We Are Looking for People with Electronic Records Management Experience So We Can Continue to Bury Our Heads in the Sand about It

Archival Trainees and Orientation Group, 1968This anonymous interview is with someone who has been a hiring manager and a member of hiring committees at an Academic library with 50-100 staff members. One of the questions on the survey is “Are you a librarian?” We all know this can be a bit of a loaded question. Many people feel strongly that only someone those with MLS/MLIS degrees can be librarians, even though someone might have decades of experience working in a library and performing librarian duties. Conversely, people with MLIS/MLS degrees may work in positions outside a library or without “librarian” in the title. So I have provided the answer choices: “yes,” “no,” and “it’s complicated” (thanks, Facebook). That’s the long way of explaining that this is our first “it’s complicated” respondent! This person ultimately reveals that s/he is an archivist.

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

Required skills,
good personality

…(in that order)

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

A poorly written cover letter or if the person strikes me as a wallflower.

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

Non-relevant work experience–i.e. barista at Starbuck’s; non-relevant interests.

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

Technical skills (though lots do put this, but not everyone).

How many pages should a cover letter be?

√ Other: One for entry-level; one to two for anything else.

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?

√ .pdf

Should a resume/CV have an Objective statement?

√ I don’t care

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

√ Other: Submit cover letter and resume as one PDF, as an application packet.

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

Smart, sense of humor, confident, and humble.

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

They get very nervous during their presentation, which makes us nervous.

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


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

I am an archivist.  We are looking for people with electronic records management experience so we can continue to bury our heads in the sand about it.


Filed under 50-100 staff members, Academic, Archives, Original Survey

4 responses to “We Are Looking for People with Electronic Records Management Experience So We Can Continue to Bury Our Heads in the Sand about It

  1. anonymous and unemployed

    A barista job could be a good indicator of customer service experience and teamwork. Even for a technical position with no direct contact with the public, that’s important — can this person work well with others? Be polite to co-workers?


  2. Carrie

    Some archivists do, just as some librarians do. Not all librarians work directly with the public, not all archivists do.

    When I have held the title of archivist, I have answered reference requests via email, telephone, fax, regular mail, and on site. All of these require customer service skills. Often in an archives, an appointment is required, and the archivist may work quite closely with the researcher to determine their research needs (reference interview, first day of any reference class, amiright?) Not all sources are online — in fact, the archives I have worked at have only a teeny tiny portion of their finding aids (archives speak for catalogs or subject guides) online, making an in-person, talk-to-a-live-person absolutely necessary.

    I have also conducted tours of the archives facilities for students and distinguished visitors (big name donors & families). Negotiating donor agreements also requires customer service abilities — how do you tell a sweet, elderly woman with (self-admitted) brain trauma that the 3 boxes of items she just brought to your institution are completely useless — despite the 2 phone conversations you had with her earlier where you explained her items would not be accepted at your institution?

    I took many of the same classes in library school that my now-working-in-libraries classmates did: database stuff, government records, cataloguing, management theory, reference classes. The only real difference is that when they would be in “public libraries 101”, I’d be in “archival arrangement 101”.

    I highly recommend visiting a local archives to see what one is all about, while keeping in mind that one archives is not like all archives — different budgets, different mandates. Maybe contact a local archivist for an informational interview. I see librarians and archivists as extremely similar, but I think I’m also an oddity in thinking that way.


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