Read in Ned : The art of the résumé

resumeJay Mann, Library Director.   When I went to library school, my friends and family were convinced that I would become an academic librarian. After all, my career began in field biology. It would be a natural progression to help scientists with their research. That was my initial thought as well.

But my experiences working as a student librarian at the Seattle Public Library and the University of Washington quickly changed my perspective. Academic librarians get much more nuanced reference questions – e.g., “what was daily life like for 18th century German highway robbers?” (an actual question). But the questions I was asked at the public library were much more real to me.

The questions and topics ranged from health-related (Alzheimer’s) to legal (renter’s rights) to extremely personal (a patron sharing some personal history). I would often refer the patron to the appropriate agency, e.g., Legal Aid. There were also a lot of people who used the library’s computers to search for jobs, work on their résumé, and to apply for jobs online. One patron confessed that he was in between jobs and used daily visits to the library to create some structure in his life. Once I graduated from school, I found myself in a similar situation.

I graduated in 2009, during the Great Recession. It took a few months, many versions of résumés and cover letters, and a patient, proofreading set of family and friends to find my first professional library job. The irony is that during that time, public libraries across the country were experiencing record numbers of visits, circulation, and computer uses.

Historically, libraries were thought of as places where people who did not have the opportunity of an advanced education could learn things on their own. Andrew Carnegie – one of the greatest benefactors to libraries – is renowned for ending his formal education at the age of twelve. Education is still important today, but the ability to market yourself through your résumé is critical.

Keeping your résumé current involves more than simply listing positions. Each application should include a résumé that is tailored to the position. And larger employers may use software to break down your résumé into individual words and play scrabble with them; they are looking for some specific key words that give your application a higher score.

In order to help you prevail against these ugly realities, we are partnering with Boulder County Workforce next month to offer a free résumé workshop. It will be, “a place to learn how to complete a résumé, or get yours back in shape. We work with people of all work backgrounds to help highlight their professional self!”

Whether you are just graduating, switching careers, or have a wild hankering to go to Alaska (and need to create a résumé on salmon canning) you can get some help at our workshop.

Jay Mann is the Director of the Nederland Community Library. The NCL Résumé Workshop is September 1st & 3rd from 1:00 – 3:00 p.m. The first day must be attended to participate in the second day. The workshop is free, but there are a limited number of spaces. Please register by calling 303.258.1101 or emailing