Over the past few weeks a few people have asked me to take a look at their resumes and cover letters. Why? I think there are a few reasons that include, but aren’t limited to, that I have been on 4 librarian search committees, have chaired 1 committee, and have successfully been hired for two jobs. What many of my friends don’t know is that, for my last job hunt, my resume and cover letter always got me at least a phone interview, if not in-house interviews. I have also been very lucky to have mentors and friends with job hunting experience share their expertise with me over the years, including 1 career advisor whose fingers have been all over my resume since I was 21 ( I am now 38). The requests for help and the clear need for help has made me wonder if I should pursue a second career as a librarian resume whisperer. I realized I had a venue for dealing with this very specific type of failure.
The thing about librarian resumes, at least in academia, is that most resume advice can be debated. Should it be 1 page? It depends on how much you have done that should be shared. Should it list every job you have had? It depends on how relevant they are to the potential-job in question, how long ago you had said job, and what it communicates about you.
The key for me is what it communicates about you in regards to the job you want. Keep that in mind.
The one debate I seem to have with other librarians is the issue of putting your GPA on your resume. Most often a recent MLS grad wants to put their GPA on their resume. I always tell them to take it off. Most Career Services at universities will say it depends on factors (one example is here). Why do I say no? Because in Libraries your GPA has no meaning. The academic minded who spent their MLS years striving for As really get mad at me about this. I don’t blame them. You spent at least 2 years working your butt off for a good grade and then are told that nobody cares. It’s frustrating. It’s even more frustrating if you did all that work and sacrificed getting experience in the field. The thing is, the education is little more than a golden ticket to the field, not the end goal. I don’t care about the GPA because it does not indicate your ability to do the job. Taking a class is not the same as being in the field. I want a candidate who I believe can do the job. That you have the degree is the first requirement to a professional position (hence, being a golden ticket). After that you are in competition with others based on experience. Putting your GPA on a resume is a waste of space, especially if you don’t want that resume to be more than 1 page.
Are you considering putting your GPA on your resume? Consider these two points as you decide.
- What does it say about you to the search committee? Is it important for them to know this about you?
- What do you have to give up on the resume to add this in? Is the removed information important to the job?
That being said, I would add leadership roles in student organizations and thesis/final projects completed. The later is especially true if you are seeking academic library positions as it is the start of some research and potential publications.
If you have just started working on your MLS, don’t put all your efforts into getting As at the expense of getting experience. Even working at the university library’s circulation desk is better than no experience. At the very least you know what it feels like to have boots on the ground. That being said, campus jobs may need to know your GPA for various reasons. The advice above is primarily for professional library positions. Lastly, if the job description asks for your GPA then, by all means, include it. Most often they will want to your transcript at some point after some interviews just to make sure you actually did complete the degree. It’s an HR thing and nobody is checking out your grades.
Next: Tech Skills on a Resume. OR No, I don’t care that you can use Microsoft Office.