When I See a Long Grocery List of Exaggerated Required Skills, I Walk Away

Hunting Party at Norderhamn beach near the Cave of Stora Förvar, Stora Karlsö, Gotland, SwedenThis anonymous interview is with a job hunter who is not currently employed, has not been hired within the last two months, and has been looking for a new position for more than 18 months. This person is looking in Academic, Public, and Special libraries, at the entry level. Here is this person’s experience with internships/volunteering:

several years as a volunteer reference librarian and reference administrator at the ipl2, collection development internship at the ipl2, volunteer experience at several school libraries

This job hunter is in a rural area, in the Northeastern US, and is not willing to move.

Where do you look for open positions?

INAlJ, listservs,organization web sites, professsional association web sites (e.g. AALL, NJLA)

Do you expect to see salary range listed in a job ad?

√ No (even if I might think it *should* be)

What’s your routine for preparing an application packet? How much time do you spend on it?

typically many hours

Have you ever stretched the truth, exaggerated, or lied on your resume, or at some other point during the hiring process?

√ No

When would you like employers to contact you?

To acknowledge my application
√ To tell me if I have or have not been selected to move on to the interview stage
√ Once the position has been filled, even if it’s not me

How do you prefer to communicate with potential employers?

√ Email

Which events during the interview/visit are most important to your assessment of the position (i.e. deciding if you want the job)?

√ Tour of facility
√ Meeting department members/potential co-workers
√ Meeting with HR to talk about benefits/salary

What do you think employers should do to get the best candidates to apply?

Be clear and *realistic* about your needs for the position. I’ve seen too many ads for library clerk positions, at a clerical salary, listing qualifications one would normally expect from a professional librarian. I’ve also seen professional positions where the list of requirements is just ridiculous. We all know that it’s an employer’s market out there and that realistically most librarians will fill many roles in their organization. But do you really need an MLS, a PhD in computer science, 5 years of experience with the exact OPAC used by this library, and be fluent in Mandarin Chinese to do a good job in this position? I’m exaggerating for effect of course, but when I see a long grocery list of exaggerated required skills, I walk away.

What should employers do to make the hiring process less painful?

Communicate! I am left with a bad taste in my mouth when I spend hours and hours putting together an application packet that is tailored to a particular job position and I do not receive any acknowledgment. A form letter acknowledging receipt and letting me know I will be contacted if they are interested in interviewing me is sufficient. Be polite – it does not take that much effort. When I don’t receive any acknowledgment at all, I tend to revise my opinion of the organization – and not in a good way!

What do you think is the secret to getting hired?


This survey was co-authored by Naomi House from I Need A Library Job – Do you need one? Check it out!


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Filed under Job hunter's survey, Northeastern US, Rural area

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