SLA Candidates: Juanita Richardson Talks About Hiring Librarians

Election time is right around the corner!  This fall SLA members will get to vote for their next board.  Juanita Richardson and Kate Arnold, candidates for 2013 President-Elect, have agreed answer some questions about Hiring Librarians. If you’d like to learn even more about them and the other board candidates, the SLA blog is posting regular Board Updates, which present “Meet the Candidates” questions on all sorts of topics.

Over the course of her career, Juanita Richardson has been involved in multiple aspects of managing human resources: conducting performance reviews and counselling as well as hiring (and firing). As the Manager of the Business Information Centre at Deloitte & Touche in Toronto, she was responsible for a staff of 10 that includied other librarians as well as para-professionals.  Then later as the Manager of Licensing, Product Development and Client Services for Infomart Dialog in Toronto, she managed a team that included not only information professionals but also subject specialists and information technologists.  She is currently an Associate at Dysart & Jones.

Questions about SLA:

In broad strokes, what do you think the SLA’s role is in library hiring and employment?

I think we are all responsible for our own careers.  SLA’s role, as an association serving a profession, is to provide the tools we need to help ourselves.  Specifically, SLA works:
1) to support members in identifying appropriate competencies,
2) to provide continuing education opportunities and
3) to facilitate a network of colleagues.

How can SLA serve unemployed or underemployed librarians?  Please name specific programs or services that exist, or that you would like to see enacted.

From SLA’s website, members can access the Career Center – which is really a portal to a wealth of resources appropriate for any member interested in career development.  This portal is particularly relevant to information professionals who are facing employment challenges – from the typical resume posting and job boards through to the more unique opportunities like Connect @ Conference and Career Disruption Assistance which many units offer.

How can SLA support library students in order to help them be best situated for future employment?  Please name specific programs or services that exist, or that you would like to see enacted.

Working with the local chapter, the students need to take charge of forming their student chapter.  SLA and our units have various supports in place for students – from scholarships to stipends to attend conference; however, it is up to the individual student to step up and participate.  As I tell my students:  SLA is there for you.  But you can’t sit back and just expect a handout.  You get out of it what you put into it … so get involved!

Questions from the survey:

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

Number 1:  I think finding a good corporate culture fit is key – both for the candidate and for the employer.  Candidates who are interested in and ask questions about the culture of the organization, the environment and how their role would contribute to culture and to the success of the organization are on the right track.
Numbers 2, 3, etc are more prosaic:  in no particular order:  presentable; articulate; intelligent.

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

Yes.  Tardiness.  You are wasting my time.

How many pages should a cover letter be?

√ Other: Only one! Your cover letter is like your elevator pitch.  Reel me in!

How many pages should a resume/CV be?

√ Other: Two is ok, but no more. You’ve reeled me in with your cover letter … now wow me with your resume so I will want to meet you in person!

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?

√ Other: No. Well … really, if you are entry level, the objective statement probably really goes like this:  “I want a job.”  And the more senior you are, the more your resume will resemble a brochure … in which case, a tagline might be in order!

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

√ I don’t care

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

Having a sincere, honest manner.


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