Further Questions: What are the different hiring stages at your organization and how long does each typically take?

This week we asked people who hire librarians

What are the different hiring stages at your organization and how long does each typically take? What are the factors that can lengthen the process? Is there ever a point in time when a candidate should attempt to check the status of an application? Keeping these factors and your area of librarianship in mind, how long do think job seekers should expect to be searching for a position?

Laurie Phillips

Our process is generally the following: The position will be open and advertised for a month. We then take about a week to review applications. We have a meeting at the end of that week where we decide who to interview by phone or Skype. Those interviews take place over about a week or week and a half depending on how many candidates. We generally like to speak to as many candidates as possible in that round. After that, we meet (almost immediately) to decide on a smaller group of candidates for whom we call references. This time, we left about 2 weeks to do that. We ask the references very specific questions so they can take time to set up and finish. We then are meeting with our whole library faculty at the end of the week to decide who will come to campus. Committee members have posted phone interview notes and reference notes in Blackboard so the library faculty can participate in the decision. Generally, nobody can come the first week after we invite. It takes time to set up travel and to prepare a presentation. The on-campus interviews take place over a 2-3 week period, based on availability of the committee and the Dean. After that, we meet to make a final recommendation and that must go to the Dean and the Provost’s office before an offer is made. All in all, from the first advertisement through offer, it takes about 2 ½ months. Factors that can lengthen the process are availability of committee members to meet, but we built some of that in and have done some streamlining to better share information about candidates and keep meeting time to a minimum. I took a trip to Europe that was over a week, but I was able to call references before I left and the rest of the committee completed theirs while I was gone. I think the length of time entirely depends on the type of library – academic searches just take longer. However, if you apply at the end of the advertising period, it may seem shorter. We normally don’t offer information on status – although I did have someone contact me last week. I was able to tell him where we were in the search so he knows that he is not under consideration. Absolutely do not check status before the job closes. There is nothing I can tell you.
- Laurie Phillips, Associate Dean for Technical Services, J. Edgar & Louise S. Monroe Library, Loyola University New Orleans

bonnie smithAt the University of Florida Libraries the recruitment stages are: posting position, review of application, phone interviews, reference interviews, onsite interviews, offer.

The factors that lengthen the process are

  • If there aren’t any strong applicants – position is usually closed and reposted
  • Recruitment efforts over winter break
  • Search committees that aren’t efficient with their time
  • Scheduling difficulties for onsite interviews
  • Job offer not accepted and then have to go back to other qualified candidates
  • It is the applicants who are neither eliminated from the search or selected as a top candidate who wait the longest to hear from us

Candidates are welcome to check the status of their application but it makes most sense to do so if there is an immediate need for them to know. The process for librarian/faculty positions usually takes 4+ months.

- Bonnie Smith, Assistant Program Director for Human Resources, University of Florida, George A. Smathers Libraries

Marge Loch-WoutersAfter we close the search, the applications are read and rated (2 weeks). The top 20% receive a choice of essay questions to answer.  These answers are rated according to a rubric (3 weeks).  The 80% who did not reach this essay question level receive an email notice that they are not moving along in the process and we thank them for their interest.

The top 30% from this essay process either receive an invitation to a Skype pre-interview (if we have a large pool still) which is usually a two week component or an invitation to the final interview if the pool is at 4-5 candidates (usually three weeks to schedule and hold interviews). The 70% who wrote an essay receive notice that they are not moving along in the process when the final interview pool is set.

We make a decision within a day or two after the last interview if references contacted have been available. Then the offer acceptance is usually a day or two. At that point we inform the non-successful interview candidates that the job has been offered and accepted.

In general, I don’t recommend getting in touch along the way in the process. Our application process takes a ton of time and composing a response when we aren’t ready to say exactly where we are at is difficult. I am always appreciative when a candidate updates me that they are withdrawing from the process because they have attained another position.

We tend to end on the long side (3 months from application close to hire) but we almost always end up with exactly the person we were looking for. Other libraries that don’t have an essay component or Skype interview and smaller pools of candidates can do this process in much less time.  We average 70-100 candidates for our professional openings for youth librarians.

- Marge Loch-Wouters, Youth Services Coordinator, La Crosse (WI) Public Library

Christine Hage - Dark backgroundWe move quickly.  If it is an in-house only posting we post it for one week. Interviews are conducted the following week and the hire is announced the week after that so it is a 3-week process.
For postings outside of the library, we typically post for 4 weeks, evaluate the applications in week 5, interview in week 6, negotiate or make the offer in week 7, contact unsuccessful candidates in week 8.
- Christine Hage, Director, Rochester Hills Public 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.

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Application packet ? It’s all online now.

PhC42.Bx17.Hunting.F13This 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 a year to 18 months. This person is looking in library vendors/service providers, public libraries, and outside of libraries, at the following levels: supervisory, department head, branch manager, and sales rep. Here is this person’s experience with internships/volunteering:

Not at all new. :)

This job hunter is in a suburban area in the Midwestern US and is not willing/able to move anywhere.

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

Ability to use all of my skills and knowledge

Adequate pay

Geographically close

Where do you look for open positions?

Regional consortium website

Joblist

PW/LJ websites

All listserves I’m on

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

√ Other: I think it should be but so few do. It would save seekers and posters time if it were.

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

Application packet ? It’s all online now.

I’ll still draft a cover letter which can take 3 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)?

√ Meeting department members/potential co-workers

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

List the salary.

Give an idea of the work environment–not just area but level of formality etc.

Be clear on what duties the job encompasses. Be willing to look at applicants who have experience that covers those, not necessarily in libraries.

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

If there’s a delay–communicate.

If someone else is hired–communicate.

Don’t leave people hanging!

What do you think is the secret to getting hired?

Good experience–and being in the right place at the right time.

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!

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

I’ve always done well in interviews where the interviewer discarded the question-sheet and had fun

Hunting Party in the Pinelands by the Florida State ArchivesThis anonymous interview is with a job hunter who is not 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, archives, public, and special libraries, at the following levels: entry level, requiring at least two years of experience: Here is this person’s experience with internships/volunteering:

I worked at an academic library, interned at a private company in knowledge management, and contracted as an archivist for a non-profit.
My previous work in customer service, research (RA), and in working with students with disabilities seems more valuable, because soft-skills are more in demand than direct experience with information issues.

This job hunter is in an urban area in Canada and is willing to move anywhere.

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

NOT customer service. I’m a helpful person but my skills would be wasted in reference.

Where do you look for open positions?

INALJ, uToronto Jobsite, and I browse various institutional job-pages.

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

√ Other: Yes, but ranges would be enough; I don’t need specific dollar amounts.

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

One hour: I write a custom cover letter, and spit out a resume that is specific for the job (but all my descriptive texts are written; it’s just a matter of selecting which experience and skills to advertise).
I browse the company’s website, look them up online, and think about what of my experience and skills to highlight in the cover letter.

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

√ Other: It has been suggested that I make up an anecdote about “great customer service” when asked in interviews. “I’m always doing the best I can” doesn’t seem to fly as an answer.

When would you like employers to contact you?

√ 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
√ Other: The description of the labour and the organizational structure is most important.

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

Be a lot more specific than just “MLIS required;” we all know the variance in the education quality of the accreditation.
Focus less on experience, and more on potential.

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

Less structured interviews would be nice. It’s always so formulaic, reading questions off a sheet, and it doesn’t give the candidate a chance to really be themselves. I’ve always done well in interviews where the interviewer discarded the question-sheet and had fun, but the GLAM environment doesn’t seem keen on doing that so far.

Do you have any comments, or are there any other questions you think we should add to this survey?

I’d love to see anecdotes of good or bad hiring experiences (moments when candidates nailed something or knew they messed up on something).

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!

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Filed under Canada, Job hunter's survey, Urban area

Focus on understanding your patrons and managing your collection.

Alma Public School - opening of new playground for infants departmentThis anonymous interview is with a school librarian who has been a member of a hiring or search committee. This person hires the following types of LIS professionals:

Library paraprofessional

This librarian works at a library with 0-10 staff members in an urban area in the Western 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)

5

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

√ Cataloging
√ Budgeting/Accounting
√ Grant Writing
√ Library Management
√ Collection Management
√ Programming (Events)
√ Web Design/Usability
√ History of Books/Libraries
√ Research Methods
√ Reference
√ Readers’ Advisory
√ Services to Special Populations
√ Outreach
√ Marketing
√ Instruction
√ Soft Skills (e.g. Communication, Interpersonal Relations)
√ Field Work/Internships

Do you find that there are skills that are commonly lacking in MLS/MLIS holders? If so, which ones?

Book repair

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

√ Yes–I value skills gained through a student job more highly

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

How to handle their particular population, task/time management

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

√ Internship or practicum

Which library schools give candidates an edge (you prefer candidates from these schools)?

Emporia University

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

Focus on understanding your patrons and managing your collection.

This survey was coauthored by Brianna Marshall from 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

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Filed under 0-10 staff members, School, Urban area, Western US, What Should Potential Hires Learn in Library School

be professional, friendly, and open to what’s thrown at you during the interview process.

meredith mcgovern
Meredith McGovern earned her MLIS from Drexel University in 2009, and has since been steadily employed in the private, non-library sector. However, she always keeps her eyes open for jobs within the library and information world. She says,

I am passionate about reader advisory, equal access to information, and any kind of research & reference work. I pride myself on being organized and my skills as a multi-tasker, something that helps in any job. I’m the friend who everyone goes to for “What should I read next?” advice and I’m always thrilled when someone loves what I’ve recommended.

Ms. McGovern is looking in Academic libraries, Library vendors/service providers, Public libraries and Special libraries, at the entry level. Here is how she describes her internship/volunteering experience:

Volunteered with the Internet Public Library as a graduate student. Also assisted a children’s librarian in my local public library with story-time and other duties.

Ms. McGovern lives in an urban area in the Northeastern US and is not willing to move.
You can learn more about her on LinkedIn .

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

Stable environment, potential for career growth, and continuing education reimbursement.

Where do you look for open positions?

ALA Joblist, local universities, LinkedIn.

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 spend about 15-20 minutes preparing, which is only so short because I like to keep the common application packet items nearby and in “template” status. First, I’ll look over my resume and make sure it’s as up to date as it can be, adding any new skills or items I feel are of interest. I’ll then prepare a cover letter explaining my interest in the job, some basic information about me, and my job and education experiences.

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

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?

Give a date by which all applications are due and from that point, single out the best candidates for the job to move onto the interview process.

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

Be in touch with candidates! Not hearing back or receiving any acknowledgment seems to be the norm with employers.

What do you think is the secret to getting hired?

Presenting yourself as the most qualified candidate, with the skills required to do the job, but also making sure to be professional, friendly, and open to what’s thrown at you during the interview process.

For some context, take a look at the most recently published summary of responses.

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!

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Filed under Academic, Entry Level, Job hunter's survey, Northeastern US, Public, Special, Urban area

I often worry I’m applying in vain

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 less than six months. This person is looking in academic, public, and special libraries, archives, and library vendors/service providers, at the following levels: requiring at least two years of experience. Here is this person’s experience with internships/volunteering:

1 year long practicum at special library
7+ years experience at academic, public, school and special libraries
volunteer work and committee member at literacy non-profits

This job hunter is in an urban area in the Western US and is willing to move anywhere.

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

1) Supporting an institution with a worthwhile mission
2) Finding a compatible work culture with strong leadership
3) A challenging and varied combination of duties

Where do you look for open positions?

INALJ.com
Regional sites (Baynet, PNLA jobs)
Indeed.com
Idealist.org
Craigslist

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

√ Yes, and it’s a red flag when it’s not

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

1) Revise resume
2) Write cover letter
3) Workshop/review

The total process takes about 5 hours.

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

√ Other: only by omission, it can’t all fit

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)?

√ Meeting department members/potential co-workers
√ Other: The possibility to teleconference as I am hoping to relocate

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

Active recruitment at library schools
Require/review portfolio documents- let work speak for itself
Post salary range
Consider out of state candidates

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

Be clear about requirements; I often worry I’m applying in vain if what you state you are looking for are the bare minimum and the preferred qualifications are much longer/hidden/actually required.

Be willing to take on fresh talent and offer mentoring/professional development. Employers need to participate in the process of building the next generation of amazing librarians- not just hiring people who have already done the same job for 3-5 years prior.

What do you think is the secret to getting hired?

There is no secret

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!

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Filed under Job hunter's survey, Urban area, Western US

I was one of the naïve people who entered library school with no library experience

Picnic lunch on a hunting party, Queensland, ca. 1912

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 more than 18 months. This person is looking in public libraries and also glances at academic and special libraries, at the following levels: entry level, requiring at least two years of experience. Here is this person’s experience with internships/volunteering:

I was one of the naïve people who entered library school with no library experience. I completed a one-year, unpaid internship at the reference desk of the local public library while earning my MLS. I now also have a little over a year of experience as a part-time, solo librarian in a very rural library.

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

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

-A salary that supports living expenses and student loan payments
-In a public library
-A job description and/or library mission statement that “excite” me

Where do you look for open positions?

-Individual library websites
-State library association websites
-Regional library association websites
-INALJ
-Listservs

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

√ Yes, and it’s a red flag when it’s not

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

I print out the job description and list ways I fit each bullet point. I also peruse the library’s website hoping to get a feel for the tone of my application. I then tailor my resume and cover letter to that job specifically. Depending on how in-depth the job posting has gone, this usually takes at least an hour, usually two or three 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?

√ 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
√ Other: Whether I “click” with the interviewer(s).

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

While I recognize why libraries are unable to do this, offering full-time positions instead of part-time would increase the quality of candidates. I live in a very rural area, so I have to move to wherever I apply. In this economy you just can’t guarantee being able to get a second or third job to support yourself, so I have passed over numerous jobs that I would love to have. Also, please give us longer/better job descriptions! There are positions I have applied for where I have been forced to use generic cover letters because I know nothing other than you are looking for a librarian who can work the reference desk. I need to believe you are as interested in hiring me as I am working for you.

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

Please be in contact. I get excited when I receive rejection letters because they come so rarely. If your online application has a feature that allows you to set the status of an application, please use it. If not, in this age of e-mail, a generic two-sentence note letting me know you have moved on is better than the silence that usually follows applications. As a job hunter, I’m attempting to be professional and kind in my interactions with you, the least you could do is show me the same courtesy .

What do you think is the secret to getting hired?

Know the right people, be willing to apply for positions you are overqualified for, and/or wait on an opportunity to come your way. Despite hundreds of applications, the few interviews I have had have come from positions that did not require my MLS.

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!

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