Thinking of a career change?

Our latest post is a short one which comes as a result of a few messages in our inbox from people who have already had successful careers in other fields deciding to pursue a career in libraries. We thought it would be good to share some of the advice given to a wider audience!

Librarianship is a field which encompasses a lot of skills you may well find in all kinds of careers. To perhaps oversimplify, if you are interested in helping people and solving problems, then you will probably enjoy working in libraries. If your current career has involved either or both of those two things, it is likely you would be suitable for a role in the sector.

It is interesting to see that of the people who have contacted us for information about making a career change toward librarianship, often state the same thing:

‘I don’t know why I never thought of this as a career option before’

That in itself is probably a whole other post for another time, but for now, we thought it would be useful to give a cheeky list of tips for people considering a a career change to move into the library and information world…

  1. Think about your current skills and how they may transfer to a role in a library and be sure to emphasise that effectively in your application. What have you already been doing that is similar to the role you are applying for?
  2. Always avoid making the point that you haven’t got library experience. Why point out what potential employers may perceive as a flaw? Instead, highlight how experience you do have is suitable.
  3. A background in customer service may be more helpful than you think. Especially as many libraries have adopted a business-like approach to serving their users – many libraries will call their users customers and regardless of whether this is or is not a good thing, if you can demonstrate strong customer service skills it will do you no harm.
  4. Don’t rush to do the qualification – especially before having some work experience in the field. If you can finance yourself, it may seem tempting to try and fast-track yourself into a good post by undertaking a postgraduate LIS qualification. However, the qualification is a significant financial and personal commitment and is really best done when you have worked in the field for at least a year and feel confident that it is the right choice – for many working in the sector, they choose not to do the qualification at all, and it is certainly a contentious topic for many.
  5. Be prepared for ‘why are all the jobs in London’ fatigue. If you don;’t happen to be based in the South East you may find yourself frustrated with the lack of job opportunities which come up. The geographical distribution of roles in the sector certainly is a bit bottom heavy…if relocating isn’t an option then don’t get disheartened if your search takes you longer than you anticipated.
  6. Consider a graduate traineeship. ‘But I’m not a graduate..as such?’ – This doesn’t always matter. We are aware of a former graduate trainee who gave up a post as a headteacher in order to take on a trainee post. The pay is low but the experience often comes with added extra training sessions which you may not get access to in other entry level roles.
  7. Finally, don’t give up – it’s basic, but it’s true. It isn’t always easy to get a foot in the door in the library and information world but it is certainly rewarding once you get there.

If you have any advice you think we should add then let us know! If you’ve successfully changed careers from something else into librarianship then how did you manage it? Comment below or get n touch with us via email.

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