Further Questions: What advice do you have for job seekers, particularly those new to librarianship, looking to build professional networks?

This week we asked people who hire librarians

What advice do you have for job seekers, particularly those new to librarianship, looking to build professional networks? What are some appropriate ways that networking can be used in the job seeking process? Please share your best tips for networking and professional etiquette.

Definitely get involved in your state library association (or if you are wanting to move to another state, get involved with that state library association) as well as the American Library Association. If you have a specialized area of expertise, such as genealogy, there are groups within both that you should consider joining. If you do not know how to get involved or feel like you cannot get your “foot in the door” by all means, just show up to a meeting of your round table and let them know you are interested and that you would like to be involved in a committee, these round tables are always looking for help! This will help you build up your professional networks and you may meet future employers, coworkers or job references in those meetings. In addition, make sure you have a 30 second elevator speech prepared so you can make a good first impression, tell everyone who will listen what your career goals are, if people know what you are looking for they are more likely to help you by introducing you to people that may be hiring.

- Julie Leuzinger, Department Head, Eagle Commons Library, University of North Texas

Cathi AllowayOver 4 decades as a librarian, I have built my network slowly but surely through professional library organizations and, particularly, NON-library groups and organizations.
My launch into public library administration was totally due to networking. I was an officer in the local Special Libraries Association chapter and got recruited and offered a job because of it.  It was a career-changing moment for me.  Ironically, I was in SLA to make friends and get some professional support when times got tough.    SLA was my social life as a young mother and full-time working librarian in a city where I had no family and few acquaintances.  Hint:  if you join an organization simply to get job leads – it tends to show and can be a turn-off to other members. Make sure you have some real passion and alignment for the group’s activities.  Networks help you solve work problems, not just the unemployment problem.  I have many contacts who can help me with personnel, strategy, IT and other issues, and when that happens, you become a valuable asset to an employer.
I have made great community contacts through two different metropolitan community “Leadership” programs.  The training and networking and friends were priceless and gave me skills and contacts that were long-lasting and beneficial.  I continue to volunteer for the one in my community.
In one of my previous library director positions, the library was building a controversial new building.  By joining the local and influential Rotary club, I was able to get to know many community leaders and slowly but surely change their impression of the project and libraries.  Rotary is a huge commitment – weekly meetings – and by rotating around to different tables at each meeting I learned how to introduce myself, converse, convince…and even offend….some people.  It was a great learning lab for professional etiquette.
I recently heard a talk by Renee DiPilato, who is Deputy Director at Alexandria (VA) Public Library.  She is doing a dissertation on library leaders and has found that most of them belong to Rotary clubs and have utilized NON-library networks and conferences to advance their skills and networks.
- Catherine Alloway, Director, Schlow Centre Region Library
Thank you as always to our contributors for their time and insight.  If you’re someone who hires librarians and are interested in participating in this feature, please email us at hiringlibrariansquestionsATgmail.com.

Thank YOU for reading!  If you liked reading, you’re going to really love COMMENTING.

Leave a comment

Filed under Further Questions

I know that HR reps and hiring committees are really busy so it might not be realistic to expect regular communication.

HUNTING TRIPThis anonymous interview is with a job hunter who has not been hired within the last two months, and has been looking for a new position for less than six months six months. This person is looking in academic, archives, and special libraries, at entry level. Here is this person’s experience with internships/volunteering:

I worked as a graduate assistant in my school’s library the entire time I was working on my MLIS (2 years). Since then I have been volunteering in a special library (3 months).

This job hunter is in a suburban area in the Midwestern US and is willing to move anywhere.

What are the top three things you’re looking for in a job?

  1. An interesting institution or collection to work with
  2. Positive, comfortable work environment
  3. Location

Where do you look for open positions?

ALA Joblist, ArchivesGig, ARLISNAP, Job Opportunities pages on institution websites

Do you expect to see salary range listed in a job ad?

√ No (even if I might think it *should* be)

What’s your routine for preparing an application packet? How much time do you spend on it?

Before I start anything, I make sure to do research on the job, the institution, and the people who work there to make sure I’m can provide the most relevant information about myself. I’ll pull information from my “master” resume to create one that is specific to the job I’m applying for. I use a similar method when writing my cover letter; I sometimes reuse sections from previous cover letters that I wrote for a similar job, but I always make sure to customize it for each job opening. The whole process usually takes around 3-4 hours (spread out over a couple of days).

Have you ever stretched the truth, exaggerated, or lied on your resume, or at some other point during the hiring process?

√ No

When would you like employers to contact you?

√ To acknowledge my application
√ To tell me if I have or have not been selected to move on to the interview stage
√ To follow-up after an interview
√ Once the position has been filled, even if it’s not me

How do you prefer to communicate with potential employers?

√ Email

Which events during the interview/visit are most important to your assessment of the position (i.e. deciding if you want the job)?

√ Tour of facility
√ Meeting department members/potential co-workers

What do you think employers should do to get the best candidates to apply?

So many people apply for each open position, I’m sure they’re already getting a lot of excellent candidates. But they could make sure to set standards for hiring (i.e. candidates will only be considered if they have 2+ years of postgraduate experience), or highlighting specific attributes that they’re looking for in the job postings.

What should employers do to make the hiring process less painful?

Communication! It really takes a toll to spend time and energy filling out so many job applications only to check your email everyday and not see anything until an email 3 months later saying that they’ve hired someone else (but feel free to peruse their jobs page for other opportunities!). I know that HR reps and hiring committees are really busy so it might not be realistic to expect regular communication.

What do you think is the secret to getting hired?

Making connections. With most jobs being posted on the internet, HR reps and hiring committees receive hundreds of mostly-identical resumes and cover letters. Having someone within the institution to vouch for you, or making a connection with someone who might be on the hiring committee can help make sure you at least get an interview.

Are you hunting for a new LIS job? Take the survey! http://tinyurl.com/hiringlibJOBHUNTERsurvey

This survey was co-authored by Naomi House from I Need A Library Job – Do you need one? Check it out!

Leave a comment

Filed under Job hunter's survey, Midwestern US, Suburban area

Many of the job postings I see are very brief and generic in nature

ConDev5378A Hunting Dog, 1945, Washington County, NCThis anonymous interview is with a job hunter who is currently employed (even if part-time or in an unrelated field), has not been hired within the last two months, and has been looking for a new position for more than 18 months.

This person is looking in academic, archives, public, and special libraries, at the following levels: entry level, requiring at least two years of experience.

This job hunter is in a suburban area in the Northeastern US and is willing to move regionally.

What are the top three things you’re looking for in a job?

Forward thinking co-workers/institutions
Options for continuing education
Full time hours with benefits

Where do you look for open positions?

Listservs including INALJ
Consortium Websites
Higheredjobs.com

Do you expect to see salary range listed in a job ad?

√ Only for certain kinds of employers

What’s your routine for preparing an application packet? How much time do you spend on it?

First I read through the entire job description.
Next I draft a cover letter based on a template which I alter to fit the specifics of the job description.
Next I review my resume and alter it according to the specific job.
Next I review my list of professional references and select those appropriate to reflect the type of position I am applying for.
Lastly, I review my cover letter to make sure that it is accurate and free from errors.
This process usually takes between 30-90 minutes.

Have you ever stretched the truth, exaggerated, or lied on your resume, or at some other point during the hiring process?

√ Yes

When would you like employers to contact you?

√ To acknowledge my application
√ To tell me if I have or have not been selected to move on to the interview stage
√ To follow-up after an interview
√ Once the position has been filled, even if it’s not me

How do you prefer to communicate with potential employers?

√ Phone for good news, email for bad news

Which events during the interview/visit are most important to your assessment of the position (i.e. deciding if you want the job)?

√ Meeting department members/potential co-workers
√ Meeting with HR to talk about benefits/salary

What do you think employers should do to get the best candidates to apply?

Provide (at least a link) to a full/detailed job description. Many of the job postings I see are very brief and generic in nature. They give no real sense of what the expectations for the position are. Often times, I don’t hear about specific projects until the interview stage. Why not include that kind of information in a job description? This way candidates that are most interested would be informed from the onset.

What should employers do to make the hiring process less painful?

Communication. Nothing builds up anxiety quite like long stretches without any contact from a prospective employer.

What do you think is the secret to getting hired?

The ability to provide convincing evidence, either through anecdotes or samples, of past success in the types of tasks that are required for the position.

Are you hunting for a new LIS job? Take the survey! http://tinyurl.com/hiringlibJOBHUNTERsurvey

This survey was co-authored by Naomi House from I Need A Library Job – Do you need one? Check it out!

Leave a comment

Filed under Job hunter's survey, Northeastern US, Suburban area

Get the degree as cheaply and as quickly as possible

Public Schools Athletic League (LOC)This anonymous interview is with an academic librarian who has been a member of a hiring or search committee. This librarian works at a library with 200+ staff members in an city/town in the Northeastern US.

Do library schools teach candidates the job skills you are looking for in potential hires?

√ Depends on the school/Depends on the candidate

Should library students focus on learning theory or gaining practical skills? (Where 1 means Theory, 5 means practice, and 3 means both equally)

3

What coursework do you think all (or most) MLS/MLIS holders should take, regardless of focus?

√ Cataloging
√ Collection Management
√ Programming (Events)
√ Programming (Coding)
√ Metadata
√ Research Methods
√ Reference
√ Information Behavior
√ Outreach
√ Marketing
√ Instruction
√ Field Work/Internships

When deciding who to hire out of a pool of candidates, do you value skills gained through coursework and skills gained through practice differently?

√ No preference–as long as they have the skill, I don’t care how they got it

Which skills (or types of skills) do you expect a new hire to learn on the job (as opposed to at library school)?

Institution-specific vocabulary, processes, tools, and customs can only be learned on the job. People forget how practices (and hence, expectations) can vary widely.

Which of the following experiences should library students have upon graduating?

√ Library work experience
√ Internship or practicum
√ Other presentation
√ Professional organization involvement

Are there any library schools whose alumni you would be reluctant to hire?

No, but I would be wary of any graduate that did not have practical library experience outside of coursework, whether an internship or employment. Ultimately, it would negatively influence my perspective of the program.

What advice do you have for students who want to make the most of their time in library school?

Get the degree as cheaply and as quickly as possible, and make sure that you obtain practical library experience before you go on the job market in a professional capacity.

This survey was coauthored by Brianna Marshallfrom Hack Library School. Interested in progressive blogging, by, for, and about library students? Check it out!

Special Note: From December 6, 2013 to October 24, 2014, the ALA will accept comments on the Draft revised Standards for Accreditation of Master’s Programs in Library and Information Studies. More information about the process of changing these standards is here. If you have opinions about what people should be learning in library school, here’s a way that you can influence change.

Do you hire librarians? Tell us, “What Should Potential Hires Learn in Library School?”: http://tinyurl.com/hiringlibschoolsurvey

Leave a comment

Filed under 200+ staff members, Academic, City/town, Northeastern US, What Should Potential Hires Learn in Library School

At points during the process, I thought that the position must have been filled

PhC42.Bx17.Hunting.F12-3This anonymous interview is with a job hunter who is currently employed (even if part-time or in an unrelated field), has been hired within the last two months, and has been looking for a new position for six months to a year. This person is looking in academic and special libraries, at the following levels: entry level.

This job hunter is in a city/town in the Midwestern US and is not willing to move.

What are the top three things you’re looking for in a job?

Job in my specialty (health science)
Job within a reasonable driving distance
Full time employment

Where do you look for open positions?

Indeed, professional listservs, and I Need a Library Job Newsletter

Do you expect to see salary range listed in a job ad?

√ No (even if I might think it *should* be)

What’s your routine for preparing an application packet? How much time do you spend on it?

I review the job application. Rewrite my cover letter to highlight my qualities that specifically meet the job’s requirements. Log in to the company’s/library’s job application system and fill out the application. All in all, I spend at least an hour for each application but could be up to 2 hours.

Have you ever stretched the truth, exaggerated, or lied on your resume, or at some other point during the hiring process?

√ No

When would you like employers to contact you?

√ To tell me if I have or have not been selected to move on to the interview stage
√ Once the position has been filled, even if it’s not me

How do you prefer to communicate with potential employers?

√ Email

Which events during the interview/visit are most important to your assessment of the position (i.e. deciding if you want the job)?

√ Tour of facility

What do you think employers should do to get the best candidates to apply?

I don’t think that they have to do anything. In the area that I live in there are two library schools and any number of unemployed graduates and librarians looking for work. If an employer posts a job, even if just on their website, they get flooded with applications.

What should employers do to make the hiring process less painful?

Contact applicants at some point during the process to let them know whether or not they are seriously being considered for the position. The position that I was just hired for took over three months from answering the job posting and accepting the offer. At points during the process, I thought that the position must have been filled.

What do you think is the secret to getting hired?

I think that the secret is attitude and being able to explain how you are the best candidate for the position. Job applicants should be enthusiastic and put their best foot forward during the entire process. I have taken part in group interviews before and you would be surprised how ill prepared some applicants are. They do not research the library and its patrons. They do not review the job posting and have examples ready as to why they are the best candidate and have all of the skills and knowledge necessary to perform the duties of the job.

Are you hunting for a new LIS job? Take the survey! http://tinyurl.com/hiringlibJOBHUNTERsurvey

This survey was co-authored by Naomi House from I Need A Library Job – Do you need one? Check it out!

Leave a comment

Filed under City/town, Job hunter's survey, Midwestern US

I have not had the financial privilege to be able to work for free.

This anonymous interview is with a job hunter who is currently employed (even if part-time or in an unrelated field), has not been hired within the last two months, and has been looking for a new position for less than six months. This person is looking in academic libraries and archives at the following levels: entry level. Here is this person’s experience with internships/volunteering:

I have not had the financial privilege to be able to work for free. I have over three years of paraprofessional experience working in archives.

This job hunter is in a city/town in the Western US and is willing to move

anywhere where there are legal protections for queer people in terms of employment and housing

What are the top three things you’re looking for in a job?

Intellectually challenging/interesting, good collaboration and communication with colleagues, salary that will allow me to pay off my student loans without eating ramen.

Where do you look for open positions?

Academic Library Jobs, ALA Joblist, Archives Gig, code4lib jobs, INALJ, Jobs in Alaska, LibGig Jobs, and various professional listservs. I get most through an RSS feed so I don’t have to spend much time actively searching.

Do you expect to see salary range listed in a job ad?

√ No (even if I might think it *should* be)

What’s your routine for preparing an application packet? How much time do you spend on it?

I have several cover letter “templates” for different sorts of jobs (instructional librarian, reference librarian, technology librarian, archivist, digital librarian, etc). For each job, I spend a good deal of time carefully reading the job ad and making sure I’m a good fit and it’s a good fit for me. Then I explore the library’s website and look at the mission, vision, strategic plan, and staff. From there, I tailor one of the cover letters to the specific library and what they’re looking for in their ad. I also create a resume from my master CV to highlight specific skills or experiences to match the library and their needs. Finally, I do the tedious online application and attach my resume and cover letter. Depending on how similar the job is to other jobs I’ve applied for, the whole process can take between one hour and a whole day (but usually closer to two hours).

Have you ever stretched the truth, exaggerated, or lied on your resume, or at some other point during the hiring process?

√ No

When would you like employers to contact you?

√ To acknowledge my application
√ To tell me if I have or have not been selected to move on to the interview stage
√ To follow-up after an interview
√ Once the position has been filled, even if it’s not me

How do you prefer to communicate with potential employers?

√ Phone for good news, email for bad news

Which events during the interview/visit are most important to your assessment of the position (i.e. deciding if you want the job)?

√ Tour of facility
√ Meeting department members/potential co-workers
√ Being able to present
√ Other: Having ample time to ask questions of the hiring committee

What do you think employers should do to get the best candidates to apply?

More transparency in the hiring process. Clearly state what the steps are, how long each step will take, and what the salary and benefits are. Also, many job ads are terrible- filled with buzz words and containing little information about the day-to-day of the job. Perhaps having someone in the department write the job ad rather than HR might help.

What should employers do to make the hiring process less painful?

What I said above, plus having the name of the committee chair easy to find. We’d all love to personalize the cover letter but if it takes longer than 30 minutes to locate a name, my motivation starts to wane.

What do you think is the secret to getting hired?

For the initial review, probably having strong general skills, plus some niche skills that stand out. For the interview, confidence and a good presentation. Overall, though, I suspect networking and having a strong professional presence (Internet, conference presentations, publications) goes a long way to scoring that interview.

Are you hunting for a new LIS job? Take the survey! http://tinyurl.com/hiringlibJOBHUNTERsurvey

This survey was co-authored by Naomi House from I Need A Library Job – Do you need one? Check it out!

Leave a comment

Filed under City/town, Job hunter's survey, Western US

For Public Review: Unnamed job hunter 18

Welcome to crowd-sourced resume review for LIS job hunters!

Please help the job hunter below by using the comment button to offer constructive criticism on her resume. Some guidelines for constructive feedback are here, and the ALA NMRT has brief tips for reviewing resumes here.

This 3 page resume was submitted by a job hunter who says,

I’ve been using this resume to apply for librarian positions in technical services, in both public and academic libraries.
Unnamed 18_1 Unnamed 18_2 Unnamed 18_3

 

To submit your resume or CV For Public Review,

  • send it as a Word document, PDF, PNG or JPEG to hiringlibrariansresumereviewATgmail.
  • It will be posted as-is, so please remove any information that you are not comfortable having publically available (I suggest removing your address and phone number at a minimum).
  • Please include a short statement identifying if it’s a resume or CV and
  • describing the types of positions you’re using it for (ie institution type, position level, general focus).
  • Finally, you will also need to confirm that you agree to comment on at least five other posted resumes.

9 Comments

Filed under For Public Review, Resume Review