The job hunting season is in full swing! I had the opportunity to sit down with Dr. Brady Lund, Assistant Professor at the University of North Texas, and discuss some insights and recommendations for job hunting. He currently serves as the ASIS&T Midwest Chapter Chair.
Abbie Teel: Where should someone start if they’re interested in pursuing a job in the field of Information Science (i.e. they have the degree and are seeking a job)?
Brady Lund: There are several sources I would recommend. The first being ASIS&T job site, which is regularly updated for jobs all across the spectrum of Library and Information Science: library jobs, systems jobs, jobs in academia… Wherever you are at in your information science career there will be some resources on there. If you are looking for a library job, the American Library Association is a good source. For faculty jobs, ALISE is a good source. They have a job site. The iSchools also has a job site. HigherEd Jobs is a valuable source for academic librarianship or information science professor jobs. So, there are several job sites to look at. I think the specific job sites for the discipline are better than going to a site like Indeed and starting from there because the organizations tend to group all the relevant and open job positions and allow you to go from there. If there are specific universities that you are particularly interested in, you can of course visit their job pages as well.
Abbie Teel: Is there a prevailing misconception in the job-hunting sphere that suggests degrees may not be as advantageous as they once were? What would you tell someone who is interested in Information Science jobs?
Brady Lund: For someone interested in advancing their career beyond a certain level, having a degree is often a requirement. There are valid concerns about how well some degrees prepare students, but many programs are actively addressing these concerns through course redesign and by offering practicum placements and internships, which can provide invaluable experiences.
Beyond the necessity of having a degree to advance in your career, I believe it equips you with a specific skill set that benefits you as you advance in your role. Some aspects of these skills may not become fully apparent until later in your career journey. When you’re just starting out, you might find yourself wondering why you need a degree for the tasks at hand, especially when you’re at a lower level within an organization. However, as you progress and climb the organizational hierarchy, you’ll come to realize that the theoretical knowledge, management perspectives, and conceptual understanding you gained during your education become increasingly valuable.
These elements help you navigate the gray areas in your work effectively. The exposure to writing and critical thinking, while you might not see a direct impact immediately, significantly influences your overall professional abilities and the quality of your work. This is also why I require my students to give regular presentations and participate in discussion in order to developing interpersonal and professional communication skills.
—Where should someone start if they're interested in pursuing a job in the field of Information Science?—
Abbie Teel: What role does networking play in the job search? Has it personally ever benefitted you?
Brady Lund: Yes, networking is incredibly valuable, and that’s why I highly encourage students, if possible, to attend professional conferences and events, and to reach out to people via email. I’ve personally reached out to past presidents of the ALA when I was a master’s student, contacted researchers during my Ph.D. studies, and established collaborations. These connections have opened up various opportunities for me, some directly related to my career, and others that have helped advance my career in different ways, such as enhancing my resume through research collaborations or mentioning influential people in my interviews and cover letters.
Also, I’ve had the chance to assist others in finding jobs because of the connections I’ve made, providing them with valuable references or helping them secure adjunct positions at the university where I work. Networking is undeniably valuable, and not having a network would be ill-advised. Initially, building a network might seem challenging, and it’s possible to succeed without a strong network at first. However, having one puts you in a favorable position.
Abbie Teel: Do you believe platforms like LinkedIn provide real advantages to professionals in this field?
Brady Lund: I would say that LinkedIn has value in the sense of you can get your name out there and you can develop a professional profile—get your name out there so people will see you. There are some jobs posted on LinkedIn so it can be helpful in that sense. I would say, from the perspective of someone who has been on certain hiring committees and things, and has applied for jobs, I don’t think the LinkedIn badges and certifications are that significant. But using LinkedIn as a place to get out there and as a networking tool is a valuable opportunity.
Abbie Teel: CVs and Resumes are important in the job application process. What do you recommend when it comes to making these documents stand out?
Brady Lund: First of all, I would not want to discourage people from being creative. However, the content is what is most important. What do you have in there? What makes you unique when it comes to your experience? The ideal situation is that can catch their eye initially and then have the experience and the skills demonstrated in your resume to hold that attention and secure you an interview. You don’t, per se, want to be over the top, but adding color, or different design elements, or something along those lines could be eye catching. That is especially true of the CV. With the resume, you can be little more creative, while the CV is supposed to be very professional in appearance (fairly simplistic in design). I encourage looking up faculty CVs in your area and modeling it after the ones you think are well done. It’s going to be harder to stand out with a CV, but with the resume you can get your identity/personality in there.
Abbie Teel: I’ve heard from various employers that people are misusing ChatGPT (and other Gen AI tools) in the application process. Is there a way these tools can be utilized correctly?
Brady Lund: Yeah, so as someone who does some research with ChatGPT, I would say that it can be valuable as a tool to improve the quality of communication. It should not be used as a tool to create new content from nothing. So, if an employer asks a question on an application you should not just feed that question into ChatGPT and expect it to provide an answer that is of quality and is reliable. First of all, you may be asked in an interview to defend your answer to that application question and if you don’t know what was said you won’t be able to do that. Secondly, it is just really an ethical no-no. But, I think if you develop your response to the question and then you would like ChatGPT to help articulate it then that could be acceptable. It could also be acceptable if you just ask ChatGPT what section you should put something in a resume… I think it okay if it is giving you a guide on how to structure things, it is not actually generating content for you that you will put into your applications or resumes.
Abbie Teel: Rejection is a universal experience. What strategies do you recommend for coping with and moving past it?
Brady Lund: Thinking about it as little as possible can be one strategy. Considering it a challenge is another. Everyone faces rejection; it’s a part of reality. Even highly successful people have been rejected for jobs. Don’t take it personally because often, it’s not personal at all. The search committee is typically looking for a candidate with a specific set of skills, abilities, and experiences they believe are necessary for the job’s success. They may have determined that you’re not the best fit, but that doesn’t reflect on you as a person. It’s simply a decision they’ve made. They won’t dwell on you or think, ‘What a terrible candidate that was…’ It’s very unlikely. So, you should be prepared to move on from a job opportunity. Try not to become overly attached to a particular job before you secure it, as it can make it more challenging to handle rejection if it does occur.
Abbie Teel: Do you think there are common mistakes people make during job hunting? In other words, any Do’s or Dont’s?
Brady Lund: Do reach out to members of the committee, especially the chair if it’s in academia, and ask questions, even if it’s something you know the answer to, just to establish contact. This can be a good way to get your name recognized (unless it explicitly states not to contact them). However, don’t badger them or ask too many super-detailed questions unless it’s absolutely necessary; save such questions for the interview.
When contacting the chair, use it as an opportunity to introduce yourself through a question, but don’t explicitly state, ‘Hi, I am introducing myself.’ Instead, say, ‘Dear… I have a question about the application process.’ This way, you get your name out there, which can be advantageous, but be cautious not to overdo it, as it could potentially come off as off-putting.
Abbie Teel: Let’s talk money. Any advice on navigating and negotiating job offers (i.e. salaries, benefits)?
Brady Lund: I always recommend that, even if you have a job you think you’re going to get or one that you’re really excited about, you should apply to multiple different positions or places. This approach can give you some leverage. For instance, if you receive an offer from one of them, you can use it as leverage with the one you truly want to work for, saying, ‘I have this offer; could you please provide me with a decision?’ You can also negotiate financial offers by mentioning that another organization has offered a certain amount and asking if they can adjust their offer accordingly. It’s a diplomatic way to handle the situation. Keep applying to various places until you have signed and agreed to the position you want to accept.
Abbie Teel: Is there anything you wish someone would have told you, that you would be willing to share, that would have benefitted/helped you while you were job hunting?
Brady Lund: I think just a lot of little things throughout the process like reaching out to the committee because it does help to get your name out there. Be prepared for rejection because it is going to come..
Abbie Teel: It is inevitable.
Brady Lund: Yes, it is important to keep this in mind to avoid feeling overwhelmed. Always strive to enhance your resume. Don’t assume that because you are currently in the job application phase, you shouldn’t focus on building your resume or CV. Keep working on expanding your resume with more publications or any relevant achievements while you apply for jobs. Following this advice should increase your chances of securing more interviews and progressing through the hiring process. It’s crucial to keep learning throughout this journey. One significant aspect is taking notes during interviews, such as the questions asked, the communication style, your perceived strengths, and areas where you can improve. You can leverage this knowledge in your next interview.
Cite this article in APA as: Teel, Z. A. Information science leadership and job hunting strategies: Insights from Dr. Brady Lund, ASIS&T midwest chapter chair. (2023, September 27). Information Matters, Vol. 3, Issue 9. https://informationmatters.org/2023/09/information-science-leadership-and-job-hunting-strategies-insights-from-dr-brady-lund-asist-midwest-chapter-chair/