All About LibGig
In my quest to learn All The Things LIS careers-related, I spoke to Brad Rogers, Director of Recruiting at LibGig. LibGig is a staffing firm for the library and information management professions, which means it’s customized for people like us and organizations who might hire us. “Brad is responsible for running LibGig operations and web services and managing recruitment for LibGig and all LAC Group’s divisions” (source), which makes him an invaluable fount of information for a soon-to-be-graduating iSchooler. I hope you think so, too!
How Staffing Firms Work
Brad told me one of the biggest points for us to understand about staffing firms is there is no cost to workers for using their job boards (also on Twitter) or registering with them. Companies are the ones paying for a service, not employees. Furthermore, employees are the ones negotiating their pay rate – there’s not a “one size fits all” approach because every organization is different and everyone has different experience levels and backgrounds.
LibGig does two basic kinds of hiring. One is a “direct hire” when it acts as a headhunter for a company. In that case, LibGig finds and vets candidates and only gets paid if a client hires one of their recruits. To be clear (if repetitive), these candidates are not affected by the contingency fee – that’s something between the employer and LibGig.
LibGig’s second role is that of temporary staffing agency. Typically, these are open-ended contracts (i.e. they think it’ll be 3 months of employment but might be 6 or 12) that are usually filling a temporary hole at an institution necessitate by, for instance medical or parental leave or the time it takes an academic search committee to hire a permanent faculty member.
Advantages for Students and New Graduates
When I asked Brad why an iSchool student or alum might choose to work with a staffing firm, he replied, “experience” without missing a beat. LIS folks are often caught in a Catch-22, wherein we need a degree to get a job, but the jobs that require a degree also require relevant experience…which we can’t get without a degree. There are a number of ways to deal with that (see this blog post and some of these webcasts), but LibGig can help, too, by matching you up with short- or long-term positions that give you the exact experience you want, whether it’s cataloging, archival work, research, or something I’ve never heard of.
I also learned that LibGig’s biggest client is the Library of Congress (swoon), and federal government contracts are usually five years. If there’s a hiring freeze, contractors don’t count! So working with a staffing agency can give you a path to government employment, even if the department or institution is not technically filling jobs.
In addition, Brad stressed, “when people do really well, LibGig tries to help them out” in future staffing opportunities, like by finding a position that will help them get new experience or learn a new niche of the profession. This sounds like an especially good situation for a student, new grad, or an LISer who wants to switch career tracks, like move from public to academic libraries.
Lastly, as you’ve probably noticed, job titles in the information profession vary wildly (see Career Environments and the Emerging Career Trends Report for some suggestions). It can be hard to search for a job if you’re not sure what title to look for or you have to figure out how a company on a general site might describe or classify what is essentially a job for someone with an MLIS. A specialized staffing agency like LibGig has pre-filtered job boards brimming with LIS opportunities for us.
Brad has noticed that a growing trend is for employers to seek much more specialization than they used to. For example, a special library might once have advertised for a plain old researcher, but now they want a researcher with a biology background, for example, or experience with a specific database. If you have some specific skill or knowledge, use that information to help you target your hunt. Search job sites for the name of a database you’ve mastered or some keywords that describe the what’s special about your background, like “music” or “law degree.”
Finally, Brad told me that “librarians have always been able to find information,” but now a lot of positions take it one step further and once they have the information, LISers are also responsible for analyzing it. So titles like “competitive intelligence researcher” and “data analyst” are areas of growth in our profession.
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