You Need Experience!!!

Library, Stanford University, 1906 Image by: Central University Libraries, DeGolyer LibraryThis anonymous interview is with an academic librarian who has been a 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. past experience in a library
2. MLS or equivalent
3. past experience with specialty software or department (depending on job opening)

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

1. no experience in a library
2. no MLS or equivalent
3. no experience with specialty software or department

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

1. statements of being the perfect candidate and yet they have none of the required skills
2. indicating classes taken to substitute for experience

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

Many times they may have had experience with some type of software that they did not include.
Other times they did not include customer service experiences (outside of the library) which could help their case if they have only miniscule amounts of library experience.

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?

√ No preference, as long as I can open it

Should a resume/CV have an Objective statement?

√ I don’t care

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?

Eye contact and answering the questions directly in a friendly, open manner.

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

Not coming prepared, not giving eye contact with the questioner.

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

We’ve indicated more required skills in our job descriptions to eliminate the 100s of submitted candidates.

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

You need experience!!!  Just because you graduated from an MLS program does NOT mean you are qualified! I would prefer hiring a 2 years experienced paraprofessional with 1 semester left of his/her program,  over an MLS graduate with a 1 semester internship.

Image by Central University Libraries, DeGolyer Library, via Flickr.  Click image to see source.



Filed under 10-50 staff members, Academic, Original Survey

2 responses to “You Need Experience!!!

  1. Alex D

    I don’t understand the fixation on having experience with the specific software used at this library. It’s safe to assume that any serious applicants are reasonably intelligent; there’s no reason not to expect them to be able to capably use the packages within two weeks. So long as you’re not demanding guru-level mastery of a tool, I don’t see why no experience with your ILS is a dealbreaker.

    • Anonymous

      I tend to agree. It’s also kind of frustrating to think that if you have worked hard in library school, done well, and picked up internships, that’s still not good enough.

      I know we’ve all heard it before but — if every job requires experience, and you need experience to get a job — you’re totally screwing essentially an entire generation of workers.

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