What Do Employers Want?

A Guide for Library Science Students

by Priscilla K. Shontz and Richard A. Murray


In a tight job market, library school students face the same basic challenge as new graduates in every other field: how to stand out from the crowd of applications for the best positions. Job seekers do have control over their careers, however. Some of the best strategies for getting that first professional library science position are steps students should take while still in school.

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Cover image for What Do Employers Want?

June 2012

Libraries Unlimited

Pages 118
Volumes 1
Size 6 1/8x9 1/4
Topics Librarianship: Philosophy, Values, and Issues/LIS Profession

A candid, comprehensive, and insightful explanation of what library school students need to do in order to maximize their chances of getting a professional position immediately after graduation.

While library schools provide graduates with a solid understanding of library science concepts, many diploma holders have no clear plan for finding a desirable job with their knowledge The information in What Do Employers Want? A Guide for Library Science Students will be extremely valuable for students currently in Masters of Library Science program as well as recent recipients of MLS degrees, regardless of what kind of work environment they wish to work in.

The book guides readers through the process of planning a job search step-by-step. Divided into two major sections—the student experience and the job search—the authors provide critical advice derived from their combined 30 years of real-world, in-the-field experience. Specific topics include choosing classes, gaining practical experience while in school, establishing a professional image, gaining skills that make applicants more marketable, writing effective resumes and cover letters, interviewing, and negotiating a job offer.


  • Presents practical, real-life advice on landing the first job after library school
  • Explains how the job search process works "on the inside"
  • Provides actionable strategies for students who are still in library school to improve their odds of getting their ideal job
  • Reveals what potential employers like to see when interviewing for a job vacancy—and what turns them off
Author Info

Priscilla K. Shontz is editor of the library career site, where she also provides career consulting services to new and prospective librarians. She has more than 16 years of diverse library experience at the University of Texas at Arlington, Northeast Texas Community College, Trinity University, Driscoll Children's Hospital, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, University of Houston System at Cinco Ranch, Aldine Public Library, and Spell Well Montessori School. She is a past president of the ALA New Members Round Table. Shontz earned a bachelor's degree in journalism from The University of Texas at Arlington and a master's degree in library science from The University of North Texas. She is coeditor of A Day in the Life: Career Options in Library and Information Science; editor of The Librarian's Career Guidebook; and author of Jump Start Your Career in Library and Information Science.

Richard A. Murray is the metadata librarian in the digital collections program at the Duke University Libraries in Durham, NC, assistant editor of, and coeditor of A Day in the Life: Career Options in Library Science. He has more than 15 years of experience as a metadata librarian and as a cataloger specializing in Spanish- and Portuguese-language materials at Duke University, Vanderbilt University, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Murray earned a bachelor's degree in international studies and a master's degree in library science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Table of Contents

ContentsForeword by Kim DorityPreface Acknowledgments Chapter 1: What Employers WantSECTION I: THE STUDENT EXPERIENCEChapter 2: Your MLS EducationChapter 3: Practical ExperienceChapter 4: Your Professional IdentityChapter 5: Additional SkillsSECTION II: THE JOB SEARCHChapter 6: How Employers HireChapter 7: Your Job SearchChapter 8: ResumesChapter 9: Cover LettersChapter 10: InterviewsChapter 11: Your New Job ResourcesIndex



"The book is written in a casual, easy style with language that appeals to its audience—tertiary students anticipating the next big step outside the known world of study and structure. The book has many practical real-life examples based on the authors' 30 years of experience. . . . I find this book to be very relevant to its audience. It contains much detailed information and advice about each step in the job-search process and is written in an encouraging, positive style. I certainly recommend that university libraries have it in their collections, as the principles apply across disciplines, and all graduates will find it useful in their job searching."Australian Library Journal

"What Do Employers Want?: A Guide for Library Science Students should be considered an obligatory purchase by all first-semester library school students. Actually, it should be an obligatory purchase for all library school students and new graduates trying to find their first professional job."American Library Association

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