Moving Ahead: The Job Search | Placements & Salaries 2018

Graduates who were looking for a position with a new employer shared their experiences when conducting their job search.

Graduates who were looking for a position with a new employer shared their experiences when conducting their job search. Most began their search four to six months before graduation (an average of 4.7 months). Only 17% started looking after graduating. Among graduates seeking new employers, 40% were hired in their new professional position prior to graduation. Only 21% relocated for their placement, and there was very little difference in the average salary earned by relocators ($49,040) versus those who took positions close to home ($48,884). On average, it took graduates about four months to find their new job, an improvement over the prior year.

Graduates said the most helpful job-seeking resource was (33%). Government job websites at the city, state, and regional levels (30%) and the ALA online job list (29%) were also cited. To a lesser extent, campus job boards and Listservs (15%) and the INALJ website (12%) helped to inform their searches. Some graduates performed searches directly on the websites of places they might like to work (13%). Results for this measure have changed somewhat from last year, with an increase in the relative importance of general job search resources like Indeed and the absence of LIS professional organization sites other than ALA.



Fresh from their job search, more than 400 2017 graduates shared their advice and stories, both triumphant and frustrating, to help pave a smoother way for the class of 2018. The current class’s advice closely echoed that of the 2016 graduates. Networking with peers, educators, employers, and established information professionals is vital for maximizing the job search outcome. Work experience is powerful fuel, and students should be strategic in acquiring it through their education, nonprofessional positions, volunteering, internships, or other available means. Beyond listing their experience on a résumé, candidates should be able to demonstrate its effects in their interviews. Execute an effective job search by being highly organized in tracking your applications, tailoring communications and cover letters to each position, and taking advantage of practice opportunities such as mock interviews. Background research on organizations is essential. Start your job search well before graduation to get the fastest results.

Be open-minded about relocation and flexibility: candidates who are willing to relocate usually get hired more quickly. Be willing to consider a different kind of organization or position if it seems like a good fit for your personal style and priorities. Work on general skills like communication, public speaking, teamwork, and leadership qualities. Cultivate an attitude of boldness and patience: expect to deal with a lot of rejection before success comes, but don’t let it diminish your confidence. Some graduates landed “dream jobs” initially, while others recognized that their first position is just an acceptable stepping-stone for moving toward their goals. Both outcomes are a “win.”



The 2017 graduates brought up the same kinds of challenges as the 2016 class. Complaints centered on a perceived dearth of desirable positions, difficulty in matching their academic knowledge with actual practices in specific work environments, needing more assistance with learning how to conduct a job search, and disappointment with some aspects of their work settings, such as difficult coworkers. A common challenge was the prolonged length of time that some employers took to respond to applications, and the amount of time it took to do repeated interviews or presentations. Conversely, some graduates mentioned that they were pleasantly surprised when a response to an application they had given up on eventually came through and paid off! Other challenges include competing with inside or more experienced candidates. The answer to some of these issues may lie in the comments from graduates about opportunities: they exhorted new graduates to cultivate professional mentors who can provide specific advice on how to deal with a job offer, contract negotiation, or competitive application process. They also advised candidates to remain positive and in an “interviewing” mode at all times, to make the right impression.

Suzie Allard ( is Professor of Information Sciences and Associate Dean of Research, University of Tennessee College of Communication & Information, Knoxville. She is Principal Investigator (PI) or co-PI on grants funded by IMLS, NSF, and other foundations. She is a member of the DataONE Leadership Team and the Networked Digital Library of Theses and Dissertations Board of Directors and winner of the 2013 LJ Teaching Award.

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