Sunday, October 19, 2014

So you want to be a prison librarian-more tips for getting hired

Happy Sunday readers!

Today's blog stems from a note I wrote to my future blogging self and then just rediscovered as I was cleaning my room today. It is a timely discovery as there are lots of prison librarian jobs open at the moment. Here are a few ideas to get your application materials to stand out above the crowd and hopefully get you the coveted interview:

1. Address your cover letter to the right person. Generally this is going to be the hiring manager. If you don't know who it will be, a general "Greetings!" is much better than a salutation to the wrong person. You can always call the person listed on the job announcement to make sure and if you can't get them on the phone then just leave it generic.

2. Taking #1 to the next level- make sure you are submitting a cover letter for the correct position. Nothing impresses hiring managers less than having to read all about how you would be perfect for a job that is not even theirs. If you accidentally attach and submit the wrong one, immediately apologize and send the correct one. I need someone who has attention to detail in addition to the desire to work for my open position and if you can't even get me the right cover letter then you are definitely not the right person for the position.

3. Get a professional email address. "" might give you fond memories of your college days but save that one for your friends and/or Tinder account. Use some sort of combination of your first and last name for maximum professional impact.

4. Explain exactly how your previous experience will apply to the duties of the new position. Even if you are light on library experience, you can still sell me on your server/bartending experience by highlighting your ability to work in a fast-paced environment with people who are sometimes difficult. If you have lots of other library experience tell me how you think that will transfer to prison. If you just say "I'm an awesome medical/children's/corporate librarian" without telling me how that translates to prison, you will probably not be selected.

5. It is ok to contact the person listed on the application with questions. Some good questions to ask are "What kind of personality type would fit best in this environment?" And "What strengths would you like to see in your ideal candidate?" You could also ask me to describe my typical day or ask what I like best about working there. (Note, if you don't call the person listed, these would also be good questions to ask at the end of the interview when the panel asks if you have any questions for them. But it's best to do your homework first so you can tailor your application materials and make me really interested to meet you for an interview.)

I hope this helps all of you in your job search. Please let me know if you have any other questions about how to make your application the best.

Until next time!

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