Monthly Archives: September 2012

Quirky Interesting Things Done Outside the Profession

Helen Marie Gunz

This anonymous interview is with an Academic Librarian who has been a hiring manager and a member of a hiring committee.  This librarian works at a library with 0-10 staff members.

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

How tightly their skills match the needs of the position.
How well they will integrate with the currently team, and how they may broaden and expand the insights and assumptions of the current team.
Does their professional vision align with the institutional mission and vision?

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

If we ask a vision / brainstorming question, and they run out of ideas in 30 seconds (or some other timespan much shorter than we’ve allotted for the question).
Openly expressed ethical snafus or challenges that indicate a misalignment with the institutional values where we are.

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

“You should hire me because I know people you know”

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

They often leave out the quirky interesting things they’ve done outside the profession, which will often end up being the very things I look for to indicate a well-rounded person.

How many pages should a cover letter be?

√ Only one!

How many pages should a resume/CV be?

√ As many as it takes, but keep it short and sweet

Do you have a preferred format for application documents?

√ online

Should a resume/CV have an Objective statement?

√ I don’t care

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

√ Both as an attachment and in the body of the email

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

1. Demonstrate that you cared enough about the process to learn something about us.
2. Don’t be afraid of us, but do be respectful of us *and* yourself.
3. Be willing to take a stance and disagree, as long as you have good evidence to back up your stance.
4. Be willing to admit you are wrong, or have something about which you’d like to (or need to) learn more.

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

Talk too little or too much. Forget to ask us questions. Ask minor questions about locale and then not ask substantive questions about issues that are important to you. Panic.

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

Someone I hired once shared a tip for how to dress for an interview. Come early and scope out the place ahead of time, if possible. Choose attire that is slightly nicer than what is worn there on an everyday basis. If you dress too nice, people think you won’t fit in. If you dress too casual, they think you aren’t taking this seriously. Slightly better than normal says, “Deep down I’m really like you, but I respect you and want you to respect me.”

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Filed under 0-10 staff members, Academic, Original Survey

I Can’t Remember Anyone Dressing So Inappropriately

The Incredible Suit by Flickr user left-hand

The Incredible Suit by Flickr user left-hand

 

 

 

 

This anonymous interview is with an Academic librarian at an institution with 10-50 staff members in a city/town in the Southern US. This librarian has been a hiring manager and a member of a hiring or search committee.

What Candidates Should Wear

Should the candidate wear a suit to the interview?

√ Probably, yes (but it’s ok if the candidate wears something a little less formal)

An outfit with a coordinated blazer and trousers:

√ Counts as a suit

Bare arms are inappropriate in an interview, even in the summer.

√ False

If a woman wears a skirt to an interview, should she also wear pantyhose?

√ Either pantyhose or tights. Bare legs are inappropriate

Women should wear make-up to an interview:

√ I don’t care what’s on the face, it’s what’s in the brain that counts

Is there anything a candidate might wear that would cause them to be instantly out of the running? If you have any funny stories about horrifying interview outfits, we’d love to hear them.

I can’t remember anyone dressing so inappropriately that the topic came up for discussion.

Do you expect different levels of formality of dress, depending on the position you’re hiring for?

√ No

Which jewelry may candidates wear: (Please select all that are acceptable)

√ Single, simple necklace, bracelet, and/or ring
√ A few simple necklaces, bracelets, and/or rings
√ Arty or more elaborate necklaces, bracelets, or rings
√ Nose Ring (nostril)
√ Earrings
√ Multiple Ear Piercings

Which hair colors are acceptable for candidates:

√ All of them, even pink

The way a candidate dresses should:

√ Be fairly neutral

How does what a candidate wears affect your hiring decision?

Generally, not at all, although I do think the candidate should be neat and make an effort on his/her appearance.

What This Library Wears

How do you dress when you are going to conduct an interview?

I’ll wear a tie, although not always a jacket.

On a scale of one (too dressed up for my workplace) to five (too casual), khakis and a polo shirt are:

3

What’s the dress code at your library/organization?

√ Business casual

Are there any specific items of clothing, etc. that are forbidden by your dress code? Please check all that apply

√ Flip flops
√ Short skirts/shorts
√ Tank tops
√ Logos/band insignia/slogans

This survey was co-authored by Jill of Librarian Hire Fashion – submit your interview outfit to her blog!

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Filed under 10-50 staff members, Academic, City/town, Southern US, What Should Candidates Wear?

Further Questions: How Has the Economy Affected Hiring at Your Library?

This week I asked people who hire librarians:

How has the economy affected hiring at your organization?  Have there been freezes?  Have positions gone unfilled?  Are applicant pools larger?  Please let us know what’s changed!  And have you noticed any thawing lately?

We have had freezes on filling open positions.  We have had to use open positions as a “cash-in” to meet budget cuts.

But the interesting thing is the applicant pool.  I had an open position — admittedly one requiring IT/network skills, although I was willing to hire a new graduate.  There were 4 applicants. Four. One of them met the qualifications, was offered the job, and turned it down because it required too much work and travel to small remote branches and locations. So now it is unfilled and must remain so until next year.

So here’s the thing:  There are not many jobs available. But, there are jobs that require moving to a small town, outside of the big city, and miles away from a shopping mall.  Those jobs usually require hands-on, do-most-anything kind of work. If you really want a job, sometimes you have to take what’s offered and it may not be quite what you were expecting.

Is it thawing?  Not yet.  Not here that I can see.  Those who claim to be experts in this type of thing tell me that the 2015 budget year will be the bottom. I don’t know — I do know that the only thing I can really tell applicants is keep trying, broaden your skill set, and don’t forget us country folk.

– Dusty Gres, Director, Ohoopee Regional Library System

Nicola FranklinHere in the UK the slow down in number of jobs started back at the end of 2008 (in the private sector).  The public sector carried on much as normal for quite some time, and we only really saw changes there from 2010 onwards once the ‘austerity measures’ of the government kicked in and they put hiring freezes on.  Across the central government there is a total ban on hiring, and in other public sector areas (higher education, public libraries, etc) there have been great reductions.
The big debate here at the moment is about local councils making some or all of their public libraries into charitable trusts, run by volunteers from the local community, in some cases with no professional library staff at all.  While CILIP (the professional body analogous to ALA) have come out to condemn substitution of paid jobs by volunteers, the SCL (Society of Chief Librarians, which is the body for all the Heads of Library services in the UK) hasn’t.
There has been little sign of any thawing in the economy or job market as yet, with all the library recruitment agencies and CILIP having many fewer than normal jobs advertised on their websites. In addition the jobs that are available tend to be either senior management, entry level or calling for rather unusual, specialised or technical skill sets.
– Nicola Franklin, Director, The Library Career Centre Ltd.
Laurie PhillipsWe have been very fortunate not to have hiring freezes. As a private institution, we are not reliant on the vagaries of state government, thank goodness. Also, we have had a high percentage of faculty turnover since Hurricane Katrina, so the university has been particularly committed to rebuilding the faculty (and our librarians are faculty). I would say, yes, our  applicant pools are larger and more competitive. We’ve made some wonderful faculty hires because we’re getting a great pool of candidates.
– Laurie Phillips, Associate Dean for Technical Services, J. Edgar & Louise S. Monroe Library, Loyola University New Orleans
J. McRee Elrod
We continue to have new word-of-mouth e-publishers asking for MARC records, while cataloguing from small libraries has declined sharply. It tends to balance out.
– J. McRee (Mac) Elrod, Special Libraries Catalouging
Terry Ann LawlerYes the economy has definitely effected our hiring procedures!  We have had a hiring freeze for years now.  We are currently still frozen on full time positions and have to get permission to hire them on a position by position basis.  Many vacancies have not been granted filling, leaving us perpetually short staffed through out our library system.
Yes, applicant pools are much, much larger.  This means that we have to knock up our criteria in order to make it manageable.  Unfortunately for new grads with little experience, this could mean you’ll need to take on part time or volunteer or intern positions to make your resume fit our criteria.
Also, thankfully, yes, things have thawed a little in our city.  We have been granted permission to fill our part time positions as soon as they are vacant.  That means you do have a chance!
– Terry Lawler, Assistant Manager and Children’s Librarian, Palo Verde Branch, Phoenix Public Library
Marleah AugustineWe have not had hiring freezes, but we have reduced our number of support staff members just through attrition. As some staff retire or move on to other jobs, we do not fill that position. Applicant pools are very much so larger — in fact, we just hired replacements in 4 part-time positions, and we had to sort through over 100 applications. And the applicants are highly qualified — it was very hard to even narrow it down for the interview process. In the past, we’ve sometimes only gotten a few applications for a job opening, and those who applied were not the most qualified.
– Marleah Augustine, Adult Department Librarian at Hays Public Library

Thank you as always to our contributors for their time and insight.  If you’re someone who hires librarians and are interested in participating in this feature, please email me at hiringlibrariansATgmail.

I look forward to seeing YOUR opinions in the comments.  Thank you for reading!

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Filed under Other Organization or Library Type, Public, Recruiters, Rural area

Researcher’s Corner: The New Archivist’s Job Search

Note – added 2/26/2013 – If you’re interested in learning more about this project, Shannon’s presentation, Rebecca Goldman’s presentation, and the survey and anonymized responses are all available here:

http://digitalcommons.lasalle.edu/libraryconf/4/


I am so excited to be able to present this guest post by Shannon Lausch, in which she reports on her very current research, conducted in partnership with Rebecca Goldman, into what it’s like to job hunt as a newly graduated archivist. I heard about their work via the SNAP listserv.  If you’re a new archivist, you should check it out.  I’ve been very impressed with both the discussions and level of collegiality that can be found there.

Shannon’s analysis is fascinating – there are both expected and surprising results.  Please leave a comment to let us know what you think!


Introduction

At the 2012 annual conference of the Society of American Archivists (SAA), Rebecca Goldman and I were panelists for a session called “The Thin Line between Supply and Demand: The Pesky Business of Archival Education.” Like many areas in the library and information science field, the competition for archives-related jobs is fierce, and this panel addressed the high number of job applicants versus the low number of positions available.

For our presentations, Rebecca and I conducted a survey of those who completed a graduate program with an emphasis in archives within the past five years. Rebecca was interested in job and life satisfaction as well as alternatives to the archives profession, while I focused on the job search itself. Specifically, I wanted to provide answers to the many questions new graduates may find themselves asking, such as the following: how long is the average job search?  Is relocation usually necessary? What kinds of jobs are applicants ultimately finding?

Survey Methods

We sent out the survey to SAA’s Archives and Archivists listserv and Students and New Archives Professionals listserv. It was also advertised on the ArchivesNext blog and on Twitter. We received 248 responses.

Designing the survey was challenging, and we had to make some difficult choices of how to phrase questions and what options to include. We were also careful in distinguishing between those who found a position after graduation and those who are currently searching for a job. Among those who are currently searching for a job, we included those who found a job after graduation but are looking for a new position and those who have yet to find a job after graduation.

Our Findings

I would like to highlight what I found to be the most interesting findings in the job search section of our survey.

Some graduates do find full-time positions, but a significant number report finding temporary or part-time work for their first position after graduation

One of the first job-related questions we asked in the survey was the basic “have you found any kind of employment post-graduation”: 73.2 percent reported finding a position after graduating, 15.6 percent said that they continued to work in a position that they had before graduating, and 6.7 percent stated that they did not find employment of any kind. Of the 4.5 percent who stated that none of the options applied to them, common answers included finding employment before graduating or having paid internships.

In the next question, we asked those who were employed to describe the type of position of their first job. 49.8 percent said that they were employed as professional archivists; the next highest, at 14.4 percent, stated that they were employed in a related field, and a total of 15.8 percent were employed in a paraprofessional position. 6.2 percent were employed in an unrelated field.

We then further inquired about the status of their first position. 48.3 percent reported holding full-time and permanent positions. The next highest at 31.7 percent reported having a full-time position that was on a temporary or term basis or based on a contract or project.  Part-time positions accounted for 19 percent of employment.

The job search may not be as arduous for everyone

After hearing so many anecdotes of people applying to a hundred or more jobs for over a year before finally landing their first position, I expected our results would illustrate a similar story. I was wrong.

In searching for their first position post-graduation, 31.2 percent reported it took 1 to 3 months to find a job, and for another 31.2 percent, it took 4 to 6 months. 8.7 percent reported that it took more than a year to find a job.

Before finding their first position, the majority, at 48.9 percent, applied between 1 and 20 positions, and 21.3 percent applied between 21 and 40 positions. Four percent applied to 100 or more positions.

If we were to do this survey again, I would further break-down the 1-20 segment to have a better understanding on the average number of positions graduates apply for, since I did not expect it to be our top answer.

Getting an interview is a huge deal

Next, let’s take a look at interviews. For those employed, out of 165, 131 reported receiving just one interview. If we include everyone currently looking for a job, these numbers have a little more variety. Still, the most frequent responses were zero or one.

I was surprised that so many successful candidates received only one interview. It illustrates that there may be nothing sorely deficient with job seekers who have spent a long time searching. They just needed a lucky break. But I’m also wondering what happened to those who were competing against the people who only had one interview and got the job. Surely, there should be more people out there with at least two interviews.

I would also like point out that if we were to do this survey again, we would consider distinguishing between preliminary phone interviews and final interviews as we’re not certain how our applicants decided to count interviews.

Relocation is a common reality for job finders

Finally, we also asked about willingness to relocate. Another common story for job seekers to hear is that you must be willing to relocate, and I was curious about how willingness to relocate relates to finding a job.

I cross-tabbed our data of whether job finders had to relocate and what their position was. For professional archives positions, 58.9 percent had to relocate for their position; for related professionals, 13.3 percent relocated; and 14.4 percent relocated for hybrid position.

So what about those who did not relocate but still found a position? 46.8 percent found a job as an archivist professional and 17 percent as an archives paraprofessional. But for those who did not relocate and still found a position, 29.8 percent already had the job before receiving their degree.

Final thoughts

It is a tough and strange market in the archives world, one where you may go from hearing nothing for months to landing a full-time professional position after receiving an interview from just one institution. Or you may have to face the uncertainties of the job market again and again, finding multiple temporary project positions. Having a strong network of those who can help you in making sure your resume, cover letter, and interviewing skills are in top form is critical for making sure when opportunity strikes, you’re ready.


Shannon Lausch graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a master’s degree in library and information science in May 2011. While studying for her master’s degree, she worked as a graduate assistant at the University Archives; completed a practicum with the Champaign County Historical Archives; and held an internship with the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum for her graduate school’s “Alternative Spring Break” program.

She is now an archivist for the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, working at the UALR Center for Arkansas History and Culture. Her job search lasted seven months.

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Filed under Archives, Guest Posts, library research, MLIS Students, Researcher's Corner

Californians, Have you voted? Julie Farnsworth on Hiring Librarians

Voting is currently open for the California Library Association’s 2012 election.  If you’re a member, cast your ballot by October 15th.
This interview is with Julie Farnsworth, who is a candidate for President-Elect. Ms Farnsworth began her library career as a page at the age of 15. She has worked as a public library director at various systems in Utah, as County Librarian for Santa Clara, and since 2003 has been the Director of the Pleasanton Public Library (which is in the 50-100 staff members category). She has also been both a hiring manager and a member of a hiring committee.

Questions about CLA:

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

CLA exists to help its member libraries and librarians.  Hiring and employment is one of the most important and most popular roles of the organization.  Whether through the actual job listings or through the opportunity to network and work together, CLA is a very useful tool for job seekers.

The most important role of CLA is library advocacy which, when successful, means more funds for libraries and more available jobs.

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

CLA offers mentoring – both long-term and short-term – for new librarians, an online job listing service, job advertising and interview services at the annual conference, programs designed for aspiring job seekers and opportunities for networking.

How can the CLA 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.

CLA offers resume evaluation at each conference as well as programs on how to enhance job seeking skills and knowledge.  CLA was instrumental in starting the Eureka Leadership training which has assisted many librarians to progress in their careers.

I would like to see more programs or individualized feedback on interview skills and self-presentation.  I would like CLA to facilitate paid and unpaid internships by collating the opportunities and distributing the information to job seekers.  CLA could also create a best practices internship plan and train librarians on giving interns the best, most useful experience.

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

It can feel as though the job search is hopeless or you have no control or influence over your future.  It isn’t true – there are always ways to improve your future prospects. Getting involved with CLA or any other professional or non-profit group can grow your skills, give you experience you can use to illustrate your talents in interviews, teach you about advocacy and introduce you to many other professionals would can assist your efforts to build a career.

Let CLA help you while you search for a job.  It will be useful.

Questions from the survey:

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

Good judgment – the ability to assess a situation and respond wisely in the best interest of the organization and staff

Dedication to customer service with real respect for the work we do and the people we work to help

Balance – the ability to see beyond the emotion of the moment to the bigger picture, often using humor, self-acceptance, a sense of the absurd and/or acknowledgement of the faulty nature of all humans, including yourself

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

Yes.  Wanting to censor what we have in the collection in order to “protect” the community.  Being offensive about patrons of a particular age or national origin or disability or any other group status.  Making multiple derogatory comments about different co-workers and bosses.  Stating that you want to leave your current public library job because you are afraid of the patrons.  Criticizing the receptionist in a loud and angry manner for not telling you about the traffic that made you late.

Yes, these are all from my personal experience.  See, you are a better interviewer than you thought!

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

Nothing, really.  They are pretty utilitarian and appropriately so.

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

I’d love to see something they particularly liked or learned in each experience, but that wouldn’t be typical.

How many pages should a cover letter be?

√ Only one!

How many pages should a resume/CV be?

√ As many as it takes, but keep it short and sweet

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: Yes, so long as it is true/real and relevant to the position

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?

Be comfortable with yourself (not the situation, no one is really comfortable in an interview), open and accepting of your strengths and weaknesses.  Be calm.  Be honest about yourself, your hopes, your interests.  Do you really want a job where they are looking for the person you faked being in the interview or a job where they want the real you?  See the people across the table as people and take an interest in what they care about, what they might be feeling and how you can help them be more comfortable.  Understand that an interview is not the measure of your worth, just a chance for those with a job opening to learn more about you while you learn about them.  Do your homework on the organization – it shows preparation and thoughtfulness.  Think what the interviewers might be proud of and bring it up.  You can always call and ask the staff what changes they have made lately that have been successful.

For me personally – hey, I always like people who laugh at my jokes.  😉

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

Most common of all, they get so nervous that their personality and skills are obliterated.  Interviews are important for functional reasons, not for referendum on the worth of your soul reasons – so learn whatever skills you need to be calm!

Another very common mistake is to focus so much on the perfect answer to the questions that you lose track of the people in the room.  Communication is more about body language and tone than words and that’s very much true in an interview.

The third mistake I see is not engaging your audience.  Ask questions.  Ask follow up questions to their answers.  It’s often said that whoever talks least in any interview wins.  This isn’t so true in an oral board, of course, but in the personal interviews its a big mistake to do nothing but answer.

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

Not at all in the mechanics.  Those are dictated by the organization and the public hiring legalities.

We’ve done a better job on getting the word out and certainly I’m fond of my hires and think they are the bees knees, but no functional differences.

Of course, we’ve been doing NO hiring for years and only now allowed to replace key positions.  So I guess that’s a change.

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

Don’t give up!  Being a librarian is a great career that I highly recommend and I do believe that jobs will come back.

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Filed under 50-100 staff members, Elections/Candidates, Non-Anonymous, Public

Californians, Have you Voted? Teresa Landers on Hiring Librarians

Voting is currently open for the California Library Association’s 2012 election.  If you’re a member, cast your ballot by October 15th.
This interview is with Teresa Landers, who is a candidate for President-Elect.  Ms. Landers has over 33 years of experience working in public libraries in 4 different Western states.  For the past three years, she has been the Director of the Santa Cruz Public Libraries, which is in the 100-200 staff members category.  Ms. Landers has been both a hiring manager and a member of hiring committees.

Questions about CLA:

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

CLA is a professional organization. Its mission is to represent and serve the needs of its members who are the staff of all our libraries in California.  CLA’s role is therefore to do what it can to help make the connection between those looking for work and those wanting to hire. This is achieved through several services which are described below.

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

The jobline is the primary source of connecting those looking for work and those looking to hire workers.  Offering professional development opportunities helps prepare both the unemployed and the underemployed by teaching the skills that are in demand by potential employers.

In California we are fortunate to have an organization, Infopeople, which offers free and low cost training and development. It used to be largely supported by State and Federal funding. In these challenging times those funding sources are threatened and Infopeople has had to get more creative in finding support but continues to be an invaluable resource to all California librarians.

The Eureka! Leadership Program and CLA sponsored mentoring programs are both excellent resources that serve our profession well by preparing emerging leaders.

I think CLA can do more at the annual conference for job seekers and employers. Maybe this can also be developed into regional job fairs.  At a minimum, providing practice interviews and resume review would be valuable additions to the conference program.

How can the CLA 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.

CLA does have a library school representative on the Executive Board. This provides good input from the student perspective while providing  the student with excellent leadership experience.

Perhaps the two Library Schools in the State could be the sponsors of the conference program and regional job fairs that I mentioned in the previous question.

Internships are another excellent way for library school students to get professional experience and to get known by potential employers. CLA could work more closely with the library schools and work with them to figure out how CLA can play a role in brokering this process.

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

I know this is a difficult hiring environment for new graduates. I do believe the job market is loosening a bit. In my library we are no longer reducing and have started adding back. We are also starting to see more retirements which will result in more opportunities for new graduates.  I know this isn’t directly related to CLA or my candidacy but if there is a way the CLA President can help, I will be looking for it.

Questions from the survey:

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

1. Technical skills

2. An understanding of the changes facing libraries and a willingness to be flexible, innovative and not afraid of change.

3. Able to relate to people and understand the meaning of excellence in customer service.

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

I hate it when candidates have not done their research on the library and specific job for which they are applying.  I actually had a phone interview with a candidate who asked where the library was located.

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

I find objectives to be useless. If  someone is applying for a job with my organization then that is their objective. They will have time to talk about career goals in the interview.

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

I like to see a connection between the jobs they have performed and what knowledge, skills and abilities doing that job required.  For customer service and supervision, I am very willing to give credit for non-library jobs that show they have specific skills.  I can teach them how to use our computer system or how to do do a reference interview but the basic ability to relate to people is either there or it isn’t.

How many pages should a cover letter be?

√ Two is ok, but no more

How many pages should a resume/CV be?

√ As many as it takes, I want to look at every accomplishment

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?

√ I don’t care

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

Show interest in the position and knowledge about my library. Be confident, make eye contact with everyone, let your personality show so we can both look for best fit.

What are some of the most common mistakes people make in an interview?
Not dressing appropriately. Not being prepared. Not asking specific and interesting questions.

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

I am in an unusual situation in that my first three years at my current organization involved severe reductions. It is only now that we are starting to hire again. We have several staff who have gotten their MLS and have been waiting for several years so the next couple of librarian hires will most likely be in-house. In about another 6 months or year we will start hiring from the outside.

We are changing our interview process and trying to make it more of a dialogue between candidate and interviewers. We will do this by providing some questions ahead of time and having less questions with more time to go in depth. We are also going to include a session where the candidate meets with the staff in the division where the opening is and will spend some time talking with them and doing a session where they have to “teach” something.

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

No matter how badly you need the job, remember that fit is important from both perspectives.

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Filed under 100-200 staff members, Elections/Candidates, MLIS Students, Public, Western US

The Individual Should Be Self Aware Enough to Know What Looks Best

Photo by Flickr user Parker Michael Knight

Photo by Flickr user Parker Michael Knight

 

 

This anonymous interview is with an Academic librarian from an institution with 10-50 staff members in an urban area of the Southern US. This librarian has been a hiring manager and a member of a hiring or search committee.

 

What Candidates Should Wear

Should the candidate wear a suit to the interview?

√ Probably, yes (but it’s ok if the candidate wears something a little less formal)

An outfit with a coordinated blazer and trousers:

√ I do not know and/or care

Bare arms are inappropriate in an interview, even in the summer.

√ Other: there’s a lot of variation in outfits. I would hesitate to give a blanket yes or no.

If a woman wears a skirt to an interview, should she also wear pantyhose?

√ No, but it’s not a dealbreaker

Women should wear make-up to an interview:

√ Other: a candidate should look NICE. not everyone needs makeup. the individual should be self aware enough to know what looks best.

Is there anything a candidate might wear that would cause them to be instantly out of the running? If you have any funny stories about horrifying interview outfits, we’d love to hear them.

No, no horrifying stories but I do pay attention to how the candidate dresses and absorb that as part of the whole package. I have had informally dressed candidates who presented themselves extremely well and were effective strong candidates with non-typical interview dress. But I have also had exactly the opposite. Someone who clearly isn’t engaged with the process and paid no attention to their manner of dress and that was exactly the message I got, loud and clear. I think self awareness is the key. KNOW how you look and come across. You want a strong showing. This IS an interview after all…

Can you share any stories about how a candidate nailed the proper interview outfit, especially if your organization does not expect suits?

I think a nicely done outfit with a touch of the individual goes a long way. One candidate interviewed in a vintage tweed jacket, plaid shirt and unusual colored tie and it WORKED because it had flair and each piece was unique and clearly a favorite of his. That could be dangerous but this was just enough of a personal touch to give me a real sense of who he is. He turned out to be a fantastic hire.

Do you expect different levels of formality of dress, depending on the position you’re hiring for?

√ Yes, the higher the position, the more formal I expect the candidate to dress

Which jewelry may candidates wear: (Please select all that are acceptable)

√ Single, simple necklace, bracelet, and/or ring
√ Earrings
√ Multiple Ear Piercings

Which hair colors are acceptable for candidates:

√ Other: I don’t mind a bit of unusual color but whole head shocking pink is a bit much.

The way a candidate dresses should:

√ Show personality

How does what a candidate wears affect your hiring decision?

I just want to see that they are self aware, they have chosen their clothes with some care to reflect well on themselves and that they are neat and clean. No ill fitting pants or shirts or too much skin exposed. I’m fine with some unusual clothing but it does need to fit and look nice.

What This Library Wears

How do you dress when you are going to conduct an interview?

I wear a jacket and pants.

On a scale of one (too dressed up for my workplace) to five (too casual), khakis and a polo shirt are:

3

What’s the dress code at your library/organization?

√ Business casual

Do you have any other comments?

I think this is going to be hard to write about on a large scale because so much of this varies across regions and institutions. I have worked in several libraries over quite a few years and the “acceptable rules” are very different in different places.

This survey was co-authored by Jill of Librarian Hire Fashion – submit your interview outfit to her blog!

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Filed under 10-50 staff members, Academic, Southern US, Urban area, What Should Candidates Wear?