timeline for starting a new life?
April 27, 2010 11:31 AM   Subscribe

I'm quitting my job, moving 2,000 miles away, and getting married. I've never done this before. When do I start applying for new jobs and looking for an apartment? Bonus points for library-job-specific recommendations.

I got engaged (yay!), and my fiancé was offered a postdoc at Northwestern in the Chicago area (yay, again!). Sadly, this means I'll have to quit my job at the SD Zoo library to move out there with him. Quitting the best job ever? In this economy? And looking for a new library job? Gah, this is terrifying.

I've lived in San Diego my entire life, so I have no idea how to negotiate the logistics of moving across the country. I'm sure there are articles online about this, but I'm looking for some Chicago-specific tips on when to start apartment-hunting, how to make ourselves look attractive as renters to prospective landlords when we're not in the area, etc. Complicating factor is my 70-lb dog who will be moving with us.

On the job front, I'm looking for any job I can get. An ideal position would be a natural history librarian for somewhere like the Field Museum, but that job's taken at the moment. Academic, public, corporate libraries, or general admin positions... I'll probably have to take whatever I can get, I know. Each of these has it's own time frame. Academic jobs take forever to process, right? So should I be submitting applications now for an admin job at a university? Where else should I be looking and when should I be applying? (I know ALA is based in Chicago, I'm an SLA member and I've looked at their Chicago chapter job listings, and I've checked out libgig and lisjobs.)
posted by booknerd to Grab Bag (11 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Oh, forgot to mention that we'll need to be in Chicago by the end of July... so, in roughly three months.
posted by booknerd at 11:56 AM on April 27, 2010

Can you stay in San Diego until you find a new job?
posted by anniecat at 11:58 AM on April 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

Because there are three (I think) library schools in Illinois, including Dominican in Chicago and UIUC in Champaign, you're going to be competing with a crapload of other librarians. You *do* have the benefit of having had a library job already, though, and at a pretty cool place, so you have that working to your advantage. I would start working your in-person contacts as much and as quickly as possible. If you have anyone you work with now who can put you in touch with libraries in the Chicago area, do it. If you see any academic librarian positions, apply for them immediately. You may get to the phone interview stage by the time you move. (Total search process could take 4-5 months.) Chicago Public requires you to be a resident of Chicago and not a suburb in order for you to work there, so consider that when looking for housing, although they may also have a hiring freeze on at the moment, making it a moot point. Since there are sooooooo many librarians in the Chicago area, I'd start looking especially hard for jobs where your background gives you a unique advantage in order to help you stand out from the crowd. Best of luck to you!
posted by MsMolly at 12:35 PM on April 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'm in Chicago at the moment and I rent.

You're going to have a few less options for renting with a dog, but it's not nearly as bad as some people make it seem. We've got a 35 pound Aussie Cattle Dog mutt, four dwarf rabbits and two gerbils and we had no problem finding a place. You're likely to have better luck looking on the north side, where it seems like everybody and their dog has a dog (plus it makes sense for your fiance's school).

Also, we have the Illinois Tenant's Union. I've never used them but if you get into an issue with your landlord they might be able to help.

Many Chicago landlords use a standard lease. I don't have much info on it, but I didn't even know that such a thing existed before I signed one.

And be encouraged - there are a lot of buildings that I know of with vacancies so you shouldn't have too hard a time of it!
posted by burnfirewalls at 1:01 PM on April 27, 2010

Start looking for a job right now. Like, before you close out this screen. Any reputable employer will ask at some point when you're available.

But also, what anniecat said -- if it would be at all reasonable to wait until you get a new job, then do so. You may think you won't have the same sense of urgency if you've still got a job, but being away from your fiancé will impart that sense.
posted by Etrigan at 1:07 PM on April 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

Booknerd, I'm doing a roughly similar thing. In September my boyfriend moved to St. Louis, I'm following him in July. I'm quitting my awesome job at an academic library to do an internship with a national park to finish up my Phd. I've had feelers out and I've been sending out resumes since October.
If you can wait until you get something definite on the line it would be better. But 2000 miles is a lot. Check LIS jobs and the ALA job site. And don't be afraid to call folks out of the blue.
Good luck
posted by teleri025 at 1:28 PM on April 27, 2010

Think about using Google Voice or something similar to get a Chicago-local telephone number to put on your resume... this can help prevent people from screening you out immediately as 'non-local'
posted by dttocs at 7:34 PM on April 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

I...think you know my mom, booknerd.

In any case, since your fiance is getting a postdoc at Northwestern, I'm not sure of the odds, but can you get a 'me too' job (aka 'trailing spouse job') as an academic librarian/anything really at Northwestern? I have a friend who was applying for her PhD at big name schools and they were willing to give her fiance a PhD as well (in a different, equally competitive field) if she would commit to the school. Obviously, postdoc and librarian are a little different, but you never know and you should definitely check!

Otherwise, yeah, what everyone's said about ALA and about a thousand library schools all being in IL, making for tough competition. I haven't seen any IL-specific postings in a couple months, though I could have missed some. Some good advice that I received is to check each school/location you're interested in individually, because sometimes they don't post on Joblist or Libgig. Did you go to ALA Annual last year (it was held in Chicago)? If you've got any local-to-Chicago contacts from that, you should work it.

Keep in mind, too, that some academic libraries are snotty about people with public, special, school, etc experience applying for a job as an academic librarian--it depends on how long you've been out of library school and what you've been doing. I've seen library directors confirm this, and I've seen others deny it. Just be aware that you may have to broaden your scope and look more at libraries more in the vein of what you've got experience in.

Are you active in SLA? I'd also very much recommend looking up your contacts there to let them know that you're looking. I've found that it's often the case in the library world that someone you know already knows someone where you need to be.

I'll leave it to the Chicagoans for help with apartments and rents and whatnot.

Also, can I have your job since you don't need it anymore?
posted by librarylis at 1:02 AM on April 28, 2010

Be sure to check the MLS job site. It's probably the largest in the Chicago area.
MLS Jobs
Good Luck.
posted by davismbagpiper at 8:53 AM on April 28, 2010

As someone who's relocated quite a bit in the past few years, and made quite a number of 2000+-mile trips, I'd say that if you're applying for academic library jobs, you have to figure on at least a six-month wait between first submission of an application and eventual offer, if one comes.

No university that I have ever interviewed with (and I've interviewed both with public and private) has offered (or even hidden in tiny print) a "trailing spouse" option, unless the person applying is a star faculty candidate that they're dying to entice.

Priscilla Shontz has a great website called LISCareer that has all kinds of useful jobhunting and career information, including terrific articles on going from one library to a very different library and on librarian relocation. That site has proved very useful to me over the years.

The move can be scary, but it's doable. Best of luck! Chicago is an incredible city!
posted by blucevalo at 10:49 AM on April 28, 2010

Bunch of public library jobs just posted in DesPlaines.
posted by MsMolly at 1:53 PM on April 30, 2010

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