Job Descriptions as a Reference Tool

The job announcement is a valuable resource for identifying the skills and knowledge required in the current job market. Being able to decipher and understand what is expected from a job description will be vital as we begin applying for our first professional positions. The application process can be daunting, but using the materials made available by a job posting will give you an advantage to create a customized, specific cover letter and resume that will synthesize the skills required by the position and the skills you possess. The responsibilities and qualifications presented in job announcements can help shape the courses and jobs we choose to do while in graduate school.

Job announcements are not standardized but can offer useful insight into what prospective employers seek in their candidates. Also, the wording of job descriptions provides an indication of the duties and qualifications’ importance. The wording can be purposively vague which can be a chance to think creatively about what those qualification or job responsibilities might mean for that position and institution. In order to aggregate and utilize the information in the job descriptions, one can manipulate the information to facilitate its usefulness. After accumulating job postings in the areas and departments you wish to work in, organizing the information into an excel spread sheet is an excellent way to make the information accessible. The excel spreadsheet, or whatever manner you choose to organize the information, can be as detail specific as you want. For example, the  types of information you can extract from the job announcements are programs, technical skills, languages, responsibilities, and knowledge required for those positions.

A comparison of the requirements for different positions reveals nuances about tasks and the commonalities between them. This information can help you think about how to phrase your cover letters and resumes. Exposure to job announcements will help familiarize you with library and information science jargon and acronyms. It can help provide contextual evidence about what the culture and structure of the institution or library is like. Most job announcements provide a link to their institutional website which can be used to begin research the library, their mission statement, policies, and organizational structure.

Once we start applying to positions, creating a list, similar to the one above, of the title of the position, name of the institution, department the position is responsible to, location, the benefits offered by each employer, salary, the types of materials required for application, and the projected start date of the position is worthwhile because it will help you keep track of the positions you applied for. You can also add when you submitted the application, the reference you used, the date of your interviews, and any comments useful for future applications. This list can be individualized based on what the applicant wants from the jobs they are applying for. Job announcements not only provide insight into what type of employee an institution is looking for, but these descriptions can also be used in your career exploration.