Lately I Have Seen Ads That Read Like Wish Lists

Tracy Stoller is an Assistant Librarian in a small urban academic library in the Midwest. Although it began as a part-time paraprofessional position, her job is now full time and professional. Ms. Stoller does a little bit of everything, but she is most proud of implementing a move to a new ILS without much help; she says she is tech-savvy by necessity rather than natural inclination. She has been looking for a new position for six months to a year in Academic libraries, Public libraries, Special libraries, and other positions in higher education, at the following levels: requiring at least two years of experience and supervisory. Here is how she describes her path to librarianship:

Librarianship was a mid-life career change for me–I went back to school for my MLS in my mid-40s after being a homeschooling mom and working in a family business. It was one of the best decisions I ever made, even considering the awful job market that faced me when I graduated in 2010. Although I do have a job in my field (thank the Lord), I am always looking…

Ms. Stoller is not willing to move from her current location. You can find her on Twitter @TracyStoller

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

Pay that fits within the average for librarians in my state.
Within commuting distance of where I live, since I cannot move.
Work in academia.

Where do you look for open positions?

INALJ-Naomi rocks!
Indiana University SLIS listserv (open to anyone and jobs are posted on the school’s web site)
Custom list I made of libraries within commuting distance

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?

I have several different styles of resumes/CVs so I take the one that fits the job and tweak it to the ad–changing key words to reflect their listing, removing skills that don’t fit, then write a cover letter from scratch. I probably spend 2-3 hours because I agonize over the cover letter. I have my daughter proofread and edit.

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

√ Other: I may claim competence on computer software, then brush up on them (but only if I am already somewhat familiar with using them)

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
√ 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

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

Be realistic in what experience the job requires. Lately I have seen ads that read like wish lists: The candidate has to fill every weak spot in the organization AND have three years experience. If you really want to hire an uber-librarian, then post the salary and make it match the skills.

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

Post the salary, give a time frame for hiring, send letters out to anyone who is not moving on to the interview process and notify those who are not hired as soon as you are able.

I used to think I would rather get an email telling me that another person was hired, but I recently got a phone call and it was much better. I found that they had hired an internal candidate, but thought I was a strong candidate and hoped I would apply for a job that would soon be posted. That feedback helped a lot and I was able to tell her how much I appreciated being considered and hoped to work for her organization some day in the future.

What do you think is the secret to getting hired?

You need to be a good fit for the people and the organization–credentials and skills are not enough. Sometimes it is just whether you “click” with them (and whether you and they are having a good day). Library jobs are getting scarce in my area with cutbacks. I am fortunate to have a (not-so-great) job as a librarian, but I am now looking outside of the traditional library area to widen my options.

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

I think many people answer what they think the ideal is for job searches and they do not reflect reality that is a search that goes through HR channels. They are not going list salaries many times, or acknowledge your resume. It sucks, but HR doesn’t care (even when the actual library professionals do), and what we think SHOULD happen doesn’t matter.

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, Midwestern US, Public, Special, Urban area

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