Job Hunter Follow Up Year Two: Sofía Becerra-Licha

Sofía Becerra-Licha took the Job Hunter’s survey on 12/28/2012. Her responses appeared as Be Realistic about How Many Applications Job Seekers are Forced to Put Out. We followed up with her on January 13, 2014.

Your Job

What’s your current work situation?

Employed (full time, permanent position).

Is this job the same as you had when we followed up with you last year? If not, please describe briefly how you got this new job.

Yes.

Is your job commensurate with your skills and experience?

Yes.

Is the pay scale higher or lower than you were looking for?

Market rate for an entry-level position.

How your job different from what you thought you might do, when you first embarked on your job hunt?

I’m currently in my first professional position. Based on my work experience and the competitive nature of the archives job market, I thought it more likely my first job would be as a music cataloger rather than as an archivist.

Have you had a chance to participate in hiring any LIS workers? Any lessons or observations from the experience?

No.

Have you had a chance to negotiate a raise and/or title change? What was that like?

No.

What’s the next step for your career?

Developing a more specialized skillset and potentially gaining supervisory experience.

Your Perspectives

Was job hunting a positive or negative experience, for the most part?

Positive outcome, demoralizing experience overall.

Would you change your answer to “what’s the secret to getting hired”?

Nope!

Do you have any advice for job hunters and/or library school students?

Start preparing from your very first semester: conduct informational interviews; join professional organizations; attend conferences (many have student scholarships!); and look at job ads to see what’s in demand for your area(s) of interest. Be prepared to be flexible, given the state of the job market, but also be proactive about setting yourself up to be able to capitalize on opportunities that may come your way.

Do you have any advice for hiring managers?

I really love seeing job ads that convey a little institutional personality and have well-thought-out (realistic) descriptions, particularly with regard to required skills.

What’s your ideal work situation?

A musical environment, preferably on an academic campus, in an archives with audiovisual holdings. Regular hours, a challenging but manageable workload, and opportunities for professional development and/or advancement. Above all, a collegial and supportive working climate.

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Job Hunter Follow Up: Sofía Becerra-Licha

This post originally appeared on January 13, 2014. A Year Two follow up will post shortly.
Sofia BecerraSofía Becerra-Licha took the Job Hunter’s survey on 12/28/2012.  Her responses appeared as Be Realistic about How Many Applications Job Seekers are Forced to Put Out.  Ms. Becerra had actually just recently concluded her job hunt when she completed the survey.

Your Background

How long has it been since you got your library degree?

A little over a year (August 2012).

How many years of library work experience do you have?

1 year of professional experience; 2 years of part-time experience as an MSLS student.

How many years of work experience outside of libraries do you have?

1-4, depending on how you count part-time work during my subject master’s. Prior to graduate school, I worked 1 year full-time and then I worked several odd jobs during that master’s program, including serving as a TA 1 year.

Your Job Hunt

How long did it take you before you found your job?

Approximately 10 months.

How many positions did you apply to?

17.

What was your work situation while you were job hunting?

I began job-hunting towards the end of my penultimate semester of full-time coursework in library school. Throughout my search I was either: attending classes full-time and working part-time (months 1-6), working or interning part-time while finishing my master’s paper (months 7-9), or volunteering part-time (month 10, though I originally thought I’d be there longer).

Were you volunteering anywhere?

At the time of my current job offer, I was volunteering at my undergraduate alma mater’s college archives, cataloging VHS tapes.

Did you travel for interviews? If so, who paid?

I traveled for one in-person interview and was reimbursed by the prospective employer.

Did you decline any offers?

No.

Your Job

What’s your new job?

Project Archivist at Berklee College of Music’s Stan Getz Library.

Is your job full or part time? Permanent or temporary?

Full-time two-year project position.

Did you relocate? If so, who paid?

I paid relocation costs.

How did you find the listing for your job?

The Music Library Association list-serv/website, among other sources. There was a lot of overlap in my job feeds and I honestly can’t quite remember.

Did you meet all of the required qualifications? How many of the desired qualifications?

Yes.

What was the application process like? How many interviews did you do?

I submitted a résumé and shortly thereafter I was contacted to schedule a Skype interview. After the interview, I was also asked to respond to a follow-up question via email.

How did you prepare for the interview(s)?

I reviewed the job ad against the résumé I had submitted and made sure I could address how I met the desired qualifications, as well as potential weaknesses in my background.
I researched the school online to get a feel for its character and values and how I might fit in here.
I contacted music librarians I knew in the area to ask if they could tell me anything about the position, or their perception of the work culture.
This was my first Skype interview, but I’d used it socially and professionally and I knew from phone interviews that it was likely I wouldn’t be able to hear or see everyone well, so I mentally prepared to be especially conscious of my body language and posture, particularly when asking for clarification.
Even though this was a virtual interview, I still dressed as though it were an in-person interview (and in clothes I knew from practice would look appropriate on screen).
I made sure to place my laptop so that the camera was at eye-level and I set up in a room with a blank wall behind me and good lighting.
During the interview, I had two copies of the résumé I had submitted: one on the desk in front of me and the other thumbtacked to the desk hutch, just above the computer screen (so I could glance at it quickly without looking down).

Did you know anyone in the organization that hired you? If so, how?

No.

Is your job commensurate with your skills, experience and expectations?

Yes.

What do you think was the biggest obstacle in your job hunt? How did you overcome it?

I was interested in music library/archives positions, but the majority of my library/archives work experience wasn’t in a traditional archives and I technically had no music library work experience per se.
I’m not sure I ever successfully overcame the former deficiency for non-music archives positions, but in general I tried to emphasize my subject knowledge (I have graduate and undergraduate degrees in music in addition to the MSLS), the transferrable skills from my public services assistantship (most of which I draw upon on a daily basis on the job now), and the music and archives experiences I actively sought out (field experience, volunteer work, and a second assistantship). If I hadn’t been offered my current job, I was actively planning to seek out additional volunteer work to continue skill-building in these areas.

What set you apart from the other applicants? Why did they hire you?

I think having a music background helped, but I’m honestly not sure what truly set me apart in the end. I’m pretty sure I was the only non-local candidate and the only Skype interview.

State of the Job Market

Has job hunting been a positive or negative experience, for the most part?

I’m fortunate that my current end-result was positive, but overall it was a grueling and demoralizing process.

Would you change your answer to “what’s the secret to getting hired”?

No.

If you took the Job Hunter’s Survey some time in the last year and are interested in doing a follow-up, even anonymously, please contact me at hiringlibrarians AT gmail.

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Be Realistic about How Many Applications Job Seekers are Forced to Put Out

This post originally appeared on March 4, 2013. A follow up with Ms. Becerra-Licha will post in just a few moments.
Sofia Becerra

This interview is with Sofía Becerra-Licha, the archivist at Berklee College of Music, a new position charged with formalizing the archives under a grant from the NHPRC. Ms. Becerra-Licha  earned her MSLS with a concentration in Archives & Records Management from UNC-CH (August ’12), where she was a Spectrum Scholar (2010-2011), a Carolina Academic Library Associate  (2010-2012), and was heavily involved as a student leader. She also holds a master’s degree in ethnomusicology and double-majored in music and Spanish as an undergraduate. Ms. Becerra-Licha was hired within the last two months, but prior to that was looking for a new position for six months to a year, in Academic libraries and Archives, for Entry level positions. This new grad describes her  internship/volunteering experience as:

2 years as a graduate assistant in public services at a small branch library. 1 year in a copy cataloging graduate assistantship for a large audiovisual archives. Two semester-long internships/volunteer positions: archival processing (papers) and original cataloging (music). Two months as a volunteer, cataloging videos. All of these positions were part-time and in academic libraries/archives.

She is in an urban area in the Northeastern US and was willing to move anywhere. Ms. Becerra-Licha is a member of the American Library Association (ALA), Society of American Archivists (SAA), and Music Library Association (MLA). She is currently documenting her first year on the job as a contributor to the SAA’s Students and New Archives Professionals (SNAP) roundtable blog series “A Year in the Life.”

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

Interesting work and/or responsibilities

Congenial colleagues

Salary proportionate to local cost of living

Where do you look for open positions?

Professional listservs and websites

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?

First, I reread the job description carefully and decide whether I meet the minimum requirements, as well as whether it sees like a genuinely good fit for my interests and skills. Next, I add the position as a possibility on my job applications spreadsheet, which includes fields for deadlines, number of references, and any special instructions. Based on the ad, I decide which references make the most sense for this type of position and contact them, including a few sentences about how my qualifications match up against the requirements and anything else particularly distinctive about the opportunity or my experience in relation to it. (And of course, I always include the caveat that they’re welcome to refuse if they have any reservations whatsoever, no questions asked!)

Simultaneously, I briefly research the institution and area to confirm this would be a liveable option, and to get ideas for connections I might mine for the cover letter. Assuming I don’t need to update my résumé, I draft the cover letter, potentially borrowing phrases from previous letters if I have applied for similar positions, but otherwise spending 30 minutes to an hour on the letter alone.

Overall, I would say an average application packet takes a couple of hours, but the length will depend on the demands of the process. I mostly applied to academic library positions, so another 30 minutes to an hour could go towards having to fill in a lot of the same information again on a general HR site, sometimes requiring the creation of an online account with that system. It’s hard for me to gauge because I rarely worked on a single application exclusively. I imagine I’m not the only one who tended to chip away at tasks in between other responsibilities, as I was taking classes full-time and working part-time.

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?

√ Other: Email to acknowledge application and any status updates; phone to follow up after an in-person interview. If I interviewed in person, then ideally phone notification once the position has been filled (but an email is definitely better than nothing!).

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: Information on the area, touring the surrounding area, housing information, etc.

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

Think critically about the job description, particularly the required skillset, rather than recycling from old job descriptions or throwing together a massive wishlist. Be clear about the application process, requirements, and timeline. Avoid requesting an excessive amount of supplemental documents upfront.

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

Be realistic (or at least understanding) about how many applications job seekers are forced to put out and take this into consideration when asking for additional materials, particularly from references. If at all possible, avoid collecting redundant information in time-consuming ways (such as requiring registering for a website or having to enter every single job, when such information is part of the required resume). Above all, communication is greatly appreciated. I understand the back-end is complicated, inevitable hold-ups abound, and there are valid reasons why many details cannot be disclosed. But whenever possible, even something like a generic update on a website saying, “we are now at the phone interview stage” is more charitable than silence. Please follow up in some manner with anyone you interview, whether in person or on the phone, via skype, etc. Professionalism goes both ways.

What do you think is the secret to getting hired?

Being persistent, remaining connected and productive, applying selectively, and honestly, having a bit of luck.

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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Job Hunter Follow Up: Dina Schuldner

Dina Schuldner

 

Dina Schuldner took the Job Hunter’s survey on Janruary 4, 2013.

 

Her responses appeared as The Renaissance Person.

Your Background

How long has it been since you got your library degree?

Two and a half years

How many years of library work experience do you have?

Four years

How many years of work experience outside of libraries do you have?

10 years

How old are you? 

Older than 30, younger than 50

Your Job Hunt

How long did it take you before you found your job?

2 and a half years

How many positions did you apply to?

8

How many interviews did you go on?

6

What was your work situation while you were job hunting?

Employed part-time

Were you volunteering anywhere?

Occasionally

Did you travel for interviews? If so, who paid?

No

Did you decline any offers?

Yes

Your Job

What’s your new job?

Full Time Permanent Young Adult and Children’s Librarian at the Gold Coast Public Library in Glen Head, NY

Is your job full or part time? Permanent or temporary?

I just passed probation!

Did you relocate? If so, who paid?

No

How did you find the listing for your job?

I received a canvas letter from the Civil Service Commission

Did you meet all of the required qualifications? How many of the desired qualifications?

Yes, all

What was the application process like? How many interviews did you do?

One interview, and one Storytime audition

How did you prepare for the interview(s)?

I went to my Children’s Librarian friends, asked for advice and borrowed some materials, did extensive research on publicized storytimes, selected my own favorite finger plays and dancing songs, and practiced my storytime 3 times at home, from start to finish. In classic teacher mode, I was over-prepared.

Did you know anyone in the organization that hired you? If so, how?

No, but the director knew my coworkers and directors from my other job, and my professors from school.

Is your job commensurate with your skills, experience and expectations?

Yes, because it requires a combination of skills I learned in 3 different library positions, and 2 different non-library positions.

Is the pay scale higher or lower than you were looking for?

Equal.

What do you think was the biggest obstacle in your job hunt? How did you overcome it?

Because of the economy, libraries can’t afford to create additional full time positions with benefits, and older workers of retirement age aren’t retiring out of the existing positions. If people can get jobs, they have to work part time until something opens up.

What set you apart from the other applicants? Why did they hire you?

Firstly, I scored highly on the civil service exam. There are many people out there equally qualified as I am, but I scored higher on the list. others who have more library experience, but less education, had to find work outside of the area. Secondly, I love what I do & throw my heart and soul into it. I’m desirous of working in a harmonious workplace & will do my part to achieve that. Thirdly, to be frank, my husband supported me financially throughout the whole degree process, even when I was working 3 part time jobs and not earning enough money to pay back my student loans. His support allowed me to give all my attention to my positions, which made me very happy, because I could challenge myself with new tasks, build on my older skills, and create new skillsets which became advantageous to the libraries that employed me.

State of the Job Market

What’s the most ridiculous thing you’ve seen on a job announcement?

Nothing comes to mind; they’re all pretty boilerplate.

What was your favorite interview question? What was the worst?

My favorite interview question asked me something along the lines of how I would handle a situation where a coworker was not having a good day. It is my favorite because I had spent the previous two years building my interpersonal skills, and I had learned that what is most important in a working relationship is to recognize that everyone else wants to feel just as successful, impactful, and happy as I do, and sometimes situations prevent that from happening. Anyway, I learned to be super compassionate and forgiving, focusing on a person’s best attributes, because that could be a great way to build a strong relational foundation, which could work two ways to helping us both through the days that we wish could be better

The worst interview question was the worst only because of the way I answered it. I didn’t realize I possessed the skills required in the hypothetical case, and was told so by one of the interviewers after the interview, which was a kind thing to do, because it changed the way I answered interview questions then on.

Any good horror stories for us?

One of my library school professors is also a public library director. I was interviewing him one day for an assignment, and he got a call from his staff that something…”organic”…had been found in the drop box, again. That was my first introduction to the kinds of private things people do in public libraries!

Has job hunting been a positive or negative experience, for the most part?

Frustrating, mostly because of this student debt hanging over my head. If I hadn’t had retirement accounts to cash in from my other jobs, I wouldn’t have been able to stay the course in my part time jobs until a full-time librarian position opened up. I went so far as to get licenses to sell insurance, and was in insurance class the day i got the call for the interview.

Would you change your answer to “what’s the secret to getting hired”?

Yes, I would: the secret to getting hired is to build strong relationships in a wide network of professionals. in any profession, everybody knows everybody else, so the way you treat your connections today is the way people will assume you will treat them if they hired you. In other words: be kind, helpful, flexible, and forgiving, and you will be every employer’s dream hire.

Anything else you want to tell us?

Nobody works in a vacuum. I feel successful and impactful today because of the help I got from many library school professors, and the nurturing environment I had in my previous library positions. I am grateful for the help and support from others, and look forward to passing it along to others in the future.

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The Renaissance Person

This post originally appeared on February 17, 2013. We are posting a follow up with Ms. Schuldner in just a few minutes.
Dina Schuldner
Dina Schuldner is a recent graduate of Queens College, holding an MA and an MLS. She is an Adult Reference Librarian assisting in Young Adult and Children’s Services at  Mineola Memorial Library, in Nassau County, NY. Ms. Schuldner was hired within the last three months, but previously had been job hunting for less than six months, looking in public libraries for entry level positions. Here is what she has to say regarding her internship/volunteering experience:

As a paid library page at Mineola Memorial Library, also attending library school, I was permitted during my off hours to be trained by the librarians on the staff. During that time, I was taught computer systems, weeding, purchasing, reader’s advisory, programming, etc. I did that for about a year.

She is in a suburban area in the Northeastern US, and does not anticipate moving but will do if necessary. She is a member of ALA, RUSA, YALSA, ALSC, and NCLA (Nassau County Library Association).  She can be contacted on Twitter (@DinaSchuldner), or on LinkedIn.

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

Working in a public library, in the same county where I live, as a librarian.

Where do you look for open positions?

Professional Listserv, Nassau County Civil Service

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 have an online portfolio whose link I include on my resume, which I send via paper or email in response to job postings.

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

How do you prefer to communicate with potential employers?

√ Other: In person

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

√ Other: Determining what type of professional service I’m expected to provide.

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

“Best” means fitting the organization’s needs. Therefore, they should be specific in the job announcement about exactly what would be required of the librarian.

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

Allow the applicant to have some say in the time and day of the interview.

What do you think is the secret to getting hired?

Being flexible enough to work in any environment with all types of personalities. The Renaissance person.

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

A question you could ask is what interview styles candidates have experienced in their job search, and how they accommodated themselves to the interviewer in order to get the job they got.

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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Job Hunter Follow Up Year Two: Anonymous from 2012

This person took the job hunter survey on December 30, 2012. Her responses appeared as Do I have a chance or am I wasting my time? I’d like to know. We last followed up with her on February 10, 2014.

Your Job

What’s your current work situation?

I work full time in a law firm library, also work part time as a library substitute with a county public library system

Did you relocate for your job? If so, who paid?

I did not relocate

How did you find the listing for your job?

I am an avid searcher like all other job seekers using multiple list servs specific to my state as well as Indeed, INALJ

Did you meet all of the required qualifications? How many of the desired qualifications?

The requirements were posted through a recruiter (Robert Half Legal) and were pretty vague, required qualifications were a BA and some library experience. Desired qualifications were a MLIS. So I met those requirements.

What was the application process like? How many interviews did you do?

I applied through the recruiter, pretty par for the course online application. Did a phone interview, an in person interview with HR/Library/Marketing staff (.1 of this job does some work with Marketing and prospect research). Did a final round interview with partner and CFO.

How did you prepare for the interview(s)?

Since we all know how great networking is, I reached out to my contacts and asked for any advice on preparing for the interview. Since I know some lawyers I asked what they expect from their librarians. I looked into the firm, the folks I was interviewing with and the practice (It’s an Intellectual Property law firm). I did my basic practice that I do for all interviews where I try to come up with examples for the questions we all know are coming (experience, conflict resolution, etc). Practiced and discussed my strategy with a friend/mentor.

Did you know anyone in the organization that hired you? If so, how?

I did not know anyone in the organization, but I knew a lawyer at another firm who knew one of the partners (not the one I interviewed with).

Is your job commensurate with your skills, experience and expectations?

I expected a steep learning curve because of the IP focus, but my employer has been great about trainings so that I can learn about the tools I have at my disposal. I think my skills and experience work well for this job- I know how to work with all kinds of people since I’ve worked in Academic, Public and School libraries. I also have skills that are being used by marketing (BA in journalism, some html skills, database/knowledge management skills).

Is the pay scale higher or lower than you were looking for?

It’s more than I made as a school librarian and higher than most entry level public librarian jobs posted in my area. So I’m happy.

What do you think was the biggest obstacle in your job hunt? How did you overcome it?

My biggest obstacle was getting nervous during interviews- talking too fast, not being wordy enough. I really had to practice on elaborating on my skills and really selling myself, instead of letting my resume speak for itself.

What set you apart from the other applicants? Why did they hire you?

I think (since I don’t really know) it was the skills I could also bring for the marketing department. I’ve been asked questions regarding AP Style for news announcements and for help redesigning an internal daily email blast, all things I learned on my own/in past jobs and not in library school. I also have a work record that showed that I am able to come into a situation “green” and learn quickly and efficiently, and that’s something I like to emphasize in interviews.

Your Job Hunt

How long did it take to find your job?

About 1 year, year and a half.

How many positions did you apply to?

I honestly didn’t keep track- but well over 100.

How many interviews did you go on?

Again, lost track, but probably averaged at least 1 per month for about 18 months

What was your work situation while you were job hunting?

I graduated in August 2012 and was hired to help run a large school library with a school library media specialist. The media specialist resigned a week before school and I was asked to get a temporary teaching license and take on the role. I did that, and in the first year explored the options to get licensed. I decided to not pursue getting licensed for cost/time reasons (it would be about 10 classes, have to complete in 2 years plus tests). So I started job searching about 6 months into this position. I was able to teach for 2 years on the temporary license, and in the last 6 months of my employment I took on 2 extra part time jobs subbing in county public library systems. I figured all the experience at a variety of library types couldn’t hurt my chances. When my school librarian job ended, I was lucky enough to secure some long term subbing assignments and work full time in public libraries while I job searched.

Were you volunteering anywhere?

No.

Did you travel for interviews? If so, who paid?

No.

Did you decline any offers?

Yes. I had an offer from a publishing company, but the pay was less that what I made in jobs I had previously that didn’t require college degrees. Plus it was a long commute. And I did some research on Glassdoor and contacted current employees through LinkedIn who told me to not seek employment with the company.

State of the Job Market

What’s the most ridiculous thing you’ve seen on a job announcement?

I haven’t really seen anything too crazy- just long laundry lists of qualifications that are almost impossible to possess.

What was your favorite interview question? What was the worst?

Those that were open ended and allowed me to open up and really sell my experiences.

Any good horror stories for us?

I applied for a job that (now that I know, is understandable) was horrible with communication. They called me to set up a phone interview while I was at work, then I spent 2 whole days calling almost every hour, getting voicemail. Finally was able to set up by looking up email of hiring manager. Phone interview went well, as did first in person interview. Then communication fell off again (I sent my thank you emails). I emailed after 2 weeks, said they would have info by the next week for me. Didn’t hear anything, contacted again after waiting a week. Was then asked to do a final round interview with 2 more folks. First person I interview with went well, then the other person was MIA, couldn’t be reached by phone. They sent me on my way after 15 minutes. 30 min later I get a call asking to set up another time by the person who was MIA, went back (was near my job, so I was in the area) and interviewed with them. Was told I’d hear by end of week (this was a Tuesday). Nothing. Next week I interviewed at a job that I wasn’t excited about, but they gave me an offer. I went back to this job (which I really wanted) and leveraged this offer into the job I have today. There were some sickness/vacations/mergers that held up the process, hence why it’s understandable.”
I applied for a job early on in my job search within the school district I was working at, doing project work on integrating ipads/tablets into school curriculums. First bad sign was they closed the posting 5 hours earlier than the job posting stated. Luckily since I knew someone was able to get it submitted. Then they called about an interview. I call back later in the day and they say that the only time they have available to interview me is smack middle of the morning. I ask if there’s any flexibility because I work for the district, thus getting time off early in the school year is difficult. They said they’d look at schedules. Left me a voicemail the next day stating that the one slot was all they had available and that they weren’t going forward with my application because they needed someone who could start ASAP and I would have to give some notice to my school. The same district I worked for wanted me to burn bridges with one of its schools and pretty much leave it high and dry just for an interview.

Has job hunting been a positive or negative experience, for the most part?

That is a tough question- because when you are job hunting, it’s hard to see much positive. Once you have a job you do suffer from some rose colored glasses, but when you’re in the thick of it- it sucks. You feel let down a lot, yet you have to keep investing yourself emotionally to put together good applications and have good interviews. It’s a rollercoaster and definitely takes its toll. But I guess it’s like they say, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”. As an avid reader of this blog and others I know many will read this and have something cynical to say- that’s fine. I was in the same position not long ago. Sometimes being able to be snarky (in a responsible way) is what you need to pick yourself up again and keep going. So please, snark away about my luck, my qualifications or lack thereof, etc- and please use it as motivation to keep searching. My past responses show my cynicism with many aspects of job searching- I doubt I’m the only one who has felt that way. There were many times where I figured that everything I did was in vain, as it was a crapshoot of luck and I had to get out of that mindset and create my own luck.

Would you change your answer to “what’s the secret to getting hired”?

I know in my previous response I was pretty snarky in my answer for this question. But in the end, the advancements I made were made because of networking. I got the long term temp jobs with the public library because someone I had previously interviewed with (didn’t get the job, but we did talk and I got feedback- so helpful!) remembered me and gave my contact info to another librarian. Having some networking contacts who are lawyers helped me get a leg up on what is expected in a firm library. You don’t need to know every librarian, but a good variety of solid networking contacts can really help.

What’s your ideal work situation?

One where I’m able to have flexibility (not a fan of task master supervisors) and able to use my variety of skills to make my workplace better.

Anything else you want to tell us?

I really love the Hiring Librarians blog- not only does it help us librarians relate to each other as we job search I also enjoyed getting to read what prospective employers think behind the guise of anonymity. And to all these librarians who are hiring for positions and look down on people who get their MLIS through an online program- please rethink your bias. As a profession, are we graduating too many people? Yes. But just because someone graduated from an online program doesn’t mean they’re a bad candidate. I did my entire MLIS online in 2 years while working full time. I’d say that speaks of a lot of desirable qualities in a job (time management, willingness to go above and beyond, able to manage multiple tasks, etc). Plus, as our lives become more and more digital, wouldn’t it be important to have people on staff who understand what it’s like to do online learning? Don’t you think they may have some insight and be able to relate in a different way? I’d say so. I just wanted to speak to other online MLIS folks- you have a lot of great skills and you are valuable. Make sure that you are spinning this in your interviews so that we can squash this unfortunate bias.

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Job Hunter Follow Up: Anonymous from 2012

This post originally appeared on February 10, 2014.  A Year Two follow up will post shortly.

This job hunter took the job hunter survey on December 30, 2012.  Her responses appeared earlier today as  Do I have a chance or am I wasting my time?  I’d like to know.

Your Background

How long has it been since you got your library degree? 

1 year and 4 months

How many years of library work experience do you have?

4 years working in an academic library in circulation, 1.5 years as a school library media specialist, 3 months working in special collections in a public library.

How many years of work experience outside of libraries do you have?

7 years

How old are you?

29 and about to turn 30!

What’s your current work situation?

I am working full time as a school library media specialist. I am not licensed, have a variance to teach (which means I have the experience and knowledge, just not a teaching license). It is only good for 3 years, I am on year 2. I am aggressively searching for other employment as most school district don’t renew the third year unless you are actively working to get your license, which I am not (financially it’s a big commitment and I personally don’t want to work in school libraries long term).

Are you volunteering anywhere?

As a teacher, I have very little free time to do anything, which is disappointing to me as I would love to volunteer. I did do a summer internship at a public library.

Your Job Hunt

How long have you been job hunting at this point?

about 8 months

What kinds of jobs are you currently applying for?

any type of library (public, academic, prison, special, legislative), mostly entry level as that is where my qualifications fit. Have applied some outside of libraries, but not much.

Approximately how many positions have you applied to?

definitely more than 20

Approximately how many interviews have you gone on?

8-10

How do you prepare for interviews?

research the organization, learn about their mission, goals, etc

Have you traveled for interviews? If so, who paid?

no, have not travelled

Have you declined any offers?

no

What do you think is the biggest obstacle in your job hunt? How are you working to overcome it?

I think it must be my interview skills- I have spent a lot of time working on resumes and cover letters and have gotten more interviews because of that. I feel I don’t elaborate enough in interviews, as they tend to not last long because I try to be concise when answering questions- I could be better about elaborating and including examples from my work.

Have there been any major changes in your job hunting strategy? Are you doing anything differently than from when we last heard from you?

no major changes

State of the Job Market

What’s the most ridiculous thing you’ve seen on a job announcement?

asking for a lot of experience for an entry level job. Being super vague, which makes tailoring my cover letter and resume difficult

What was your favorite interview question? What was the worst?

Favorite- discussing why I want to be a librarian, talking about working in difficult situations

Any good horror stories for us?

thankfully none yet!

Has job hunting been a positive or negative experience, for the most part?

it’s been a mixed bag- have been getting more interviews, which is positive. But I still don’t hear back about whether I’ve moved on (I was a final round candidate and didn’t receive an answer until emailed a month later!) and many times I feel like employers are looking for a candidate that doesn’t exist. I have been trying to get my networking contacts to help me more, which has helped positively.

Would you change your answer to “what’s the secret to getting hired”?

no- it’s still about who you know and a lot of luck.

If you took the Job Hunter’s Survey some time in the last year and are interested in doing a follow-up, even anonymously, please contact me at hiringlibrarians AT gmail.

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