Being Snarky about Not Getting a Call … in the Time You Think You Should Shows a Serious Lack of Compassion for What your Colleagues in the Profession are Dealing With on a Daily Basis

Pembroke College Library, Cambridge, ca. 1877-1885This anonymous interview is with an Academic Librarian who has been a member of a hiring committee at a library with 10-50 staff members.


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

1.  Are they qualified.  (i.e. MLIS if required, experience related to job description)
2.  A genuine interest and effort in demonstrating what they can offer us.
3.  Do they fit within the institutional culture?  Will they be happy working here, will we enjoy working with them?  (This can not really be determined until a face to face interview.)

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

1.  Behaving like they already have the job.
2.  A cover letter that references the wrong job and/or does not speak directly to the posted job description and explain why they would be good for the position. (i.e. not selling themselves)
3.  No cover letter at all.
4.  Clear lack of experience that does not even meet the minimum requirements.

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

1.  Objectives (GET RID OF THEM.  If you are applying for the position it is obvious that your goal is to get it, you don’t need to state that on your resume.)
2.  Misspellings.
3.  Bad grammar.
4.  Clear lack of proofreading (demonstrates carelessness that makes a search committee member worry that such lack of attention would carry over to their work)
5.  The wrong job or institution referenced on the cover letter (such carelessness is almost always an instant no)

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

Eh, I’ve seen too much, I’ve seen too little.  Basically, your resume should be tailored depending on the kind of job you are applying for.  We don’t need to see that you worked in an ice cream shop ten years ago for two months if you are going for an Acquisitions Librarian position.  Ask  yourself, what skills are required for this position?  What skills do I have?  How can I demonstrate in my resume that the skills I have would meet the requirements of this particular position?  Tailoring can make a huge difference.

How many pages should a cover letter be?

√ Two is ok, but no more

How many pages should a resume/CV be?

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

Do you have a preferred format for application documents?

√ No preference, as long as I can open it

Should a resume/CV have an Objective statement?

√ No

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

√ As an attachment only

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

Show some genuine interest in what we do and explain how you can contribute to that.  Also, do your homework on us and be ready to talk about what you have already learned from your research.  (i.e. Show us you are a smart researcher that can apply your findings in an intelligent way within a conversation.  Trust me, we notice these things and they often impress.)

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

Only focusing on what is in it for them.  Not showing any interest in the library and campus culture.  Not doing their homework about the library and the institution as a whole.

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

We have modified the kinds of skills we are looking for in candidates.  The more knowledge about using and modifying (i.e. webpages) digital tools that candidates have the better.

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

Be on time. (no more than 20 minutes though)
Wear a suit, even if no one else is (grey or black with a dress shirt).
If you smoke and have to keep running out for a break it is not bad, but it may not help your chances.  The search committee has taken the time to meet with you and you shouldn’t keep them waiting.
Search committees are often VERY busy people who have been asked to serve on the search in addition to everything else they do.  Any impatience or rudeness on your part does not help.  These folks often have to adjust their schedules for many weeks, maybe months, at a time to do a search.  We understand you may be frustrated with the job search (we have all been there at some point), but being snarky about not getting a call or a letter or an email in the time you think you should shows a serious lack compassion for what your colleagues in the profession are dealing with on a daily basis.  Please show some courtesy, we know you will want it some day when you are on a search committee.


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Filed under 10-50 staff members, Academic, Cataloging/Technical Services, Original Survey

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