How to get a job in LIS – advice to new graduates

Victoria Sculfor of Sue Hill Recruitment advises graduates that all information experience is valid.

Every day we talk to graduates and new entrants to the Library and Information profession, offering them advice on entering the job market and how to obtain their first professional post.

What can you do to ensure you grab that first post qualification role and set yourself on your chosen career path?


While you’re studying you should keep building on your skills.  Consider finding part-time, relevant work. The majority of people who undertake the course will do a year traineeship where they gain some great experience. But what about those who don’t have this opportunity?  Why not consider volunteering?  It can help you pick up some fantastic experiences and skills.

Gaining experience in the industry really is the most important thing you can do.  Yes the qualification is great, and the theoretical knowledge is absolutely relevant and important, but this should not stand alone. You need the experience to go alongside the work, if only to demonstrate you have thought about your career path and understand the workings of a Library or Archive.

Keeping your options open

Be enthusiastic, adapt to new challenges. Try not to be too picky, or to hold out for your ‘perfect job’.  At this early stage in your career, you could miss out on the jobs that can put you on the road to that dream role.

Push your boundaries and don’t be afraid to try new things!  Your traineeship or other experience might convince you that a certain sector is 100% right for you.  But trying something new or different might open your eyes to the wider library world and new professional experiences.

Sometimes, the job you think will be perfect for you isn’t always the right one. By taking chances and trying out different areas at this early stage in your career you may find a different area of interest, and if not you will have a rounded experience in your chosen sector. For instance, working in circulation while aiming long-term for a cataloguing position can let you see how others use the catalogue.

It might be the case that trying something different confirms what you always thought was the sector or specialism for you, but the experience is still vital.  It is easier to get a job you love after you have had a job in a related area.  In other words all information experience is valid at this stage.

With all these experiences you will begin to form a more rounded idea of how you see your career developing. Of course you still need to approach your skills development and work experiences sensibly. If, for example, you want to be a systems librarian your experience of working on an enquiry desk won’t demonstrate your interest or skills.   If you are struggling to get that key experience, try some other things such as networking events, keeping up to date with industry trends and knowledge in that area and if possible get in contact with those people in that career path, have conversations and even ask to shadow them. People love to help and many will remember being in your situation so don’t be afraid to ask.


It’s a tough market and the competition for graduate and early profession roles is fierce.  One thing that can really set you apart from your peers in an interview is enthusiasm.  In recruitment, an enthusiastic candidate is a memorable one. Knowing why you want to work in libraries, what the key issues are and the different job types is impressive.  Attend networking events and read relevant articles because that extra knowledge and enthusiasm might just set you apart from someone else.

A candidate I met recently wanted to move into Records Management, but so far had only gained Archiving experience.  She tailored her module selections and attended networking events, talks and conferences on records management to show her dedication and this came across at interview.

Stay positive

Job searching can be tough and it can take time to find the right role and organisation. Don't get down when you feel like your applications are getting nowhere. Instead think creatively - assess what you can do better to secure interviews, or even perform better. A positive attitude comes across in an interview. Stay upbeat, keep your head high and remember we are here to help you build your career.

Victoria Sculfor is Recruitment Consultant at Sue Hill Recruitment.