Being a unicorn

Library in United States National Museum BuildingThis anonymous interview is with a job hunter who is currently employed (even if part-time or in an unrelated field), has not been hired within the last two months, and has been looking for a new position for Less than six months. This person is looking in Academic libraries, Library vendors/service providers, Public libraries, and Special libraries, Medical/Health, Federal Government at the following levels: Entry level, Requiring at least two years of experience. This new grad/entry level applicant has internship/volunteering experience:

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

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

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

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

Where do you look for open positions?

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

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

√ Only for certain kinds of employers

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

Time spent on application packet preparation depends on the type of job (academic vs federal vs corporate). At this point I have a very detailed resume that I customize to fit the job, and I have a very basic template for cover letters so I don’t spend time repeatedly typing in my contact information. The main content of my cover letters are written fresh for each position. On average I’d say I spend a minimum of two to three hours on an application submission, at most many hours over several days.

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

√ No

When would you like employers to contact you?

√ To acknowledge my application
√ To tell me if I have or have not been selected to move on to the interview stage
√ To follow-up after an interview
√ Once the position has been filled, even if it’s not me
√ Other: I understand that there are time constraints on how much follow up potential employers can offer, but as the potential new hire there is no such things as too much communication.

How do you prefer to communicate with potential employers?

√ Other: I prefer a mix of phone and email. Email for scheduling interviews, phone for other news.

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

√ Tour of facility
√ Meeting department members/potential co-workers
√ Meeting with HR to talk about benefits/salary
√ Other: A high priority for me is getting a sense of how I would fit in with the existing staff dynamics. I’d want the most time possible to be spent with department members and talking through the particulars of the job.

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

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

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

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

What do you think is the secret to getting hired?

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

For some context, take a look at the most recently published summary of responses.

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

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

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Filed under Job hunter's survey, Urban area

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

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

Everyone, I’m the Dean of Libraries

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

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

√ 25 or fewer

Approximately what percentage of those would you say were hirable?

√ 25% or less

And how would you define “hirable”?

Had the basic qualifications we were looking for

How are applications evaluated, and by whom?

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

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

Does not meet minimum qualifications.

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

√ No

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

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

I want to hire someone who is

inquisitive

How many staff members are at your library/organization?

√ 200+

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

√ 2

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

√ 2

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

√ There are fewer positions

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

√ Yes

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

√ Yes

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

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

Is librarianship a dying profession?

√ Yes

Why or why not?

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

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

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

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

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

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

We typically hire new grads, so I don’t expect an applicant to have a lot of actual teaching experience

Interior of Townsville library, ca. 1948This anonymous interview is with an academic librarian who has been a hiring manager and a member of a hiring or search committee a human resources professional. This person hires the following types of LIS professionals:

Reference/Instruction
Access Services
Technical Services
Systems

This librarian works at a library with 10-50 staff members in a city/town in the Southern US.

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

√ Yes

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
√ Budgeting/Accounting
√ Project Management
√ Library Management
√ Collection Management
√ Web Design/Usability
√ Research Methods
√ Reference
√ Information Behavior
√ Instruction
√ Soft Skills (e.g. Communication, Interpersonal Relations)

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

If you’re going into an academic library, please, please, PLEASE have a basic idea of how to put together an instructional session and direct a class. We typically hire new grads, so I don’t expect an applicant to have a lot of actual teaching experience, but it sure is nice to see that she has at least some understanding of theories and practices related to information literacy instruction, instructional design, etc. If I’m interviewing you tomorrow, and you don’t have a clue what the new IL Framework is or how it differs from the old set of IL Standards, that’s a red flag.

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)?

The first thing that comes to mind: I don’t expect new reference/instruction librarians to know every database inside and out on Day One. I don’t even expect them to have “favorite databases” (a frequent interview question during my first job search) so much as I expect them to understand how databases work: how to execute basic and advanced searches and how to use filters/refiners/facets in an efficient and effective manner.

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

√ Library work experience
√ Internship or practicum

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

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Simmons College come to mind immediately. And it seems like a lot of the smart and insightful young librarians I’ve come across online and at conferences recently came out of Indiana University.

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

Nope

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

Skip the reader advisory class if you’re interested in academia. Take that cataloging class, if for no other reason than to understand how it all works. Learn a little bit about teaching. HAVE FUN.

For some context, take a look at the most recently published summary of responses to this survey, or specific analysis of the responses discussing online school, the amount of coursework students should take, and preferences/reluctances for candidates from certain schools.

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

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

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Filed under 10-50 staff members, Academic, City/town, Southern US, What Should Potential Hires Learn in Library School

We have very few entry-level professional positions

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

subject liaisons, department or branch heads

This librarian works at a library with 200+ staff members in a suburban area in the Northeastern 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: 10

And how would you define “hirable”?

Met all the required qualifications.

How are applications evaluated, and by whom?

There are rubrics based on the required job qualifications and the search committee reviews all the applications.

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

They don’t meet all the required qualifications.

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

√ No

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

Make sure they address every single required job qualification, using the same language as what is in the job ad, in their resume/cv and/or cover letter.

I want to hire someone who is

qualified.

How many staff members are at your library/organization?

√ 200+

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

√ 5-6

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

√ 7 or more

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

√ I don’t know

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?

We have very few entry-level professional positions, but when we do, we don’t require experience.

Is librarianship a dying profession?

√ No

Why or why not?

Information will always need to be organized, made accessible, and users taught how to find it.

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 200+ staff members, Academic, Northeastern US, State of the Job Market 2015, Suburban area

Be willing to compromise on things that may not be absolutely essential, like a driver’s license

Library Staff, c1990s, LSE LibraryThis 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 and Special libraries, at the following levels: Requiring at least two years of experience, Supervisory, Senior Librarian, Branch Manager. This job hunter is in an urban area, in the  Northeastern US and is willing to move, to most places in Northeast, Mid Atlantic, Midwest.

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

Salary (relative to cost of living)
Location
Good fit for my experience and skills

Where do you look for open positions?

INALJ, Twitter, libraryjobs.ca

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 don’t generally spend much time customizing my resume unless the job is far outside of my past experience. For the cover letter I usually use a previous cover letter as a base and then try to make sure I hit the main points in the job listing, and specifically refer to anything about that library that would make my skills a good fit. Usually I spend an hour or so.

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)?

√ Meeting department members/potential co-workers

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

Be willing to compromise on things that may not be absolutely essential, like a driver’s license. Offer full-time jobs. Be open-minded about people from out of state interested in relocating.

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

Communicate with applicants, and not inflate “required” qualifications on job listings beyond what’s actually required. Be transparent about salaries.

What do you think is the secret to getting hired?

Matching your skill set to the jobs that are hiring, being flexible.

For some context, take a look at the most recently published summary of responses.

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

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

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

7. NEVER, EVER name-drop.

Minna P. Gill, Suffragette and Librarian, n.d.This anonymous interview is with a non-librarian who has been a hiring manager, a member of a hiring committee , human resources, and a Labor and employment attorney. This person works at a public library with 100-200 staff members.

What are the top three things you look for in a candidate?

1. Academic qualifications
2. Enthusiasm
3. Genuine interest in the specific job and in our Library system.

Do you have any instant dealbreakers, either in the application packet or the interview process?

1. Incomplete information in application materials, especially as to previous jobs.
2. Failure to read instructions.
3. Failure to provide required proof of academic credentials.

What are you tired of seeing on resumes/in cover letters?

1. I’ve always loved to read.
2. Anything that is clearly a form letter that the applicant has used over and over. I want to see a genuine interest in our community and in our libraries.
3. References available on request.
4. Will discuss at interview. That’s a real interview-opportunity killer.
5. Not including pay information for previous jobs.
6. Not including the sizes of libraries [county/city population and # of employees] where the candidate has previously worked.

Is there anything that people don’t put on their resumes that you wish they did?

1. Why the job search has lead to our library system, especially for applicants who live several states away.
2. Types of libraries [academic, public, school, etc.] where applicants have worked.
3. Demographics of the areas where the applicant has worked [i.e., urban library, rural, suburban, etc.]. Makes a big difference.

How many pages should a cover letter be?

√ Two is ok, but no more

How many pages should a resume/CV be?

√ As many as it takes, but keep it short and sweet

Do you have a preferred format for application documents?

√ No preference, as long as I can open it

Should a resume/CV have an Objective statement?

√ I don’t care

If applications are emailed, how should the cover letter be submitted?

√ Both as an attachment and in the body of the email

What’s the best way to win you over in an interview?

1. Prepare. Learn as much as you can about the library system and the communities it serves.
2. Be honest. Don’t tell us what you think we want to hear.
3. Think before answering any question.
4. Make eye contact.
5. Shake our hands.
6. Dress appropriately.
7. NEVER, EVER name-drop.
8. Be on time.

What are some of the most common mistakes people make in an interview?

1. Thinking that the work is the same from library system to library system, or even from Branch to Branch.
2. Saying too much. When you prepare to answer a question, think about the answer and use the precise words. Don’t over-explain.
3. Don’t try to gloss over mistakes you’ve made at other jobs. Own them and tell us how you’ve learned from them.

How has hiring changed at your organization since you’ve been in on the process?

1. It’s more transparent that it had been.
2. Candidates dress more casually than I think is appropriate.
3. There does appear to be a bias against older applicants. Younger managers typically choose younger applicants to interview. It’s a struggle that I find distasteful and unlawful.

For some context, take a look at the most recently published summary of responses to this survey.

If you’re someone who has participated in hiring library workers, take this survey and share your viewpoint.

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Filed under Original Survey

Take a class or two that you would not normally take

Director of the John F. Kennedy Library Dan Fenn, Jr., 1971This anonymous interview is with an academic public special librarian who has been member of a search committee a human resources professional. This person hires the following types of LIS professionals:

This librarian in an urban area city/town  in the Western US.

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

√ Depends on the school/Depends on the candidate

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

4

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

√ Cataloging
√ Budgeting/Accounting
√ Project Management
√ Collection Management
√ Digital Collections
√ Reference
√ Marketing
√ Instruction
√ Soft Skills (e.g. Communication, Interpersonal Relations)
√ Other: vendors, vendor relationships

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 of the following experiences should library students have upon graduating?

√ Internship or practicum

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

Take a class or two that you would not normally take. It could broaden your outlook and give you some experience for the future that you had not planned on.

Do you have any other comments, for library schools or students, or about the survey?

Some classes should be required in library school: one cataloging class (should you have to catalog anything, ever!); library management- whether it’s a public, academic or special library; collection dev/mgmt- print, media, and electronic PLUS different vendors, relating to vendors, buying savvy; budgeting; supervising 101- you may never be a supervisor but the people skills learned WILL assist you in all relationships.

For some context, take a look at the most recently published summary of responses to this survey, or specific analysis of the responses discussing online school, the amount of coursework students should take, and preferences/reluctances for candidates from certain schools.

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

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Western US, What Should Potential Hires Learn in Library School