I always look for a “stretch”

Woman with gun and hunting dogs Tallahassee, Florida by State Archive of Florida via Flickr CommonsThis 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 academic libraries and library vendors/service providers, at the following levels: senior librarian, branch manager, director/dean.

This job hunter is in a city/town in the Midwestern US and is willing to move anywhere.

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

1. Opportunities for professional growth and development (yes, it can happen, even at the top!)
2. High expectations of the candidate and of employees
3. Collegiality in the library

Where do you look for open positions?

ALA Joblist
INALJ
Various listservs
Inside HigherEd
Chronicle of Higher Ed

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

√ Other: It depends on the institution. Where no salary is listed, I believe it gives me greater negotiating ability.

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

I read the position description carefully, highlight the “MUST HAVES”, and then seen to what extent I meet those criteria. Because I always look for a “stretch”, I don’t expect to have everything that is desired. I check the website for the library — and the institution — in search of strategic plans and mission statements to ensure that my goals are in alignment with theirs — and so that I can refer to them in my cover letter or during the interview. This background searching can take 4-6 hours.

While I don’t recreate my CV for each application, I may add specific elements from my “working CV” (which has everything going back to DAY ONE) if I feel that they will be useful.

I expect to spend about 2 hours on each cover letter.

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

√ No

When would you like employers to contact you?

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

How do you prefer to communicate with potential employers?

√ Email

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

√ Tour of facility
√ Meeting department members/potential co-workers
√ Being able to present

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

Make the position description sound as though you really want to hire the best person, not just anyone. Incorporate flexibility if possible (for instance, if you’re hiring two positions at the same time, perhaps you’ll find a better mix of candidates if you don’t limit each position to specific responsibilities). Ensure that you have a current organizational chart on your website, because it’s important to know what the evaluation structure will be even if the organization is dynamic.

If possible — and especially for senior-level jobs — indicate a preferred starting date.

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

Be organized. Send out the interview schedule at least a week in advance and, if possible, indicate names and titles/responsibilities of everyone on the agenda. Include links to information about the institution that you feel candidates should know, and don’t assume that candidates understand your internal structure or jargon.

Please schedule appropriate breaks during the interview. If there is a presentation, make sure that the candidate has adequate time for a bathroom break and also to test the software.

What do you think is the secret to getting hired?

Be yourself. Employers understand that there is an “interview persona”, but they also want signs of who you will be on a daily basis. Remember that you are also interviewing them, and demonstrate your preparedness by the questions that you ask.

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

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

Leave a comment

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

I was not ready for some of the questions, behavior and issues I faced once I was around living, breathing patrons

Westmoreland School House Number 9, New HampshireThis anonymous interview is with a public librarian who has been a member of a hiring or search committee. This person hires the following types of LIS professionals:

adult and children’s librarians, pages

This librarian works at a library with 10-50 staff members in a suburban area in the Northeastern US.

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

√ Other: Yes AND No, Some skills were valuable and some were not taught.

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

3

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

√ Cataloging
√ Library Management
√ Collection Management
√ Programming (Events)
√ Digital Collections
√ History of Books/Libraries
√ Research Methods
√ Reference
√ Readers’ Advisory
√ Information Behavior
√ Outreach
√ Instruction
√ Soft Skills (e.g. Communication, Interpersonal Relations)
√ Field Work/Internships
√ Other: Customer Service

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

I found that I was not prepared for some of the situations that arise at my library on a daily basis. I did learn about information behavior and I did learn about reference interviews, but I was not ready for some of the questions, behavior and issues I faced once I was around living, breathing patrons. I felt like I missed a whole class on how to deal with people who are upset, desperate, angry, confused, or clueless (or some combination of these states). Maybe that makes me naive, but I felt like a class on general customer service would have been helpful – how to talk to people, how to calm down an angry patron, how to prevent angry patrons, etc.

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

√ Other: It depends on the skill. For example: Web design can be successfully learned from a class but reader’s advisory takes real practice.)

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

I feel that Reader’s Advisory really takes practice on the job. You really need to get to know your patrons and a collection. To an extent, Programming (events). That also takes practice – you learn what works and what doesn’t in your community.

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

√ Internship or practicum
√ Other presentation

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

No.

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

If you have the opportunity to work in a library while you’re in school or do an internship, absolutely do it! It helps to be able to see and experience what you’re learning in a real environment.

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

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

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

Leave a comment

Filed under 10-50 staff members, Northeastern US, Public, Suburban area, What Should Potential Hires Learn in Library School

Researcher’s Corner: Who’s Retiring From Library Work, and Who Isn’t ?

The myth of the tidal wave of retiring librarians is pervasive and persistent (for example, see this recent Public Libraries article about mentoring Gen-X librarians). But is there a grain of truth?  I’m happy to introduce this piece by Eric C. Shoaf, in which he takes a deeper look at what exactly is happening with those boomer librarians, what this means for recent graduates, and how it affects the profession as a whole.


During 2012, Nathan Long and myself conducted a study on the retirement plans for library workers. Nathan, currently Head of Systems at Francis Marion University Library, and I had known each other for several years and wanted to collaborate on a research project. At first we looked at several aspects of librarianship where we had mutual interest: skills training to learn new technology, career arc choices related to family and work/life balance, effects of a mature workforce in libraries, and impacts on early career librarians entering the field. There were a couple of false starts in the study as we tried to hone the direction. Especially when looking at skills and experience of early career librarians, we weren’t sure we could get the data needed for analysis. Then Nathan found the Colorado study that ended up being the catalyst for our own survey (Retirement, Retention, and Recruitment: The Future of Librarianship in Colorado [2004]) because it had data from a decade earlier that we could compare, and also because we could use some of the same questions they used in order to collect comparable data in our own survey.

Because of our experiences attending succession planning programs at ALA, reading the library literature, and discussions about imminent retirements expected in the library profession, we decided to focus on whether or not it could be determined whether there is about to be a large-scale retirement boom among library workers. This is important for a number of reasons. There is evidence that new MLS graduates have difficulty finding jobs, and that as libraries currently do have job openings, whether due to retirement or not, they sometimes look for different skill sets to fill evolving needs. Many of these new skill sets are found outside those possessed by traditional library workers. It seems that we have been hearing anecdotally about impending library retirements since the 1990s. Given that Nathan and I already had data from the Colorado study that was almost ten years old, and that the data showed that 20% of the 1,400+ respondents intended to retire in the next five years, which would have been around the time of the economic downturn in 2008-09, we wanted to try and determine on a national level library worker retirement intentions in 2012. And since the Colorado survey had happened well before the economic downturn, one of the things we were interested in was how much the downturn might have affected library worker retirement plans because of the pervasive negative effects it had on savings and retirement funds, and long-term concerns generally about the viability of the economy.

The literature review we conducted focused on recent reports in all types of media, many outside library literature and validated our idea that library workers may not be planning to retire as expected. There were a number of articles about heavy retirement fund loses from the economic downturn and predictions this would affect all segments of society and all businesses and institutions, including higher education, as well as tax-funded spending that includes public libraries. Some of the warnings were rather dire about the ‘baby boomer’ population’s lack of financial readiness for retirement. At least one report cited mature workers who said they did not think they would ever be able to stop working and retire. This was, for us, an indication that there had been a fundamental change because of the economic climate, or because the reality of retirement financing becomes clearer as retirement age approaches, or both.

Our survey was much shorter than the one used for the Colorado study. Knowing that people receive any number of survey queries every month, we wanted to use an online survey that would be relatively easy and painless to fill out. Hence, ours had only thirteen questions and all were geared to uncovering data about retirement planning as well as some demographic information. This is probably why our response rate was so high (4,400+ responses to the survey). In fact, we were quite overwhelmed with the response. On the other hand, we probably spent more time than most who circulate these sorts of surveys, actively publicizing it in a variety of venues and working to identify and notify state library associations in all regions of the country. I number of people sent personal email asking to be notified of the results of the survey. Certainly, it was all rather gratifying and made us feel that we had pinpointed an issue that a lot of library workers are thinking about.

Neither were we surprised by the results. Nearly half of the survey respondents indicated that the latest economic downturn had affected their career plans and would lead them to retire later and/or stay in their current job, which is a significant increase over the eleven percent from the 2003 Colorado survey. The strength and duration of the 2008-09 economic downturn has both surprised and deflated workers’ retirement accounts and their plans including library workers. The survey shows that library workers not yet close to retirement age are planning to work longer. At the end of our article we ask the question, Is sixty-five the new fifty? We included that because one of the highlighted trends of the baby-boomer generation has been a focus on living longer, refusing to “get old” in demonstrable ways, and we think that will extend to delayed retirement among this group as well. On the other hand, nearly 40% of the survey respondents indicated that the economic downturn had no effect on their career plans.

What the results of the 2012 survey mean for the library profession and for job seekers is not completely clear, and the news may not be all bad. Technology and other changes have already been driving the need for new skill sets in new types of library jobs for almost a decade. This is not expected to change. A maturing workforce that is not ready to retire is likely to reduce the number of new positions that are available, but it may not be appreciably different from the present. According to some past predictions, those library workers were to have already retired by now, but didn’t, and there are still jobs available. What is more likely to change is the type and character of jobs available, with new skill sets continuing to be needed in evolving library technological environments. Expect more mature workers to seek part-time employment as an option to full retirement. For two former full-time jobs that become part-time, one new full-time job can be created. Job seekers should also remember that despite national surveys, purported trends, and a sometimes bleak economic outlook, job offers happen at the local level, and it only takes one to secure employment.

The full article on our survey and analysis was published as Shoaf, Eric C. and Flowers, Nathan. “Library Worker Retirement Plans: A Large Survey Reveals New Findings” Library Leadership & Management (Vol. 27 no. 4) Fall 2013, and accessible here http://works.bepress.com/eric_shoaf/8/ .



Eric ShoafEric C. Shoaf, Clemson University Libraries

Eric C. Shoaf received his BA from Duke University, the MLS from North Carolina Central University, and an MPA from the University of Rhode Island.  He is currently Associate Dean of Libraries at Clemson University.

Leave a comment

Filed under Guest Posts, library research, Researcher's Corner, Uncategorized

children and teens (understand how they operate differently, and thus how services must be delivered differently to provide equity of access)

School Children In Anzac AlbertaThis anonymous interview is with a public librarian who has been a hiring manager.

This person hires the following types of LIS professionals:

Children’s Librarians

This librarian works at a library with 200+ staff members in an urban area in the Western US.

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

√ No

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

3

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

√ Budgeting/Accounting
√ Project Management
√ Library Management
√ Collection Management
√ Programming (Events)
√ Web Design/Usability
√ Digital Collections
√ History of Books/Libraries
√ Research Methods
√ Reference
√ Readers’ Advisory
√ Information Behavior
√ Services to Special Populations
√ Outreach
√ Marketing
√ Instruction
√ Soft Skills (e.g. Communication, Interpersonal Relations)
√ Field Work/Internships
√ Other: Writing publicity, blogs, presentations; Child Development (i.e. a basic set of understanding to understand how 0-18 operate psychologically)

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

Project Management (how to set goals, schedule, involve stakeholders, evaluate); Leadership/Supervision basic techniques (not theory, but actual techniques); Understanding of how to adapt library theory and techniques to children and teens (understand how they operate differently, and thus how services must be delivered differently to provide equity of access); Budgeting; Design (this could be web design, print design…but also even more: space design…how the physical features of the library and collection affect usability).

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

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

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

Ideally, they learn it all at school; some things are better developed on the job but need the theoretical framework; programming, outreach, leadership/advocacy, etc, fall into this category.

Grant writing is best taught on the job as different organizations approach this differently; but to write a good grant you need to have project management skills, so I’d rather they come with that.

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

√ Internship or practicum
√ Other presentation
√ Other publication

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

Have no idea. I don’t pay much attention to what school they came from, I really care about the interview/experience.

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

Have no idea. I don’t pay much attention to what school they came from, I really care about the interview/experience.

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

If you want to work in public libraries, take children/teen related coursework. You will need it, even if you don’t think you want to work with young people. (And if you don’t, you should either get over that feeling, or reconsider public librarianship).

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

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

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

Leave a comment

Filed under 200+ staff members, Public, Urban area, Western US, What Should Potential Hires Learn in Library School

Most of my networking has been done outside of the LIS field

Constable examining licenses - hunting (LOC)This anonymous interview is with a job hunter who is currently employed (even if part-time or in an unrelated field), has not been hired within the last two months, and has been looking for a new position for six months to a year. This person is looking in academic, public, school, and special libraries, at the following levels: entry level, requiring at least two years of experience, supervisory, senior librarian. Here is this person’s experience with internships/volunteering:

None. I have been working full time in a staff position for an academic institution.

This job hunter is in a city/town in the Southern US and is willing to move anywhere.

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

1. Open for training opportunities
2. Digital services
3. Integration of social media

Where do you look for open positions?

I Need a Library Job list
Chronicle
ALA Joblist

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?

It takes me about 30 minutes to apply for each position. This includes the cover letter, resume, and the application.

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

√ No

When would you like employers to contact you?

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

How do you prefer to communicate with potential employers?

√ Phone for good news, email for bad news

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

√ Tour of facility
√ Being taken out to meal
√ Meeting department members/potential co-workers
√ Meeting with HR to talk about benefits/salary

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

RESPOND PROMPTLY

What do you think is the secret to getting hired?

Probably knowing people within the organizations you want to be hired at. It has been very hard for me since I’m a newly graduated student from an MLIS program and most of my networking has been done outside of the LIS field.

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

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

Leave a comment

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

Knowing someone on the inside

Hunting Party at Norderhamn beach near the Cave of Stora Förvar, Stora Karlsö, Gotland, SwedenThis 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 academic and special libraries, library vendors/service providers, at the following levels: entry level, requiring at least two years of experience. Here is this person’s experience with internships/volunteering:

Graduated in December 2011 with a 3 years of student library work and a semester-long internship, currently have 14 mos part-time experience, volunteer 1-2 days a month at a museum library

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?

Challenging and engaging work, respect, collegial atmosphere

Where do you look for open positions?

ALA, ILI-L listserv, local joblists, institutional 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?

I spend the most time on my cover letter, then tweak my CV/resume according to the specific job requirements

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

√ No

When would you like employers to contact you?

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

How do you prefer to communicate with potential employers?

√ Email

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

√ Tour of facility
√ Meeting department members/potential co-workers
√ Being able to present

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

Be specific and realistic about job requirements and duties, clearly differentiate between required and desirable qualifications, be respectful of candidates during the application process

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

Communicate in a timely manner and respond to all applications, even with a form rejection

What do you think is the secret to getting hired?

Knowing someone on the inside, being in the right place at the right time

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

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

Leave a comment

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

for example, if it’s a three round process and the first round isn’t with anyone from your library

President Roosevelt is now hunting in the Louisiana canebrakes. (LOC)This anonymous interview is with a job hunter who is currently employed (even if part-time or in an unrelated field), has not been hired within the last two months, and has been looking for a new position for six months to a year. This person is looking in public libraries as a children’s librarian, at the following levels: entry level, requiring at least two years of experience, supervisory.

This job hunter is in an city/town in the Northeastern US and is willing to move within New England.

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

Stability, salary, ability to be in charge (not looking to be micro-managed)

Where do you look for open positions?

Connecticut Library Jobs

MA Library Jobs

RI JobLine

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?

Research town and library job opening is in, update resume, edit cover letter to fit job description and town, have a few people look it over before submitting… anywhere from 3-5 hours

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

√ No

When would you like employers to contact you?

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

How do you prefer to communicate with potential employers?

√ Phone for good news, email for bad news

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

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

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

Have competitive salary and benefits and be upfront about what those are, be upfront about their hiring process and how long it will take (for example, if it’s a three round process and the first round isn’t with anyone from your library, then say that in the posting or when the candidate is contacted for the first round interview)

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

Be upfront about what they are looking for, there are always things they are looking for that weren’t put in the posting. Being upfront with the candidate about all their needs could save both sides time.

What do you think is the secret to getting hired?

Luck. And research. I always research the town and library before applying, I look for long range plans, I read past board of trustee minutes or town committee minutes, I look on the town’s website as well as look up the town profile on wikipedia. I look at the library’s facebook page and see if they have twitter or photobucket or any other social media presence. Information is power.

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

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

Leave a comment

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