This report update offers qualitative responses of my survey on job hunting during low-morale experiences. These responses include signs on how the COVID-19 Pandemic is impacting job hunting during workplace abuse/neglect, which has increased during this public health emergency.
If you haven’t started looking for a job yet, how have your job search concerns impacted your daily work?
“Have had low morale for quite some time, but had thought it would improve at current job. Only recently realized I really need to move on, and the job search concerns are definitely impacting my productivity.”
“I spend time looking at job ads; I then spend time worrying about the “what ifs”–what if I get a job offer? what if I take it? what will that mean for my marriage? (husband is also an academic–and it’s difficult to find work in the same state, let alone the same institution.) Instead of focusing on my work, these are my worries. Since leadership has changed, and because I’ve been able to work form home during the pandemic, I’ve temporarily stopped looking for work, but if the interpersonal problems begin to fester again (and there are signs,) I will begin to look again.”
“Low grade worry over potentially jumping from the frying pan into the fire and getting into a similar low morale situation at another institution.”
How have offers and/or rejections impacted your daily work?
“The offer told me I’m competent and capable at what I’m permitted to do, so maybe there’s a future for me at another second-rate library. The rejections increased my workload, because it’s obvious I need to train to do 21st century tasks and drum up business for them, but my boss still expects me to generate interest in unpopular, outdated tasks.”
“Feeling helpless and hopeless. I try to find away to keep up the appearance of happiness; but my depression really takes a toll on the inside. It just seems that the bar is raised so high for me as a older Black woman. It is especially frustrating when I see that some Librarians of non-color skillsets are no better than mine. And yet, they were able to land a job.”
“Rejections (especially the close calls) have pushed me to try to focus on accomplishments that highlight my strengths/marketability.”
How have the offers and/or rejections impacted your perceptions of the library profession?
“Our profession is irredeemably ageist. I’ve applied to 72 jobs over the past three years. The majority went to young people right out of library school or with less than 5 years experience. Employers fangirl “potential“ and dismiss experience as “too expensive“ (ha!—they don’t know how little I’m paid here) or “can’t change, won’t change.“”
“Confirmed the presence of white supremacy in academic librarianship.”
“I am considering leaving the library profession: high educational requirements & stress does not justify low salaries; disheartened with the low quality of library leadership – in unionized environments, incompetent managers and directors are protected and limit the upward mobility of new or mid-career librarians; little to no innovation and contrary to our profession, very little use of metrics and research to inform strategic planning – “gut” perceptions are used instead (laughable, and this in [REDACTED]); elimination or downsizing of library staff & departments rampant as they are replaced by external products or processes.”
“I’ve become very concerned with how gossip focused we can be in our field. It’s made me very aware that the whole idea of “fit” is bullshit. “Fit” perpetuates abusive work places and lets abusers stay in power for too, too long. It lets toxic workplaces become the norm and drive good people away from the field.”
Considering your job hunt activities (or desire to begin looking for a new job), how has your low-morale experience affected your perceptions of career mobility?
“I am considering applying for non-supervisory positions, when I’m ready to do so in a year, so that I can focus on the work alone and not have to care about anything else.”
“Unless you’re willing to move to a job, it’s hard to find something that will be a good fit. I finally moved back near family after three years away, and I don’t want to have to give that up for a job.”
“That’s literally why I’m quitting. My university library (REDACTED) stripped all academic librarians of faculty status. We’re at-will as of [Summer 2021]. We will no longer be eligible for promotion to the next rank (as there will be no rank) AND we’re still required to do research and publish. All the same requirements, no job security, no career mobility in terms of rank. Why would I stay in academia? I can go work for myself and then at least feel in control in terms of decision making. To be clear, this was planned and in the works before COVID.”
Feel free to share other concerns, advice, or ideas about job hunting during low-morale experiences.
“Really hoping to land in a place where people build each other up and has diverse personalities and backgrounds, but collaboration and direction is exciting and new ideas are embraced.”
“There are lots of non-library jobs that use skills relevant to library work. Don’t box yourself in- trying a new field or type of role can really open things up!“
“I never considered leaving libraries until the pandemic hit. While I’m still looking at library jobs, I’m considering other options for the first time in years. Our (public library staff) calls for help and safety in the pandemic revealed shocking ignorance of what public libraries do, among elected officials as well as highly placed appointed bureaucrats. Some won’t listen to us, and others aggressively interpret our concerns as whining and hating on patrons. We are only valued inasmuch as we make them look good. I went into public service because I didn’t want to be a tool for someone else’s profit, and yet I feel like that’s exactly where I ended up. And yet, I’m single and need to sustain my income but can’t move due to other family obligations, so I don’t have a lot of choices even in the best of times.”
“When I start to think it’s a waste of time, I find it useful to go ahead with submitting an application in order to learn what other libraries are looking for and to pump myself up. In the application process of selling myself, I tell myself that I am worth hiring. It’s a sort of self care exercise.“
The survey remains open. I will periodically publish updates.