Further Questions: Should people who don’t meet all the job qualifications still apply?

Each week (or thereabouts) I ask a question to a group of people who hire library and LIS workers. If you have a question to ask or if you’d like to be part of the group that answers, shoot me an email at hiringlibrariansATgmail.

There is a statistic from a 2014 Hewlett Packard internal report, quoted in the book Lean In and many other places, that says women don’t apply to jobs unless they meet 100% of the criteria, whereas men will apply if they meet about 60%. This week’s question is:

Should people who don’t meet all the job qualifications still apply? What is your advice for a hypothetical job seeker, looking at one of your organization’s job listings, on parsing the listed requirements? Are any safe to ignore, or to think of in “creative” ways? Bonus question: any stories about people getting jobs when they did not meet all the qualifications?


Ellen Mehling, Job Search Advisor/Instructor and Brooklyn Public Library’s Job Information Resource Librarian: First I would pay attention to the job requirements vs. the preferences in the job posting. Don’t think that every job description is just the “wish list” you want it to be – the employer may be 100% serious that each of the requirements is, you know, required. If you meet most (like 80-90% or more) of the requirements, I would go for it. You might not get an interview if the missing requirement(s) are crucial to the position, and it may be a harder sell if you do get an interview. Emphasize what you do have to offer, based on the job posting, and include any additional skills you have that are relevant to the job; they may help you to get an interview. If you are a quick learner and enjoy acquiring new skills I would include that info too.

What you definitely should not do is lie and say, or imply, that you meet all the requirements if you don’t. Employers don’t want employees they can’t trust.


Angelynn King, Head Librarian, Delaware Technical Community College: I wouldn’t recommend applying for any job for which you don’t have the required qualifications. It just wastes everyone’s time. 

Desired qualifications are a different matter. You can be hired without any of them, although you are less likely to make it to the interview stage in a strong pool of candidates. Be aware that if the employer puts them in the ad, they’re part of the job, and you should be prepared to address how you would gain those skills.  

It’s been my impression that men do tend to overmatch while woman undermatch, although it’s by no means universal. I don’t know if it’s socialization, economics, or something else. For my part, I value job security very highly and wouldn’t take the risk of moving my family for a job I wasn’t confident I could do well.  


Kathryn Levenson, Librarian, Piedmont High School: If you think there is a chance you might get the job, why not try?

I cannot even count how many resumes I have put out into the world over the years. I tailor each resume to the job. I look for keywords in the announcement and use those in the application or resume.

I have a document I can cut and paste my skills from into the application or resume.

List all your skills: sales, logistics, accounting with examples of what you did, what kinds of software you can use, language skills, etc. But, only pick the skills relevant to the job listing to add there. If you are applying to be a library assistant, any jobs where you worked with children would be relevant. If you speak Spanish or other languages, that would be helpful in school settings. 

Learn something about restorative justice and conflict resolution, even if it is reading some articles on these subjects.


Amy Tureen (she/her/hers), Head, Library Liaison Program, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas: Absolutely! In a perfect world, organizations would be intentional and honest about the true “requirements” for a position. These are things the selected candidate must have, day one, to be successful in the role and do not include skill sets that can be learned on the job without causing harm to the organization. For example, in my department (subject liaisons), we have reduced our required qualifications to two in almost every case: 1) an earned Master’s Degree in library or information science from an American Library Association accredited program by the date of appointment and 2) competence and sensitivity in working with individuals who are highly diverse regarding many facets of identity, including but not limited to gender, ethnicity, nationality, sexual orientation, ability, income, level of educational attainment, and religion. Anything else we can teach you. Sadly, we have yet to achieve universal perfection, so ads are often rife with “requirements” that are really preferences. As such, candidates should never view requirement lists as truly black and white.


Hilary Kraus, Research Services Librarian, UConn Library: Speaking from my experience in academic libraries, rules about required qualifications can be strict. This is especially true at public institutions. Hiring committees frequently use a matrix of the required and preferred qualifications from the job ad, confirming which of these each candidate meets based on their application materials. In these circumstances, required qualifications are typically deal-breakers. Anyone who doesn’t meet those cannot be interviewed.

The matrix is a great tool for reducing bias and encouraging objectivity in the search process. That said, it lacks flexibility. As a candidate, it’s your responsibility to find a way to demonstrate that you meet, in some capacity, all the required qualifications. In your cover letter and resume/CV, make this as clear as possible so it’s easy for the hiring committee to check those boxes. If your experience is more adjacent than exact, explain why what you know or have done is a sufficient match to that item in the job ad. And of course, you should also try to include how you meet as many of the preferred qualifications as possible, to stand out amongst other candidates.


Gemma Doyle, Collection Development Manager, EBSCO: Whether or not an employer is going to demand all of the job ad qualifications be met is something no job candidate can tell from the outside, so they definitely shouldn’t limit themselves to job where they met 100% of the qualifications.  Aim high!  You never know who else is in the candidate pool, and your experience may be more relevant and helpful than you might think from the outside.  However, and there is a however – some people might tell you that if a job interests you, you should apply, no matter what qualifications you’re missing, because the most they can do is not interview you; there’s no harm done.  I caution against that a little.  There is a point at which the gulf between an applicant’s experience and the required qualifications is just too large, and applying is going to make an applicant look like they don’t understand what the job is. If they’re applying for a higher-level job and have no experience at all, it pulls their judgment into question in a way employers are going to remember. 

It’s hard to pin down a percentage of job posting qualifications you need to hit that makes sense.  It really depends on the job, your experience and the qualifications you don’t have.  I think about it in terms of skills vs. experience.  If most of what you lack are things that can be learned on the job – the specific ILS, software, etc., then that’s one thing, and you can talk about the software skills you do have as a way of showing that you are able to pick up new skills.  But if you’re missing key experience, if the job is asking for 5 or more years of supervisory experience, and you have one or two (or none!) that can be a hard thing to overcome. 

If you think that might be the case for you, one thing you can do is reach out to the hiring manager – after the job is closed, so there’s no question that you’re trying to get a backdoor interview – and ask for an informational interview about what the role and what kinds of things they’re really looking for (beyond what’s in the job posting) and what kinds of things you can do to get that experience.  A lot of hiring managers are more than happy to talk about these things, and are thrilled people are interested in their jobs, even if they aren’t ready to apply to them yet. After we did our last hire at the beginning of the summer, I did a series of informational interviews with people who were interested in joining our team or a similar role someplace else someday, and I think they were helpful for everyone, including me. 


Julie Todaro, Dean, Library Services, Austin Community College: The shorter answers are: It depends, be careful, and be very careful about “getting creative.” The longer answers begin with Barbra Streisand (Fanny) in Funny Girl or Matt LeBlanc (Joey) on Friends where Fanny responds to Follies open audition requests by assuring casting staff that she can “roller skate” and Joey shows up to a commercial audition with his “twin” and swears at a movie audition that he does NOT have a certain physical “situation.” And all of these lies or “getting creative” with their truth are designed to get the job. So while it ends up going relatively well for Barbra, it does not end well for Joey, so for us – the answers lie somewhere in between.

Should people who don’t meet all the job qualifications still apply?

If the qualifications are identified as “required” and specific, my answer is no, they shouldn’t spend valuable job search time on an application that may not even make it out of an HR or Library vetting practice. I have this opinion for a number of reasons but – frankly – in many areas of the profession there are standards above the institution governing levels of achievement in general or to gain a specific salary and those requirements may well be in place because of accreditation requirements; state, regional or national standards; and, possibly workforce or municipality or governing board standards.

A general statement is – if the job description has both a required and preferred section, then when should one – reading a required section – ask questions?

  • If the education is both specific and vague such as “A master’s degree is required.” might yield the questions -Which master’s degree? What type of accreditation must accompany that master’s degree?
  • If the educational statement says or implies that years of experience might substitute for education one can consider an application. I have seen this approach come and go over the years, but it has now landed back on the acceptable list and many organizations are being more specific and saying – for example – two years of experience can substitute or count for one year of college education.
  • If the required years are a range such as 5 to 7 years, this might beg the question “Is this time counted in months?” or “I have 4.5 years – will that suffice?”
  • If the application timing is an issue, one should ask “I am finishing my master’s in May ’22, but it is now March ’22. Can I still apply with the expectation I would not start until my master’s is completed?”

The preferred section of the job description lists just that – what is preferred and I wholeheartedly say people should apply if they have all (obviously), some, some similar, or none of those elements preferred. In addition if the job description lists education, experience, competencies, expectations, etc. but there are no labels of preferred or required – interested applicants can either apply anyway or check with institutions first to ask if any of the listed areas ARE required or preferred. (One can always also ask, are these description areas prioritized?)

As to “getting creative” I say no….if you don’t have anything like it then don’t – again – spend valuable job search time on the application. BUT if titles mentioned are similar – if educational requirements aren’t clear or if job description terms simply don’t match the institution you came from or the educational program you attended, you can either call to clarify or apply and provide an honest crosswalk between what you have and what they have identified on the job description.

I do not have any stories of people who got jobs where they didn’t meet the qualifications. I do have more stories of people who embellish their self-assessment and identify themselves as “tech savvy” when they simply aren’t. And – although most organizations don’t “test” or assess before hiring to see if – in fact – you ARE tech savvy, most organizations have reinstituted the probationary period and also build into training some pre-assessment to determine where the new employee (still in the probationary period) might “be” in the skills and abilities and knowledge spectrum.

What I also think is perfectly acceptable – if you find you don’t have the preferred qualifications or the competencies or attributes listed on the job application – is to identify – for example – a tech level where you currently are – then your willingness to learn, the identification of a (possibly) self-training plan you feel could bring you up to the level or credential needed and – for example – a statement on how you learn and the speed with which you learn. Applicants might also provide examples of what they have done and – to provide validity to that – match up who in your references might know that information about you first hand. Then invite the potential manager with an invitation to contact the reference and ask about something specific to the skills and abilities or knowledge area to assure a potential supervisor that you are part of but not all of the way there, but you can “get there from here.”


Celia Rabinowitz, Dean of Mason Library, Keene State College: The answer to this week’s question is “it depends”. I think, more and more, many of us work in organizations where the application process is more automated and often managed by a Human Resources department that belongs to the institution (in my case, a college) and not directly to the library. When we identify required qualifications for a position we are required to verify that all candidates meet them in order to move forward in the search process. At the same time, many job ads indicate that “an acceptable combination of education and experience” may meet the requirements. So this is the opportunity for a candidate who does not meet the specific requirements to make their case.
Online application forms make it very difficult to ignore required or preferred elements of an ad. But here is one reason I like to see a submitted CV or resume as well as the online form (question from a few weeks ago). Use the resume to provide enough detail on experience or education that you want to create a compelling argument for your candidacy. And make good use of your cover letter to tell the search committee why the job interests you and what you would bring to the position. Give clear evidence of how you meet the qualifications – projects you have worked on or managed, skills you have, etc. Remember, when we say 2-4 years prior experience or doing a specific job like supervising, we really to mean 2-4 years. If you are close to the two years you meet the requirement. Don’t assume the hiring committee will privilege the candidates with 4 years’ experience. We are looking for a collection of experiences, education, and ideas from candidates. If we are working together thoughtfully we should look carefully at how each candidate presents themself.
My advice is not to apply for a job that you are clearly not qualified for. Your application may not advance past an initial review by staff other than in the library. If it does, it probably won’t advance once the search committee sees it, which is not a good use of anyone’s time. If you are interested in a job and think you are qualified, take the time to make that argument. Read the job description and show the search committee how your education and experience make you a qualified candidate.


We’d love to hear your thoughts here in the comments, on Twitter @HiringLib, or in whale song. If you have a question to ask people who hire library workers, or if you’d like to be part of the group that answers them, shoot me an email at hiringlibrariansATgmail.

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Personal Professional Websites: Katrina Burch

Katrina Burch has been an archivist since 2012 working in academic archives. She enjoys talking about how archives are important to today’s society. She is passionate about dogs, musical theatre, and history, as well as getting stories told. 

What is your site’s URL?

https://eportkbb.weebly.com/

Briefly, what is the current purpose of your site?

Currently it’s a way to house my final portfolio from school as well as my cv (though this needs to be updated). I also house several larger projects on it to give people an idea of projects I’ve worked on. I do have a separate site for book reviews

Was the original purpose of your site different from this current purpose? If yes, how and why did it change?

No

Are you actively looking for work? (check all that apply)

√ Yes, for full time work 

Has your site brought you any work? And if so, what?

No that I know of. I know people who I’ve interviewed with for positions have looked at and commented that it’s nice to have the projects there. 

About Your Site and Sites in General

Did you pay someone to design or build your site?

√ No 

Which of the following content do you have on your site (check all that apply)?

√ Resume or CV 

√ Work Samples 

√ List of presentations 

Which of the following personal links or connection methods do you provide on your site? (Check all that apply)

√ Email  

Is your site strictly library/archives/LIS related?

√ Yes 

When was your site last updated?

√ Longer than a year ago 

What causes you to update your site, and about how frequently does that occur?

when I remember to add something to my cv

Does your site use any of the following platforms/services?

√ Weebly 

How much do you pay annually to run your website? (for numbers not in American dollars, please use other)

√ $0 

Do you allow comments on your site?

√ No 

Do you have advertising on your site?

√ Yes, but I don’t have any control over that/it’s part of the platform I use 

Do you have analytics on your site?

√ No 

Is having a personal website a “must”?

√ Nope! Not at All!

Do you have any privacy concerns associated with sharing your personal information, resume, etc., on a public website? If so, what measures do you take to feel safer?

I do worry about plagiarism because I do have former assignments up there that I have considered taking down. As for personal information, the items that are up there are all stuff that’s easily found anyway.

Demographics

What is your job title?

Archives Associate

What types of organizations do you work for or with? (Check all that apply)

√ Academic Library

√ Archives 

If you work for someone besides yourself, does that organization have rules about what you can share on your personal site?

√ No 

What part of the world are you in?

√ Midwestern US 


Thanks for reading! If you have a personal professional website that you’d like to talk about, please fill out the survey.

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Job Hunter’s Web Guide: Sites of Yore

In the first iteration of Hiring Librarians I started a feature called Job Hunter’s Web Guide, where I profiled websites that provided LIS career advice, job listings, or other forms of support for job seekers. I’ve been working through updates for the sites that are still active, but several are on pause, no longer being updated, or have been taken down entirely. This post will provide a look at the sites of yore, including a site that was started in 1995 and ran for 20 years.


Career QandA with the Library Career People

Career Q & A with the Library Career People:

The site was an online advice column for LIS job seekers. The site at the URL in the profile no longer exists. The Library Career People joined forces with Ellen Mehling and started the site Your Library Career, which included blog posts as well as advice. It stopped being updated during COVID. Ellen now writes Brooklyn Library’s Work Life blog.

Infonista

Infonista:

Run by Kim Dority, this site “is a blog that focuses on all the different ways LIS professionals can deploy their information skills, in both traditional and nontraditional environments.” I profiled it in February 2013. Infonista is currently on pause, last updated in January 2020. I reached out to Kim and she shared that she is currently focusing on client projects, her work with Kent state and managing an illness in the family. She does plan to return to updating Infonista at some point in the future.

The Library Career Centre:

Nicola Franklin provided recruitment and career coaching services for library and information professionals. The site, which I profiled in December 2012, centered around a blog but also included information about Nicola’s services. I reached out to her and she said, “I’ve relocated to the US and initially moved into in-house recruiting at USC and then onto my current company, the L.A. Times, where over the past 5 years my role has expanded to lead talent management, which encompasses recruiting, learning & development, performance management and other ‘talent’ related areas.

I don’t actively work in recruiting library or information professional staff any more, and only maintain the Library Career Center to do career coaching (resume advice, etc) for any UK or US based folk who request it.”

Librarian Hire Fashion

Librarian Hire Fashion:

This Tumblr shared pictures of interview outfits worn by library workers  who had received a job offer. It was last updated in 2015. I profiled the site in December 2012  and also worked with its author, Jill, to put together the most controversial/regrettable of the Hiring Librarians surveys, What Should Candidates Wear. I checked in with Jill and she said, “I stopped posting because I unexpectedly became a library director and was uncertain about how FOIA applied. However, helping people get the jobs they want is a passion and I’ve hired 11 times since 2015, that I can remember. Fashion and clothing choices are still an interest, too.

Library Job Postings on the Internet:

Started back in 1995 by Sarah Johnson, this site sunsetted in 2015, after 20 years of indexing library employment sites from all over the world – when I did a profile in December 2012, there were more than 400 sites. She has a great good-bye note up on the site. It includes the explanation, “My professional interests have expanded into other areas, and regretfully, I don’t have the time to keep up with this site as it deserves.  For the past two decades, I’ve run this site on my own, on a volunteer basis.  Rather than continue to maintain a site with outdated links, these pages were taken down in November 2015, after a three-month advance alert that I’d be doing so.”

Sarah is still online and regularly blogs about historical fiction at Reading the Past (Twitter @readingthepast).

LisList:

This was a REALLY BIG list of US jobs. The site doesn’t exist any longer. It was run by Amadee Ricketts and her husband James Orndorf from around 2014-2016. She said, “ It was fun but as our circumstances changed, and especially once I got a new job with a steep learning curve, it made sense to let it go.”

Open Cover Letters

Open Cover Letters:

Stephen X. Flynn started Open Cover Letters about six months before I started Hiring Librarians and I’ll always be grateful to him for how friendly he was. He’s the one that advised me to buy the domain, he spoke with me in a webinar, and he even forwarded me a job listing when I was looking for work. I profiled Open Cover Letters in March 2013.The site shared redacted Cover Letters that had been written by successful LIS job hunters and earned him a spot as a 2012 LJ Mover and Shaker. He stopped updating the site in 2016. He said, “I left the academic library field and became a middle school teacher that year, so my priorities have changed and updating the site has not been a priority. I actually still have some submissions that I never uploaded and it’s something I’d like to do, just get those last ones up there. On the other hand, I have committed to keeping the site online and will continue to pay for hosting and the domain for the foreseeable future.”

I also profiled the following sites, but was unable to get updates. 

Academic Library Jobs:

This site was a curated list of Academic library job postings. It no longer exists, and I was unable to reach the author.

Careers in Federal Libraries:

Last updated in 2020, this site provided a blog and links to virtual and in-person events. I profiled it in February 2013. I was unable to find out what happened. There was some reorganization in ALA which may have affected it: In 2018 the Federal and Armed Forces Libraries Round Table (FAFLRT) merged with the Association of Specialized and Cooperative Library Agencies to form a new division: The Association of Specialized, Government and Cooperative Library Agencies (ASGCLA). Then the ASGCLA was dissolved in 2020 and its interest groups were picked up by other divisions. 

MLA Deal

MLA Deal:

The Maryland Library Association’s Development of Emerging and Aspiring Librarians was an interest group for new professionals. Their site included a blog as well as job listings and advice. It no longer exists, and I was unable to get more information from the Maryland library association. It looks like the interest group itself also no longer exists.

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Personal Professional Websites: Systematic Review Librarian

Headshot of Stephanie Roth, who wears a black dress with white polkadots and a pearl necklace. She has long brown hair and is standing in front of a Magnolia tree.

Stephanie Roth is a medical research librarian and currently works in the academic setting where she serves as team lead of the systematic review service. She has over 10 years of experience as a co-authored systematic review librarian. In addition, she designed an open-access model for providing a team-based systematic review service and teaches the model to other librarians as an Medical Library Association (MLA) CE course, now webinar, Easy Steps to Building a Systematic Review Service. She is also the instructor for a Library Juice Academy course, Systematic Review Essentials and is currently serving as the Caucus Chair for the MLA Systematic Reviews Caucus. When she is not working she enjoys running, surface pattern design and spending time with her husband and two daughters.

What is your site’s URL?

www.systematicreviewlibrarian.com

Briefly, what is the current purpose of your site?

To share my systematic review work all in one place and to highlight my course. I also wanted to keep some of this work separate from my job so the two don’t overlap. My webinars and course must be worked on outside of work hours so it made sense to move it away from my job and have it live in its own place.

Was the original purpose of your site different from this current purpose? If yes, how and why did it change?

I bought the domain name before I knew what the purpose would be but the domain name was the inspiration. It was sort of ironic because I had hoped for an official systematic review librarian title at work so essentially I gave myself the title before anyone else gave it to me.

Are you actively looking for work? (check all that apply)

√ Other: I am always looking to grow and I am open to new opportunities whether that be internal or external.

Has your site brought you any work? And if so, what?

I have gained email subscribers and some interest in my course and the new self-paced course that I now have. Having that list was recently really helpful and allowed me to use my own internal network to find volunteers for my July webinar.

About Your Site and Sites in General

Did you pay someone to design or build your site?

√ No

Which of the following content do you have on your site (check all that apply)?

√ Descriptions or list of services you provide 

√ References, testimonials and/or press

√ Twitter or other social media feed

√ Your Bio

√ Your photo 

Which of the following personal links or connection methods do you provide on your site? (Check all that apply)

√ Contact Form

√ Form for people to subscribe to your content

√ ORCiD 

√ Twitter 

√ Instagram 

Is your site strictly library/archives/LIS related?

√ Yes 

When was your site last updated?

√ Within the last month 

What causes you to update your site, and about how frequently does that occur?

If I have a change in a date a course is offered or once in a while I get the urge to change something.

Does your site use any of the following platforms/services?

√ WordPress.com 

How much do you pay annually to run your website? (for numbers not in American dollars, please use other)

√ $20.01-$50 

Do you allow comments on your site?

√ No 

Do you have advertising on your site?

√ No 

Do you have analytics on your site?

√ Yes

About how many people visit your site in a month?

√ Other: It ranges from 50-300+

Is having a personal website a “must”?

√ Nope! Not at All! 

Do you have any privacy concerns associated with sharing your personal information, resume, etc., on a public website? If so, what measures do you take to feel safer?

No, I don’t share a full resume. I am very careful about how much private information I share. I try to stick with keeping the website and social media platforms strictly professional.

What advice would you give someone wanting to create their own personal professional site?

Don’t wait for perfection to launch. Get it done and then you can work on improving it over time. 

This is funny but I was once asked to design a website for a previous job and I didn’t know how to code so I used a basic Weebly account to design what looked like a more expensive and complex website. Librarians are usually pretty good at figuring things out! 

Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about your website? Or personal websites in general?

This is actually my secondary website. I recently upgraded my primary website (for surface pattern design) to WordPress Pro. I love all the features with Pro and I would love to upgrade this one at some point. The Pro version integrates much better with my email service provider and it would make signing up for my newsletter much easier.

What is your job title?

Biomedical & Research Services Librarian

What types of organizations do you work for or with? (Check all that apply)

√ Academic Library 

√ Other: Medical Library 

What part of the world are you in?

√ Northeastern US 

Anything else you’d like to say, to me or to the readers?

I haven’t had my website for that long, it is still very new. It only took minutes to create on WordPress and I do most of it from my phone. I was able to create it and then leave it which is nice. I also feel like I lucked out with the domain name! I love to search for domain names and once in a while something will stick. 

Thanks for reading! If you have a personal professional website that you’d like to talk about, please fill out the survey.

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Filed under Academic, Northeastern US, Other Organization or Library Type, Personal Professional Websites

I wish I could know if the job was a stopgap or stepping stone, or if they really were ok with working for such low pay.

Antoinette Humphreys Hollabaugh, from a 1911 newspaper. No photographer credited., Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Public Library

Title: Library Manager

Titles hired include: Public Services Assistant, Youth Services Assistant

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ The position’s supervisor

√ Other: The position’s supervisor and one other manager in the hiring department

Which of the following does your organization regularly require of candidates?

√ Online application

√ Resume

√ References

√ Oral Exam/Structured interview

√ Demonstration (teaching, storytime, etc) 

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ No 

Briefly describe the hiring process at your organization and your role in it:

HR screens applicants based solely on their qualifications matching. Those that are qualified are passed on to the hiring manager who decides who to interview. I am the hiring manager at my branch. 

Think about the last candidate who really wowed you, on paper, in an interview, or otherwise. Why were they so impressive?

Before we opened, I saw him on the steps engaging in casual conversation with the homeless men who were waiting to come inside and warm up. It was a good indication that he had the right attitude for this library and its clientele. 

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Failing the alphabetization test. I let that slide once and regretted it. 

What do you wish you could know about candidates that isn’t generally revealed in the hiring process?

Honestly? I wish I could know if the job was a stopgap or stepping stone, or if they really were ok with working for such low pay. (I don’t control the pay rate.)

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ We don’t ask for this 

Resume: √ Two is ok, but no more  

CV: √ We don’t ask for this 

What is the most common mistake that people make in an interview?

I’m tired of hearing vague claims about how much candidates value the library. If they are really a library user or advocate, I want them to tell me something that demonstrates that. If they aren’t, that’s okay! Tell me something else that shows me that they’re a kind, helpful, socially aware, critically-thinking and/or tech savvy human that is interested in learning how awesome the library is. 

Do you conduct virtual interviews? What do job hunters need to know about shining in this setting?

Yes. Candidates seem to grasp what’s needed virtual interviews. 

How can candidates looking to transition from paraprofessional work, from non-library work, or between library types convince you that their experience is relevant? Or do you have other advice for folks in this kind of situation?

Since I hire paraprofessionals rather than librarians, I can’t answer this. 

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

√ It’s part of the information provided at the interview 

What does your organization do to reduce bias in hiring? What are the contexts in which discrimination still exists in this process?

Nothing, as far as I know. 

What questions should candidates ask you? What is important for them to know about your organization and the position you are hiring for?

I just like questions that show they have given the position some thought. It’s important for them to know that they need patience and that not everybody is nice to you at the library. It’s a customer service job. 

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Midwestern US 

What’s your region like?

√ Urban 

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Never or not anymore 

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 101-200 

Author’s note: Hey, thanks for reading! If you like reading, why not try commenting or sharing? Or are you somebody who hires Library, Archives or other LIS workers? Please consider giving your own opinion by filling out the survey here.

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Filed under 1 A Return to Hiring Librarians Survey, 100-200 staff members, Midwestern US, Public, Urban area

Stats and Graphs: How many pages should a resume/CV/cover letter be?

It’s Staturday!

In the old survey, this was two questions, “How many pages should a cover letter be?” and “How many pages should a resume/CV be?” Invariably, people wanted to explain that the second question was invalid and resumes and CVs were *not* the same thing, and the question was *terrible.* And those people were basically right, but at that point I had already published the question and couldn’t think of a way to make it better anyway.

So when I was testing the current survey I was so blown away when Marleah Augustine suggested I should just make it a matrix question. What a simple and elegant solution.

The question is:

Question from survey. Text reads 11. How many pages should each of these documents be? Choices on the Y axis are Cover Letter, Resume and CV. Choices on X axis are We don't ask for this, Only One!, Two is ok but no more, As many as it takes but keep it reasonable and relevant, and As many as it takes I love reading.

As of August 4, 2022, 182 people have responded to this survey. Their answers to this question are:

Bar chart of question answers. Chart explained in text that follows this.

For Cover Letters

We don’t ask for this | 23 (12.6%)

Only One! | 90 (49.5%)

Two is ok, but no more | 54 (29.7%)

As many as it takes, but keep it reasonable and relevant | 17 (9.3%)

As many as it takes, I love reading | 0 (0%)

For Resumes

We don’t ask for this | 14 (7.7%)

Only One! | 19 (10.4%)

Two is ok, but no more | 68 (37.4%)

As many as it takes, but keep it reasonable and relevant | 76 (41.8%)

As many as it takes, I love reading | 2 (1%)

For CVs

We don’t ask for this | 79 (43.4%)

Only One! | 4 (2.2%)

Two is ok, but no more | 12 (6.6%)

As many as it takes, but keep it reasonable and relevant | 76 (41.8%)

As many as it takes, I love reading | 4 (2.2%)


This is one of the few questions that doesn’t include a write in option. But, I’d still love to know what you think! Comment or tweet at me, and don’t forget to like and subscribe to this YouTube channel.

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Filed under 1 A Return to Hiring Librarians Survey, Stats and Graphs

Further Questions: What’s the Worst Job Search Advice You Ever Heard?

Each week (or thereabouts) I ask a question to a group of people who hire library and LIS workers. If you have a question to ask or if you’d like to be part of the group that answers, shoot me an email at hiringlibrariansATgmail.

This week’s question is:

What’s the worst job search advice you ever heard? Why was it bad? Bonus info: who said it and when/where did you hear it?


Jaime Taylor, Discovery & Resource Management Systems Coordinator, W.E.B. Du Bois Library, University of Massachusetts: Literally anything and everything from my mom, who tried to give me advice when I was a new librarian struggling to find a job in 2009-2010. She hadn’t job searched since the early 1980s & everything she said was out of date & useless. (No, mom, no one keeps a file of promising resumes that they will pull out later, so sending mine to orgs that weren’t hiring – on paper, no less – wasn’t going to go anywhere but the trash.) So – the worst advice comes from anyone who has neither job searched nor hired lately, doubly so if they have never worked in your field and are therefore unaware with the field’s norms. That person might care about you and want you to succeed, but that doesn’t mean they have good advice.

(Yes, you can put my name on it.)


Ellen Mehling, Job Search Advisor/Instructor and Brooklyn Public Library’s Job Information Resource Librarian: The worst job search advice I’ve ever heard is that you should lie or mislead others in order to get a job, and that includes presenting a resume or cover letter that someone else wrote as if it is your own work. Employers don’t want to hire people who are dishonest and/or desperate, and who don’t actually have the required experience and skills for the job, or for the job search(!)

Anyone who gives this advice is telling you that they are dishonest and they are comfortable enough with lying that they recommend it to other people. If they are employed they probably lied in order to get their job. I would keep that information in mind as you interact with them. 


Randall Schroeder, Director, Retired: The worst piece of career advice I received was cumulative. Too many suggested that if you stay in one place and one position, your career is static and you could become irrelevant. I knew of one small college director who claimed when hiring a new librarian, the new librarian was expected to move on after three years and that after five, the library would start working to make them want to move. I hesitate to think what they might have looked like.

Sometimes, you are, in fact, where you need to be. Some of the happiest people I have known in academe knew early on that where they landed with their first or second jobs was where their bliss was. Not participating in campus politics or professional politics to climb to the next level was of no interest. They seemed to be very happy.

Don’t be ambitious if it doesn’t feel authentic to you. I felt pressured to move to the next levels and I regretted it. Where I was in my first and second jobs was where I wanted to be and I was good at it. Don’t let outside pressure sacrifice you from your authentic happiness to your misery. To me, the object of the game is to serve your community, patrons, clients, or students, not your ego.

“What do you want to be when you grow up, Linus?

Outrageously happy.,” – Peanuts


Laurie Phillips, Interim Dean of Libraries, J. Edgar & Louise S. Monroe Library, Loyola University New Orleans: I have friends (who don’t know libraries) trying to get me to apply for every job that’s out there, not really understanding how library jobs at my level are so siloed (public universities vs private/small vs. large/collections and systems and access vs. Learning Commons or teaching, etc.) My experience is varied, so I have a little more leeway, but it’s a total waste of time for me to apply to jobs outside my niche and expertise. If you don’t meet the qualifications and can’t even make your experience work, don’t bother. It’s a waste of time for you and the people who have to review applications. Academic applications take a tremendous amount of time to put together, if you do it right. I’m very careful about choosing jobs that are a good fit. Also, job openings run on a cycle for most academic libraries, especially at the higher levels. Fiscal years start on July 1 or August 1. Deciding to apply for everything in the fall isn’t really going to get you very far. 


Angelynn King, Head Librarian, Delaware Technical Community College:

I have heard people recommend trying to negotiate your starting salary, but most of the places I’ve worked have had a static chart based on qualifications and years of experience with no room for variation.

If you try to bargain at a place like that, you will probably come across as arrogant and entitled. 


Julie Todaro, Dean, Library Services, Austin Community College: Let me start with the last “bonus” question “Who said it and when/where did you hear it?” In short, the bad answers I am including are coming from years of reading articles, books and blogs on both commercial and non commercial content to determine not only specific paths (the best EDI questions, recommended organization of the room, online-only interviews, etc.) but also best practices for overall HR hiring practices. The worst advice includes “ask this question” and “give this answer” typically but also includes advice for length of resumes. 

I have two bad questions: “Where do you want to be in five years?” and “Please identify three of your strengths and three of your weaknesses.”

The first or “five year” question is a no-win for everyone. There IS no right or genuine answer. If someone outlines their retirement you don’t want to invest time in them only to leave. If the applicant says “I want to be in your job” it doesn’t show “your vision for the future” or the fact that you want to assume a leadership position and it certainly doesn’t signal ambition the way some think. If the organization wants to determine if an applicant is interested in moving up eventually or if they are trying to determine if the applicant will – for example – hopping from job to job there are better and more direct questions to determine an applicants next role or if they are possible successors or have an interest in succession planning.

The second question of strengths and weaknesses is – obviously – an opportunity for applicant self-assessment. As the first question – it doesn’t typically produce authentic answers but instead – if applicants have thought about it – strengths identified might be valuable, but weaknesses are strengths re-positioned such as “I pay too much attention to detail.” If the organization needs to know specific elements they should instead – list some strengths and list some weaknesses and ask applicants to rank these as they pertain to their potential roles and responsibilities. 

Finally some ideas not recommended include:

  • Don’t feel obligated to squeeze your resume into one page or less as we often hear. Clearly a lengthy resume is too much but it is better to be accurate, organized and specific to the position being advertised and that is seldom able to be reduced to one page.
  • Resumes that lead with a single job goal quickly become out-of-date. It is best to state areas of work interested in and map education, experience and competencies and attributes against job descriptions/job advertisements identified in cover letters or in attached documents such as a statement of professionalism or a values statement.

and finally and most importantly

Job seekers should be very, very careful about the content a search firm or professional employment consultant creates to represent you on a resume or document packet or specific position or job search. Specifically – positions held, job titles, specific roles and responsibilities, length of employment professional goals, values, promotions or job trajectory in one or more organizations, or products produced as exemplary of education or experience. 

Why? I can recall more than one situation where documents didn’t parallel, answers to questions didn’t jive, job titles were similar but inflated, reference check information wasn’t the same as applicant paperwork had implied and – literally – the applicant’s narrative about their work life was simply not accurate. It is also obvious to say that with today’s alternate avenues for finding out about applicants through web resources and often an applicant’s own web-published content – great care must be taken to be accurate, to be proactive about possible discrepancies and to be forthcoming about addressing appropriate interview questions. Simply put, advice to inflate or better represent oneself or to stretch the truth is never good advice.


We’d love to hear your thoughts here in the comments, on Twitter @HiringLib, or in the faint burbling of a mountain stream. If you have a question to ask people who hire library workers, or if you’d like to be part of the group that answers them, shoot me an email at hiringlibrariansATgmail.

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Personal Professional Websites: Lisa Chen – Information Professional

Lisa Chen graduated from Western University with a Master of Library and Information Science in 2015. 

She works as an Information Management Analyst at the University of Toronto. When not working, she volunteers for NaNoWriMo and the ViMLoC Mentorship Program.

What is your site’s URL?

lisacchen.wordpress.com

Briefly, what is the current purpose of your site?

To share articles/tweets related to the information and library field, creative writing, career advice, and tours of libraries, art shows, and museums

Was the original purpose of your site different from this current purpose? If yes, how and why did it change?

Originally, it was set up for a class assignment to create a virtual presence for ourselves. It focused on librarianship only. It changed to include my interests such as creative writing and art because I wanted to use it as a personal blog.

Are you actively looking for work? (check all that apply)

√ Nope! Not at All! 

Has your site brought you any work? And if so, what?

None 

About Your Site and Sites in General

Did you pay someone to design or build your site?

√ No 

Which of the following content do you have on your site (check all that apply)?

√ Blog about personal topics

√ Blog about professional topics

√ Book reviews

√ Work Samples

√ List of publications

√ List of presentations

√ Twitter or other social media feed

√ Your Bio

√ Your photo 

Which of the following personal links or connection methods do you provide on your site? (Check all that apply)

√ Contact Form

√ LinkedIn

√ YouTube 

Is your site strictly library/archives/LIS related?

√ No, I include my arts/crafts/hobbies/other tangential or unrelated work 

When was your site last updated?

√ Within the last week 

What causes you to update your site, and about how frequently does that occur?

When I visit a place or have something to share, be it personal or professional. I strive to post at least 12 times a year.

Does your site use any of the following platforms/services?

√ WordPress.com 

How much do you pay annually to run your website? (for numbers not in American dollars, please use other)

√ $0 

Do you allow comments on your site?

√ Yes 

Do you have advertising on your site?

√ Yes, but I don’t have any control over that/it’s part of the platform I use 

Do you have analytics on your site?

√ Yes 

About how many people visit your site in a month?

√ 0-50 

Is having a personal website a “must”?

√ Yes, for job hunters

√ Yes, for librarians

√ Yes, for people who are independent contractors/freelancers

√ Yes, for new LIS graduates 

Do you have any privacy concerns associated with sharing your personal information, resume, etc., on a public website? If so, what measures do you take to feel safer?

I use a contact form to avoid providing my email

What advice would you give someone wanting to create their own personal professional site?

Decide your scope and scale. If you only want to have some visibility on the web, you don’t need to blog, use Instagram, tweet, etc. Sometimes, a LinkedIn profile is all you need. If you want to be a children’s librarian who promotes books, set up a Goodreads profile or even a TikTok account. You don’t have to be on every platform creating content.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about your website? Or personal websites in general?

You don’t need to purchase the domain. Sometimes, the cheapest solution is the best one.

Demographics

What is your job title?

Information Management Analyst

What types of organizations do you work for or with? (Check all that apply)

√ Academic Library

√ Other: University, as IT staff

If you work for someone besides yourself, does that organization have rules about what you can share on your personal site?

√ No 

What part of the world are you in?

√ Canada  

Thanks for reading! If you have a personal professional website that you’d like to talk about, please fill out the survey.

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Filed under Personal Professional Websites

Job Hunter’s Web Guide: Archives Gig (Revisited)

Meredith Lowe started Archives Gig in 2010 and has been posting jobs for Archivists, records managers, and students ever since. We profiled the site back in 2013 and wanted to provide a quick update.

The site has a new URL (no more LiveJournal) and has continued to grow and evolve. 

I caught up with Meredith with a few questions:

What has changed with Archives Gig?

One thing that has been really interesting is the research and tools that have cited AG as a resource! A couple of recent favorites are:

It’s incredibly rewarding that AG has been helpful to these important contributions!

How is archives job hunting different now versus ten years ago?

This field has been steadily moving toward seeking those with skills in digital curation, projects, and collections, and those who are looking to work in the GLAM fields would be well-served to pick up skills in those areas. With the pandemic, there has been a big shift to remote work in all sectors, and that includes the archives field. Although most positions are still in-person, there are a lot more remote-only positions as well as hybrid schedule options – and I think with digital projects that hybrid/remote work is even more achievable.  

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Filed under Job Hunters Web Guide

Personal Professional Websites: Brittni Ballard, Learning Technologies Librarian – Higher education, eLearning, and disability justice

Brittni is a fat, White woman with shoulder-length wavy brown hair and blue-framed glasses. She holds her pug-beagle mix Rupert. He is mostly fawn with a black mask and ears and a white chest.

Brittni Ballard is the Learning Technologies Librarian for Towson University’s Albert S. Cook Library in Baltimore County, Maryland, USA. She came to academic librarianship after experiments with classroom teaching, video game development, and non-profit work.

When she’s not working, she can be found collecting photos from villager friends in Animal Crossing: New Horizons while sipping coffee, snuggled under fuzzy blankets with two dogs and one cat on their chaise sofa.

What is your site’s URL? 

https://www.brittniballard.com/

Briefly, what is the current purpose of your site?

The site is a way for me to share my work, notably my scholarship (writings and conference presentations), in one central space while highlighting what makes each piece special. Specifically, I include my favorite quote from each piece so that, even if folks don’t read the entire thing, they still have a better idea of what I value, think about, and do. Ideally, even these brief glimpses will facilitate new conversations with others interested in the same kind of work.

Was the original purpose of your site different from this current purpose? If yes, how and why did it change?

To some extent, as might be expected, this site was created as I was job searching, and if / when I look for jobs in the future, I’m sure it will be a useful way to better share who I am and promote my efforts to search committees. However, it is now primarily a way to connect and even build relationships with fellow library workers. This is why I explicitly name my positionality, values, and interests on the homepage.

Are you actively looking for work? (check all that apply)

√ Other: I am actively curious about new opportunities, places, and people, including formal and informal teaching / learning / speaking engagements

Has your site brought you any work? And if so, what?

 No, it has not.

About Your Site and Sites in General

Did you pay someone to design or build your site?

√ No

Which of the following content do you have on your site (check all that apply)?

√ Resume or CV

√ Work Samples

√ List of publications

√ List of presentations

√ Your Bio

√ Your photo 

Which of the following personal links or connection methods do you provide on your site? (Check all that apply)

√ Email 

√ ORCiD 

√ Twitter 

√ LinkedIn  

Is your site strictly library/archives/LIS related?

√ Yes 

When was your site last updated?

√ Within the last month 

What causes you to update your site, and about how frequently does that occur?

Whenever I publish a new piece, I add it to the site.

Does your site use any of the following platforms/services?

√ Google Sites

How much do you pay annually to run your website? (for numbers not in American dollars, please use other)

√ $10.01-$20.00 

Do you allow comments on your site?

√ No

Do you have advertising on your site?

√ No

Do you have analytics on your site?

√ No

About how many people visit your site in a month?

√ I don’t know 

Is having a personal website a “must”?

√ Nope! Not at All! 

Do you have any privacy concerns associated with sharing your personal information, resume, etc., on a public website? If so, what measures do you take to feel safer?

To avoid having crawlers collect my email, I hide my email address behind the display text “Email me.” Because my work profile is public, and includes my work number and work email, I do include my institutional affiliation (in my online resume). However, I don’t mention my affiliation on Twitter. If my site was being used regularly, I may switch from including an email to just using a Contact Me form.

What advice would you give someone wanting to create their own personal professional site?

Have fun with it! I enjoy thinking about how to present my work in a public way that emphasizes visual organization, standard American English, and values rather than productivity. 

Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about your website? Or personal websites in general?

Google Sites works nicely with other Google products, like Drive and Photos. That makes it easy to maintain.

Demographics

What is your job title?

Learning Technologies Librarian

What types of organizations do you work for or with? (Check all that apply)

√ Academic Library 

If you work for someone besides yourself, does that organization have rules about what you can share on your personal site?

√ No 

What part of the world are you in?

√ Northeastern US 

Anything else you’d like to say, to me or to the readers?

Thanks for investigating personal web usage among GLAM workers and students!

Thanks for reading! If you have a personal professional website that you’d like to talk about, please fill out the survey.

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Filed under Academic, Northeastern US, Personal Professional Websites