After graduating from my MLS program a few years ago I faced a dilemma familiar to many other aspiring librarians: how does one land an entry level job in such a competitive market? From browsing job announcements it seemed quite a few postings were for positions that required two or more years of post-MLS experience. Where were the academic library jobs for new professionals? What types of settings and which departments offered the most opportunities? To find some answers I began a research project with the goal of shedding a little light on the reality of the job market for recent graduates. The full article resulting from this project can be found at Project Muse (institutional subscription required).
To study the availability of entry level jobs I went straight to the source and collected as many job advertisements as possible from 2010-2011, which resulted in 1385 postings. The sources I used included national job aggregators such as I Need A Library Job, regional listings such as ACRL/New York’s page, and human resources departments for individual institutions to make sure the maximum number of announcements could be found. I recommend a similar tactic for anyone currently looking for a job.
I found that nearly three-quarters of jobs were non-entry level owing to either experience or duty requirements, confirming the observation that there simply aren’t many positions available for new graduates. One-fifth of all positions qualified as entry level, and public services (such as reference and instruction) accounted for sixty percent of entry level positions. I also found that applicants for entry level jobs are most likely to find work in a university, which accounted for nearly seventy percent of all jobs. The number of jobs for each state corresponded roughly to the state’s population, with New York and California offering the highest number of opportunities.
Entry level jobs are greatly outnumbered by positions requiring years of experience and duties beyond the reach of new librarians. Recent graduates lacking practical experience may find securing a professional position to be near impossible, which is why I and many others cannot overemphasize the importance of doing internships or pre-professional work prior to graduating with an MLS.
Despite having conducted this research relatively recently, I wonder if the job market has changed even since 2011. Do you think the job market is improving, or is it as difficult as ever?