Monthly Archives: March 2013

Showing That You are a Team Player on Paper and in Person.

Ruth OwensRuth Owens received her MLIS from Syracuse University in 2010 and holds a BS in Zoology from Colorado State University. She is currently the Instructional Technologies Librarian at Cayuga Community College. She has been looking for a new position for six months to a year. Ms. Owens is looking in Academic, Public, and Special libraries, at the entry level and for positions requiring at least two years of experience. She lives in a city/town in the Northeastern US,  and is not willing to move. Ms. Owens is treasurer for the Upstate New York chapter of the Special Libraries Association.

What are the top three things you’re looking for in a job?

1. A place I can use my skills

2. A place I can be a part of a team

3. A place I can grow and advance

Where do you look for open positions?

LAC Group Jobs, LibGig Library Jobs, local library councils, professional listservs

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?

-Update and polish resume for the position

-Write a draft cover letter, review it many times, have someone else review it, save the final copy

-Fill out online application if required (sometimes this takes hours and hours of entering information right from my resume which is also always attached)

-Double and triple checking everything for grammar and accuracy

-I usually spend two or three evenings or even a week making sure my application is complete

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

√ To follow-up after an interview

√ Once the position has been filled, even if it’s not me

How do you prefer to communicate with potential employers?

√ Phone

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?

Make sure the position duties are accurate and clearly stated. Describe what kind of candidate is desired.

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

-Either ask for a resume or fill in an application – not both

-Keep candidates updated (especially the ones who are immediately weeded out – it’s so annoying to apply to a job and finally hear a peep after three months that you were not selected for anything)

What do you think is the secret to getting hired?

Tailoring your experience to the position requirements (without stretching the truth) and showing that you are a team player on paper and in person.

Do you have any comments, or are there any other questions you think we should add to this survey?

Great survey! I was actually hired at my current position three months ago and it’s temporary, so I’m still looking for more permanent work.

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 Academic, Job hunter's survey, Northeastern US, Public, Special

Business Casual Wear- Nice Blouse and Khakis/slacks

Necktie 13 by Flickr user shindoverse

This anonymous interview is with an Academic librarian who has been a member of a hiring or search committee. This librarian works in a city/town in the Midwestern United States, at a library with 10-50 staff members.

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?

√ No, but it’s not a dealbreaker

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.

Extremely skimpy clothing showing lots of breasts, butt crack or underwear. No pants falling down.

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)

√ A few simple necklaces, bracelets, and/or rings

Which hair colors are acceptable for candidates:

√ Natural colors (black, brown, red, blonde, gray)

The way a candidate dresses should:

√ Be fairly neutral

How does what a candidate wears affect your hiring decision?

Only if at either extreme of too sloppy / too casual or way too formal.

What This Library Wears

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

In business casual wear- nice blouse and khakis/slacks.

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?

√ Other: no code

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

√ N/A: We wear what we want!

Librarians at your organization wear:

√ Name tags

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

Photo: Necktie 13 by Flickr user shindoverse via Creative Commons License

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Filed under 10-50 staff members, Academic, Midwestern US, What Should Candidates Wear?

Further Questions: Who has input on hiring decisions at your organization?

This week I have another question suggested by a reader.  I asked people who hire librarians:

Who has input on hiring decisions at your organization? (e.g the hiring manager, the person’s potential department members, an external committee, etc.) We often hear that it’s important to be polite to everyone you meet when going in for an interview – do you solicit feedback from non-interviewing staff members?

Laurie PhillipsWe have a search committee, which will generally include those librarians and staff who will work directly with the new hire. We try to keep it small – no more than 4 people. Our policy is to also include one person outside of the person’s general area. The committee has the most input and makes a recommendation to the Dean and Associate Dean, who will have met with the person and reviewed applications of top candidates. We also invite everyone in the library to attend the person’s onsite presentation and we have a small group who are not members of the search committee take the candidate to lunch. We gather feedback from everyone who had contact with the candidate, but obviously, the search committee makes the decision to recommend a candidate to the Dean for hire.

– Laurie Phillips, Associate Dean for Technical Services, J. Edgar & Louise S. Monroe Library, Loyola University New Orleans

Emilie Smart

In our system, we operate a little differently in branches as opposed to the main library.  Hiring decisions for branches are made by the branch manager and the branch dept head with input from the branch services liaison and division coordinator.  At the main library,  senior departmental staff and the division coordinator make the decisions.  It is important to be polite to everyone you meet in the interview process.  It’s also important to listen in the interview.
When we conclude each interview we tell the candidate that he or she will be hearing from us once we have completed interviewing all candidates.  We also tell them that we may not be able to complete the process in a timely manner (through no fault of our own) and that they may need to be patient for a week or so, but we WILL get back with them.  I don’t mind it when a candidate calls after a week to inquire, but I have had candidates who called every other day.  I always tell candidates the first time they call what the status of the interviews is and that we will call them when we are finished.  If they call me back again, I generally take them off the consideration list.  If they can’t be patient, how can they help frustrated patrons?

– Emilie Smart, Division Coordinator of Reference Services & Computer Services at East Baton Rouge Parish Library

Marge Loch-WoutersThe manager in a department has primary responsibility for hiring decisions and initial selection of our interview pool. We always use a team for interviews made up primarily of other managers at our library. There may also be other staffers involved. The interview team then meets to compare notes and make a recommendation to the manager. But that person ultimately has the final say.

– Marge Loch-Wouters, Youth Services Coordinator, La Crosse (WI) Public Library

Petra Mauerhoff, CEO, Shortgrass Library SystemHere at Shortgrass all the hiring is done by our management team. We do all interviews as a team (of three) if possible and then make a decision together. Depending on the position we then let the manager who will be directly supervising the position be the one to extend the offer.
Generally, most non-interviewing staff members don’t even meet the candidates, due to the lay-out of the building. Often the Executive Assistant will be the first one to make contact as people walk in the door and if there was anything remarkable (lack of friendliness, etc) about the candidate, I trust she would mention it to me.

– Petra Mauerhoff, CEO, Shortgrass Library System

On most academic search committees on which I’ve served and/or chaired, those who have input into the actual decision as to who is hired is somewhat restricted.  The “restricted” group usually includes the members of the search committee, the Dean or other “official” of the college , and the department head of the department in which the new person will work.  However, I have always solicited feedback from anyone who has been invited to interview the candidate one on one,  in a small group, or a larger group as when a presentation is required.  That feedback isn’t always in the final decision category. But it could be if many people provide similar, or the same,  pros or cons about a candidate.  In that case, I would hope that the search committee or other final decision maker would take that feedback into consideration.  Being polite to everyone a candidate meets on an interview should be pro forma, whether or not the candidate thinks that the people he/she meets has input into the hiring process. If a candidate can’t be polite to everyone for one or two days,  and it is noticed, that candidate should not be the one selected for the position IMO.

– Sharon Britton, Library Director, BGSU – Firelands

Samantha Thompson-Franklin

At my library, candidates are introduced to all of the library staff (we are a small staff) and are asked to make a presentation that includes the entire library staff as well as members of the search committee. My library director solicits feedback from all members of the library staff on their view of the candidate(s). In some cases it has confirmed whether the person should or should not be hired for the job.

– Samantha Thompson-Franklin, Associate Professor/Collections & Acquisitions Librarian, Lewis-Clark State College Library

Marleah AugustineWhen hiring support staff, in our library, the decision rests with the department head. When both the youth and adult departments are hiring at the same time, the two department heads sometimes interview candidates together, but the individual department head is the one who makes the final decision.
In some cases, front desk staff members will have an initial impression of a candidate, and I do take that into consideration. It’s not a dealbreaker, but it’s nice to hear what kind of interaction the candidate had and whether it was positive or negative.
– Marleah Augustine, Adult Department Librarian at Hays Public Library
Colleen HarrisAt our library, all librarian presentations are open to all staff and library faculty, as is the meet & greet, and the candidate spends time with various folks both in and outside their home department. We solicit feedback from everyone in our organization who was able to spend time with the candidate; that information is usually collected via a survey where folks have open-answer slots to comment on the person’s qualifications, skillset, and whether they are an acceptable candidate.
– Head of Access Services & Assistant Professor at University of Tennessee Chattanooga’s Lupton Library

Thank you as always to our contributors for their time and insight.  If you’re interested in participating in this feature, email me at hiringlibrariansATgmail.com.

Thank YOU for reading!

I won’t dance in a club like this. All the girls are comments and the beer tastes just like comments.

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Filed under Further Questions

Hired Librarians: Prepare, Prepare, Prepare

Elisabeth Doucett, whose book, What They Don’t Teach You In Library School, was featured on Author’s Corner about a month ago, suggested today’s post. Ms. Doucett recently hired a librarian who 

did the absolute best job I’ve ever seen to prepare for that interview

Today I’m pleased to be able to bring you an interview with a successful candidate and the librarian who hired her: Sarah Brown, the new Manager of Adult Services at Curtis Memorial Library, and Liz Doucett, the Library Director.  Curtis Memorial is a public library in Brunswick, Maine, with 21.6 FTEs (11 full-time and 26 part -time staff members.)
Curtis Memorial Library, Brunswick, ME
Note: I’d like to be able to turn Hired Librarians into a regular feature, so if you’re part of a recent hiree/hiring manager pair who’d be willing to be interviewed, please contact me.  Or please pass along this request!


The Successful Candidate: Sarah Brown

Sarah Brown
Where are you in your career? When did you graduate, and how many years of experience do you have?

I graduated from the University of Kentucky School of Library and Information Science in 1996 and have over 15 years’ experience as a professional librarian. First, in an academic library at Pikeville College, in rural eastern Kentucky, in which I supervised the creation of a medical library for a new osteopathic medical school.

My second professional position was with the Tippecanoe County Public Library in Indiana. I was a reference and adult services librarian for over 10 years, working at a branch location that was a joint public/community college library and serving as Interim Branch Manager in 2003.

My current position is that of Adult Services Manager at Curtis Memorial Library in Brunswick Maine.

Why did this job pique your interest?

I had wanted to relocate to Maine for many years and I was on the lookout for the perfect combination of location, library and community. Curtis Library is a fantastic library whose mission and vision spoke to me. Their new Strategic Plan showed that they were community focused and proactively working on meeting 21st century community needs.

The position of Adult Services Manager was a good fit for me. I had a strong background in reference and adult services and, anticipating a move to a management level position, I had sought out management and leadership training opportunities. I was confident that with my enthusiasm, experience and skills that I would be an asset to CML and to the service area.

How many pages was your resume? Cover letter?

My resume was way too long! It was 6 pages, plus a cover letter and a page of references.

What research did you do before submitting your application?

I wanted to make sure that this was a library and community that I wanted to work in so I did research on both. For the library I looked at its mission, vision, values, strategic plan, Youtube videos, website, blog, newspaper articles, and several years’ worth of newsletters and annual reports. I also researched the staff using Google, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

For the community I looked at the town web site, the Master Plan for Downtown Brunswick, the Mid Coast Chamber of Commerce, Brunswick Downtown Association, and the local newspaper.

What did you wear?

I wore a gray pantsuit.

Can you describe your process in preparing for the interview?

You know how hard you study for the GRE or a Master’s program cumulative exam? I would say that I studied twice as hard for this interview. I was very excited about this position! In addition to reading and rereading (and maybe rereading once more) the library and community documents listed above, I had a 20 page document with sample questions, answers and behavioral examples. Topics included work experience, strengths and weaknesses, management and leadership style, conflict management, teamwork, customer service, flexibility, challenges and opportunities in adult services, and the future of libraries and librarians. Additionally, I made sure I was current on professional issues by reading professional journals, industry reports, and state library discussion lists.

Compiling and studying these documents really helped me to evaluate myself as a candidate, think about the role and future of libraries, get to know the interviewing library, and concisely articulate how I might fit within, and be an asset to them.

What questions did you ask?

Based on my study of the library and of the community I had many specific as well as general questions for the interviewers: about the library, programming, partners, and the community.

Why do you think you were hired? What set you apart from other candidates?

I know that all of the candidates were very qualified for the position. I feel that I was chosen because I was passionate about the job, the community, the profession, and the amazing possibilities and potential facing libraries as we move into the future.

Is there anything else you want to tell my readers about why you were chosen? Or any general job hunting advice you want to dispense?

Don’t be afraid to show your passion! I love being a librarian and I am passionate about libraries and librarianship. I was very excited about Curtis Library and the Brunswick community – and I wasn’t afraid to let that show during the interview process. Do your research on the interviewing library and the community. Be able to articulate why you want the job and what you can offer.

The Hiring Librarian: Liz Doucett

Liz Doucett

What stood out in this applicant’s cover letter?

Sarah’s cover letter was very clear and detailed as to a) how her experience made her qualified for the job at Curtis and b) the degree of passion and energy that she had for her profession. We wanted both experience and passion in the person who got this job so her clarity made it easy for us to include her in our pool of applicants. I would tell any applicant for a job make sure she does the same in a cover letter with a focus on being short, succinct and full of excitement about the opportunity.

Did she meet all of the required qualifications listed in the job ad? How many of the desired qualifications did she meet?

Sarah met all of the required qualifications.

In comparison to the rest of the pool, did the applicant have more, less, or about the same years of experience? What about for the other people you interviewed?

Sarah probably had slightly less experience than some of the other candidates. However, her high degree of preparation compensated for any short-falls in experience.

What was the interview process like? 

We went through all of the resumes received (about 40) and picked out a pool of six candidates. The interview committee (three librarians plus the library’s assistant director and the manager of technical services) then conducted a group telephone interview with each candidate. The final three candidates were invited to the library. Each candidate interviewed again with the interview committee and I then interviewed each one individually. Additionally, the final candidates had bagels and coffee in a large group format with anyone on the staff interested in attending. The candidates were given tours of the library and then went out to lunch (informally) with 2 members of the interview committee. It was an exhausting process for the candidate and the interview committee but by the end it was very clear as to who we were going to hire.

What stood out in this applicant’s interview?

Sarah came to the interview amazingly well-prepared. She had researched the community of Brunswick and Curtis Library and the staff that worked here. She knew by name which staff person did what job in the library. She had ideas about what she would like to accomplish at Curtis. She understood our strategic goals and already had a sense of what she could contribute toward achieving those goals. I have always prided myself on being prepared for job interviews and I can honestly say that Sarah far surpassed any job interview I’ve ever done. On top of that she was very passionate about her work which is refreshing and exciting when you are interviewing for a senior position.

Were there any flags or questions you had about this person’s abilities, and how did they resolve them?

The interview committee was a little worried that we had so few concerns about Sarah’s abilities – we felt like we must be missing something! Happily, Sarah has lived up to our expectations and continues to be a hire for the library of which we are all proud.

Is there anything else you want to tell my readers about why this candidate was chosen? Or any general job hunting advice you want to dispense?

When you interview for a job, I would suggest the following:

  1. Prepare, prepare, prepare. Look at every piece of information you can find about the library AND the community in which it is situated. A prepared candidate is very impressive.
  2. Practice answering sample interview questions out loud. You don’t want to memorize an answer but you do want to hear yourself speak out loud. It will help you figure out the topics which you are comfortable discussing and those about which you are less articulate.
  3. Come to an interview with suggestions and ideas. They might not be “right” for the library but they demonstrate that you are willing to put in time and energy and thinking into get this job.
  4. Don’t be afraid to tell interviewers why you want this job. Passion goes a long way in terms of convincing interviewers that you are the right candidate for the job.
  5. When you get to the end of an interview, don’t be afraid to ask the interviewer if you have addressed all of their questions and concerns. You don’t want to leave the interview without having done everything you can can to get that job!

Just to reiterate: If you’re part of a recent hiree/hiring manager pair who’d be willing to be interviewed for this feature, please contact me.  Or please pass along this request!

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Filed under 10-50 staff members, Hired Librarians, Northeastern US, Public

I Requested That She Wear Something a Little More Modest, As My Boss Was a Religious Sister

Monster Remix 10.10.06 by Flickr user grapefruitmoon

 

 

This anonymous interview is with an Academic librarian who has been a hiring manager, a member of a hiring or search committee and is currently a Director of Library Services (two locations). This librarian works at a library with 0-10 staff members in a Urban area in the Northeastern US.

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.

√ True

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

√ Other: depends on the length of the skirt, the age of the wearer, and the weather

Women should wear make-up to an interview:

√ Other: it’s a grey area (and not the color of the face), and cannot be easily answered yes/no. Whatever it takes to be professional, but not dripping / gooey / street walker type

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 once interviewed a young woman (actually wearing a suit) whose blouse was cut so low it was hard to look anyplace else; this was probably 2004. When I called to confirm her interview time with my boss (a sister of Mercy), I requested that she wear something a little more modest, as my boss was a religious sister. there didn’t seem to be a problem with that, but on the day of the interview, she sent an email saying the position wasn’t really what she wanted, and she was canceling the appointment.

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

the time before last that we hired, I asked the current librarians to be the interview committee (for a new part-time position). I came in at the end, to give them all free reign and also because I had been out ill with a very bad respiratory condition). The young woman we hired (April 2011) had graduated the previous December; she wore a tweed suit, had her long hair up in a twist, wore hosiery, had smart, but sensible low heeled pumps on to match. Add to that – she was / is one savvy young woman.

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)

√ A few simple necklaces, bracelets, and/or rings
√ Other: None

Which hair colors are acceptable for candidates:

√ Other: some ‘natural’ colors aren’t really that when dyed. It’s hard for me to overlook, but I know brains are not lacking if hair is wild

The way a candidate dresses should:

√ Be fairly neutral

How does what a candidate wears affect your hiring decision?

The last candidate (that we hired) is someone I knew when we overlapped in library school 98-99. I was amazed that she would wear such a low cut dress and would not have hired, except that the first choice decided she couldn’t live on part time, and my staff had worked with this 2nd choice in the public library arena. We are an academic, private, very small college.

What This Library Wears

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

a tad more formal than my usual khakis and short or long sleeved shirt. I don’t ever wear high heels, but would ordinarily wear hosiery and dress shoes.

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
√ Other: here in the library we are more formal with our workstudies – no flipflops, low cut or very short skirts/shorts. they will either be sent home if practicable or asked to wear a very large t shirt we keep for the purpose. Staff (all librarians are staff) occasionally have to be reminded that low cut is not acceptable.

Librarians at your organization wear: (Please check all that apply)

√ Other: generally casual

Do you have any other comments?

The one question you didn’t ask – what is the age range of the person filling out the survey? While I graduated from library school in September of 1999, I had had a couple of professional positions before that and raised a family of three boys and one girl. I was single from 1979 – 1986, worked full time and had two in elementary grades and two high schoolers.

Some of your answers from which to choose I discerned as being much more focused on 30-somethings than any other range. With the number of us that have NOT retired when the next generation down expected us to. . . . we have a different slant.

I do not expect everyone to wear a suit or suit and tie, but I do expect them to be clean and neat; I don’t want to see body parts from a too short shirt or too lowcut top. Hosiery – was certainly expected in the 1960s, but not today, not even in an interview. Oh, and the young woman who wore the suit was 22 and is the only one of five who handwrote a thank-you note.

I have another story, too. One of my library school friends graduated in 2000. She also was divorced, kids grown, 2nd husband divorced her less than 10 years into the marriage as she had breast cancer. She supported herself working three jobs, one of them 29 miles away. She took a job cataloging, quit all of her other ones, and then they let her go after two weeks. NY is an ’employment at will state’, so they didn’t even need a reason. This friend showed up here for a job interview looking like something that the cat dragged in. I would have much preferred her to call and say there was a family emergency, could we reschedule? But she just showed up and said “ordinarily I would never come to an interview like this, but I knew you were my friend and would understand”. No, I didn’t understand.

Similarly, one of the college’s part time financial aid persons had a sister who had graduated from the same school I did, but a few years later. I provided the ‘real world’ answers to a project she had to do. No thanks – not even by email. She applied for a job we posted internally, but not on time. She did not get an interview.

You’ve hit on a valuable service to / for hiring managers. When we did not have an HR department, I personally wrote letters to all the candidates informing them we had hired another. Now, with HR – they don’t do that. It flies in the face of all sorts of ethical behavior in my book.

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

Photo: Monster Remix 10.10.06 by Flickr user grapefruitmoon via Creative Commons License

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Filed under 0-10 staff members, Academic, Northeastern US, Urban area, What Should Candidates Wear?

Everything About the Candidate on Interview Day Should Represent the Candidate at His/her Best.

Me in a suit by Flickr User twentysixcatsThis anonymous interview is with an Academic librarian who has been a member of a hiring or search committee. This librarian works at a library with 10-50 staff members in a Urban area in the Northeastern US.

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, as long as it’s not over-the-top

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.

stained clothes, ripped clothes – not a good thing

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
√ A few simple necklaces, bracelets, and/or rings
√ Earrings

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?

The clothes are not going to get/or lose the candidate the job, but they contribute to an overall impression of the candidate. Everything about the candidate on interview day should represent the candidate at his/her best.
If the clothes are ill-kempt or worn, or too outlandish or too informal, then I’m left with an unfavorable impression.

What This Library Wears

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

Skirt suit, shell top underneath the jacket, hose, heels

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

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

Photo: Me in a Suit by Flickr user twentysixcats via Creative Commons License

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

A Failed Application or Interview is Much Less Painful When You Take a Learning Experience Out of It

Kevin MaloneyFaculty of Information at the University of Toronto. A former student assistant at Southern Ontario Library Service, Mr. Maloney is also an ongoing volunteer at the John M. Kelly Library of St. Michael’s College.  He has been job hunting for a year to 18 months, in academic libraries, library vendor/service providers, public libraries, school libraries, and special libraries, at the following levels: entry level, requiring at least two years of experience, and supervisory. Here is how he describes his experience with internships and volunteering:

I was a student assistant with Southern Ontario Library Service (SOLS) in July-August 2011. In that capacity, I provided liaison services to First Nations client libraries, took conference minutes, researched and contacted potential partners/sponsors for SOLS events (including SOLS’ annual “First Nation Communities Read” event), examined the SOLS website for technical issues/areas that could use improvement, and rewrote SOLS promotional documents for redistribution to First Nations band leaders. At one point I even got to personally assist in the move of one client library to a new location!

Before my work with SOLS, though, and while I was still in the full swing of my studies at the University of Toronto, I was a volunteer with Hart House Library in 2009-2011, where I sorted books, monitored the collection for future weeding efforts, assisted in the annual collection development process, and helped maintain the library’s LibraryThing catalogue. Though my duties at Hart House were fairly low-key most of the time, I still took a lot out of the experience. Currently, I am volunteering at John M. Kelly Library (St. Michael’s College), where I assist their Technical Services department in adding new acquisitions to their online catalogue. I also work alongside other volunteers in collecting and sorting newly-donated donated materials for the library’s annual book sale.

Mr. Maloney is in a suburban area in Canada, and is willing to move anywhere. You can learn more about him on LinkedIn.

What are the top three things you’re looking for in a job?

1. Relevance to the skills that I have learned and trained for (ie, a job that I know I can do, and do well). This is not to

2. A professional environment that is both accommodating and engaging– a workplace that puts my mind at ease, but at the same time keeps me focused on the task at hand.

3. Having a job within relatively easy travel distance is a nice perk that I do often look for, but it is not a necessary one– I am not adverse to having to travel or relocate for a job.

Where do you look for open positions?

Faculty of Information Jobsite, University of Toronto

ALA Joblist

Linkedin

OLA Partnership Job Board

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?

My routine is as follows:

1. Examine the job posting thoroughly, often examining the company/library website further to see how I could be an asset to this organization.

2. Take an existing cover letter file and, where necessary, use it as a template to reconstruct and re-fit a new cover letter for this position. The amount of modification, of course, varies from position to position.

3. Send all relevant material, and keep my fingers crossed. 

I typically spend maybe 1 hour, tops, on an application packet, though this may vary depending on how urgent the application’s due date is.

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 tell me if I have or have not been selected to move on to the interview stage

How do you prefer to communicate with potential employers?

√ Phone for good news, email for bad news

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

√ Meeting department members/potential co-workers

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

-One thing that employers should, I think, practice more frequently is sending email responses. Even if the email is just there to say tell me that haven’t gotten the job, it’s still nice to know that they examined my application.

-Whenever an applicant doesn’t get the job, employers should feel free, when asked, to tell him or her why. A failed application or interview is much less painful when you take a learning experience out of it.

-Where relevant, employers could recommend any other position or organization that they feel the applicant might be interested in, or that they know is looking for candidates with the applicant’s qualifications.

What do you think is the secret to getting hired?

If I knew, I probably wouldn’t still be searching. 😉 In all honesty, though, I think the best way to get hired is to keep one’s professional profile relevant, up to date, desirable, and made as accessible as possible. For keeping one’s profile relevant, volunteering always helps, and looks great on a resume! Job searchers should also never be afraid to ask for professional feedback from their peers. Other than that, I don’t think there is any “secret” to getting hired other than staying positive and never giving up.

Do you have any comments, or are there any other questions you think we should add to this survey?

I’m just glad that someone finally made a survey like this. It’s great to be able answer questions relevant to my own job search, and I look forward to seeing what other job hunters like myself have to say as well.

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 Academic, Canada, Job hunter's survey, Other Organization or Library Type, Public, School, Special, Suburban area

Author’s Corner: A Librarian’s Guide to an Uncertain Job Market

Today’s post is an excerpt from A Librarian’s Guide to an Uncertain Job Market, by Jeanette Woodward (2011. Chicago,IL: American Library Association). It’s got some excellent, very specific advice about the work you can do to be an engaged and smart job hunter. I’m happy to be able to share it with you.


For Applications that Make the Cut, Do Your Homework

At some point in the near future, you hope to be sitting opposite a library administrator or search committee convincing them that you are the best applicant for the job. However, that meeting will undoubtedly be preceded by many, many small steps. The secret is preparation and that preparation must begin long before the interview.

Focusing On the Job and the Employer

Actually, it all begins as soon as you discover the job announcement. Once you’ve decided that this is an opening you may want to pursue, immediately begin learning more. You’ll need to investigate not only the job itself but also the library and the people, especially senior staff, who work in that library. All of us, I suppose, tend to focus on ourselves. The people to whom you are sending your application are thinking not about you but about themselves and their library. They have a problem- in other words, there is work that’s not getting done and plans that are not being implemented. They are interested in how someone might solve their problem and how well that someone might fit into their world. Your task is not so much to tell them about yourself as to focus on their need.

What the Ad Really Says

Begin by examining the job ad carefully. Check to see if there are other versions online (the library’s own website may have a much longer and more complete announcement since some job lists charge by the word). You can do this by taking an exact phrase from the announcement, enclosing it in quotes, and pasting it into a search engine. Assemble all the versions you can find and keep your fingers crossed that they were written by a librarian and not a human resource professional. What do they really seem to be looking for? How is this announcement different from others you’ve seen for similar jobs? In one sense, your challenge is to become a mind reader.
The job that’s open in this particular library is unique. In many ways, it’s unlike other jobs with identical job titles in other libraries because this library has evolved differently. It has different goals, different needs, and a different cast of characters. Can you read between the lines to discover what these people are really looking for? Focus on them, not yourself. Don’t begin comparing your skills and experience with their requirements until you really understand what they are looking for.

Obtaining More Information

How can you find out more about this position? What do you already know about the library? Your friends and colleagues usually provide the best insights so ask around. Use your social network to get all the information you can. Is this a new position or is the opening the result of a recent resignation? It’s helpful to know whether you will be following in someone else’s footsteps or will help create a new position. Have two positions been merged and would you be expected to do both? These situations have their advantages and disadvantages but it’s a good idea to know what you’re getting into.

a librarian's guide to an uncertain job marketWhen the Library is Far From Home

At the moment, the job market is far from sunny so you may be applying to libraries far distant from home. If this is the case, you’re going to have to do some real detective work and as a librarian, you’re better equipped for the task than job applicants in other fields. Use the Internet to find out all you can about the libraries in which you’re interested, in other words the staff size, names and titles of senior librarians, budget, etc.
If the announcement asks you to reply to someone other than a human resource administrator, find out who that person is. You can probably gather enough information to make some educated guesses about the people who will make the hiring decision. Learning about the human side of libraries will help you better understand what they’re looking for. LIS professionals are so well represented online that you can often learn a lot about them as individuals including their perspectives and preferences. Some of the information will be useful in the cover letter and if you make the cut, it will be invaluable in the interview.

Investigate the Community

Also gather enough information to decide whether this is a place where you’d like to live. Find out about the cost of living, especially the cost of housing, the unemployment rate, the schools if you have children, and other quality of life indicators. As we all know, statistics can be boring and seemingly meaningless. Don’t just look up numbers. What do the numbers really say? Compare them with your home community. Consider whether unemployment numbers are improving or budget cuts have been so draconian that basic services like education and police protection are inadequate. Be sure to bookmark local newspapers to get a feeling for how residents view their area. Though you may be feeling somewhat desperate, you don’t want to have to go through this again. Job hunting takes a lot out of you both financially and psychologically. You’re looking for a stable, supportive environment where you can recharge your batteries and grow professionally. There really and truly are jobs that you should avoid.


Jeannette Woodward is a principal of Wind River Library and Nonprofit Consulting. After a career in academic library administration, most recently as Assistant Director of the David Adamany Library at Wayne State University, she began a second career in public libraries as the Director of the Fremont County Library System in the foothills of the Wind River Mountains of Wyoming.

Woodward is the author of several books including “The Transformed Library: Ebooks, Expeertise, and Evolution,” “Countdown to a New Library, 2nd Edition” (ALA 2010), “The Customer-Driven Academic Library” (ALA, 2008), “What Every Librarian Should Know about Electronic Privacy” (Libraries Unlimited, 2007), “Creating the Customer Driven Library: Building on the Bookstore Model” (ALA, 2005). She is also the author of “Writing Research Papers: Investigating Resources in Cyberspace”(McGraw Hill, 1999) and “Finding a Job after 50: Reinvent Yourself for the 21st Century” (Career Press, 2007). She holds a masters degree in library and information science from Rutgers University with doctoral study at the University of Texas at Austin.

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Consciously? As Long as Someone Looks Appropriate and Not Casual, I’m Good

Job Interview, remix by Flickr user grapefruitmoon

This anonymous interview is with a Public librarian who has been a hiring manager. This librarian works at libraries(?) with 10-50 staff members in a

County system city and rural area

in the Western US.

What Candidates Should Wear

Should the candidate wear a suit to the interview?

√ Yes, absolutely! It shows respect and professionalism

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, as long as it’s not over-the-top

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.

We had a candidate come to the interview in capris and flipflops. This was for a management position. It didn’t put her out of the running, other things did, but it felt disrespectful.

Out of the running? Bare midriff, short shorts very low cut tops for women. Same for men. 😉 What it comes down to is that whatever outfit somebody wears should show respect of self and the institution for which application is being made.

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

I did have a candidate come in wearing a very simple, tasteful skirt and blouse with a vintage handbag (small, clean lines). Her heels were not too high. This was for an entry level position and its simplicity gave a suit-like feel and helped project confidence in herself. Very nicely done.

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
√ A few simple necklaces, bracelets, and/or rings
√ Arty or more elaborate necklaces, bracelets, or rings
√ Nose Ring (nostril)
√ Earrings
√ Multiple Ear Piercings
√ Other: The more the tattoos and piercings the more important to dress very professionally

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?

Consciously? As long as someone looks appropriate and not casual, I’m good. Unconsciously? If their dress doesn’t stand out in bad way it is probably okay.

What This Library Wears

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

I dress business casual in a dress or a nice pair of slacks.

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

4

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

√ Other: There is no written dress code

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

√ Other: I wish we had a dress code

Librarians at your organization wear: (Please check all that apply)

√ Name tags

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

Photo: Job Interview, remix by Flickr user grapefruitmoon via Creative Commons License

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Have You Voted? Courtney Young Talks about Hiring Librarians

It’s election time!  ALA presidential candidate Courtney Young has graciously agreed answer a few questions about their thoughts on ALA’s role in library hiring. Voting is open now through April 26th. Visit this page for more details.

courtney young

 Courtney Young is currently the Head Librarian and Associate Professor of Women’s Studies at Pennsylvania State University’s, Greater Allegheny Campus.  She earned her MLIS from Simmons in 1997. Ms. Young has demonstrated her leadership and commitment to the profession as a current member of ALA council, past president of the NMRT, and as one of Library Journal’s Movers and Shakers.  Her focus, if elected ALA president, would particularly be on diversity, career development, and engagement & outreach.  As for her thoughts on Hiring Librarians, I’ll let her tell you in her own words:

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

This is a challenging, but crucial and frequently asked question. ALA works to attract people to the profession by getting scholarship sponsors for programs like Spectrum and by accrediting LIS programs so that students are graduating with the skills they need to be competitive. ALA advocates for libraries, and those advocacy activities ensure we will have libraries of all types to employ librarians. Informally, but perhaps, most importantly, it provides tremendous networking opportunities for those who actively participate in the work of the association. That, right there, is worth the price of admission. There are some things ALA cannot do–the association is not a job creator although it does employ many librarians. Something I would like to see more of from ALA: more training and other HR support for managers who are hiring, such as how to apply guidelines and best practices for creating job descriptions, advertising positions and conducting interviews. The association does some of this but could do more. 

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

ALA has a real opportunity when it comes to unemployed and underemployed librarians and should continue to be mission-focused in this area. A category of personal membership includes “Non-Salaried or Unemployed Regular Members” at a rate of $46 per year. This category “[i]ncludes librarians earning less than $25,000 per year or not currently employed.  In a difficult economy this dues category can be helpful for those in career transition or for those just beginning their careers.” We want those who are struggling and seeking employment to stay active and engaged members, especially given the increased opportunities for professional development online. 

The mission of ALA’s Office for Human Resource Development and Recruitment (HRDR) is to “facilitate the development of librarianship as a profession.” HRDR’s programmatic priorities and services include training and development, career development, selection and staffing, recruitment for library & information sciences careers, organizational development, and human resource management. HRDR has the potential to develop more strategic initiatives in these areas, which fits into my proposed presidential initiative related to career development. I’m excited about what we can do together.  

An ALA member contacted me in 2011 about writing a resolution to do something for librarians who were furloughed or permanently unemployed. As we corresponded it became clear to me that what we really needed was to highlight resources and services already available from the Association as well as the need for more creative and collaborative thinking around an ALA-wide resource for members who are job seekers. Finally, ALA could collaborate more with state and local library associations to provide resources and advocacy for unemployed and underemployed librarians. 

How can ALA 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.

This is where ALA absolutely shines! New Members Round Table (NMRT) is a vital piece of ALA for those new to the field.  NMRT offers the Resume Review Service (on-site at Midwinter and Annual for all ALA members; year-round via email for NMRT members), conference mentoring, and career mentoring. NMRT also provides opportunities for library school students to attend conference through the Student Chapter of the Year Award and hosting the Student Chapter Reception during the Annual Conference. It’s also, arguably, one of the strongest units for networking and models how to effectively work in an organization. 

I have to put in a plug for the ALA Chapter Relations Office and Don Wood’s role with the Student Chapters listserv. Don does a fantastic job in communicating with affiliated student groups and ensures that they feel like real ALA members. The ALA Student-to-Staff program is another great initiative. Forty library school students are selected to work with ALA staff during the Annual Conference. Program participants receive free conference registration, housing, and a per diem for meals. The Association also provides numerous scholarships for students, most notably, Spectrum. 

What do you think is the secret to getting hired by a library? 

I do not think there are secrets per se. Keep your resume up-to-date. Make use of mentoring opportunities provided by ALA, its divisions and round tables. Use contacts you make within ALA as part of your professional network. Networking can be vital to getting hired, especially when it comes to selecting appropriate professionals to serve as a reference. Following directions in the application process goes a long way. I always suggest applying for the jobs you really want, rather than applying for every advertised position. Spend more time on fewer cover letters or packets to produce a better, targeted application. One thing I have found is that our profession is smaller than you think. Little things in the application process like sending a thank you note (either handwritten or via email), whether or not you are the successful candidate, can be to your benefit in the future. Most of all, be confident. 

Any advice for people who are currently job hunting – whether for their first job, or just for the next step in their career? 

Hang in there! You will be successful. I encourage every librarian and library school student I mentor to stay optimistic. Be patient both with the job hunt process and with yourself. Most importantly, remember that you are not alone in this process. Use your network to get the help and support you need. This includes working with a career mentor or two, telling people you are looking for a job, and taking advantage of face-to-face and online career development opportunities through ALA, your state library association, even your library school. 

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

Even though my primary role is as a library manager, I am still very much a front-line librarian; still very much in touch, on a real and daily basis, with issues that are both dear and typical to many members. 

One of the great joys of my position involves my work with the University of Pittsburgh’s Partners Program. Through the program, I interview, hire, and mentor a library school student for three semesters. Last year I successfully advocated for the internship stipend to be doubled, because we value the contribution of these students and are committed to giving back to the profession.

Career development is a major component of my platform. Keeping librarians current and equipped to serve their communities is one of the key roles of the association. Toward fulfilling this role, ALA must strive to be a leader in providing high quality, affordable, timely, and accessible professional development opportunities. I also envision ALA as a major hub that supports and facilitates substantive interactions: networking, conversation, collaboration, and learning.

I’d like to thank Ms. Young for taking the time to answer my questions! I encourage you to visit her website, or to use the comments section to ask any questions you might have. Most of all though, I encourage you to make your voice heard and VOTE!

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