location were possible)

Local employers LIKE the Dream Employer

SEARCH TIPS: Here's where your unfair advantage as an information professional really pays off. While you'll find few free general company directories on the Web, you may be able to locate online industry directories that will help you create a list of local companies. For example, The Reel Directory, online at or in print, lists San Francisco Bay Area production sources for film, video, and multimedia — from aerial coordinators to writers. A similar source serving Southern California is LA 411, online at or in print. Use any and all appropriate company or industry directories at your disposal. Use commercial databases if you can do it on your own dime (not billed to a current employer); otherwise, make use of local business directories in the collections of large public and academic business libraries.


Troubleshooting URLs

All the links in this article were active on April 3, 2002. If you get the dreaded "Not Found" error message when you visit, try these problem-solving tips:

Information Professionals' Map to Invisible Job Market Resources

1. Employer doesn't need information professionals.

These don't concern us except insofar as they clutter up our searches.

2. Employer needs information professionals, hires them all the time, and knows where to find them — "traditional" jobs.

Employer's Web site with a job title you'd recognize
Association job boards — information or library-related
Information publication classifieds
Specialty and local mailing lists
Information/library conferences
Library schools
Library recruiters

3. Employer needs information professionals, hires them rarely, and doesn't know where to find them — "nontraditional" jobs

  • Employer's Web site — possibly with a nonstandard or generic job title like "information management specialist"

  • Maybe a big site they've heard of like

  • Newspaper classifieds

  • General recruiters

  • Web sites in their major industry (health, government, marketing, etc.)

  • Mailing lists in their major industry

  • Conferences in their major industry
Whatever sources the employer uses for most of their positions — try a Web search like < IBM AND employment > to see what KINDS of online sources this company uses (e.g., its own Web site, a site like Monster, an industry job board?).

4. Employer needs information professionals, but doesn't know they exist so the employer is "just" trying to solve Problem X.

  • Employer's Web site — often with idiosyncratic job title (database service satisfaction engineer) or with the assumption that only a computer science degree or an MBA could tackle the problem.

  • Networking — asking among contractors and current employees, "Who could solve a problem like this?"

  • Mailing lists — asking for ideas and help solving Problem X — e.g., licensing, database building, content management.

  • Posting a question at sites they can determine are related to Problem X.
These employers tend to look for the same skill set/professional identification they have worked with in the past. Try looking for association job boards, classified and mailing list in the setting (e.g., use engineering resources if you want an information job with an engineering firm, healthcare resources for hospital information positions).


1 "An Information Industry Survival Guide," Mary Ellen Mort, Information Today, November 1998 [].

2 "What Happened to Your Parachute?," Daniel Pink, Fast Company, September 1999 [].

3 "Monster Fact Sheet" 
[]. (Accessed 4/2/02.)

4 "Lillian McMurry, Blues Producer, Dies at 77," New York Times, March 29, 1999.

5 "The Library Vacation," Nick Corcodilos, Ask the Headhunter Web site 
[]. (Accessed 4/8/02.)

6 "Online Job Sites Offer Easy Searches But Boards Produce Few Actual Hires," Kris Maher and Rachel Emma Silverman, Wall Street Journal, January 2, 2002.

7 "The Monster(.com) That's Feasting on Newspapers," Saul Hansell, New York Times, March 24, 2002.

8 "Job Titles of the Future," Fast Company Web site 
[]. (Accessed 4/8/02.)

9 "I Give Booster Shots for Careers," Nancy Friedburg, written with Ellen Rapp, New York Times, October 31, 2001. [Available online to registered users at] (Accessed 4/8/02.)

10 "It's Not What You Know, It's Who You Know: Work in the Information Age," Bonnie Nardi, Steve Whittaker, and Heinrich Schwarz, First Monday, vol. 5, no. 5 (May 2000) []. (Accessed 4/5/02.)

Mary-Ellen Mort, MLS, is director of JobStar: Job Search Guide [], a public library-sponsored Web site providing California and national job search information to 22,000 visitors a day.  Her address is

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