Monthly Archives: June 2013

If They are Dirty, Then I Would Show Concern

Day 262 - 9-18-12 Why is it... by Flickr user IslesPunkFanThis anonymous interview is with an Academic librarian who has been a hiring manager and a member of a hiring or search committee. This librarian works at a library with 0-10 staff members in a Rural area in the Midwestern 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.

√ Other: It depends on the climate and what the facilities are like

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.

Bra straps showing. See through clothing. Too much cleavage. Clothes that are too tight. Dirty clothes.

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


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: 

√ Single, simple necklace, bracelet, and/or ring
√ A few simple necklaces, bracelets, and/or rings
√ All of the simple necklaces, bracelets, and rings he or she can load on
√ Arty or more elaborate necklaces, bracelets, or rings
√ Nose Ring (nostril)
√ Eyebrow Ring, Monroe piercing, septum piercing, or other face piercing
√ Earrings
√ Multiple Ear Piercings
√ Large gauge ear jewelry (stretched ears)

Which hair colors are acceptable for candidates:

√ All of them, even pink
√ Natural colors (black, brown, red, blonde, gray)
√ Other:

The way a candidate dresses should:

√ Be fairly neutral

How does what a candidate wears affect your hiring decision?

If a candidate is neat and clean then I do not worry about what they are wearing. If they are dirty, then I would show concern.

What This Library Wears

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

A suit

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


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)

√ Logos/band insignia/slogans

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

√ Name tags
√ Badges

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

Photo: Day 262 – 9-18-12 Why is it… by Flickr user IslesPunkFan


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

Further Questions: Does Library Support Staff Certification Give Candidates an Edge?

This week someone on Twitter inspired me to want to know more about a new-ish program from the ALA-APA.  This week I asked people who hire librarians library support staff:

What value do you see in the Library Support Staff Certification (LSSC) program? Would it give an edge to candidates? Have you ever hired someone with this certification?

Marleah AugustineI’ve never had any experience with the certification program, but I have read a bit about it. I do think it would give candidates an edge, because it would show that this isn’t “just another part-time job” and would show the candidate’s level of commitment. That being said, I wouldn’t NOT hire someone just because they didn’t have the certification. It would simply be one more piece that would help me make a hiring decision.

– Marleah Augustine, Adult Department Librarian at Hays Public Library

I have not seen the Library Support Staff Certification on any resume that I have personally reviewed and I do not know anyone who has one so I do not know that I can speak to the benefit of the certificate or if it would give a candidate an edge overall.

There really is no substitute for on the job experience and that is what I am looking for when I hire support staff; however, if I was looking at external candidates, and both candidates had the same level of minimum and preferred qualifications that I listed on the job description and the same amount of time working in libraries, this certificate would give them an edge over another candidate.

– Julie Leuzinger, Department Head, Eagle Commons Library, University of North Texas Libraries

Alison M. Armstrong Collection Development & Cataloging Specialist McConnell Library Photo by Lora Gordon/Radford UniversityWhen I was a paraprofessional, I took several of the ALCTS courses both before and after I got my MLIS and I see them as very beneficial. I haven’t taken any of the other courses. I don’t necessarily see the need for the certificate for a lot of staff positions, particularly in this economy, because the paraprofessionals out there are generally overqualified for the positions they are in and funding for training is limited.  It certainly would make a paraprofessional more marketable though and, personally, if a candidate had an LSSC, they would definitely be moved up in my pile of applicants. If I had not been hired in my current position after getting my MLIS, I would have strongly considered working toward the LSSC to try to set myself apart.

I currently supervise my former position and encourage my staff person to take the courses. In my opinion, they offer some supplemental information to what is learned in school. For people who have an MLIS but didn’t focus in this particular area, it is good training for them.  The ALCTS courses are nice in that there is a discussion forum which brings in diverse levels of experiences, knowledge and perspectives. I don’t think we have had applicants who have an LSSC but, my experience has been limited.  As someone who plans to be an instructor of one of the ALCTS courses, I am a huge cheerleader of them.

– Alison M. Armstrong, Collection Management Librarian, McConnell Library, Radford University

I actually have never had an applicant who claimed to have this certification. I have had employees who have taken some of the classes, specifically those from DACC in NM when I worked there. It would give an edge if all other factors were equal. However, having some real library experience would be preferable to the qualification for me. I also emphasize hiring for talent rather than skills. People can always learn new skills, but they must have enthusiasm, initiative, and the capability to learn. We can always encourage them to take classes later. Depending on the hiring system involved, applicants might get an edge for having these college credits, but it probably wouldn’t matter that they are in library-specific classes. I don’t think there is a critical mass of people out there with the certification at this point.

– Anonymous

Jonathan Harwell

I’m interested in the ALA-APA’s certification.  I’ve worked with ALA-APA for years, and would definitely see this qualification as an asset for a staff candidate.  I have at least one current staff member who’s interested in doing this certification, and that would be one factor that would help me to advocate for higher merit increases for those individuals.  I have yet to meet anyone who has this certification, however.

– Jonathan H. Harwell, Head of Collections & Systems, Olin Library, Rollins College

Sherle Abramson-BluhmI think that there is always value in gaining knowledge and this is one way to do that. I believe it might be a way for someone interested in the field to get a bit of formal education before investing in the full Masters Degree. I hire staff in print acquisitions (ordering, serials and monograph receiving, cat-on receipt) and have no positions which require a degree.  I have not hired someone with the certification. I think it would be a factor in considering a candidate, but would not weigh more than experience.  My biggest concern is that with the entry level pay that these positions are compensated, I am not sure it would be worth the expense to the individual.

– Sherle Abramson-Bluhm, Head, Print Acquisitions, University of Michigan

I haven’t had any applications from candidates with the certification.   However, if I saw it on a resume it would definitely move that candidate to the top of the pile.  To me, it signifies a person who is interested in libraries as a long-term career (good for reducing staff turnover) and who has gained insight into the operation of libraries beyond the routine duties that many staff members are limited to.  It indicates potential for growth and promotion.

– Anonymous

I think the value of the LSSC program works in two directions – value to the candidates and value to libraries.
I think value to the candidates is derived from multiple aspects: from the content of the work they do to either in courses or through self-study and preparing a portfolio, from the experience of going through the certification process and identifying and reflecting on their learning, and then from the credentialing that certification represents.   I don’t know if it is the case or not because I have not had the opportunity to speak with any candidates who have completed certification, but would hope that the accomplishment provides personal satisfaction as well as contributing to the candidate’s sense of professional identity, and affirming their feeling valued by the rest of the profession.

The value to libraries is similarly derived from multiple aspects:  from the content of the training and self-study that support staff receive and undertake and then take back to their libraries, from the boost that having employees taking on professional development brings to the organization, and from having the competencies themselves articulated and then certified.  I think having a pathway that explicitly recognizes and certifies the knowledge and abilities that support staff contribute is important for the profession.

It could give an edge to candidates if all else were equal, but opportunities to participate vary so widely that it wouldn’t necessarily.  We have not hired anyone with this certification at our library, nor do I recall ever seeing an applicant who had it, but we have a very small staff and very few support staff openings.  It may also be more typically held by applicants to school or public libraries.

If the question is about whether it is “worth it” to pursue LSSC certification, I would encourage candidates to do so if they have the intrinsic motivation to seek such a credential, and if it will be meaningful to them irrespective of whether it will provide any hiring edge or salary benefit.  At least in academic libraries I think those benefits cannot be relied on or maybe even considered as possibilities, so it has to be worth it to the candidate just because they want to do it for their own learning and satisfaction.

– Ann Glannon, Associate Director, Wheelock College Library, Boston, MA

I have never hired someone who has been through the certification program, but I have hired people with a library technician AA degree, and all three were rather a disaster. At the time of hiring, I thought the degree would give the person an edge, but it did not.  These experiences come from two previous libraries, not my current institution.  In one case the person didn’t seem to know more than someone would have who had had library experience, and I was disappointed in what I might call library service values. Things like getting cards filed quickly (this was back in the days of card catalogs) so users could find the books I cataloged or responding to users as invitingly as I would have wished.  In two other cases, the library assistants seemed to have the knowledge from the classes they took, but the work just didn’t get done as efficiently as we needed to be successful. It wasn’t just our expectations, as the replacements were extremely successful. These were people without the library technician degree but had library experience (in one case circulation, particularly ILL and the other was cataloging). Maybe it’s just bad luck, but it’s three out of three.

Who goes for the certification?  If they have good experience and good references, I would go with them and probably wouldn’t give the certification any boost. I have been extremely lucky hiring fabulous library assistants, so I think experience, interview, and references tell me more than certification.

– Anonymous

bonnie smithTo my knowledge we have never had anyone apply for a position with this certification yet. But the certification is well regarded and would definitely be noticed and considered a plus. We are always looking for staff who can fit right in and get started on the job at hand. This certification means that less time is spent on training during the first phases of employment. With a better understanding of how libraries function, from a broad perspective, individuals in this program can better serve patrons and feel more confident about their service.

– Bonnie Smith, Assistant Program Director for Human Resources, University of Florida, George A. Smathers Libraries


I think the library support staff certificate has it’s value but how valuable would come out in an interview.   Probably a reason to interview someone.

– Jan Wilbur, Library Director, Mondor/Eagen Library/Information Commons, Anna Maria College

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.

Thank YOU for reading! When you’re not strong/I’ll be your friend/I’ll help you comment.

*edited 8/10/2013 to add Jan Wilbur’s response


Filed under Academic, Further Questions, Public

T-shirt, Mini-skirts, Bad hygiene.

Free outfits for interviews. Dry-cleaning for the unemployed by Flickr User Francis StorrThis anonymous interview is with an Academic librarian who has been a hiring manager and a member of a hiring or search committee. This librarian works at a library with 10-50 staff members in a City/town in the Northeastern US.

What Candidates Should Wear

Should the candidate wear a suit to the interview?

√ I don’t care

An outfit with a coordinated blazer and trousers:

√ I do not know and/or care

Bare arms are inappropriate in an interview, even in the summer.

√ I don’t care

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.

T-shirt, mini-skirts, bad hygiene.

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)

√ All of the simple necklaces, bracelets, and rings he or she can load on
√ Nose Ring (nostril)
√ Eyebrow Ring, Monroe piercing, septum piercing, or other face piercing
√ Earrings
√ Multiple Ear Piercings

Which hair colors are acceptable for candidates:

√ All of them, even pink

The way a candidate dresses should:

√ Show personality

What This Library Wears

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

√ Casual

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: (Please check all that apply)

√ Name tags
√ Badges
√ Uniforms
√ Shirt, waistcoat/vest, or other single piece of clothing issued by the library
√ Other:

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

Photo: Free outfits for interviews. Dry-cleaning for the unemployed by Flickr User Francis Storr

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

What Should We Ask? Employers and Library School

So in the three previous Hiring Librarians surveys, we’ve administered the survey and then asked “What didn’t we ask?” This time I’d like to know “What should we ask?” I’m working on a new survey with Brianna Marshall from Hack Library School.  We’d like your suggestions for survey questions which will help us answer: “What should potential hires learn in library school?” What questions would you ask? If you’ve got ideas, advice, or opinions, please post in the comments, or let me know directly at Hiringlibrarians AT gmail. Thanks! A Children's Librarian Talks About Books Like These

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Filed under News and Administration

I am a Terrible Liar, So I Avoid it Like the Plague

Man on Snowshoes Carrying RifleThis anonymous interview is with a job hunter who is currently employed (even if part-time or in an unrelated field), and has been looking for a new position for more than 18 months. This person is looking in Academic libraries, Archives, and Museum / special collections, at the following levels: Supervisory, Department Head, Senior Librarian, and Director/Dean. This job hunter is in an urban area, in the Northeastern US.

Where do you look for open positions?

ALA joblist, CT library jobs, Educause, Highered jobs, Indeed, Libgig, LISjobs, MBCL job listings,, NYline, Simply hired, SLA-ny, USAjobs.

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

√ Only for certain kinds of employers

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

Between one and five hours, over a span of days.

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

√ Other: I am a terrible liar, so I avoid it like the plague. But I have sometimes wondered after the fact whether my answers were full enough.

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
√ Other: To let me know that my references will be contacted.

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)?

√ Tour of facility
√ Meeting department members/potential co-workers
√ Meeting with HR to talk about benefits/salary
√ Being able to present
√ Other: One-on-one meeting with potential supervisor.

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

Advertise widely and keep positions open until filled.

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

Provide written interview agendas ahead of time, along with the names of those on the committee, and/or those with whom the candidate will be meeting.

What do you think is the secret to getting hired?

Competence, confidence, and a clear recognition of what your weaknesses as a candidate are.

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

It would be good to know how many applications (on average) candidates are submitting prior to getting an interview and/or being hired.

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


Filed under Academic, Archives, Job hunter's survey, Northeastern US, Urban area

Job Hunter’s Web Guide: Academic Library Jobs

I’m glad to be able to present this site, not only because it will be a great resource for all you academic librarians (present and future), but because I think Molly has done a good job of explaining how a “job ad junkie” can turn a quirky habit into a very helpful resource.  Today’s post looks at Academic Library Jobs.

Academic Library Jobs

What is it? Please give us your elevator speech!

Academic Library Jobs is a mobile-friendly website that features a curated list of job listings in academic libraries. It includes job listings from public and private colleges and universities in the United States, most requiring a master’s degree in a library-related field.

When was it started? Why was it started?

It started about a year before it was actually launched. 🙂 In the summer of 2012, I was working in a university IT department, and, like many people I’ve talked to, spent my breaks surfing job ads on my phone. I noticed that many job ads were pretty hard to view that way, and I’d end up emailing myself a reminder to check a particular job when I got home.

I had been wanting to try my hand at app development, so I decided to write an app that would deliver job ads. Then I started trying to narrow down the kinds of job ads it would include. I kept drifting toward the library jobs (I have an MLIS, but have worked in IT for a long time), and more specifically, toward academic library jobs, because I love working in higher ed.

The problem was that it was taking me so long to develop the app that a lot of great jobs were going by. Finally, in May of 2013, I decided to ditch my app aspirations and find a responsive WordPress theme, so that at least I would have a mobile-friendly site where I could post the jobs I was seeing. I found ThemeHorse’s Clean Retina, which looks lovely on every device I’ve tried it on, with minimal CSS tweaking.

Fortunately, since I had already designed and built the database for the app, I knew where I wanted to go with categories and tags, and what information I wanted to provide with each listing. I decided to include college-town profiles too, because I believe that place is such an important consideration when you’re looking for jobs.

Who runs it?

I do. [Molly Ives Brower] I do all the WordPress wrangling, the job-ad curation, and the tweeting. I do use the editorial “we” from time to time, just because I like that particular affectation. 🙂

Are you a “career expert”? What are your qualifications?

I’m not a career expert–although I’ve had 17 jobs since 1988, so I do have a lot of experience applying for jobs and interviewing. These days I’m an IT consultant, but one of my clients is a library, and I keep up with some of my favorite library issues, thanks to Twitter and my friends in the library world (including my husband, who is the director of an academic library).

My primary qualification to do this is that I am a job-ad junkie. When I started library school I was a clerk/typist in the serials department of a university library, and one of my jobs was to open the mail. Every time we got a new issue of Library Journal or other publications that advertised library jobs (I remember a weekly newsletter that was almost nothing but job ads), I would read them to try to decide what kind of librarian I wanted to be and where I wanted to live when I finished my degree. I’ve never really gotten out of the habit of looking at job ads. It’s become a hobby.

Another hobby of mine is visiting college towns, so I’ve actually been to a lot of the places I link to. I’ve been known to drive two hours out of my way to visit, say, Carbondale, Illinois or Oneonta, New York (Oneonta is one of my favorite college towns, actually). But I haven’t traveled the entire country, of course, so there are a lot I’ve never even been close to.

Who is your target audience?

Academic librarians and people who want to be academic librarians.

What’s the best way to use your site? Should users consult it daily? Or as needed? Should they already know what they need help with, or can they just noodle around?

They can certainly consult it daily if they want to, or they can just follow the RSS feeds. I don’t have ads, so it doesn’t matter to me if people read the feeds (there’s a general feed and one for each state) and never even visit the site.

For those who know what they’re looking for, I’ve tried to make it easy to browse by deadline, state, and job categories, and I tag every job with its institution and location, as well as other tags that seem to fit. I have a category for entry-level jobs, because I know there are always recent graduates out there who are looking for those. There’s a search function, and a calendar that shows every day’s posts. Every Friday I post a list of jobs with deadlines the following week, so that readers will have the weekend to get their application materials together.

Does your site provide:

 Job Listings  Links √ The opportunity for interaction
√ Other: I’m developing my template for location profiles, and occasionally I post links, mostly related more to relocation than job-hunting.

Should readers also look for you on social media? Or is your content available in other formats?

 Twitter: @AcadLibJobs

Do you charge for anything on your site?


Can you share any stories about job hunters that found positions after using your site?

Not yet, but I hope I will someday!

Molly Ives BrowerAnything else you’d like to share with my readers about your site in particular, or about library hiring/job hunting in general?

I don’t include entire job listings, like some of the bigger job sites do. I try to give enough information about the job that someone who is interested can click through to see the official job posting on the institution’s website, and I try to make it easy to go directly to job listing, or at least get close. If I see a listing for a job on another site, but can’t find the job listed on the institution’s site, I don’t list it. When I run across those, I try to check back in a day or two, just in case it shows up (and it usually does). That means that sometimes I list jobs a couple of days after they show up elsewhere.

The site is still evolving; I’m still refining the categories and tags, as well as my criteria for including jobs (for example, I don’t include part-time jobs now, but might decide to change that later).

I’d love to get some job submissions from libraries, and some college-town profiles from people who are living and working in academic libraries. But mainly, I just hope that people will be able to use my site to help them find the kind of jobs I see posted every day that remind me why I have always loved working in higher ed, and in libraries.


Filed under Academic, Job Hunters Web Guide

Are You Blogging Your Job Hunt?

Dear Readers Who are Also Bloggers,

I’d like to make a list of the blogs of job hunting LIS folks.  If you’d like to be on that list, please post your URL in the comments. If job hunting is not your primary content, please include the tag or category that encompasses your job hunting posts.



Christchurch library



Filed under News and Administration

Don’t Leave People Hanging

Interior of the Drawing Room, Mar LodgeThis anonymous interview is with a job hunter who is currently employed (even if part-time or in an unrelated field) and has been hired within the last two months. This person looked for a new position for six months to a year,  in Academic libraries, Archives,  Public libraries,  and Special libraries, at the following levels:Requiring at least two years of experience and Supervisory. This job hunter is in a city/town in the Southern US, and is willing to move anywhere.

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

The ability to move up
Innovation in technology and collections development
Autonomy and flexibility within job title/description

Where do you look for open positions?

ALA Joblist, Twitter, FB, listservs, friends

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

√ Yes, and it’s a red flag when it’s not

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

Anywhere from a couple of hours to a couple of weeks, depending on the deadline.

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

√ Yes

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 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)?

√ 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?

Pay them what they are worth, no excuses. And allow them room in the schedule for professional development.

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

Communicate. Don’t leave people hanging.

What do you think is the secret to getting hired?

Knowing the right person.

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, Archives, Job hunter's survey, Public, Southern US, Special

Reader Response Requested: The Tattooed Librarian Part III

This is part of the Topical Series: Interviewing while Tattooed.
I did a last minute call asking for people who Interview While Tattooed to get in touch with me.  I asked:

How tattooed are you? What types of libraries have you interviewed at? Did you cover your tattoos?
April Tattoo 1I have three tattoos. two of which are easily covered by normal work clothing. The third is a small tattoo on my inner wrist. I do not cover that one up (and I am going to be getting more tattoos soon).
April Tattoo 2
On library type: Law and Academic.
I am currently a Legal Librarian at a Law Firm in Los Angeles.
On covering tattoos: Not the wrist one. The other ones I do most of the time. I cover them because normal clothing covers them, not because the firm does not allow the exposure of tattoos.
– April, a Legal Librarian, Los Angeles, California
Amanda 1
I have tattoos on the inside of both wrists, and a large tattoo (the start of a half-sleeve) on my upper right arm.
Amanda Tattoo 2
I have interviewed and worked in public libraries.
On covering tattoos: I did not intentionally cover my tattoos, although long sleeves usually cover my larger tattoo. However the wrist tattoos are visible and I’m sure did not go unnoticed. My thinking was that if I covered the tattoos for my interview, I may have to cover them for my job and that wasn’t something I was willing to do. If the tattoos were going to be a dealbreaker, then it was better to know sooner rather than later.
Amanda Viana, Information Services Librarian (and as of July 1, Assistant Director), Norton Public Library in Norton, MA; Head Editor of INALJ MA
Claire tattoo 1I have two fairly large pieces, one on my back and one on my upper right arm. 
Claire tattoo 2
So far, I’ve interviewed at special libraries.
On covering tattoos: Yes, but not necessarily purposefully. The piece on my back is covered most of the time by clothing anyway, and I usually wear a suit to interviews, which covers the tattoo on my arm. That being said, I probably wouldn’t go out of my way to show them off at an interview.
-Claire Schmieder, Head Editor, INALJ New Jersey
Aliqae2I would consider myself to be heavily tattooed. That is, I have tattoos on my lower and upper arms, chest, and legs. To fully cover them all, I would have to wear a long-sleeved, crewneck shirt and long pants.
I have interviewed at public, academic, and special libraries, as well as archives.
On covering tattoos:  Yes. Always. I have a wrist tattoo that is difficult to cover, but I wear a bracelet or a watch when interviewing. I don’t worry about tattoos peeking out. I don’t hide that I have them on social media or at conferences. I consider my tattoos part of my personal life, much like my family or my hobbies, so I prefer to de-emphasize their presence in interviews (and on the job, if necessary) in order to focus on communicating my skills, experience, and ideas.

 – Aliqae Geraci, ILR Research Librarian, Martin P. Catherwood Library, ILR School, Cornell University

Amy Tattoo1 I have a half sleeve on my let arm and a few more medium-sized tattoos on the lower half of that arm. I have a large dewey call number tattooed on my left clavicle/shoulder and another medium sized tattoo on my right forearm. Most of the rest of my ink is on my back, so that wouldn’t really be visible either way.
I have really only interviewed at academic libraries (and honestly, they were both fine art focused, if that makes a difference).
I wore a suit to those interviews, so yes, my tattoos were covered. I have more recently been worried about my lip piercing and have considered taking it out for interviews.
Other thoughts: I have much more work planned, but I’m waiting to get hired into that precious first position. I realize I may not be as tattooed as others, sometimes I feel like I blend in at an art school library, but otherwise, I worry I stick out like a sore thumb.
– Amy Wainwright, Access Services Assistant, Columbia College Chicago

I have six tattoos: three on my left forearm down to my wrist, two on my back, and one on my hip.The arm tatts are flowers, names, and vines honoring my family. The back tatts are a largish cat and moon on my left and right shoulder blades, respectively. The one on my hip is a coffee mug with a kitten pattern on it. I’m planning to have two more tattoos done on my left upper arm in the immediate future, which would bring me up to a full sleeve.

I have only interviewed for professional work at academic libraries. That is my area of interest; it took me ten months and three on-campus interviews to find a job. I have interviewed and successfully been hired for para-professional public library jobs in the past.

I did cover my tattoos for my on-campus interviews. In fact, I designed my artwork on my arm so it could be concealed by a blazer. While my advisor said that I should only work in an environment that would accept my tattoos, I decided to play it conservatively. First, some academic libraries can be formal, and it is not necessarily reflected by their org chart, website, or the institution’s reputation. Second, some people do have unconscious biases against tattoos. I thought it would be better to give prospective employers the opportunity to be open-minded and gracious after they already had a good impression. They don’t know that they are okay with ink until they know someone with ink. “We love New Employee! And she’s covered in tattoos!”

After I was hired, I asked if I could have visible tattoos on the job. I can, and I’m glad for it. I work in a sub-tropical climate, so short sleeved shirts or slightly sheer layers are necessary in the summer. To the best of my knowledge, no one has given my tattoos as second thought.

Liz Scibrarian, blogging on librarianship, science, and science librarianship

I have one small tattoo, 5 medium sized tattoos, and one large tattoo. They are on my back, upper arms/shoulders, chest, and calf.

I have only interviewed at two libraries – and got jobs at both. The first was an arts college in an urban area. The second (my current employer) was a small, liberal arts college in a suburban-rural setting. My current job is as an arts librarian.

On covering tattoos: Yes, and I cover as much as I can daily. For my interviews I wore the same outfit – the only business suit I own (pencil skirt, fitted jacket). I wore grey tights and a high neckline. In both cases I used the interview to assess the attitude and dress code of the library staff. In both cases, they were very open-minded and no dress code enforced (other than the basic rules we hope adults adhere to without formal policy). I’ve been fortunate in both jobs; if I interviewed at a library that required business dress or seemed very socially conservative, I’d probably be wondering if I wanted to work there anyway, regardless of tattoos.

Even though my current employer has no strict dress code (I wear jeans most days, with a nice button-down or other blouse), I try to cover my tattoos. I have been told that it’s ok that I have them and that I can “get away with it” because I’m in the arts, but I’ve found talk of social acceptance disappears when actually confronted with a tattooed person. The drawback to covering up all the time? When a coworker finally finds out I have tattoos, they seem to feel I haven’t been honest which can lead to trust issues (it’s minor, but it’s there).

I have four tattoos. One on my left foot, left hip, right rib cage, and middle on my upper back(between shoulder blades, but slightly higher.)

I’ve interviewed at two public libraries.

I covered my tattoos for both interviews. The first one, I asked about their policy on tattoos during the interview. I had noticed a few visible tattoos and piercings on a few of the workers there before my interview, so I felt more comfortable bringing it up. The second interview I did not ask, because I knew the library was in a more conservative area. Once I started work, I realized that one of the workers had multiple visible tattoos and an eyebrow ring, and the teen librarian had partially purple hair, so I didn’t really ever ask if it was okay, just kind of followed the lead.
– Ashley Jones, Librarian Assistant, Saline County Library, Bryant, AR

Lisa 1I am primarily tattooed on my back and shoulders. I also have a large piece on my upper arm, and small pieces on each foot. Basically if I had a t-shirt, jeans, and trainers on, you’d never know I had ink.

Lisa 2

On library type: Public, academic, private, non-profit, and museum libraries and archives.

Most of my ink is located on parts of my body that would be covered by the sort of clothing that I feel is appropriate for interview situations. The only tattoos that I have that could be seen in my normal interview attire are on my feet. These are generally covered by the bottoms of my pants or nylons, though I haven’t taken any further steps to conceal them (band-aids, cover-up, etc.). If someone was spending enough time studying my feet to actually notice my ink, I’d be more worried about how creepy that was and would wonder whether or not I’d want that person as my boss.

– Lisa L., Local history specialist at a public library, and administrator of the tumblr Tattooed Librarians & Archivists

ElinorI am very tattooed–I have half sleeves and a scattering of other large tattoos in other places. I also have large gauge ear piercings and a few facial piercings.

I have only interviewed at public libraries, though I have interviewed for both rural and urban positions.

Covering my tattoos depends entirely on the weather and the seniority of the position I am applying for. At the height of summer I applied to be the manager of a small rural library, so I wore a stylish grey short-sleeved belted jacket over a black camisole, with matching grey and black striped pants, and black square-toed boots. I wore elegant understated jewellery in my ears. My arm tattoos were visible, as were my nose piercings and labret. For my most recent interview it was February, and it was a supervisory position in a large urban library. I wore black slacks and blazer, a pinstriped button down shirt, and my shiny pink metallic Doc Martens. My tattoos were not visible, but I also knew from interviewing with that particular organization before that it didn’t matter if they were. They already have numerous tattooed employees at their branches. When I go to work, I can pretty much wear what I want, and have had nothing but positive feedback from coworkers, management and patrons.

Elinor Crosby, Nova Scotia editor

dawn_tattoo_11I am really tattooed 🙂 I have half sleeves, a chest piece, a giant tattoo on the back of my neck, wrist tattoos, back tattoos, several on my legs and ankles.  (I am attaching pictures to this email. Let me know if you need any more).

I have worked at a public library, a big-ten university library, and now a small liberal arts college. Before I landed my current position, I applied at public and academic libraries. Both appeal to me for different reasons so I would have been happy at either one. My only requirement was that the job be in Massachusetts near Boston because that is where my husband and I wanted to live.
Dawn-neckI did cover my tattoos for my interviews. Not because I am ashamed of them but because I understand that people judge. I own a tattoo shop in Indiana with my husband, who is a tattoo artist. We have been in the industry from a business side for 12 years so I have seen all walks of life come through the doors for tattoos. Even today in 2013, there are judgements made on those of us who are tattooed and definitely towards those of us who are heavily tattooed. I chose to cover my work because I wanted my future colleagues to see me for me. To see me for the skills I have to offer, the talent I possess, the creativity and enthusiasm I have for the library profession. I did not want my tattoos to be the focal point for I am so much more than my artwork. When I get tattooed, I am always consciously placing them on areas of my body that can be easily covered. The neck tattoo, for example, cannot be seen when I wear my hair down. My wrists tattoos are the only ones that are visible and that is because I tend to talk with my hands. There is nothing I can really do about that. I figure if those little tattoos keep me from getting the job then it was not the right job for me anyway.
I, of course, would talk about my tattoos in an interview if someone asked. But I never go out of my way to draw attention to them. I also do not say what my husband does for a living. Again, I know the assumptions made about tattoo artists and the lifestyle. Instead I say he is an artist. It’s not a lie. In terms of showing off my artwork, I usually wait until people get to know me and I have seen and experienced the particular culture of the place I am working. I have never experienced any negative reactions to my tattoos in any of the places I have worked. I know that some people are definitely put off by them and that’s fine. As long as someone is not rude about it, I respect their wish to NOT be tattooed. I also think about my tattoos when I go to professional conferences and the like. Usually my tattoos are covered, again so that people see me. My social media accounts however showcase my artwork so those who follow me online are already aware of my tattoos. It is their prerogative to approach me or not.
Dawn Stahura, Research and Instruction Librarian, Wellesley College.

Sara leg frontI’m not super tattooed but I do have a few visible tattoos. I plan on getting a full sleeve in the future and extending my leg pieces. I have two thigh tattoos that cover almost the entire thigh, a calf tattoo, a small shoulder tattoo, small wrist tattoos, and two hip tattoos. I don’t worry about the hip ones because they are covered regardless.

sara 1I have interviewed at a corporate library, public library, and a membership library (Boston Athenaeum) I currently work at the Boston Athenaeum and a public library. I was offered the position at a corporate library but turned it down.
On covering tattoos: Yes, my interview outfit is a black pencil skirt, tights, blouse, and sometimes a sweater. After starting at a job, I ask what their tattoo policy is and generally I don’t have a problem with showing my tattoos. I would rather cover my tattoos then jeopardize my chances of getting a job. I feel like I interview well and don’t want the interviewers to think less of me because of my tattoos.  sara 3
– Sara, Digital Programs department, Boston Athenaeum.
Sara’s Note: We are in the process of digitizing a large amount of the Athenaeum’s collections. It was only started about a year ago so we are a work in progress, but here is what we have so far if anyone is interested:

Now I want to hear from you!

If you want to show us your ink, you should be able to post html in the comments, or you can email a picture to me at hiringlibrariansATgmail.

Thanks for reading and responding!

Read the other two posts in this series here and here


Filed under Further Answers, Interviewing while Tattooed

Stats and Graphs: The Tattooed Librarian Part II

It’s Staturday!

Today I’m continuing our discussion on Interviewing While Tattooed.

Of 237 responses to the What to Wear survey, 27 indicated that their library (or organization’s) dress code specifically forbade Visible Tattoos.  These respondents included people from all response categories for library type, region, and area type. 20 of the free responses specifically mentioned tattoos, most either to explain that they did not matter as long as the candidate was neat, clean, and professional, or to say that they were a negative.  Only 4 of those 20 mentions also had a dress code that forbade visible tattoos.

So 43, or 18.14% of responses, mentioned tattoos, either by ticking the box indicating their library forbade it’s employees to have visible tattoos, or by discussing them in a free response.

I’m going to quote below all of the free responses that include a mention of tattoos.  The ellipse indicates that the following is the same subject’s response to a different question.

I don’t think professionals (or people who wish to be taken seriously in a job interview) wear nose rings or other facial piercings, visible tattoos, large gauge ear jewelry, crazy hair colors, etc.  If you’re applying for a job at Hot Topic or your local tattoo place – any of those would be acceptable; but they are not appropriate for a library (or most other jobs).

Unless it’s completely, insanely over the top, I don’t judge much on fashion. Some of the most brilliant people I know are the worst dressers or have large tattoos or multiple earrings, etc.. While I don’t expect people to cover all that up, I do expect that when they come to a job interview, they are well-groomed and their clothes are neat, and I do expect that they dress, at a minimum, business casual. I don’t think it’s too much to ask for someone to thrown on a pair of khakis and iron their shirt. They can be a slob once they get the job.

Given the fact that we’re an academic library at a fairly conservative university, obvious tattoos and body piercings would most likely be an issue.  Professional attire would be expected.

The biggest thing is that it would be an indicator of how much homework they’ve done to see who we are.  I don’t think any of the items listed in this survey would be an indicator of ability to do a job or not do a job, neither do I think they indicate quality of character.  In our particular library, though, showing up with super casual dress and tats and piercings would show me that they hadn’t been interested enough in the position to learn about their potential place of employment.  Though some of us are personally much more liberal than our environment, when we’re here we respect the tone of the university overall.

[listing dealbreakers] Visible tattoos of any type.  Piercings of any type.  Really low scoop neck top.  A t-shirt.  Flip flops.  Most show disregard or disrespect.

Clothing can be a distraction and candidates should be aware of that. While the ideal is a place that looks beyond clothing and hair, this is often the first thing people will notice and candidates need to be aware of how they present themselves. Sometimes a less-than-ideal appearance isn’t important when a candidate has other excellent points for them such as a stellar presentation. Also, in some places, a candidate with wildly colored hair, tattoos, and facial piercings may fit right in with the culture. All of this depends on the overall culture of the place where the candidate is interviewing.

Depends on the position and branch location.  Someone with multicolored hair, and lots of tatts and piercings may not be a good fit for a rural branch, but would be unnoticed at our main urban branch.

no no no stilettos – heels are great but not stripper or clubbing shoes please!
take out facial piercings (nose, lips, eyebrows) for an interview.
lowcut or unbuttoned shirts that reveal tattoos are not for interviews. If you have ink on your legs wear opaque tights.

It really depends on the workplace – if you have time, check out the library and see what staff are wearing, and aim for a step or two above that level or formality. When in doubt, go more formal – you can always ditch the jacket/cardigan/ironic pearls once you’re there.

Don’t assume that because you’re interviewing for a children’s or a teen position you can throw formality out the window – yes, there is more latitude, but that’s not without limits.

Visible tattoos, facial piercings, etc., are not dealbreakers, but the interview is your chance to show folks (some of whom are going to be uncomfortable with such things) how “normal” you can present, and you should treat it as such.

I dont’ really care what people wear, but I want people to meet a minimum standard of cleanliness and neatness–plenty of people can do this with multiple piercings. And tattoos–you didn’t ask about those.

While I don’t care, I DO appreciate an outfit that isn’t over the top but that does show personality. There are people who manage to convey something about themselves without demanding that all of the attention be on them.

 The more the tattoos and piercings the more important to dress very professionally.

I cannot stand looking at people with piercings anywhere other than small earpiercings (no gauges).  I would never hire someone with a nose ring, eyebrow ring, and especially not a pierced tongue.   I am also very turned off by tattoos although I know a lot of professionals have them.  I hope they have the sense to cover them up for interviews, though.

I work in a corporate environment with a pretty formal dress code. If a candidate wears something too informal, it signals to me that he or she doesn’t understand the nuances of corporate versus nonprofit culture.

However, at my company we value a diverse workforce. This means I am not picky about people who may have piercings, dyed hair, tattoos, etc. Dressing formally is not at odds with this, in my opinion.

It’s not so much what they wear as how they present themselves. If you wear a suit but it’s rather sloppy, I’d rather see you in something a little less formal that you can pull off and feel confident wearing. I work at a state university but in a liberal town, so we’re more accepting of colored hair, piercings, and tattoos BUT, in general, it’s a good idea to tone it down just a little when interviewing.

I like to see someone who is dressed like they’re ready to work. Look clean, neat and show some of your personality. While I personally, don’t mind pink hair, piercings and tattoos, I have to think of our library user base who just might have an issue with trying to interact with a staff member who may seem “distracting” or “unprofessional.” I myself have 5 tattoos, none of which were seen my first few years at my current library. Over time, once people grew to know me and learned about my skills and professionalism, some of the tattoos started to be shown. Now, as Head Librarian, they will all be shown on an unusually hot day. BUT, they will still never appear in front of Trustees, Donors, etc…Be yourself, but you have to be realistic too!

Too MUCH Cleavage! One young, new librarian showed up at an interview with about 5″ of cleavage hanging out…I mean it was horrifying as I kept waiting for one to pop out of her too tight shirt.

Open toe sandals are a deal breaker for me as are flip flops and goes without saying jeans (though I’ve seen them worn). And anything showing off the candidates tattoos – these are too distracting during an interview.

Too casual – t-shirt and shorts. I would perceive a woman wearing a low cut blouse as trying to use sex appeal to get the job (I’m female, by the way).  Anything that is distracting around the face – noticeable tattoos, big, noisy, earrings, facial jewelry, such as tongue or cheek piercings would negatively influence my perception of them, even if they interviewed well. But it might be my age (47) and general conservative attitude towards dress.

Dirty, stained clothes would be a deal breaker.  Also, anything too odd or unusual.  I once interviewed a woman who wore a hat with a fake bird nest (complete with rumpled bird) on it.  I couldn’t hear a thing she said because the hat distracted me so much!  On the other hand, one of the best teen services librarians I ever hired came complete with a nose ring and  an “I ❤ the Dewey Decimal System” tattoo.  Personality makes all the difference!

My tattooed teen services librarian really nailed the interview.  He came full of enthusiasm and ideas about ways to interest teens in the library. It was clear he had thought about the job and really wanted to reach teens. He was respectful but energetic at the same time.  Just a dynamo!

Prefer that job candidates don’t have visible tattoos or piercings other than for earrings.
Too short skirts or too much cleavage revealed is a no-no. No flip flops or short shorts.
For men–no sandals.
Something dressier than jeans or t-shirts for both sexes.
No hats or caps during the interview.

extreme piercings or tattoos put me off

Neutral colors, usually all black, dress shirt and slacks, with a nice shoe. I have a nose ring, an eyebrow ring, gauged ears and tattoos in visible places, which I do not hide during the interview. I’ve learned the hard way that if someone is going to judge me based on my appearance, rather than on my work experience, talents, passions, and performance, then I’d rather not work for those kinds of people/ organizations anyway.

The questions seem more geared toward what women and alternative-type people would wear.
Is there the same concern over someone showing up to an interview wearing the traditional garb of a hasidic jew, the headdress of a hindi sikh, the muslim woman’s hijab, a male’s sarong, dhoti, chola, caftan, kanga or lungi skirt, the traditional facial piercings still found in India, Persia and Thailand, the traditional ritual facial scarification patterns or tooth modifications of sub-Saharan African cultures, or the traditional tribal face tattoos of Polynesian islanders, as there is towards westerners with tattoos, body piercings, unusual hair styles or dress? If not, our attitudes about dress and appearance are very likely discriminatory.

Since only a few select candidates are ever invited to an in-person interview, we expect them to be professionally dressed. I doubt anyone would be eliminated from the pool based on outfit alone, but t-shirts, jeans, visible tattoos, multiple piercings, etc would not go over well.

showing tats, inappropriate outfits suited to leisure @ home or weekend picnics. Professional and business professional is the rule for interviews, always!

Tune in tomorrow, when I’ll be polling YOU the reader about your tattoos and tattoo behavior.

The other two posts in this series are here and here.  One of those links will not be live until 06/23/2013 at 8AM.


Filed under Interviewing while Tattooed, Stats and Graphs