Now Hiring: Omaha Public Library

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Deadline to apply:Today! 2/7/2013*49CF8C7F9DD5CBD7

Manya ShorrManya Shorr is the senior manager for Branch Services at the Omaha Public library.  She has been a hiring manager and a member of a hiring committee. Manya’s work to bring new adults, single people, and the business community into Omaha’s Swanson branch earned her a spot as a 2010 Mover and Shaker.  OPL has between 100-200 staff members. It is an

essential catalyst, collaborator and connector

for the vibrant city of Omaha (yes, really!). Not sold on working there? Here is what they say about their employees:

We recognize our staff as our greatest resource. We are passionate about our work, we have fun, and we work together as a team. We trust each other and respect diverse ideas.

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

A desire to serve the public and enthusiasm about public libraries
Knowledge of what’s happening in libraries around the world (professional candidates only)
Inquisitive and excited about the job

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

The only thing I see repeatedly are applicants that want to work M-F, 8-5. This is not a realistic schedule for a public library. If someone wants to work in a public library, they should expect to work at least one weekend day and one night every week.

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

Personalize your cover letter! I know it’s extremely frustrating to apply for many jobs because it takes so much time but you need to understand that I can tell when you have sent the same letter to multiple organizations. I want you to want to work here. Here, in Omaha. Think of your cover letter as our first date. You need to charm me and make me love you.

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

Sometimes it’s hard to understand what someone does on a day-to-day basis. I don’t exactly know the answer (I struggle with this on my own resume) but I find myself filling in the gaps when I read people’s resumes and I never know if I’m accurate.

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?

√ .pdf

Should a resume/CV have an Objective statement?

√ Other: I don’t think I’ve ever read one that didn’t seem silly and superfluous

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

√ Other: At my current library, this is irrelevant, since all applications go through the City Human Resources department first. By the time I see anything, it’s been printed out.

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

I wish I could impress upon all applicants how important it is to come in to the interview with enthusiasm and energy. Don’t be shy about talking about yourself and most importantly, don’t discount your accomplishments. Repeatedly, applicants tell me the things they don’t know how to do, rather than all the things they can do. If you haven’t done anything yet, talk about your enthusiasm for it, or what you’ve done to prepare to do this thing in the future.

Also, if you are a recent graduate, don’t assume that your lack of experience is a hinderance. Remember that you can’t read my mind. There’s a strong chance that I’m looking for a new professional to hire. Don’t. Make. Assumptions. Tell me why I should hire you, not why I shouldn’t.

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

My biggest pet peeve is when applicants tell me what the organization can do for them, rather than what they will bring to the organization. It’s nice that your aunt/grandmother/cousin lives in Omaha, or that you’ve always wanted to live in the Midwest, or this job would be great for your career, but I urge you think about how that sounds to the organization. I’m interested in your success, but primarily I want to know what you can do for my library.

The other thing that bothers me is when an applicant has not done any research into my library and/or service area. Look at the website, check out demographic information about the city, walk through a couple of branches. Any little effort is appreciated. Not all public libraries are the same and painting all of us with the same broad brush is annoying.

Lastly, remember that you are making a first (and often, last) impression. Smile, have a firm handshake, make eye contact, and act like you want to be there. These little things are so often forgotten and are so important. If you don’t make eye contact with me, I have to assume you will not make eye contact with the public either.

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

Not that I know.

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

Many public libraries are part of a City/County structure and have very little to do with hiring process. Here in Omaha, the City HR department culls the list of applicants and gives us 3-5 names that we can interview. That’s it. If you are #6, I will never see your name or your application. Sometimes there is a scoring tie and we see more names, but not normally. I also have no control over the timeline. We submit a request to fill the position to HR and then we wait. I know it’s frustrating to be on the other side of things (believe me, I have to apply for jobs too) but try to understand that the library often has little to no control over the process.

1 Comment

Filed under 100-200 staff members, Midwestern US, now hiring, Public

One response to “Now Hiring: Omaha Public Library

  1. So confused...

    Previously you wrote: “It can be very difficult to hire in Omaha, NE. No matter how much evidence we put in front of people that Omaha is an awesome, changing community with few budget problems, it’s still hard to get past people’s perception of the Midwest.”

    This time you write: “My biggest pet peeve is when applicants tell me what the organization can do for them, rather than what they will bring to the organization. It’s nice that your aunt/grandmother/cousin lives in Omaha, or that you’ve always wanted to live in the Midwest, or this job would be great for your career…”

    So which is it? How can someone convince you that they are serious about your job opening?

    In another discussion about out of state applicants, several hiring librarians state that they are hesitant to hire out of state applicants because they don’t believe that they will stick around. Other experts claim that the only way to get a job is to move out of state.

    I hope that hiring librarians are starting to see how difficult the situation is for anyone looking for a job in library land!


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