The Secret Key to Finding the Perfect Job

Career Blog

Published: July 25, 2019 by Greta Snyder

Think of finding a job like finding a potential date on Bumble or Tinder. While finding the right information environment in person and starting out as “friends,” or in job terms as an intern, volunteer, or para-professional, can definitely lead to the offer, job searching, like dating, is now often online. So, play career matchmaker for yourself, keep an open mind, cast a broad net, and match your interests and skills to possibilities.

What jobs are even out there?

Last week, I began my coverage of the crush-worthy, must-read SJSU iSchool ‘MLIS Skills at Work’ and focused on top skills in demand. This week we will add to our keyword arsenal so you can target your desired jobs, turn your education and experience into click-bait, and market your skills like a pro.

Back to the dating analogy, imagine you are single and looking. Besides making sure the other person is a) real and b) not too good to be true, you want to make sure you match. The same goes for jobs: you want to connect your skills, interests and values to those listed and embodied by the employer and specific role. You have an impressively varied skill set, so your approach to the job search should be as broad as your expertise and interests. Do yourself a favor and expand your career exploration; don’t limit where you can work by what words you search for.

Hot keywords

What skill keywords in your resume, cover letter, or LinkedIn profile sizzle off the screen? Not sure? Read this.

top Skill keywords to include

  • General skills. Good news:  you might have gained these skills previously. If not, however, the SJSU iSchool program offers many courses in these areas, and it is never too late to do an internship (read iStudent blogger Havilah Strensom’s helpful post) to gain experience specifically in an information environment).

    • Interpersonal and communication skills: emphasize proven ability to both work with diverse communities and be customer-oriented (including communicating with specific key demographics, e.g., teens, seniors, immigrants, individuals with special needs), and any experience in outreach, community service, public relations, public speaking, social media (e.g., Twitter, Google analytics), marketing, and media strategy; be sure to include any language skills. Did you know SJSU offers Spanish through the MLIS program? Here’s how to sign up.
    • Project management/supervisory/leadership: this is all about the proven ability to lead, collaborate and be a team-player (hello group projects), so highlight any experience with collaborating/liaising, strategic planning, policy development, program development, overseeing a project, supervising a team, conflict resolution, change management, organization, problem-solving, administration, employee development, and goal setting for a team. Whenever possible, include metrics and measurable deliverables:  you earned it.
    • Work independently: consider that as an iSchool student in a fully online program you have mastered the art of time-management, prioritization, attention to detail, and working remotely. What other experience in working independently do you have?
    • Training/instruction/curriculum development: Have you helped train any new employees at previous jobs? Include this. Also, mention any experience in mentoring, instructional design, literacy programs, teaching, and technology training.
  • LIS specific. Good news:  the rigorous requirements of the SJSU MLIS portfolio will help you diversify your skills and be able to speak to these MLIS skills with evidence.
    • New Technology/Databases. While you might have worked with technology in other jobs which is great, try to fortify your LIS-specific list of tech skills.
      • Software: Microsoft Word is in no way new (the first version came out in 1983), but increasing your proficiency with Excel and PowerPoint will increase your marketability. Include any skills with Adobe, Google Docs, Mac OS/iOs or PC OS; emphasize your interest in new technology, using technology to improve user experience, ability to quickly learn new software and systems, familiarity with team collaboration technology, and any experience supporting patrons/customers in learning technology and software.
      • Databases/coding skills: SQL is becoming an increasingly desired skill. Any experience you have with metadata and data analysis and visualization is a major plus. Go acronym crazy; include familiarity with HTML, XML, Oracle, JavaScript, CSS, CMS, MARC, BIBFRAME, MODS, Drupal, and RDA.
    • Reference/Research/Reader’s Advisory.
      • Mention any proficiency in using WorldCat, LEXIS, GALILEO, EBSCO, ProQuest, OCLC, Springshare LibGuides, MEDLINE/PubMed.
      • Showcase your work with digital publishing or scholarly publishing online, connecting patrons/customers/clientele to e-resources.
    • Archives.
      • What experience do you have in archival work? Do you have specific experience with OASIS, PREMIS (or other metadata standards), or archival management software/online services and data analysis?
      • Include experiences with digital asset management (DAM), digitization, content curation, special collections, preservation projects, or with museums/art.
    • Additional Specialized Skills to name-drop: grant writing, research, collection development, taxonomy, indexing, cataloging, STEM, and any work in the business, legal or medical fields.

Realizing you might still have a lot to learn?  You’re in good company, because that’s one of the joys of our profession:  continuous, life-long learning. So again, make a list of areas of opportunity in which to diversify and grow your skill set. Then be strategic: find chances in your current role to develop these skills, attend webinars and conferences such as those available through Library 2.0, start an internship or volunteer, and curate your SJSU MLIS coursework to broaden and enrich your repertoire. Need experience in marketing? Take INFO 283 with Dr. Sue Alman. Want to learn SQL? Take INFO 246 with Steve Perry. Looking to better understand online user experience and design? Sign up for INFO 246 with Virginia Tucker. There is a class for all of the in-demand skills identified by the report.

Job titles to search

Follow up question:  what job titles should you even search for? If you feel overwhelmed, you’re not alone. Just remember, you are an information professional; you are a Jedi master of keyword searchers. Leverage your query and research skills to find your perfect match, that hidden gem, or the dream job worth a shot. You never know what exactly an employer is looking for until you try but knowing what to search for will help you connect your experience to a great new opportunity. While it is easy to fixate on which type of information professional work you want to do (e.g., public library, archival, academic library), it is crucial in the current job market to cast an inclusive net based on your expertise and interests. This way you include non-traditional careers and areas with growing opportunities, such as law or business.

So, stop just searching for “librarian” on Handshake or LinkedIn and try out trending job title and description terms in your search, either by themselves or combined with “librarian.” FYI in the growing opportunities of the business and legal world, the term “analyst” is often used instead of librarian. Below is a breakdown by top job category and associated titles and skills.

  • Collection, acquisition, and circulation:  collection development, collection acquisition, access services, cataloging, electronic resources, adult/children’s/teen services, digital content management, content curation.
  • Cataloging and metadata:  metadata, records management, cataloger, metadata analyst, RDA, database management.
  • Reference and research: training, research, electronic resources, public services, outreach, data visualization, statistical analyst, business analyst.
  • Outreach, program and instruction: outreach, emerging technology, marketing, student instruction, program design, community.
  • Leadership, management and administration: director, manager of services, associate dean, head of curation, grant writer, professional development.
  • Archives and preservation: archives, archive curator, museum, special collections.
  • Data management, analysis, and preservation: data analyst, legal analyst, data curator.
  • Digital integrations and management: digital assets, preservation, metadata creation.
  • Information management: project manager, knowledge management, data management.
  • Information systems and technology: digital technology, metadata, systems and data services, legal technology, systems administration.
  • Web services, user experience and social media: instructional outreach, user experience, digital content, engagement and inclusion, marketing, design, social media.

Final takeaways

For students and alumni: according to the report,72% of jobs surveyed either preferred or required an MLIS degree, so clearly you made a smart choice when deciding to pursue your iSchool degree!

To explore your career options in more depth, read the full skills report to find out what jumps out to you and your career goals. Or, did you know SJSU iSchool is on Medium? Read this recent post highlighting insights from the skills report or how internships can broaden your skill set.

How’s your summer going? Let’s talk! Please comment below, email me, or Tweet at me with any questions, suggestions or resume stories. I’d also love to connect with you on LinkedIn.

Career development opportunities

Jobs in Handshake (requires login to Handshake)

Interviewing 101

Most of us associate panel interviews with jobs in academia, but sometimes large public libraries also use panel interviews, as Jesse Walker-Lanz explains in this webcast. The good news: he also describes what to expect and how to navigate them.


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