A Brief and Mild Rant from your Blogger

someone is wrong

I ran across a couple people last week whose opinions made me a little mad.

One of my personal rules for internet professionalism is to not post angry. Fighting on the internet is an endeavor in which no one wins. But that doesn’t mean I don’t get angry, and that doesn’t mean I’m 100% successful in following my own rules.

Now, I know that not everyone has to like Hiring Librarians, or to find it useful. And I know that there are a lot of people who do find it useful. In fact, last week two people told me that they’d just found jobs, and that Hiring Librarians helped make that happen. I can’t even describe how awesome that is. Getting a job is life changing, and life shaping, and means even more than the difference between ramen or pork chops for dinner.

The two people that bothered me basically said, “Hiring Librarians is just forwarding opinions, and the responses aren’t relevant past what that one person thinks.”

Well, yes, I guess, kind of. But also no.

Here’s the difference between opinion and good advice: good advice is something you agree with, an opinion is something you don’t.

Any internet blog that’s talking about hiring is presenting someone’s opinion. When someone tells you, “here is what you should do to get a job,” they are sharing their opinion. And its generally based solely on their personal experience or experiences.

The point, or a point, of Hiring Librarians is to show you a number of opinions, all in the same format, so you can stop taking any one person’s opinion as gospel. Including the individual surveys.

I try to give you the aggregate in two forms – mashed together into graphs and numbers, and slowly doled out as individual responses. That way you can read the summary and the detail. I’d love to be able to give you more stats and graphs posts, but I’d also love to stop being consumed by work and have more fun. So.

The individual surveys are each just one person’s opinion, yes.  But that doesn’t mean that they’re not relevant to you and your search.  They are the real opinions of real people that really hire. Really.  You may find yourself across the table from one of these people some day.

The “opinion-ness” doesn’t invalidate the possibility of learning something from the individual surveys. It’s ok for one person’s opinion to affect the way you hunt for a job. Or not. I think you should weigh the opinion with what you know and feel and want, and decide for yourself if it resonates with you. If you don’t like it, oh well, opinions. Everyone’s got one.

The other thing that happened last week is that people started noting their schools pop up in the “Are there any schools whose candidates you would be reluctant to hire?” question.  And that made some people angry.  Or hurt.  Or hurt and angry.

This is not the intention for this question.  I’m sorry that people have been upset by seeing their school pop up.  I’ve thought about if it’s an irresponsible question to ask, or to post individual responses to, especially when there is often no reason given for why they would be reluctant to hire someone from a particular school.

I stand behind asking it.

Here’s my reasoning: This is the type of question that everybody asks and no one answers. We all want to know if there’s a secret ranking of schools that everybody knows but us.  We want to know if our school is the “best” or if the school we’re choosing is really awful.  And negative opinions especially, are not often expressed in public.  No one wants to offend.

Personally, I want to know what I’m up against.  I want to know if people have preconceived notions about my school, so I can be prepared to shine anyway.  Because they don’t know me, and they don’t know what my education was like.  It was great!  I learned a lot!

I don’t get angry when I see my school come up, because I know that this person is wrong.

I also remember that the question asks about a reluctance, rather than a refusal.  The respondent is expressing a reservation, rather than an absolute decision.

So in conclusion, my darlings, if you find that you hate what’s being said, if the answers make you angry, well, those two people I talked about earlier, those two people that made me mad, are actually right. It’s just one person’s opinion. And if you don’t see a single person that you want to work for, well, not everybody in the world took the surveys. Only a few hundred. I’m sure there’s some hiring manager out there that’s to your taste. 




Filed under Op Ed

11 responses to “A Brief and Mild Rant from your Blogger

  1. Hear hear, Emily!

    Hiring Librarians is an amazing experiment/project/passion/source. If what you do accomplishes nothing else, if it can force at least a few more people to recognize the so-obvious-that-it’s-easy-to-look-right-past FACT that hiring librarians, managing librarians, HR staff, administrators, etc. are individuals with preferences and biases all their own, I think it will have served a highly valuable purpose.

    Just as in school you had to learn — sometimes very quickly — to do your work and frame your answers in different ways to meet the expectations of different teachers, what impresses some hiring managers and search committees might be on another’s no-no list. Knowing what real people really think about hiring can only improve a job seeker’s judgment as they wade through the many decisions they have to make on the job search, from application to interview.

    There is not now, nor has there ever been, one absolute *right* way to go about landing a job. The same can be said for sharing opinions the way you do, but the fact that you do it at all is so impressive and helpful. Sure beats the pants off the alternatives, which seem to me to be best summed up as the individual anecdotes you mentioned and the (often contradictory) “rules” of self-proclaimed experts.

    You do amazing work on this, and I for one have a deep appreciation for it!


  2. Todd Pierce

    Hello Emily,

    I just wanted to express my appreciation for your blog. I’m sorry to hear that you’ve had several people express their irritation with some of its questions.

    I have enjoyed reading Hiring Librarians because it provides a broad overview of what hiring managers want in job candidates. This information is very important to know, especially for library science students.

    I also defend the question regarding the program or school students have graduated from. That is, if there is factor that is important in the hiring process, I want to know about it–even if it should make me feel a little anxious. In other words, I would much rather know the realities of how hiriing managers practice than be in the dark.


    Todd Pierce


  3. Hi Todd,
    Thanks! I agree that it’s better to know – and we’re in the knowledge business after all…


  4. Nancy

    I think Hiring Librarians is a great website. I enjoy reading it and commenting, even though I’ve been 40 years in the profession. You question about U of I is right on target and I would have pushed it further. It probably is one person’s opinion about the school. I would have asked on what they are basing their opinion. Maybe examples. U of I needs to know if people are making comments about them.


  5. Just thanks. I’m not searching, yet, but I’m learning a lot about the search now. So, thanks. Especially since at every interview it will be someone’s opinion that will decide whether I get offered a job.


  6. Thank you for your blog! I graduated with my MA/MLS degrees in May from Indiana University, and was job searching for a year while being done with classes and writing my MA thesis. I started my first professional position October 1st, and read your blog all throughout the job search process. I have no idea if advice given helped me land this job… but reading about other job searchers gave me hope that I wasn’t all alone in this process. Most of my friends not in a dual program graduated 1-2 years ahead of me, and already had jobs by the time I started searching fro one. Reading hiring manager’s perspectives gave me solid LIBRARY based HR opinions. That’s an important niche to fill because libraries, as we all know, are different from corporations, and their hiring practices are different. So, thanks again! I’ll keep referring others to your blog in the profession. 🙂


  7. Dear Emily,
    As an experienced “hiring librarian” as well as an experienced job seeker, here are a few cents.
    I do appreciate this blog. We have the opportunity to glean “crowd sourced” consensus of what hiring managers are thinking as well as the job seekers. We can pat ourselves on the back when we follow up quickly on applications
    as well as take the time to send a personal email. We can feel smug that we have never worn flip flops in a professional environment.

    I am concerned about the “any schools” you would not hire from…
    without a why..even a general one seems prejudicial.
    Perhaps some stock answers like the other questions would be in order?

    Their graduation requirements are weak (no cataloguing classes)
    They are weak in the specialty (no children’s literature classes)
    They have high number of adjuncts to full-time faculty
    They are all theory and no practicums
    They are behind the times.
    They will accept anyone

    And perhaps another questions
    Any schools that would put a resume at the top of the pile?

    For example- Simmons is a great school with an outstanding faculty and that would get my attention.
    In the interview I may find that the applicant had taken no children’s lit courses. That would be my red flag.


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