Each library in our system receives hundreds of applications from students each year. As a former Page Supervisor myself, I know that maybe only ten of those applications will be read and only three of those applicants will be called for an interview. Supervisors don't have time to read each and every resume so they flip through the stack of hundreds and choose the handful that made an immediate good impression. If you'd like to know how to stand out from the pack, read on!
1. Know What the Job Entails.
Youths ages 14-17 are employed as student Pages. A Page shelves books, movies and cds in their correct order, meaning that the ability to sort items by author, title and Dewey Decimal number is crucial. If you can answer these questions, you have the sorting skills to be Library Page!
a) Arrange the following entries in numerical order:
J 373. 01124 MOD
J 372. 011244
J 373. 011
b) Arrange these authors' names alphabetically:
Browne, George Andrew
2. There Are No Summer Jobs.
It takes a few months to train new hires. If we hired students for the just the summer, they'd leave us just when they were turning pro. Pages work both evening and weekend shifts, usually 6-9 hours per week. So, you may work 3 hours Tuesday night and 6 hours on Saturday. Your supervisor will be flexible with your schedule if you tell her about your extracurricular activites and study habits; however, she needs to make sure that the branch operates efficiently. When returned books don't make it back to the shelves on time, customers can get grumpy!
3. Your Availability.
On our employment application form, there's a grid asking which times you're available to work. Be sure to fill it in and remember: the more you're available, the more employable you are! The Page Supervisor might be looking for someone who can work specific shifts, so if you're only free on Sunday afternoons odds are you won't get a call.
4. Never Have a Parent Drop Off Your Resume.
People who let their parents job-hunt for them lack initiative. It tells us that you don't really want a job, but that Mom really, really wants you to get a job. It's fine for your parents to accompany you, but you should take the application to the Information Desk yourself and ask your own questions. Let Mom and Dad hang back. The world of work is not like the world of school. If, for example, you had to negotiate a shift change with your supervisor or coworker, you'd be expected to do so yourself in a mature way. You can always discuss what you intend to say with your family before attempting it at work, but you deal with your boss and colleagues independently. Diplomacy in the workplace is a life skill you'll start developing at your first job.
5. Go the Extra Mile.
Everyone fills out an application form. Applicants who stand out include a cover letter and resume. A cover letter is a top page with a couple paragraphs you've written about your wondrous suitability. The resume is a listing of your experience and skills. There are lots of ways to format these papers, so do check out some examples.
6. You Do Have Experience
You're so young that no interviewer would expect you to have any real employment experience, but you still need to fill in the work history part of the application. If you babysat, it shows you're trustworthy and can work without direct supervision. What? You helped your school librarian stamp books in grade 6? Well, clearly you've had a long-time interest in library services. Think about any volunteer, extracurricular or academic experiences you've had that can go on a resume.
7. Follow Up
When you drop off your resume, ask for the Page Supervisor's name and call her within the week to request an interview. If she says she's not hiring at the moment, ask her to please keep you in mind for when there is an opening. Believe me, unless there's a problem with the application (misspellings, poor availability etc) she will put your resume in the "To Be Called" file and you probably will get a call when she's interviewing applicants again. Once you've spoken to the Page Supervisor, do not badger her with phone calls! Don't call 6 times. If she doesn't ring in a month or two, follow up again.
Lastly, should your parent follow up for you? Refer to #4.
The Calgary Public Library is a great place to work! Staff and customers treat Pages well —no one will hassle you because you forgot to give them extra ketchup. And there may be a career in it: if you were a great Page, you may get hired for an adult Support or Customer Service role when you turn 18. I know a few people who started as Pages and, after completing their Library Science degrees, are now Managers. So, maybe 7 years from now you'll be your old boss' boss... Now wouldn't that be sweet?