When should someone NOT apply for a position?
When one lacks the required qualifications.
If the position is in a location to which the applicant is not willing to move.– J. McRee (Mac) Elrod, Special Libraries Catalouging
Don’t apply for any position for which you can’t make the case that your skills match it. When we have openings for a teen librarian, someone with early literacy chops only or a tech services background won’t even make the first cut unless the candidate can clearly show that they have outstanding relevent experience with the clientele. That is the biggest mistake I see. If you don’t quite have the required degree or the years of experience, it is fine with us if you apply – again, as long as you can show that the skills you bring actually match the advertised job you will be considered. As always, the cover letter is where you can make your case on how your skills would answer the posted position. If you can’t make that match, you waste both your time and the time of the potential employer.– Marge Loch-Wouters, Youth Services Coordinator, La Crosse (WI) Public Library
This seems to be a common sense thought, but if someone does not meet the qualifications by any stretch of the imagination, they should not apply. Yes, there is some room for leeway — maybe you only have 2 years of experience instead of 3, but it was really great experience. That’s fine, especially if you meet the other qualifications. I’ve seen some applications where just a couple of the qualifications are met, and those don’t get a second glance.I’ve also had a few applicants whose schedules simply did not work — this mostly applies to part-time hiring. If you are only available after 6pm, and we close at 8 … it’s not going to work. Some full-time jobs require weekend or evening hours. If you’re never available for these, don’t apply.– Marleah Augustine, Adult Department Librarian at Hays Public Library
The obvious answer to this one, is to only apply to jobs for which you are well qualified (and therefore stand a good chance of being invited to interview). The problem is, it isn’t always obvious which jobs those are!Sometimes it is clear. For example, if you have recently graduated and have 1 year’s pre-qualification experience as a library assistant, there is little point applying for a job as a Library Director calling for 10yrs+ experience including staff and budget management.
On the other hand, if a role is quite close to something you have done before, or is a very similar job but in a different industry sector, or uses the same skill set in a new way, then it can be much less clear whether you should apply or not.
A good rule of thumb is, can you give specific examples of work you have done that match 70-75% of the duties listed in the job description? If you can do this for 100% of the job – in other words, you can clearly do the role ‘standing on your head’ – then employers may feel you will have no scope for development (and so may leave quickly for something more challenging) or think that you will expect an amount near the top of their salary range (and so may leave quickly for something better paid). On the other hand, if you can only show you’ve done 50% or less of the job, then hirers may decide you would need too much investment in terms of training, on the job coaching, etc.
A good balance is that you can comfortably do the majority of the job from day one, and so can contribute value quickly, while still having some room for growth and development left, giving you interest and challenge and justifying pay increases.
If you want to apply for a job that’s in a different industry sector, then there are two things you can do to increase your chances of getting an interview. Firstly, make sure you clearly show how your skills and experiences can be transferred and are applicable in the new situation. Secondly, find out what kind of jargon terms the new industry uses for the things you have done – and then use those terms (rather than the ones used by your current company / industry sector) to write about your job duties and achievements. In other words, talk their language.– Nicola Franklin, Director, The Library Career Centre Ltd.
If you are not qualified for a position (don’t meet the minimum qualifications) and can’t even make a case for having the qualifications, don’t bother applying. If you don’t really want the job in question, but you just want to work at the library in question, please don’t apply. We will not keep your application on file for other positions. You are wasting the time of 4-6 people on the search committee.– Laurie Phillips, Associate Dean for Technical Services, J. Edgar & Louise S. Monroe Library, Loyola University New Orleans
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.com.
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