SLA Candidates: Kate Arnold Talks About Hiring Librarians

Election time is right around the corner!  This fall SLA members will get to vote for their next board.  Kate Arnold and Juanita Richardson, 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.

Kate Arnold is the Information Centre Manager at National Children’s Bureau  (NCB) in UK. NCB is a non-profit organisation working with, and for children and young people, improving their lives. The Information Centre’s six staff facilitate access to information and knowledge for 150 staff as well as external users.  Kate has extensive experience as a hiring manager and a member of hiring committees.

Questions about SLA:

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

– Providing tools (up to date competencies framework) and mechanisms (forums, wikis and job advertising boards) to allow members to share best practice in hiring and employment for both recruiters and applicants.
– Through involvement in units providing members with volunteer opportunities to enhance their resumes and job prospects.

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

As a community of information professionals SLA can support unemployed and underemployed professionals through its units’ activities such as continuing professional development events (eg on resume writing, and job interviews) and networking events (offering the opportunity for members to connect and help one another).  SLA’s jobs board can help to highlight current vacancies, although this is North American centric so not necessarily that helpful for those of us outside North America. However, chapters can help to fill this gap, and SLA Europe does this through its jobs board. Getting actively involved in your units can also provide valuable volunteering experience.

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.

– SLA can support library students in a variety of ways: providing resources such as the competency framework (something that is currently being updated) and those from First Five Years Advisory Council which can help students prepare for future employment. Through units giving them opportunities to volunteer and gain new skills and valuable experience of team work, chairing meetings etc. Through networking offering them mentors who provide support and advice on employment.

Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers about SLA or your candidacy?

We are at a critical time for the profession and so the theme for my candidacy is ‘reframe’. I want to build on the member engagement and interaction we saw with Cindy Romaine’s Future Ready initiative. This gave us an opportunity to see into the future, so now it’s time to reframe: ourselves, our association and our profession. Reframe is something we have to do collectively as a community. It will provide us with a different way of looking at who we are, what we do and what our value is.

Questions from the survey:

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

–  Drive – to achieve things and drive yourself.
–  Passion – for your subject area or the cause or raison d’etre of your organisation.
–  Adaptability/flexibility.

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

– Not providing all information specified for the application process, eg providing resume and cover letter rather than completing an application form.
– Over running on specified time when giving a presentation during the interview process.

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

– Lack of suitably tailored covering letters, which don’t rely on template, generic paragraphs to illustrate candidate’s fit with person specification.

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

– Detailed information on responsibilities, eg  size of teams they’ve worked in, or managed, budgets they’ve been in charge of etc.

How many pages should a cover letter be?

√  As many as it takes, but shorter is better

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?

– Have prepared well, done your research on the role and the organisation. Thought about how your skills and experience match the person specification, so that you can provide examples in your answers.

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

– Not having done any homework in the form of research on the organisation or the job.

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

– Greater volume of applications to plough through each time you advertise a job.

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

– Remember an interview is a two-way process, it’s for the candidate to find out if they think the hiring organisation and job fit them and vice versa.
– Do your research so you’re prepared to answer questions & to ask some. This will show how motivated you are and how good your research skills are.
– Don’t be afraid to use relevant personal or volunteer experiences as examples for interview questions, particularly if you don’t have work examples or if they’re more relevant.

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Filed under Elections/Candidates, Non-Anonymous, Special, Youth Services

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