I just want the job or to be let out the door so I can find my job

Mr. Leatherman, homesteader, shooting hawks which have been carrying away his chickens, Pie Town, New MexicoThis 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 had/has been looking for a new position for more than 18 months. This person is looking in Academic libraries, Archives, Library vendor/service providers, Public libraries, Special libraries, and Corporations, at the following levels: Entry level , Requiring at least two years of experience, Supervisory, Department Head, Senior Librarian, Branch Manager, Director/Dean,

(I have a lot of management experience so I really branch out a lot.)

Here is this person’s experience with internships/volunteering:

Recent grad. Volunteer at academic library’s digital initiatives. Internship at a public library’s reference department.

This job hunter is in a rural area of the Midwestern US, and is willing to move anywhere.

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

Enough pay to survive on… not get rich, just live comfortably.
Variety. I want a position that touches on multiple areas of the library, not just one little corner.
A position with promotion potential. Not that I wouldn’t be happy as a reference librarian my entire life, but I want to be able to move up and be a director too!

Where do you look for open positions?


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?

Depends on the job. If they are specific and detailed in the items that they list I will spend days on it. If they are generic, so am I.

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


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)?

√ Other: Don’t waste my time or yours. If I’m not your guy, I don’t need or want to go through a process like this. I just want the job or to be let out the door so I can find my job. I have more important things to do than take a tour or meet people I’m not going to be co-workers of.

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

Be specific. How is your library different? I see hundreds of jobs every day… why is yours so special? What kind of personality are you looking for? What kind of experience will you accept? Don’t shoot for the stars if your pay is in the dirt.

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

Remove the fluff. Take out the tours, take out the meet/greet. Just focus on the skills and what you’re looking for. And try asking some legitimate questions. Don’t focus on the traditional cookie cutter questions, or your off the wall what would you read type of questions. Focus on the job and how best to get it done. Look for philosophical differences, etc. And give a candidate a chance to rebuttal the other candidates. You might not hire me over another person because of some stupid error… give me a chance to argue my point against theirs. In other words, maybe bring us back and clarify. Give me a chance to prove my point.

What do you think is the secret to getting hired?

You need to be a salesman. I’ll be blunt here. I’m a better worker than 3/4 of the people out there. I have great ideas, I’m dedicated, I’m will work faster and harder with more attention to detail than most out there… But I wont get hired because I’m not a salesman. I’ve lost out on three jobs because I couldn’t sell myself as well as the others, yet I could have done it better and for cheaper. As a hiring manager you need to look past the used car salesman and look at the credentials, the references, the history. Because I would be the best employee you’ve ever had but you wont ever give me a chance. I may not look or sound like a traditional library student but let me tell you… I am the future of this field and if you can’t adjust you’re going to end up being part of the problem instead of the solution.

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

The problem with the library process is really two things. First, they want way to much experience for positions that a new grad could realistically do…. and probably just as well if not better than its being done now and for less money. And Second, the amount of money that is being offered isn’t enough to pay for the schooling I just put a couple years into getting. And, when it is enough, its only part time. I understand the budget process but there comes a point when you need to stand up and say to the board, you can either have quality or quantity… you choose.

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, Midwestern US, Other Organization or Library Type, Public, Rural area, Special

4 responses to “I just want the job or to be let out the door so I can find my job

  1. Anonymous

    You’ve pinpointed why i won’t hire you!
    1. You’ve let me know right away that you want to be the director. you gotta earn that, bub.
    2. argue…well, we want to learn about you. If we wanted to see you argue a point, we’d set up a debate. I’m not looking for smart-ass new grads who think they are hot stuff. do your job, do it well, show initiative and you’ll move up because of that.


  2. Meredith

    When you have been searching for a job for a while, it is hard to keep the bitterness in check–and I know this from experience. Yours is showing and the people on the hiring committees can see it– it is a huge red flag for them. They don’t know if the bad attitude is a permanent fixture or just stress about the job search, and there are enough candidates that they don’t have to take a chance that you will be a pain to work with.

    You are right that you have to sell yourself, so learn how to sell yourself! Do practice interviews at your university’s career center or with other job searchers you know. It feels awkward and uncomfortable, just like a real interview and they will tell you the truth. Close friends and family can’t help you because you are too comfortable with them.

    It stinks that library salaries are so low right now and I truly feel your pain. It is not their problem, however, that you spent a certain amount of money for your degree and the person who is interviewing you definitely did not set the salary. They may be able to exert some pressure or influence, but they may also want to use that influence for something else, say, for raises for their current staff members?


    • I feel compelled to point out, that this person being bitter here, anonymously, in a survey where one of the goals is to “let job hunters vent a little,” is different than letting bitterness show in an application or interview.

      I do very much agree that job hunters need to learn to sell themselves though. Not just for job hunting purposes, but because being a salesperson is an integral part of any librarian job. You must be able to advocate for your library, your programs and services, and your position. It is maybe the lack of historical focus on these skills that puts us in the position of having so few and so many poorly paid library jobs.

      I often think, when people respond that they would be great at the job if only hiring managers could look beyond not being able to sell themselves, or having poor people skills, or if only politics didn’t get in the way, that these people are not understanding that all of those characteristics are necessary skills for holding the job. No one gets to sit alone in a room and be an excellent librarian. That job doesn’t exist.


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