“Career development is a passion of mine.”
SJSU iSchool Career Counselor
San José, California
Jill Klees is an expert in the field of career development. SJSU’s Career Center liaison to the iSchool has a master’s degree in counseling, more than 20 years’ experience in corporate and educational settings, a focus on developing tools and resources to prepare you for the workforce, and the skills to help you recognize your own unique talents and strengths. Klees’s goal is to be known to students as the career resource person. And then help you land your dream job.
If you’re applying for a position and have a question about the compatibility of your professional references, ask Jill. Need help structuring your resume? Ask Jill. Have questions about what types of LIS keywords you should be using in your job search? That is precisely what Jill is here for. From the time you enter the program to graduation and beyond, Klees is your career resource.
Your Career Starts Here
Your first step when thinking about making a career move or applying for LIS jobs for the first time is to check the Career Development portal, created specifically for the iSchool by Klees (pictured, right, hard at work) and Jane Fisher, her counterpart on the iSchool Career Initiatives team.
“It started from the idea of, hey, let’s put resume resources together for students,” Klees explains. “We realized students weren’t getting the information they needed on how to market and promote themselves, so we helped with resources to write a better resume.” Klees and Fisher wrote the content for the online portal, which includes self-assessments to help you determine your ideal career direction, tips on networking, job search strategies, resume writing advice, links to websites specializing in LIS job openings, and much more.
The portal serves as a complete one-stop guide to LIS career resources and strategies, and is one of Klees’s greatest accomplishments. “There is no other iSchool with these comprehensive resources,” she states proudly, adding that other schools direct their students to the SJSU iSchool portal for career assistance. “Ours is the most comprehensive.”
The First Rule of Job Searching: Don’t Start with Your Resume
Assistance with writing and sprucing up resumes is the number one item Klees has found that students are looking for—and Klees is a resume-writing expert who will work with you to “identify and capitalize on the best skills and attributes” you have to offer a potential employer. But although the resume is a necessary component of the job application process, Klees cautions that it’s not the best place to start thinking about career development.
“People just start on a resume and apply to jobs,” Klees explains. “But if you get the interview, how are you going to sell yourself? How are you going to say, 'Here’s what I can do for you'?”
So Klees’s advice is to really take some time, think about what you’ve done and what your interests are, and ask yourself three questions: What skills do I already have? What am I really good at? What do I enjoy doing?
Once you’ve considered the big picture, then you can start to identity some of the jobs that match your skillset and build a career search strategy around your resumes. Yes: resumes. Preferably several, each tailored to the type of job you’re searching for.
Throughout the process, she is available to email or chat about specific questions whenever they arise. “I do a lot of email with people,” she says, “but sometimes there’s more to talk about, and that’s when we set up a time to talk. That’s me asking some tough, insightful questions, or just getting them to think differently, and that’s when they have the ah-ha moment.”
Tips and Emerging Trends
Klees advises considering LIS career options, no matter where you are in your career: prospective student, student, or professional. And in addition to the Career Development portal, there are other helpful online tools you can take advantage of, on your own time, wherever you are. Klees offers some tips:
Check the iSchool's Emerging Career Trends Report. One of the most helpful aspects of the report, which is updated annually, is a set of lists of new LIS job titles. And it may surprise you—a lot of the new titles don’t contain the word “library” or even “LIS.”
“New job titles are things like ‘content management’ and ‘information specialist,’” Klees lists. "These job titles can be found in nontraditional library settings, and that goes back to students knowing their strengths and skills, and then searching for skillset words vs. a specific job title, which allows you to find jobs that you wouldn’t know existed but that match your specific skills.”
Peruse all of the iSchool’s career resources. The Career Environment web pages contain detailed examples of working in academic, public and special library settings. “They are cool pages,” Klees says, “with really in-depth information such as the pay ranges, job titles to look for, and what the work environment is like.” Used in conjunction with the career pathways, they can help you determine if a specific LIS field is right for you.
Klees shares her personal job search tips and advice through the SJSU iSchool Career Blog, “a place for questions and answers.”
And Klees plans to continue the new student webinar, “Your Career Starts Here,” and the “Graduating—Now What?” career development workshops, which are intended to get you thinking about career paths before you leave the iSchool with a degree.
Consider relocating for the right job. Klees recommends that if you are at all mobile, consider keeping options open and casting a wide net—by searching for jobs outside your city, or even your state. “Could you move, and do that job for two years?” she asks. “If you say you could, then it’s worth going for it. After two years, reevaluate. But now you have more skills to take into the workplace.”
“I just want people to be open minded and think: you just need to get that first job!”
Experience, Expertise and Assistance
To keep herself, and the iSchool, up-to-date with the most current job search tips and trends, Klees subscribes to blogs that deliver articles to her inbox each day, attends webinars, reads the iSchool community profiles, and talks to everyone she meets about their job search process.
“Career development is a passion of mine,” she says. “I like to talk to people, so if people tell me they got a new job or interview, I’ll ask where they found the job, what the interview was like, and how the hiring process went. I learn a lot just by talking to people."
At the end of the day, Klees’s priority is to acquaint the iSchool community with the multitude of resources available to assist in career development, and urge you to take advantage of them.
“You’re in library school to learn how to research. So put your research hat on, practice your skills on yourself, and then let’s talk!”