Read the job ad. Don’t just apply because it’s an open job in a library.

Paramaribo market scene. Women and men. 1922.This anonymous interview is with an academic librarian who has been a hiring manager and a member of a hiring or search committee. This person hires the following types of LIS professionals:

Subject librarians.

This librarian works at a library with 100-200 staff members in an urban area in the Southern US.

Approximately how many people applied for the last librarian (or other professional level) job at your workplace?

√ 25-75

Approximately what percentage of those would you say were hirable?

√ Other: 5 or Fewer

And how would you define “hirable”?

Met the job requirements (this position had some fairly specific requirements), was interested in the position and the institution.

How are applications evaluated, and by whom?

They go through HR to make sure they meet the bare minimum – for faculty librarian positions, that is “do they have the library degree”. After that, they go to the search committee who evaluates them against a rubric drawn from the vacancy announcement.

Requirements are just that, requirements and as a state institution, if you don’t meet the required qualifications, we can’t hire you. And if one applicant makes it clear they meet requirement X and another may or may not depending on how we interpret a statement…well, the first applicant gets a check mark in that column and the second doesn’t.

We try to be reasonable about our required qualifications and keep them to what the person we hire must have. Other things, the “nice to haves” go into the preferred qualifications, and someone can absolutely be hired without one of those.

What is the most common reason for disqualifying an applicant without an interview?

They don’t meet the minimum – or don’t make it possible to tell they meet the minimum requirements.

Do you (or does your library) give candidates feedback about applications or interview performance?

√ No

What is the most important thing for a job hunter to do in order to improve his/her/their hirability?

Read the job ad. Don’t just apply because it’s an open job in a library. If you apply for everything

I want to hire someone who is

adaptable

How many staff members are at your library/organization?

√ 100-200

How many permanent, full time librarian (or other professional level) jobs has your workplace posted in the last year?

√ 1

How many permanent, full time para-professional (or other non-professional level) jobs has your workplace posted in the last year?

√ 5-6

Can you tell us how the number of permanent, full-time librarian positions at your workplace has changed over the past decade?

√ There are fewer positions

Have any full-time librarian positions been replaced with part-time or hourly workers over the past decade?

√ No

Have any full-time librarian positions been replaced with para-professional workers over the past decade?

√ No

Does your workplace require experience for entry-level professional positions? If so, is it an official requirement or just what happens in practice?

Not necessarily – but it often happens that they do have 1-2 years experience.

Is librarianship a dying profession?

√ No

Why or why not?

No, but it’s changing. The traditional things aren’t necessarily what we will be doing and job candidates need to understand that. I’m not going to hire someone who wants to sit behind a desk and do reference all day. I need people to be engaged with the life of the university, especially on the research side. And that’s not just helping people find an article, but working with faculty on grants, developing new services, digging into digital humanities work. And I need people who can see the possibilities of what libraries and librarians can be in the changing academic world.

Do you hire librarians?  Take this survey: http://tinyurl.com/hiringlibjobmarketsurvey or take other Hiring Librarians surveys.

For some context, look at the most recent summary of responses.

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Filed under 100-200 staff members, Academic, Southern US, State of the Job Market 2015, Urban area

if you are paying less than say, $50,000 for a full time librarian position

Geraldine Fain Browses in the Free LibraryThis 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 Six months to a year. This person is looking in Academic libraries, Archives and Special libraries, at the following levels: Entry level, Requiring at least two years of experience, Supervisory. This new grad/entry level applicant has internship/volunteering experience:

I’ve had two longer archives internships. I processed materials in both but one required me to do everything independently. I have volunteered and was part of the advisory board for a library professional organization in a major city and recently began volunteering with a regional archives organization.

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

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

 Competitive pay in a (personally) desirable geographical
A healthy, pleasant, open work environment
A measure of autonomy and room to take risks

Where do you look for open positions?

Various professional listservs, Joblist, INALJ, Indeed.com, organization HR 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?

1 day to 1 week depending on deadlines and job. If I am really interested in the position the longer I may take. In those instances I will have a couple of people review my letter. However, I always take at least 1 day. As a general rule I will write a letter, then leave it overnight and return the next day to revise before sending.

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
√ 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

√ Meeting with HR to talk about benefits/salary

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

Be clear and realistic in expectations. If you are not willing to hire recent grads or people with only internship experience, it would be nice to know up front. Also, if you are paying less than say, $50,000 for a full time librarian position or requiring and MLS for a part time position that’s paying under $18-$20/hour, and requiring a laundry list of qualifications to be filled and duties to undertake, you might need to rethink what you’re bringing to the table and who you are willing and able to hire/attract for such positions. Certainly there are constraints and what you need in a place like NYC or Chicago might not be the same in South Carolina or Montana for instance.

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

Being very clear in job descriptions by doing things such as providing deadlines for submission, review, and projected job start dates. Clarity in all details related to job descriptions is important. Beyond that I don’t know, overall it’s just a terrible experience.

What do you think is the secret to getting hired?

I don’t know. I have been searching for the past eight months since graduating. I am someone with lots of relevant and transferable experience in addition to library training, a Master’s degree in another field, language experience, internships, experience volunteering with LIS professional organizations, etc. and I’ve had only two interviews. Only one was particularly relevant and though I made it to the list of final candidates I still didn’t get the job.

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, Archives, Job hunter's survey, MLIS Students, Northeastern US, Special, Urban area

There is a level of expertise required that can only be filled by a trained librarian.

Push cart market -- New York (LOC)This anonymous interview is with an public librarian who has been a hiring manager and a member of a hiring or search committee. This person hires the following types of LIS professionals:

Circulation Managers, Adult Services Managers, Youth Services Managers.

This librarian works at a library with 100-200 staff members in a suburban area in the Midwestern US.

Approximately how many people applied for the last librarian (or other professional level) job at your workplace?

√ 25 or fewer

Approximately what percentage of those would you say were hirable?

√ 25% or less

And how would you define “hirable”?

Having the education and qualifications for the job.

How are applications evaluated, and by whom?

The person who will be the supervisor receives the applications from HR and determines who will be interviewed. This person handles everything up to offering the position.

What is the most common reason for disqualifying an applicant without an interview?

Doesn’t have the proper education or skill set required for position.

Do you (or does your library) give candidates feedback about applications or interview performance?

√ No

What is the most important thing for a job hunter to do in order to improve his/her/their hirability?

Be detailed, but truthful; no grammatical or spelling errors.

I want to hire someone who is

the best.

How many staff members are at your library/organization?

√ 100-200

How many permanent, full time librarian (or other professional level) jobs has your workplace posted in the last year?

√ 3-4

How many permanent, full time para-professional (or other non-professional level) jobs has your workplace posted in the last year?

√ 3-4

Can you tell us how the number of permanent, full-time librarian positions at your workplace has changed over the past decade?

√ There are the same number of positions

Have any full-time librarian positions been replaced with part-time or hourly workers over the past decade?

√ Yes

Have any full-time librarian positions been replaced with para-professional workers over the past decade?

√ Yes

Does your workplace require experience for entry-level professional positions? If so, is it an official requirement or just what happens in practice?

For some positions, yes.

Is librarianship a dying profession?

√ No

Why or why not?

There is a level of expertise required that can only be filled by a trained librarian.

Do you hire librarians?  Take this survey: http://tinyurl.com/hiringlibjobmarketsurvey or take other Hiring Librarians surveys.

For some context, look at the most recent summary of responses.

Leave a comment

Filed under 100-200 staff members, Midwestern US, Public, State of the Job Market 2015, Suburban area

where I’m excited about coming to work every day

Australian Institute of Librarians' inaugural meeting at Canberra, August 20, 1937. Photographer A. Collingridge, CanberraThis 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 Six months to a year. This person is looking in Special libraries,mAny organization where I can do research. at the following levels: Requiring at least two years of experience This job hunter is in a suburban area in the Southern US, and is not willing to move.

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

Working in a position where I’m excited about coming to work every day.
Opportunities to learn and grow in the organization.
Stability.

Where do you look for open positions?

ALA Joblist, listservs, LinkedIn, INALJ, association websites, Indeed.com.

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?

Make a list of the qualifications and desired skills that I meet; Review my resume to make any changes to tailor it to the job I’m applying for; Draft cover letter. Review everything multiple times. Average time spent is 4 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
√ 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

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

Be flexible if a candidate shows potential when said candidate may not tick every item on the checklist. Sometimes the desired skills are ten pages long and it seems unrealistic that any one person will possess each and every skill.

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

Communicate better with candidates. I think most of us realize that the job market is extremely competitive and that there are many candidates applying for a fewer amount of positions. However, it is completely discouraging when one doesn’t hear anything, or during the interview process, delays aren’t communicated. No one likes being left in limbo for weeks or months on end. If the hiring process is extended, notify candidates of extension. And if at all possible, provide feedback as to why a person is not selected or moving forward. It’s understandable that some places have strict HR policies to limit communication about this type of thing but it would be nice to know the reason why someone isn’t selected. It would also be helpful to streamline the application process so that a candidate is not spending additional time filling out an online application which asks for the same information provided in a resume which is submitted. It’s duplicative and a huge waste of time when one is already spending 3-4 hours on the 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!

Leave a comment

Filed under Job hunter's survey, Special, Suburban area

Further Questions: How should applicants address gaps in their employment history?

This week we asked people who hire librarians

How should applicants address gaps in their employment history? Does it matter if applicants have a long gap for personal reasons (moving for a partner’s career, raising children, illness or injury, etc.) or because the job market is tough? Should gaps be addressed in the cover letter or the resume/CV, or both?

Jacob BergBecause I tend to read the cover letter first, that’s where I’d like applicants to address employment gaps. Volunteering is one way to fill gaps in a resume or CV, but I understand that not everyone is able to do that. Raising children can be an explicit strength. As a fellow parent, I know it requires a significant amount of scheduling, time management, and patience, among other things, and those are skills that I hope many employers are looking for.

 

-Jacob Berg, Director of Library Services,  Trinity Washington University

angelynn kingI would expect a gap to be briefly addressed in the cover letter, but not on the resume itself.

 

 

 

-Angelynn King, Head Librarian, Delaware Technical Community College, Owens Campus

Julie TodaraThere are many reasons why people might have gaps in their resume. Rather that ignoring them; however, (and I know you aren’t suggesting that) people can:
Add a sentence in a cover letter that something like:
“The interview committee will find two gaps in my application and resume and should I be considered for an interview, I will be more than happy to address them through email or by phone or during the interview.”
or
“The gaps in my application represent 8 months where I was searching for work and 18 months where I relocated to an area that did not have a job market in my profession (or in my specific area of expertise.) During this time I (waited tables, ran a busy bakery counter where I learned great customer service skills)!”
or
“My gap in employment represents a time when I was refreshing my skills set and updating my technology expertise through extensive distance learning and working with a mentor.”
or
“I chose to take one year off between my first professional job and my second position.”
What applicants shouldn’t do is ignore the gaps or try to hide them by obscure or generalized dates. The best example of where this backfires is – my institution will NOT let me count any experience less than six months…so if you had three summer jobs and a fall or 5 month semester position, I can’t count any of that toward experience. In an effort to look as if they had longer than these four short positions, I have seen applicants use general dates such as 2003-2005. So within this time period it could only be14 months because let’s say you went to work – beginning in December of 2003 and then left in January 2005.
So, address it somewhere in your packet, ask them if they need clarification before the interview process and be honest. Don’t be afraid to list experiences that contributed to an overall skills set and although we typically can’t count volunteerism, it provides exposure, networking, etc. and these days one can get a great deal of experience at a distance in areas such as supporting virtual reference programs, working on association committees, volunteering to  design a groups web environment or keep a group’s web content current.
 
- Julie Todaro, Dean, Library Services, Austin Community College

 

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.

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Filed under Further Questions

Being a unicorn

Library in United States National Museum BuildingThis 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, Library vendors/service providers, Public libraries, and Special libraries, Medical/Health, Federal Government at the following levels: Entry level, Requiring at least two years of experience. This new grad/entry level applicant has internship/volunteering experience:

I am graduating in May 2015, but I have worked for 6 years in a senior support role. Through recent downsizing at my company, I am now operating as the solo librarian on staff for a corporate special library. I worked in my university library as an undergraduate assistant for 4 years supporting circulation and interlibrary loan.

This job hunter is in an urban area, in the Mid-Atlantic US and is  not willing to move.

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

Good rapport with colleagues, engaging work with opportunities to continue learning, and reasonable salary and commute

Where do you look for open positions?

INALJ.com, ALA Joblist, SLA Career Center, SLA listservs, LinkedIn, LibGigs, individual university employment pages

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?

Time spent on application packet preparation depends on the type of job (academic vs federal vs corporate). At this point I have a very detailed resume that I customize to fit the job, and I have a very basic template for cover letters so I don’t spend time repeatedly typing in my contact information. The main content of my cover letters are written fresh for each position. On average I’d say I spend a minimum of two to three hours on an application submission, at most many hours over several 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
√ Other: I understand that there are time constraints on how much follow up potential employers can offer, but as the potential new hire there is no such things as too much communication.

How do you prefer to communicate with potential employers?

√ Other: I prefer a mix of phone and email. Email for scheduling interviews, phone for other 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
√ Meeting with HR to talk about benefits/salary
√ Other: A high priority for me is getting a sense of how I would fit in with the existing staff dynamics. I’d want the most time possible to be spent with department members and talking through the particulars of the job.

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

Be upfront about the job duties and clarify which items are absolutely necessary and which things are a preference or wish list item. Whenever possible include a salary; if the number seems low, emphasize some of the other benefits your institution offers. Be realistic about the amount of experience required for entry level positions.

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

Be as transparent as possible with anticipated hiring timelines. Communicate as much as possible with potential candidates.

What do you think is the secret to getting hired?

Being a unicorn: Having the right balance of personality, skills, and connections at the right time and location.

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!

Leave a comment

Filed under Job hunter's survey, Urban area

Seriously consider how your library and information science education can be used in other fields

Market scene. Women and men. 1922 2This anonymous interview is with an academic librarian who has been a hiring manager and a member of a hiring or search committee. This person hires the following types of LIS professionals:

Everyone, I’m the Dean of Libraries

This librarian (It’s complicated) works at a library with 200+ staff members in an urban area in the Midwestern US.

Approximately how many people applied for the last librarian (or other professional level) job at your workplace?

√ 25 or fewer

Approximately what percentage of those would you say were hirable?

√ 25% or less

And how would you define “hirable”?

Had the basic qualifications we were looking for

How are applications evaluated, and by whom?

HR uses a set of rubrics for each position type. The ones that “pass” the rubric are sent on to a hiring committee.

What is the most common reason for disqualifying an applicant without an interview?

Does not meet minimum qualifications.

Do you (or does your library) give candidates feedback about applications or interview performance?

√ No

What is the most important thing for a job hunter to do in order to improve his/her/their hirability?

Address the requirements as stated in the job posting. If you send us a generic application letter, you’re very unlikely to be considered.

I want to hire someone who is

inquisitive

How many staff members are at your library/organization?

√ 200+

How many permanent, full time librarian (or other professional level) jobs has your workplace posted in the last year?

√ 2

How many permanent, full time para-professional (or other non-professional level) jobs has your workplace posted in the last year?

√ 2

Can you tell us how the number of permanent, full-time librarian positions at your workplace has changed over the past decade?

√ There are fewer positions

Have any full-time librarian positions been replaced with part-time or hourly workers over the past decade?

√ Yes

Have any full-time librarian positions been replaced with para-professional workers over the past decade?

√ Yes

Does your workplace require experience for entry-level professional positions? If so, is it an official requirement or just what happens in practice?

It depends on the position but, in general, yes there are experience requirements.

Is librarianship a dying profession?

√ Yes

Why or why not?

The profession has let too many opportunities slip by while contemplating our navels. Instead of being proactive, librarianship is extremely reactive and is now bearing the results of this. Information technology organizations have taken over large portions of work that could (and perhaps should) be done by people with formal library/information science training. But here’s the thing, WE LET THAT HAPPEN because we were too concerned about fighting against e-books and online access to material. Yes, this problem goes back more than a decade when the majority of people decided to fight against progress rather than embrace it. Now, it’s too late.

Do you have any other comments, for job hunters or about the survey?

Seriously consider how your library and information science education can be used in other fields. Your career will take many turns during your lifetime, so you should be prepared to adapt to changing conditions. Do you hire librarians?  

Take this survey: http://tinyurl.com/hiringlibjobmarketsurvey or take other Hiring Librarians surveys.

For some context, look at the most recent summary of responses.

Leave a comment

Filed under 200+ staff members, Academic, Midwestern US, State of the Job Market 2015, Urban area