Interviewing as a Career Changer: Making Your Past an Advantage

Career Blog

Published: July 20, 2018 by Evelyn Hudson

Many LIS students are career changers. I, myself, started out as a writer/editor before deciding that I needed a change. While it is exciting to start on a new path, it can also be very intimidating to show up to an interview with no professional experience apart from an internship and lots of skills that seem like they don’t transfer to the LIS world. But there is good news! You can actually use your background, no matter what it is, to your benefit in an interview. Read on to learn more!

Consider Soft Skills

Employers are big on soft skills. Soft skills are those considered more social than coming from book learning. The MLIS Skills at Work: A Snapshot of Job Postings Spring 2018 report showed that the most desired competency was communication/interpersonal skills. This soft skill can be developed at any job. No matter where you worked before, you can certainly come with up an example of how you demonstrated excellent communication/interpersonal skills. This also fits in with any LIS job perfectly. Many LIS professionals have to interact with the public every day. So you can talk about your skills at your old job and weave that into how you will apply it your new job. Just like that, you’ll quickly come across as highly competent to the interviewer!

Don’t Hide Your Past

Don’t feel like you need to cover up your past. Be open about what you did before. You might be surprised to find that your employer is looking for help in that area. For example, say you worked as an accountant before. You might discover that the organization needs help budgeting for new materials and your past experience makes you a perfect fit to help. This is something you can also bring up with your employer. Talk about your other skills and demonstrate how they apply to the LIS world. LIS professions require many competencies, so it is likely you can relate your past experience to a job posting. For example, if you were a salesperson, talk about how you learned to understand the needs of a customer, just like you would have to understand the needs of a patron.

As you can see, interviewing as a career changer won’t get you an automatic rejection. Just take time before the interview to really think about how your existing skills transfer to LIS jobs. In fact, your extra experience might come across as more valuable to an employer than someone without any outside experience, so go into your interview feeling confident about your skills.

Have you interviewed for an LIS job as a career changer? Share your experience in the comments!

New LIS Jobs in Handshake

Instruction / First Year Experience Librarian     University of San Francisco

University Librarian (A17)     Azusa Pacific University: On Campus Employment

Don’t forget to explore job openings outside of the public and/or academic libraries in Handshake. Consider searching on topics such as taxonomy, research, data management, digital asset management, and similar terms that may reflect your particular LIS skills or area of emphasis.


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