Be as Brief as Possible, Use Plain Text in E-Communications

This interview is with J. McRee (Mac) Elrod, founder of Special Libraries Cataloging (SLC). SLC currently employs about 20 cataloguers, most of whom work remotely. Recently, Mr. Elrod worked with Michael Gorman to prepare AACR2 Rule Interpretations that facilitate its use for creating RDA compatible records. He also contributes to the profession as an active participant on the AUTOCAT listserv. If you are interested in working for SLC, write him at and he will send you information on a current project.

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

The ability to produce sample AACR2/MARC21 sample records, and send them as a .mrc file.
Classification and subject heading accuracy.

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

Poor sample records.

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

We pay them scant attention.

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

Classification experience (LCC, DDC, NLMC); subject heading experience (LCSH, MeSH, RVM); genres catalogued; languages catalogued.

How many pages should a cover letter be?

√ Only one!

How many pages should a resume/CV be?

√ Two is ok, but no more

Do you have a preferred format for application documents?

√ .pdf

Should a resume/CV have an Objective statement?

√ I don’t care

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

√ In the body of the email only

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

We do not have face to face interviews with distant cataloguers.

Short e-mails in plain text giving the basic information.

Quality sample records.

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

Submitting substandard records.  Not understanding the difference between MARC21 and OCLC practice.

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

Distance as opposed to onsite cataloguing.  Only one of our 20 cataloguers works onsite.

Anything else you’d like to let job-seekers know?

Be as brief as possible.  Use plain text in e-communications.

The final survey question, which I usually do not include in the post, is:

Are there any other questions you think we should add to this survey?

Mr. Elrod says I should ask:

Would you like to see sample MARC records appended to the application?

His answer is:


1 Comment

Filed under 10-50 staff members, Cataloging/Technical Services, Non-Anonymous, Original Survey, Other Organization or Library Type

One response to “Be as Brief as Possible, Use Plain Text in E-Communications

  1. Pingback: Take a Course in Linguistics | Hiring Librarians

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