Circulation has tripled over the last decade.

Fruit and vegetable vendors, Pike Place Market, Seattle, WashingtonThis anonymous interview is with a 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:

Adult, teen and children’s librarians as well as IT managers, technology, etc.

This librarian works at a library with 10-50 staff members in a suburban area in the Southern 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 *some* experience in the field!

How are applications evaluated, and by whom?

Applications are evaluated by at minimum two department heads and the Director.

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

No previous work experience.

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?

Gain some experience! We have many applicants for positions who have an advanced degree, but absolutely no work experience in a library. That can lead to disaster, especially when applicants are seeking positions that require at least 1-2 years of work experience in a busy public library.

I want to hire someone who is

ready

How many staff members are at your library/organization?

√ 10-50

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?

√ 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 more 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?

No experience for an entry level position, but most candidates who apply already have experience.

Is librarianship a dying profession?

√ No

Why or why not?

Our business is booming and staff is growing. Circulation has tripled over the last decade. Foot traffic is up, programming is active and well attended. We are busy!

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 10-50 staff members, Public, Southern US, State of the Job Market 2015, Suburban area

Don’t be sketchy or verbose (either in print and in an interview).

Fish MarketThis anonymous interview is with a 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:

youth services and adult reference librarians

This librarian works at a library with 100-200 staff members in a suburban area in the Western 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?

√ 25% or less

And how would you define “hirable”?

Meeting the minimum qualifications for the position and satisfactorily answering the screening questions which as part of the application.

How are applications evaluated, and by whom?

HR weeds out those who don’t meet the minimum qualifications. The rest are reviewed via NeoGov by the supervising librarian who is acting as the Hiring Manager for the job posting, and any other hiring committee members.

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

We only interview the applicants who rise to the top of the applicant pool, since it’s a very time- and labor-intensive process, so the most qualified few move on to the interview phase. We probably typically interview 9 or fewer.

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

√ Other: They may call HR.

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

Apply for what you’re qualified for. Paint a solid picture of how your experience pertains to the position. Don’t be sketchy or verbose (either in print and in an interview).

I want to hire someone who is

customer-oriented

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?

√ 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?

Library Assistant positions require
• Some (at least 1 year) experience in library operations, customer service experience, and basic computer troubleshooting and/or maintenance

Is librarianship a dying profession?

√ No

Why or why not?

As libraries become ‘third places’ and community gathering spots, people still walk in the door and need assistance in winnowing reliable info from poor info, and there are still many people who need access to technology that they can get for free with us. And children and their families still need to have early literacy skill information and techniques shared with them, as well as the joy of reading and stories.

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, Public, State of the Job Market 2015, Suburban area, Western US

Further Questions: How do you define hirable?

This week we asked people who hire librarians

One question on the Hiring Librarians survey is: Approximately what percentage of people who applied for your last open position would you say were hirable? Can you answer that question for us on Further Questions, and also share how you define hirable.

Laurie Phillips

I would say 25%. That reflects the number of people who met the criteria to phone interview. They meet all of the required qualifications and one of the desired (usually). If they don’t meet the required, we can’t move forward. This is one of the main reasons why applicants have to address the qualifications. If you don’t show us that you’re qualified, we can’t even consider you. I have to say, though, that one person made me reconsider what I had asked for. I thought this candidate would have been excellent but the committee wouldn’t agree because we had asked for experience and probably shouldn’t have. That’s where those of us who are hiring learn from our mistakes!
– Laurie Phillips, Associate Dean for Technical Services, J. Edgar & Louise S. Monroe Library, Loyola University New Orleans

A disappointingly small percentage of our applicants for librarian positions are hirable.  Generally, these are people who have failed to read and respond to our thoughtfully crafted job ads listing requirements.  If you do not meet the minimum requirements for a position, please do not apply.  If there is wiggle room on the preferreds, by all means, make that case in your cover letter.  Generic “shotgun” applications that bear no clear connection to the position posted are a waste of the search committee’s time and a cause for frustration.

– Anonymous

Jessica OlinI don’t know real percentages. We have HR filter out the people who don’t meet the minimum requirements. For our last open position, that meant a high school diploma and either library experience or customer service experience in a higher ed setting. Of the applications we did see, I’d say about 25% looked good enough that we’d be willing to talk to them, but we only invited 6 in for interviews. We normally only invite three, but that time were hiring for two part time positions and wanted to cast a slightly wider net. As for what “hirable” means to us, we look at things like willingness to learn and interest in the library (as opposed to just “I need a job”). We ask ourselves if we think this person can do this job with a reasonable amount of time allowed for learning.

– Jessica Olin, Director of Parker Library, Wesley College

Julie Todaro“New” librarian applicants: I will receive around 200 applications for my “entry” level jobs…that set typically includes the people who check off that they want their resume/application submitted for “everything for which they are qualified” …and so I will get about 20 people in this set of 200 – maybe a few more – who are technically qualified but didn’t want that job specifically OR now have a job.
Of the rest, a large number of people who not only meet the basic qualifications but exceed them by many years. For those we use the same vetting process, that is, do they have experience in instructional design (if we require or prefer that) so no applicant is “over qualified” it’s the match of specifics that counts.
So at least 150 or more may meet basic qualifications. The decision for interviewing then moves to “preferred” which is why I always tell people to carefully word but absolutely including all that they prefer. It’s a much more important category now – especially for entry level or lower experience required – because we need to be able to distinguish among those many applications.
As an aside, we have the grid from HR to use in vetting people, but we have a secondary grid that includes requirements and preferred categories to measure AND we use a designation to indicate “how important is that preferred” with either a ranking (as it is #1 on our list of preferred) or an A, B, or C…This makes sure our process is clear.
And does this vary? Yes, by time of year…for example and obviously – many more in any spring and post May graduation dates. Luckily I can hire year round even though they are faculty and are on annual contracts.
“Experienced” librarian applicants: So this is where it gets tricky …for general management jobs we get an “okay” number of fewer than 125. But a fewer number of these are qualified, that is, if we require 3 years of management experience, we really mean it…so we can’t take people who coordinated or managed projects or money…we have to have people who – as they say in HR – “signed timesheets.” I have also had people misrepresent their time to look like management – and often completely unintentionally – but it is always caught by HR as they compare actual experience. Another bug in this is that HR only counts full time…so if you were a part time librarian or managed part time, then for one year of management experience, you will need 2 years of part time management experience.
Specific to functions….finding someone to be in Technical Services and Automation – for me – was hard…so I had MANY applications from people who were tech experts but had not worked in Technical Services. And – for my position – you needed to have had experience in Technical Services to manage many of the traditional and non-traditional functions.  So of the 125 who applied only about 10 had the requisite required experience I needed.
– Julie Todaro, Dean, Library Services, Austin Community College

That’s a bit of a tricky question. Since the City handles our application process, we don’t see all the applications that come in for a position. They screen out anyone who doesn’t meet the minimum qualifications stated in the job description, so by the time the applications get to us for review, all we have are candidates who are technically “hirable”, at least in terms of meeting that minimum threshold. So, for me, the definition of “hirable” isn’t “meets minimum qualifications”. For me, a “hirable” person is someone who has demonstrated throughout their career (pre-MLS, post-MLS, I look at a person’s total work history, not just library work)a desire to move up, take more responsibility and try new things. I look for someone who interviews well (even when nervous), is articulate, thoughtful and not afraid to ask questions during an interview. Deal killers for me are poor grammar, job hopping, throwing previous co-workers, bosses or institutions under a bus (don’t ever, ever, EVER do that, seriously), not knowing anything about the library you’re applying to and, for heaven’s sake, TURN OFF YOUR CELL PHONE OR PUT IT ON VIBRATE DURING AN INTERVIEW. So, based on my admittedly biased criteria above, I would say that the percentage of “hirable” candidates that make it to the interview process is probably about 70%. I do give people a lot of leeway (except for those deal-killers above) and I put a premium on a good attitude and a willingness to learn. I can teach someone how to use our computer systems, I can’t teach someone how to be nice.

– Margaret M. Neill, Regional Library Branch Manager, Main Library, El Paso Public Library

J. McRee ElrodOur litmus for hiring if the ability to prode and send a .mrc file of records.  Only about 1.3 of applicants can do so, I assume because of the poor quality of library school cataloguing instruction.
– J. McRee (Mac) Elrod, Special Libraries Catalouging

Jacob BergI define hirable as having the demonstrable training, experience, and skillset(s) to do the job. This is one major reason why it’s important to customize cover letters, and sometimes resumes and CVs, to a particular job and job description. Based on that, I’d say that about ten percent of applicants for our last open position were hirable.
-Jacob Berg, Director of Library Services,  Trinity Washington University

Marleah AugustineTo me, “hirable” means that the applicant meets the minimum requirements and seems to be a good fit — meaning the applicants seem as though they’d be able to work with a variety of patrons but especially adults (as that’s the department I supervise), they could assist with basic computer questions, they have good customer service, they seem willing to learn, and they don’t seem like they’d get flustered easily. There are also different dynamics among staff members; it never fails that my daytime staff have a slightly different dynamic than my evening staff, and so when the person would be scheduled can also affect my decision about who is “hirable” and who isn’t.

To answer the first question, I would say that about 25% of the applicants appeared to be hirable. I hire for part-time, paraprofessional positions, so we get a wide range of applications just because some people apply for everything that’s available and aren’t necessarily looking to work in a library — so this doesn’t reflect the percentages you might find for an administrative, professional position that has higher minimum requirements.

– Marleah Augustine, Adult Department Librarian at Hays Public Library

In general, I would say 20-30% of applicants for librarian jobs are not hirable because they lack the M.L.S. (It is listed as required, but I guess they are optimistic.) Of the remaining applicants, about half turn out to be unhirable because of poor communication skills: they do not answer the questions asked; do not make eye contact; fail to observe common rules of courtesy; display very low energy; have inadequate vocabularies; or exhibit poor listening skills. Sad but true.

– Anonymous

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

I worked Black Friday at Toys-R-Us and when the search committee asked me to explain how I handle stressful customer interactions I was like, “Let me tell you!”

Clothes Market, but where Kildare TownThis anonymous interview is with an academic employee who has been a hiring manager and a member of a hiring or search committee. When asked, “Are you a librarian?”  this person responded, “It’s complicated.”  This person hires the following types of LIS professionals:

I have personally been a part of the following hires in the past 3 years:
Chair of Systems
Circulation Manager
University Archivist
Data Curation Librarian
E resources Librarian

Positions we have hired for that I haven’t participated in:
Dean
Chair of Public Services (circulation/reference)
Art Curator
E resources Librarian (different than above)
Metadata Librarian
Emerging Technology Librarian

This librarian works at a library with 10-50 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?

√ Other: 2

Approximately what percentage of those would you say were hirable?

√ Other: 100%

And how would you define “hirable”?

Possessing a high ranking as defined by our rubric for the job. Mix of degree, experience, and general feel from their documents.

How are applications evaluated, and by whom?

HR has stop questions that automatically weed out applicants.

Rubrics depend on the number of applicants. Big searches get rubrics, 3 or less applicants we usually go for the gut based on what we need and skip the numbers.

There are search committees for staff (3ish people), salaried (5), and faculty positions (5). The committees consist of a mix of staff levels. Faculty positions include people from outside the library. Chair searches will often bring in more people related to the functions of the Chair. Dean searches are handled outside the library but with a library sub-committee.

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

lack of experience

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?

Before the interview: Describe how you meet requirements don’t just say it. They are short answer questions not check boxes.

During the Interview: If you got the interview we are most likely looking for fit, be yourself. Talk to us like we are already co-workers.

I want to hire someone who is

curious

How many staff members are at your library/organization?

√ 10-50

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?

√ 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?

√ I don’t know

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

√ I don’t know

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

Usually, if the pool is expected to be small or we are hiring internally we shape the application so experience is not a stop question.

Is librarianship a dying profession?

√ No

Why or why not?

The profession is dying in places where the people practicing it are unwilling to change.

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

For the love of god, do not type in documents (resume, cover letter) into an application. On my end it comes out in a mass of un-formatted, headache fuel. I have disqualified people because I didn’t want to read it. Upload your documents.

As for the state of the market. It took me a year of searching before I found my first library job, and I am one of the lucky people. Keep at it. Look at every experience you have until you get the job in terms of how it can help you get to where you want. I worked Black Friday at Toys-R-Us and when the search committee asked me to explain how I handle stressful customer interactions I was like, “Let me tell you!”. Stay positive about where you are now because it will help you get to where you want to be.

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 10-50 staff members, Academic, Midwestern US, State of the Job Market 2015, Urban area

Too many people applied who were not qualified.

Astor Market - Demonstrating CoffeeThis anonymous interview is with a government librarian who has been a member of a hiring or search committee. This person hires the following types of LIS professionals:

science librarians, data librarians

This librarian works at a library with 0-10 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?

√ 25-75

Approximately what percentage of those would you say were hirable?

√ Other: Less than 5

And how would you define “hirable”?

They needed to meet the qualifications for the job. Too many people applied who were not qualified.

How are applications evaluated, and by whom?

Library Manager reviewed ALL applications and Library Staff reviewed those applications that made the 1st cut. There was typically a 2nd cut before phone interviews were conducted.

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

The candidate’s experience didn’t match the qualifications needed for the job.

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?

Get as much experience as possible. Add to your Library Tool box. In addition to your main job function, know other library skills that can help the team. Apply for jobs that match your experience and education. And, use your cover letter to explain how your experience and education are a good match for the position.

How many staff members are at your library/organization?

√ 0-10

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?

√ Other: 0

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?

Yes, we require experience.

Is librarianship a dying profession?

√ No

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 0-10 staff members, Midwestern US, State of the Job Market 2015, Suburban area

Thank the hiring manager for his or her time after the interview. Seriously, it makes you stand out!

M. Robertson florists, Grainger MarketThis anonymous interview is with a public librarian who has been a hiring manager. This person hires the following types of LIS professionals:

Adult specialist, cataloguer, a-v specialist

This librarian works at a library with 0-10 staff members in a rural 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”?

Applicable studies and/or prior experience, whether in a volunteer or paid capacity. Any kind of similar work where working with the public was considered.

How are applications evaluated, and by whom?

I read all resumes as they come in.

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

No applicable experience at all. For example, experience operating a forklift and heavy equipment is not a transferable skill to library work.

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

√ Other: Only I asked

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

Thank the hiring manager for his or her time after the interview. Seriously, it makes you stand out!

I want to hire someone who is

A team player

How many staff members are at your library/organization?

√ 0-10

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

√ Other: 0

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

√ 1

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?

√ 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?

No, but applicable and transferable skills are highly encouraged and regarded.

Is librarianship a dying profession?

√ I don’t know

Why or why not?

Obviously budgets are tight all over the country as governments try to shave expenses. This does make for fewer full-time librarian positions and we are underpaid as a profession. Library budgets seem to be tighter in areas where communities don’t read, too. However, studies show that library use is higher than ever. I don’t think we’re a dying profession as long as we make it clear to governments how useful we are.

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 0-10 staff members, Midwestern US, Public, Rural area, State of the Job Market 2015

We have no entry-level professional positions.

Fruit Venders, Indianapolis Market, aug., 1908. Wit., E N Clopper. Location Indianapolis, Indiana.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:

Technical services, public services, serials

This librarian works at a library with 0-10 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?

√ 25-75

Approximately what percentage of those would you say were hirable?

√ 25% or less

And how would you define “hirable”?

Meeting the criteria specified in the position description.

How are applications evaluated, and by whom?

All are forwarded directly to me.

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

Not meeting the criteria for the position.

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

√ Yes

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

Don’t apply for positions for which they are not qualified.

I want to hire someone who is

compatible

How many staff members are at your library/organization?

√ 0-10

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?

√ Other: 0

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?

√ 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?

We have no entry-level professional positions.

Is librarianship a dying profession?

√ No

Why or why not?

It’s changing, not dying.

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.

1 Comment

Filed under 0-10 staff members, Academic, Midwestern US, State of the Job Market 2015, Suburban area