Further Questions: Are there any extra or “non-traditional” materials candidates can provide to improve their chances?

This week’s question is inspired by Pamela Posz, who is one of the contributors to Library Jobs in California (it’s on hiatus for the summer, but is otherwise very useful and comprehensive for all sorts of library positions).  I have to say that I was really surprised by the answers.

I asked people who hire librarians:

Are there any extra or “non-traditional” materials candidates can provide to improve their chances? If a candidate provides a link to an e-portfolio, do you peruse it?  Would you like to see a visual resume? Should a candidate bring examples of his/her work to the interview?

Yes to all of these.  Increasingly e-materials are being used.  Links to a portfolio, and/or to work done, would be welcomed.

– J. McRee (Mac) Elrod, Special Libraries Catalouging

Marge Loch-WoutersIf candidates have blogs, visual resumes, e-portfolios, I appreciate the link in the cover letter or resume.  I am always happy to see samples of work/writing whether online or hard copies once we get to the interview stage as well. However, the interviews are tightly timed so if any samples are brought along, make sure they are copies that you can leave with the interview team (and don’t expect them back!). We seldom can look them over within the confines of the interview.

– Marge Loch-Wouters, Youth Services Coordinator, La Crosse (WI) Public Library

Paula HammetI like seeing links to e-portfolios, examples of creative libguides, marketing materials, or other items created by the applicant.  These are especially important when the position calls for creative approaches to instruction, web services, outreach, etc.  A well-done example, with beautiful graphics or a new approach to an issue, can really make a candidate stand out. I’m not particularly impressed (at least in a positive way) of partially filled out web templates.
A visual resume might be an interesting adjunct to a more formal CV (but not instead of a traditional CV). I haven’t seen many, but my impression is that they work best for folks who are farther along in their careers and/or have lots of accomplishments to highlight. I still remember one CV that was beautifully designed and incorporated some visual elements while still conveying the needed information. It was impressive.
If an interviewing candidate has some good examples of their work that aren’t linked from their CV or cover letter, it’s appropriate to bring them to the interview or leave them with the search committee chair. (Don’t leave them if you need them back.)
Good luck with your job search!
-Paula Hammett, Librarian at Sonoma State University
Emilie SmartI love “show & tell” in interviews — it gives me a concrete idea of the kind of work the candidate is capable of.  I would be very interested in a visual resume as an example of creative thinking.  I’d also like to see training videos, websites, libguides, brochures/marketing pieces, flyers, posters…  Anything created by the candidate that will show me their work and provide me with things to ask about.
If you’re going to bring things to an interview, though, be selective.  Bring only the best items you’ve done or items that pertain to the job you’re interviewing for.  I won’t be very interested in in pictures of a bulletin board in the Children’s area if you’re interviewing for a reference job; however, if you created the website for the children’s department, that would interest me.
– Emilie Smart, Division Coordinator of Reference Services & Computer Services at East Baton Rouge Parish Library
Marleah AugustineI don’t think extra materials necessarily improve anyone’s chances, but I would take them into consideration with the application as a whole. If someone is doing something snazzy JUST for the sake of doing something snazzy, it’s not going to impress me. But if it’s snazzy and relevant to the job and shows complete mastery of whatever snazzy technology is being used, then it can be helpful. I have seen some people though go “above and beyond” with their applications and having it backfire because they did not have a handle on what they were doing, and it showed.Visual resumes can be fun, as long as they include all of the necessary information. A word of advice – don’t get carried away making it impressive; I want to be impressed by the CONTENT of your resume, not necessarily the presentation of it!

– Marleah Augustine, Adult Department Librarian at Hays Public Library
Laurie PhillipsIt depends on the position. When we were hiring an Online Learning Librarian, we welcomed (and probably asked for) examples of online learning objects that we could view. If a candidate provided a link to an e-portfolio, we would view it, but it shouldn’t substitute for a well-written letter of application and resume. A visual resume wouldn’t cut it for us. We like to have the materials in front of us when we meet and generally wouldn’t have a computer and projector to view it. We did have a candidate bring copies of a portfolio to her interview but, oddly, she didn’t bring enough copies for the whole committee and we weren’t sure why. It was pretty and fairly impressive, but didn’t ultimately sway our decision.
– Laurie Phillips, Associate Dean for Technical Services, J. Edgar & Louise S. Monroe Library, Loyola University New Orleans
Thanks as always to our hiring librarians for answering this week’s question!

If you have an opinion to share, the comments are open.  If you are also someone who hires librarians and are interested in participating in this feature, please email me at hiringlibrariansATgmail.com.

And thanks for reading!


Filed under Academic, Further Questions, Public

3 responses to “Further Questions: Are there any extra or “non-traditional” materials candidates can provide to improve their chances?

  1. Thanks for asking about eResources. I’ve seen it postulated (vehemently) that only luddites bring hardcopies to interviews, and that you should just link to your uploaded work. My gut reaction is “What interview team has time to visit websites; and what interview room has a computer just waiting to link to my work?” I’ll continue to take hardopies of the work I’ve uploaded to my website. Thanks!


  2. Pingback: Further Questions Questions | Hiring Librarians

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