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PUBLIB "Cold Resume" Discussion Thread

An SI student pointed out a really good discussion that was going on on the PUBLIB listserv. I've pasted the thread below. Note that you find a varying range of opinons here -- some for, some against -- which just shows how subjective the job search process can be!

Also, note that this is a question that a current grad student asked on a public listserv. I recommend this method for getting information, networking, and get a variety of answers to questions that are relvant to your own job search. In fact, I just saw an SI student post a message on a listserv earlier this week with a question pertaining to research that they were doing for their summer internship.

ORIGINAL MESSAGE

Good day, all!

This post is mainly for the folks that do hiring/firing (HR, Directors, etc.)

I am a GSLIS student (Simmons College, Boston MA) and am starting to think about my upcoming job search (half way through the program, yeah!). I do NOT want to get into the discussion of if there are jobs or not (I am operating under the assumption that there are jobs and I will be hired for one of them). I was wondering how everyone that does hiring feels about getting "cold" (read unsolicited) resumes in the mail. Do you automatically ditch them? Keep them
on file if they look promising even if you don't have any openings at the moment? I DON'T want to commit any librarian faux paux (I hope I spelled that correctly). However, I have always believed that if one wants to work at a certain company, and your resume is stellar, it is a good idea to send it, so that it is on file and access able when there is an opening.

There are certain libraries that I would love to work at, and would be willing to wait for a job to open up. I would send my resume in a heart beat if it meant I was considered. But if sending my resume "cold" meant I would nix my chances I would wait until a formal job announcement was made.

Thoughts anyone?

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RESPONSES

For myself, I just can't throw away a good resume - at least not for a while. If I receive a viable unsolicitated resume I put it in a file for 6 months (or until I clean out the file).

Good luck! By the way, are you asking this question so you know where you can send your resume? Very clever if you are!

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Working at a smaller library (20 FTE staff), there are limited opportunities for hiring professional staff, so while I would not trash it unread, it is unlikely that a cold resume would be considered in a future job search. A vanilla resume, while being read, would probably not be saved. An unsolicited resume most likely to catch my attention is one addressed directly to me, with a cover letter explaining the reason for the cold resume and what unique skills you could bring to my attention. That would interest me enough to at least call you if I am favorable and might lead me
to keep an ear to the ground for possible opportunities. A cold resume for an intro level position, not so much.

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Our official position (stated on our employment opportunities webpage)is that we only accept resumes/applications for currently open positions. That said, I know some of us do keep really good ones for a while in case we have an opening at some point. Whether a library keeps resumes may also depend on how their hiring is done. Some places require all hiring be done through the city or county HR department, and their requirements will likely be stricter on these things. Here all department/branch managers are responsible for hiring when a position opens in their department or branch, so it really ends up being a personal decision as to whether we want to try to keep up with a resume we may never use. If there is a library you are really interested in working for, you might give them a call to see what their policy is. You may even be able to talk to the person who makes hiring decisions and get a chance to make a good impression before even sending your resume.

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At times a "cold" c.v. has made me say, "I don't have a job here, but I have heard of jobs at _____." It depends on the quality of the c.v. and the cover letter. I don't think they hurt, in most cases. "Ya never know."

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I keep them on file for one year, and refer to them when jobs open up. I respect the fact that the candidates are actively looking. The cover letter is extremely important to me -- especially with cold resumes.

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It might help to research the specific employment policies of libraries you are interested in. Many libraries hire through their jurisdiction's HR office. Library staff do not see resumes or applications untill there is an opening. In those cases a letter to the Library Director stating that you are interested in employment opportunities with their library and asking about their proceedures and what qualifications they particularly look for might accomplish the goal of becoming a "known" quantity.

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I don't mind getting unsolicited resumes from librarians, but if there are no current openings, the documents may sit in a box for months or years. In many respects, the cover letter addressing an applicant's interest in a specific, advertised position is among the key elements to a successful application. I ask myself what she/he has to say about the specific job and how well that letter is written before giving careful scrutiny to the resume itself. Some of the miscellaneous cover letters I have received with "Greetings" and "To whom it may concern" followed by bland offerings of services haven't inspired much attention.

Instead of carpet bombing libraries with unsolicited resumes and generic cover letters, I would urge that you spend your time before graduating from Simmons in 2009 by establishing a "presence" on the web 2.0 world. Do you have an entry in Facebook? Do you have a personal blog or website with your vita and professional activities noted? I would expect that you will encounter such information at Simmons or with such basic learning sites as http://learning2slnsw.blogspot.com/
where you will be given tips on how to create your own blog, become active in Facebook networking and on discussion lists among colleagues who are actively in the field discussing issues. Your present query to PUBLIB is a good start.

That being said, I should confess that I did commence job searches back in 1973 as I was planning to graduate from SUNY Geneseo with an MLS with a blitz of resume's and cover letters to many dozens of libraries. One of them did finally land be a job at Cleveland Public Library. Desperate as I was for a job, I was willing to go anywhere. If you have a narrow preference in terms of location, your search may take some time. If you are willing to relocate and go where you are needed/wanted, it probably won't take so long. But in this day and age, a web presence is probably essential to success on the job hunt.

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I read the resumes I receive, and if it appeals to me and I anticipate an opening (in say six months or less) I'll hold on to it. I'll also pass it along to my local colleagues.

In some cases here on Long Island, you would be required to take a civil service exam to qualify for a full time position. In libraries like ours, which is an Association library, there are no civil service exam requirements.

I think you need to get a sense of the corporate culture of particular libraries you have an interest in. Some places have a hierarchical structure and specific procedures for filling job openings, others are more flexible in approach and procedure. Sending a cold resume is one way of finding out.

...and that's MY opinion

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My advice is not to send a "cold resume". I get two or three a month, and they all get tossed or deleted. This is probably a product of being in a place many consider a desirable place to live. That same geographic desirability means that when a position is posted, I get swamped with applications. The policy of our county government, of which the library is a department, is applications are only accepted when there is a position posting.

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I agree with Ed. Sending a cold resume sends a signal that you are not very savvy about the job search process and are sending resumes willy nilly to quite a few libraries. Makes me think the sender is desperate, not very discerning, or both. Our official policy is that no one is considered for a job unless it is currently posted and an application is on file for it. I toss them immediately. We expect and usually receive resumes and cover letters related to specific openings.

I encourage you to network in the region or regions where you'd like to work. Find out who is likely to be hiring soon for one or more jobs. Find out how the hiring process works. Is it strictly library based, or does it include interaction with a city or county government and possibly a civil service exam. Visit the libraries if possible and ask the librarians on duty questions about how it works there.

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You can join the PUBLIB listserv at http://lists.webjunction.org/mailman/listinfo/publib

Posted by kkowatch at June 4, 2008 08:41 AM

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