From my exploration of the current climate employers want a broad knowledge base or specialized skills depending on the position, and the future of the academic librarian is a more hybridized or blended position possessing a significant amount of technological savvy. Experience for any library job, whether paid or via internship or volunteering, is crucial as well.
Though the current outlook seems bleak for the average job seeker, for current MLIS students, now is the time to forge ahead to be the above-average job seeker. For MLIS students there are many opportunities they can utilize to enhance their resume and skill set. In today’s climate, with so many individuals entering the market with similar education and skills, it will be up to the job seeker to individualize their experience and establish and market their brand. This can most effectively be done by taking advantage of every resource available, from taking the right courses to establishing a web presence through social media and blogging and networking with professionals through organizations and at conferences. In exploiting these resources, the current MLIS student can not only gain knowledge, but apply that knowledge, thus presenting a more complete candidate to potential employers.
This post is more about making sure as a student you keep yourself aware of the skills and trends rather than specifying skills that one should have. There are many ways in which you can monitor skills and trends, but my favorites are old standbys-the ALA, Library Journal and the Hiring Librarians blog.
Overall, I have heard over and over again that having supervisory/management skills are important. A friend who was a hiring manager at a local library told me that he has 50-100 MLIS applicants for every opening, even entry-level openings, but most lack any supervisory experience. If you’re able to gain some of that experience, it should prove invaluable.
Hiring Librarians has great statistics about knowledge libraries are looking for in applicants. Reference, Collection Management, Library Management, Project Management and Soft skills are the top 5 skills. When designing your MLIS curriculum, make sure you are focusing on these areas!