How to convince employers that you are more than your job title?
June 5, 2008 11:33 AM   Subscribe

I am a library director who definitely needs a change of job (possibly a change of career) but I am stumped as to how to convince employers outside the library world that I am willing, able and sometimes more than qualified to do a job that doesn't necessarily involve books/libraries/IT maintenance. Can anyone share examples of how to convince employers you are qualified for something different?

As above, I am a library director and IT guru for a small midwest college (have been for 6 years now). We currently got a new president and a new executive director and what was once a comfortable position has become an exercise in justification. I am used to juggling a lot of tasks in the library/academic world, but what was once a renaissance position has turned into a "goat rodeo" of doing everything but my job...and I find I'm so much nicer/more fun of a person when I'm not there. :)

I've recently seen many jobs for corporations, hospitals, start-ups etc. that I feel I could easily do and enjoy, but I'm finding that I have a hard time convincing them that my managerial/IT/office skills are translatable from libraries to _________. I know AskMeFi is high on librarians, and maybe others who've experienced similar situations. Any ideas as to how to become more marketable? Anyone out there change careers in mid-life? FYI: I am 35, MLS, 9 years of professional library experience & teaching/public speaking exp. and 16 years of professional online media / video production experience

Any advice or insight would be most graciously appreciated. :)
Thanks a million gang!
posted by MeetCleaverTheatre to Work & Money (7 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Sounds like this is a job for the informational interview. Follow boots' excellent advice to help find out what will make you more marketable and to get advice about your proposed career change.
posted by crazycanuck at 11:49 AM on June 5, 2008

I think you would be ideal for a law firm. You would mostly be working with databases and research requests.

I don't know if that might be enough of a career change for you but information specialists appear to be in demand at law firms and large corporations (especially pharma companies).
posted by onepapertiger at 12:24 PM on June 5, 2008

I was an academic librarian, and I got my present job (in the business world) because a friend worked at my current company. I was in my early 30s when I did this. She knew a team that needed someone who could do public speaking/training, maintain documentation, write procedures, and tackle complex records (sound familiar?) among other tasks. I enjoy my work and the client for whom I work and am happy with the choice I made.
In my case, what worked was talking to my friends and networking in the business, government, and non-profit worlds. Luckily there are a number of folks who like my friend (and her boss who hired me) who think realize librarians are sharp, organized, multi-talented, multitasking people.

Please mefi mail me if you like; I am happy to give more details if that would be helpful. Good luck - you sound like you'd be an asset anywhere!
posted by pointystick at 1:11 PM on June 5, 2008

If you don't have a time limit, start volunteering. Volunteer for search and rescue. Become a first responder. Volunteer at your local NPR station. Get a part-time job at Kragen auto parts. Contribute columns (for free unless you can get paid) to your local paper.

Start doing things that stretch the limits of your resume; try things that will leap off the page at an interview and totally derail your interview. I have done some fairly unusual firefighting jobs. Without exception, every job interview I've had has gone along normally enough until the interviewer checked out my resume and did a double-take, whereupon the conversation devolved to a fascinated conversation about firefighting, fire policy, fires, and my personal experiences.

I've done VERY well at getting jobs in fields that I have little to no experience in, and I think having a varied background contributes to interviewers deciding I'd be successful at their thing.

E.g. Not only does she have a degree in library science but she also teaches water polo and she volunteers for a crisis hotline (fill in the blanks with other things that interest you)? Wow, she probably could handle anything this position would throw at her even if she has no background whatsoever in fluid dynamics!
posted by arnicae at 8:48 PM on June 5, 2008

Maybe you should change how your resume is structured.

That is, look at how you described yourself: 9 years of professional library experience & teaching/public speaking exp. and 16 years of professional online media / video production experience. That's chronological, and I'm willing to take a bet that's how your resume is structured, too.

It doesn't have to be structured like that, and emphasizing skills that are not library-based (like online media/video production experience) could very well be the tipping point that you need to reach.

You could, for example, structure your resume in *reverse* chronological order. You order it in terms of skills (the fact that you've been doing online media stuff for 16 years could be a very good justification for why it's at the top of your resume and the library stuff is not). There's other rational ways to order your resume so that what you want to weight is at the top.

There's also the fact that you may not be describing your crossover skills the way that you may think you are. *You* know what skills that you already have would be ideal for your new career path but if you aren't hitting the right key words, then how will your (non-library!) audience know?

I would suggest having a friend who is in one of these fields (or even one who isn't) review your resume and make suggestions. When it comes to resumes, you can sometimes be your own worst critic.
posted by librarylis at 11:43 PM on June 5, 2008

yes, please do re-write your resume using the terms from job descriptions that you see that you can do that are not in the traditional library setting and most of all - no library lingo in the resume and when you talk to potential employers
posted by sandra194 at 10:20 AM on June 6, 2008

Response by poster: Hello again!

I just wanted to thank each and every one of you for your insightful advice and kind words. I'm planning on revamping my resume and sending out a general SOS to all my buddies and acquaintances that I'm looking for something new in my life.

Best wishes and much thanks to all of you!
posted by MeetCleaverTheatre at 8:29 PM on June 9, 2008

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