Coming in cold from an MLS program with no work experience puts you at the bottom of the list.

Crockery and S. Murray, Grainger 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:

adult services librarians, children’s librarians, teen librarian, supervisors, managers

This librarian works at a library with 50-100 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?

√ 75-100

Approximately what percentage of those would you say were hirable?

√ 26-50 %

And how would you define “hirable”?

Possessing the qualifications and experience necessary to be successful in the job.

How are applications evaluated, and by whom?

Initially by HR (weeded out for minimum qualifications). Scored and ranked by library staff.

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

Not meeting the minimum qualifications (usually lack of required years of experience).

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?

Get as much in-library experience as you can, even as a volunteer, in the type of library setting you prefer to work in. Coming in cold from an MLS program with no work experience puts you at the bottom of the list.

I want to hire someone who is

excited

How many staff members are at your library/organization?

√ 50-100

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?

√ 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 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?

We don’t require it, but when we see 20 candidates with experience and 20 without any, we’ll interview the people with experience.

Is librarianship a dying profession?

√ No

Why or why not?

Libraries are about the dissemination and democratization of information and expertise. The need for that function in society is not in danger of going away.

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 50-100 staff members, Public, State of the Job Market 2015, Suburban area, Western US

Saying the job is perfect for you is fine, but also say why you are perfect for us.

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:

Reference and information literacy

This librarian works at a library with 100-200 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?

√ 25-75

Approximately what percentage of those would you say were hirable?

√ 25% or less

And how would you define “hirable”?

Has experience relevant to the position: university library reference, information literacy, and outreach.

How are applications evaluated, and by whom?

The search committee reviews all applications that are received. Committee members use a checklist based on the job ad: required and preferred qualifications. Members meet to discuss their top choices. The more “yes” checkmarks, the more likely we’ll take the next step, which is a phone interview.

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

No library experience whatsoever. Or experience that doesn’t fit our needs: such as an applicant with only children’s librarian experience applying for a university-level reference and information literacy position.

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?

In the cover letter, phone interview, and in-person interview: tell us what you can bring to the position, and how your skills and interests will benefit us. Saying the job is perfect for you is fine, but also say why you are perfect for us.

I want to hire someone who is

proactive

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?

√ 3-4

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 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?

The job ad usually asks for “experience with” a particular field or task, without specifying a number of years. Graduate assistant or volunteer experience does count. An applicant with no relevant experience isn’t likely to be selected for an interview.

Is librarianship a dying profession?

√ No

Why or why not?

Faculty and students still need a librarian’s experience and expertise to wade through the massive amount of information available.

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 100-200 staff members, Academic, Midwestern US, Rural area, State of the Job Market 2015

we have only a few candidates for some of our job openings

Market day, Killarney 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:

Collection development librarians and liaison librarians

This librarian works at a library with 50-100 staff members in an urban 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”?

Provided all required paperwork and met all minimum requirements.

How are applications evaluated, and by whom?

By a committee of librarians, including the supervisor and librarians from within and outside of the department.

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

Not providing required materials.

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

√ Other: Potentially we would–but only informally and only if asked

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

Read the instructions on the application system very thoroughly. Answer all required questions and provide all required materials. Call HR or reach out to the head of the search committee if you have questions about what’s required. Research very thoroughly the library’s programs, client base, community, and strategic plan *before* the interview. More generally, job seekers should be willing to reach outside of their comfort zone when it comes to job responsibilities and be willing to move.

I want to hire someone who is

Capable

How many staff members are at your library/organization?

√ 50-100

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?

√ 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 more 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?

No, only “familiarity with” or “knowledge of” certain aspects of librarianship. I expect graduates to have had at least an internship, work-study, or graduate assistantship.

Is librarianship a dying profession?

√ Other: It is a changing profession

Why or why not?

User needs are changing, as are the way they seek to fulfill those needs. There will always be a need for someone like a librarian to teach people and help people do research and to curate and develop collections. The pace of change is rapid, but if we can be flexible and nimble, we will still have plenty of work to do.

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

I hear people complaining about how they will “never” get a job and it makes me mad because we have only a few candidates for some of our job openings. Not everyone is going to get their dream job right out of school. Open your mind, be willing to move, be flexible, be patient. Also, ask a friend to be brutally honest about your resume, cover letters, and interviewing style. Simple professionalism is not as common as you think–you can easily outshine other candidates by being professional, personable, and showing some passion about the job in question.

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 50-100 staff members, Academic, Southern US, State of the Job Market 2015, Urban area

In practice, you can’t get a job doing something you’ve never tried.

Market day, KillarneyThis 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:

Mostly subject liaisons / instruction 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?

√ more than 100, but less than 200

Approximately what percentage of those would you say were hirable?

√ 26-50 %

And how would you define “hirable”?

Possess (or are about to) the MLS, have some practical experience, absence of red-flags in their applications, such as lots of typos or questionable comments (e.g. I dislike group work, etc.)

How are applications evaluated, and by whom?

By a committee of usually 5-6 people, all but one of whom are faculty. We use a specific rubric based on the job ad. The rubric must be agreed upon by the entire committee before anyone sees an application. HR does not do an initial weed out. Sometimes the committee chair weeds out people lacking the obvious qualifications (like the degree).

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

Poor match between the position and the background – for example, if I’m hiring an art librarian, I’m going to look at candidates with Art background over the history librarians. Or if I want an instruction librarian, I’ll look for someone who has stood in front of a class before over someone whose instruction consists exclusively of one-on-one interactions.

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

√ Other: Only if they request it, and then feedback is up to the chair. Some are more constructive/informative than others.

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

Match the application to the specific job. I see lots of people who are clearly sending out generic applications. If they stress their interest and abilities in collection development for a job that doesn’t include that, I can tell that not only do they not really want this job, but they didn’t really look at the ad. Someone who has taken the time to address the job ad, emphasize the things that are emphasized in the ad, and know a little bit of something about our institution stands out. Practical experience is a must as well – if you want a job doing reference, you need to have at least some kind of practicum or internship doing it in real life to have a realistic chance.

I want to hire someone who is

genuinely interested in THIS job, not just any job, and whose strengths match what we need. Also I’m looking for independence and self-motivation.

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?

√ 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?

√ There are fewer positions

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

√ Other: No, but several positions were redefined so that they were different. Thus the old job isn’t here any more, and some of that work was moved to staff, but a new job that didn’t previously exist was created in its place.

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

√ Other: Same answer as before – librarian positions were redescribed to do different things, and some of the work of the old position was moved to staff.

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

Some positions officially require experience. Most make it optional, but in practice, you can’t get a job doing something you’ve never tried. Internships and practicum experiences count though, so someone who has done a lot of reference experience as part of their degree would be considered just as much as someone who did it on the job. But if someone applies for a reference job and has never been at a desk, they wouldn’t make the cut.

Is librarianship a dying profession?

√ No

Why or why not?

I don’t think it’s dying but it’s changing in dramatic ways. I do think some parts of it are going to die as a natural evolution, and if we tether ourselves to those elements of the field we will disappear as well. But if we evolve to match what new needs are, I think there is a future for us. Graphic artists are a good parallel. They used to be all about exacto knives and rubber cement, and the people who stuck to those methods can’t do that work anymore, not because graphic arts disappeared, but because computers became the tool. I think if we’re focusing all our efforts on things that computers do better than we do (or will – like cataloging), then we’ll disappear. But if we focus on services that people need that the didn’t before (like better instruction, student services, digital humanities, etc.) then there is a place for us.

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 100-200 staff members, Academic, State of the Job Market 2015, Suburban area, Western US

The glutted librarian labor market results in more competitive search processes

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

Subject specialists, research librarians, catalogers, digital librarians, archivists.

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

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

√ 75-100

Approximately what percentage of those would you say were hirable?

√ 25% or less

And how would you define “hirable”?

Meets all required and some preferred qualifications.

How are applications evaluated, and by whom?

Search committee. Rubric used to communicate decision-making process and rationale to HR.

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

Does not meet 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?

Read the job description. Make sure you meet all required qualifications before applying. Take the time to write a cover letter that communicates why you are interested in and qualified for the position, and how you would perform if you were the successful candidate. Center the position and institution in your letter, and don’t rephrase your resume!

I want to hire someone who is

extraordinary

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 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?

√ Yes

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

Work experience gained from jobs or internships, but not professional experience.

Is librarianship a dying profession?

√ No

Why or why not?

Librarianship is not obsolete, but libraries will not hire at the same rate and volume that they once did. The glutted librarian labor market results in more competitive search processes, and the institution has a distinct advantage over applicants. Librarians must understand that there are many qualified candidates for every opening, and so while rejections don’t necessarily reflect poorly on a candidate, the bar is raised for exceptional performance.

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, Northeastern US, Rural area, State of the Job Market 2015

The only reason it might be dying is because of funding issues

Paramaribo market scene. Women and men. 1922.This anonymous interview is with a public librarian who has been a hiring manager. This person hires the following types of LIS professionals:

Branch librarians.

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

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

√ Other: City HR forwards candidates to us

Approximately what percentage of those would you say were hirable?

√ Other: 50 – 75% of candidates interviewed

And how would you define “hirable”?

Capable of doing the job with minimal training.

How are applications evaluated, and by whom?

2 managers interview all candidates. Each answer is rated on a points scale, and interviewer also writes an overall impression at the end of interview. In a consensus meeting, interviewers discuss candidates with HR person and higher lever manager, and a candidates are ranked.

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

I don’t play a role in this part of the process.

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?

Understand the library and the job they are applying for. Answer all of the questions fully and completely.

I want to hire someone who is

unflappable

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?

√ 7 or more

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?

√ 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?

No, but it sure helps to have it. This is an urban library and those who don’t know what they are getting into will be at a disadvantage.

Is librarianship a dying profession?

√ No

Why or why not?

The only reason it might be dying is because of funding issues. As long as libraries continue to be funded, we will always have a purpose and fill a community need.

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

Further Questions: When contacting applicants for interviews, how long will you wait for a reply before moving on in the process?

This week we asked people who hire librarians

When contacting applicants for interviews, how long will you wait for a reply before moving on in the process? When do you expect a reply, and does it differ by position? Do you have issues with applicants not replying in a timely fashion? Of course, this is very circumstance-dependent, but if an applicant does not reply within a week, or two, and you have moved on, is there anything they can do to salvage the relationship for this position or a potential open position in the future?

Jason GrubbIf an applicant hasn’t replied after a couple of days, we will try contacting them again. We will usually only call or email. If we haven’t heard from the applicant by the time interviews begin then we will not consider them for the position. At this point there is little they can do to be reconsidered. Thankfully, in all my years of hiring, I’ve only not been able to contact an applicant once. Most applicants are very good about responding. Not only is a quick response professional, it demonstrates a genuine interest in the position. The take away for job seekers: if you are on the job hunt sync your email to your phone, set alerts, have the volume on your phone turned up, if messages are left respond promptly.

– Jason Grubb, Director, Sweetwater County Library System

Celia RabinowitzThis is a really interesting question.  In over 15 years of managing searches, I don’t think I have never actually had a situation where a candidate did not reply to a communication about a phone or in-person interview.  These days it is so easy to set up voice mail and email with messages indicating if a person is not accessible (and when they will be), that I might consider waiting if I had that information and the candidate was really strong and we wanted to talk/see them.  But that might also depend on how long it would be before they were available.

If there was no information about the candidate’s availability I would not wait more than one week at the very most (and possibly less).  Without a reply I would assume the person was no longer interested for some reason (and it is really OK for you to communicate that to us – we’d prefer it).  Reestablishing the relationship later would depend primarily on where we where in the search process.  Adding someone to a phone interview list isn’t usually very difficult. But communication at that point would require some explanation on the part of the candidate about why they did not respond initially.  And the search committee would need to decide whether it was worth the risk of continuing to include that candidate.

So my best advice is to keep communication open.  If you need a day to think once you receive an email about an offer of an interview, take it.  If you want more time, ask if that is possible.  If you have changed your mind, tell the search chair.  If you are submitting applications and sometimes inaccessible, be sure you have accurate messages with information about your availability and try to check when you can.

– Celia Rabinowitz,  Dean of Mason Library at Keene State College in Keene, NH

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.

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Filed under Further Questions