Magazine article Special Libraries

Resume Items for Special and Academic Librarians

Magazine article Special Libraries

Resume Items for Special and Academic Librarians

Article excerpt

One of the most important parts of the job search process for applicants is the preparation of materials required by the institution in response to its vacancy notice. A quick review of job advertisements reveals some variation in what applicants are asked to submit. Dewey, however, points out, "Most professional library openings require a resume from the applicant."[1] Much has been written about the importance of submitting a carefully prepared resume and the common errors that applicants make in resumes they submit when applying for jobs as professional librarians. While some books and articles give applicants an idea of what is important to include in a resume, most of these sources are not based on original research.[2] One research-based study conducted by Thomas Gaughan focused on the essential items that academic librarians should include in their resumes.[3] In his study Gaughan sought "to identify the elements of information in a resume that are of greatest importance and interest to academic libraries seeking to fill vacant positions."[4] When Gaughan conducted his study, he indicated that the consensus on resume construction was limited to "completeness, conciseness and brevity."[5] He also noted that the following problems had not been addressed in the literature on resume construction: (1) lack of knowledge about the data that is most important to an employer, (2) what data to exclude in the interest of brevity, and (3) that resumes must be tailored to match the kind of institution in which an applicant hopes to work.[6] Although numerous articles and books have appeared since 1980 to aid librarians in constructing resumes, the authors noticed that Caughan's study had not been replicated to determine if the same resume items continued to be important over time in academic libraries or if they were important in other types of libraries.

When the authors were asked to address the Special Library Association/Kentucky Chapter and Kentucky Library Association/special Libraries Section Conference in April 1991 regarding job hunting strategies and application tips, they were not certain that Gaughan's findings or their own views and experience in academic libraries would be applicable to special libraries. To gather additional background information for their presentation, they decided to use the first part of Gaughan's 1980 study to survey special libraries in Kentucky regarding the essential items that should be included in a resume when applying for a position in a special library.[7]


Surveys were sent to the directors of all special libraries in Kentucky, bringing the survey population to 101 libraries. Included in the survey were all libraries coded as medical, special, government, religious, law, and armed forces in the Kentucky section of the American Library Directory.

The survey consisted of two parts. Section one asked respondents to rate the relative importance (4, very important, 1, not important) of 45 items applicants could include in their resumes when they applied for jobs in special libraries. To Gaughan's original list of 43 items, the authors added continuing education/conference attendance and committee service (work and/or professional).[8] To ensure that the results were not affected by the order of the items, three different versions of the same list were used in the survey. Section two included questions which were designed to elicit information about special libraries' application requirements regarding placement files, transcripts, and references. Respondents were also asked if an ALA-accredited MLS was required and which sources they used to advertise vacancies.


Seventy responses were received, of which 61 were valid, providing a response rate of 60%. Some respondents did not complete the survey but returned it with notes explaining that their answers probably wouldn't be helpful because "this is a one person library" or "your questionnaire does not really pertain to our all-volunteer operation. …

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