This post originally appeared on June 9, 2014. A follow up with Mr. Walker will appear shortly.
Marcus Walker is a Circulation and Technical Services Library Assistant at the University of Louisville Brandeis School of Law Library, which he describes as a reasonably casual yet highly functional workplace. In his previous position, he was particularly proud of inventorying over 7800 DVD titles in just over six weeks. Mr. Walker says,
In retrospect, getting my MLS was rather obvious. The two branches of the public library near my childhood home were just as likely of destinations for recreation as anywhere else for me growing up, and I might have been the only ten-year-old in the city who knew how to work a microform machine. Anyhow, I’m just glad to have realized libraries were where I should be, because it’s hard to imagine that I would be any happier in almost any other career.
He is looking in academic libraries, archives and public libraries, at the entry level. When asked about experience with internships/volunteering, he said:
I haven’t had an internship or a volunteer position, but I have had student assistant positions as an undergraduate and six years of paraprofessional experience since.
Mr. Walker is in an urban area in the Southern US, and is willing to move,
though I do have preferences. That being said, if I see a job I really like, I’d move somewhere I otherwise wouldn’t. Likewise, if there is a position somewhere I really want to live, I would consider jobs I might not under other circumstances.
What are the top three things you’re looking for in a job?
The three qualities I want most in a position are that it coincides with my interests, it is located somewhere that I want to live (or at least wouldn’t mind living), and that, given everything, it pays fairly.
Where do you look for open positions?
INALJ, HigherEdJobs, ALA Joblist, Chronicle Vitae
Do you expect to see salary range listed in a job ad?
√ Other: I don’t necessarily expect it, but it is a red flag when I don’t.
What’s your routine for preparing an application packet? How much time do you spend on it?
When I find a position I like and feel I match up well with, I take a few moments and search the potential employer’s site and the local area, especially if I’m unfamiliar with the university or the city. I bemoan the fact that I have to write yet another cover letter, then I consider how to write it. Once I’ve gotten that to my liking, or more accurately, I don’t completely hate it, I move on to the application. I fill out the application, despite the fact I a) have a resume with most of this information and b) have filled out nearly indistinguishable applications with the exact same data countless times before. Once filled out, I check and re-check it, to make sure it looks correct. Finally, I breathe a sigh of relief when it’s done, followed by an immediate dread that I overlooked a silly spelling mistake or could have improved a sentence in the cover letter somehow. How long does it take? At minimum, a couple of hours. Just as likely, if not more so, I’ll take a couple of days (off and on) to think about and write the application. I want to get it right.
Have you ever stretched the truth, exaggerated, or lied on your resume, or at some other point during the hiring process?
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: I’m not picky, just as long as I hear something.
Which events during the interview/visit are most important to your assessment of the position (i.e. deciding if you want the job)?
√ Tour of facility
√ Meeting department members/potential co-workers
√ Meeting with HR to talk about benefits/salary
What do you think employers should do to get the best candidates to apply?
Pretty please, with sugar on top, keep in mind not everyone is going to have that “two years of post-MLS experience” that seems to be wanted for every so-called entry-level job. (This might have been mentioned once or twice before by other survey takers.) I’m not arrogant enough to presume I’m one of the best candidates, but I personally have years of library experience from before I started my Master’s coursework, which I think is quality experience but rarely, if ever, is accepted in lieu of the post-Master’s work. In getting to know my former classmates, many of them also have library staff experience, and if there is anyone who should know how valuable staff experience can be, it’s librarians… the very people asking for those two years of post-Master’s work.
What should employers do to make the hiring process less painful?
I understand why a resume and an application are wanted — to prevent people from sending out resumes to any open position — but that doesn’t stop the redundancy from being frustrating.
If your screening process is going to take a while, please tell us. I understand having a specific date is not always possible, but if the date is open (i.e., the job is “open until filled”) or has been extended, please let us know if we are still in contention or if you have moved on, so we can move on.
What do you think is the secret to getting hired?
Who hasn’t thought “well, if I knew that, I’d have a job”? :-)
Honestly, though, I think it differs from employer to employer. However, it never seems to hurt if your personality fits in with the overall atmosphere of the employer’s workplace.
Do you have any comments, or are there any other questions you think we should add to this survey?
I have to agree with a previous survey taker that the question about exaggerating on your resume or in the application process seems to be superfluous; it seems… ill-advised to answer that anyway but no.
It might also be worthwhile to have a question about interviewee’s interesting application/interview experiences similar to the “funny stories” question in the Librarians Hire Fashion survey.
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!