When Employers Can Hire Competent People into Marginal Working Conditions at Low Pay It Reinforces the De-valuation Trend of Libraries

Lake Library, 30 June 1955, Hood collectionThis anonymous interview is with an Academic Librarian who has been a hiring manager and 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. Experience
2. Willingness to change – not easy to identify – unique solutions to situational questions
3. Marketing personality

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

1) Historic solutions applied to 21st C issues
2) Attitude (more prevalent than it used to be)
3) Entitlement – I should have this and I should have that, not always revealed until after hire
4) Low level emotional intelligence – its not about you

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

1) the word “I”
2) a litany of how great “I am”,  need to know what you are uniquely willing to do for us
3) a lack of specific examples of solutions to challenges
4) cliches and generalities – which ignore job description

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

(see above)
1) a clear reason why they want the job
2) brief statement of values and philosophy of librarianship – in context

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?

√ 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?

Think in terms of your audience – be a people person – reveal an understanding of the direction libraries are going as a whole – always be prepared with specific examples to illustrate points – dress appropriately – talk and write intelligibly.  Again its not really just about you but rather about the job being offered.
Ask insightful questions – surprised how few candidates do this or do their homework

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

1) Language –  criticism is all too common — This is what I can do for you NOT this is what you should do
2) Talk too much
3) Do not listen to the question
4) Think in terms of only one solution
5) Talk too much

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

It is much more about political correctness and finding people who are unlikely to rock the boat as opposed to finding the best person for the job.
Interviewers tend not to be as prepared either which often makes interviews a popularity contest rather than a meaningful hiring filter

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

Don’t give up. Do your homework.  Practice, practice, practice.  Ask for a copy of annual report and of financial statement.  Go ahead and act as a cheap consultant when you realize you are not going to get the job or don’t want the job.  If you can afford the luxury don’t hesitate to turn a job down.  The job market and the state of library environments out there is generally much worse – so it is hard to be too picky, but I would recommend it, when employers can hire competent people into marginal working conditions at low pay it reinforces the de-valuation trend of libraries.


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

2 responses to “When Employers Can Hire Competent People into Marginal Working Conditions at Low Pay It Reinforces the De-valuation Trend of Libraries

  1. Pingback: Using the word “I” in cover letters? | Jack Of All Trades

  2. Seriously. How is this helpful without concrete examples?

    Please, please PLEASE give examples of how not to use “I” in a cover letter! All of the jobs I have ever had (library world or not) have all had “I” in them. How do I tell you what I can do without talking about myself in the first person? You want it third person? Point form? I really don’t understand this.


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