HR is Listening: Critique This Job Announcement

Readers and Job Hunters, I need your help!

My awesome city has put me on a committee that’s working on improving the way we recruit new employees. One of the many things we’re doing is turning an editorial eye on our job announcements.  Would you like to help?

Take a look at the announcement below, for a library assistant. Comment on this post to let us know what works, what doesn’t work, and what you would change.  HR is really listening!  I will share your comments, and we will use them to create a better job announcement.  Help us, and help future job hunters.

Thank you!


Library Assistant I/II (Part-Time)

Library Assistant I -$1,890 to $2,298 Monthly / Library Assistant II – $2,086 to $2,536 Monthly Comprehensive benefits package including generous paid leave, health, & CalPERS retirement (2.7% at 55 formula for classic members; 2% at 62 for new members). Employees contribute 11.5% to CalPERS with no Social Security deduction.

Are you looking for a job where you can join a team of highly motivated professionals who are committed to providing excellent service to the community they serve?  We are seeking a flexible, reliable, and organized individual to join the Library Department for the position of Library Assistant I/II (part-time) with the City.  The current opening is for one part-time (20 hours/week) position in Customer Services. An eligibility list will be established for future openings.

Our Ideal Candidate

We are looking for a fun and highly motivated individual with friendly customer service skills, attention to detail, and strong written and verbal communication.  The Library Assistant I requires a minimum of one year of clerical and/or library experience and training equivalent to the completion of the 12th grade.  The Library Assistant II requires one year of clerical and/or library experience and training equivalent to the completion of the 12th grade.

The Library is a busy environment with up to 3,000 people visiting each day and almost 1.8 million items loaned out each year. Customer Service Library Assistants are expected to provide great customer service, handle circulation and financial transactions, communicate policies, resolve account issues in a positive manner, answer general questions, troubleshoot equipment, and assist with the flow of library materials. Strong customer service attitude, verbal communication and computer skills are essential in our ideal candidate.

Library Department

The Library offers a full range of services to the community including an extensive print and virtual collection, with eBooks and a tablet loan program.  A wide variety of programs are offered, including story times and reading readiness programs for children, parenting programs, and adult programs including author talks, an ESL conversation club, and innovative grant-funded “maker” programs, including a 3D printer.  For teens, the Library has partnered with the local school districts to provide virtual library cards to all high school students.  Library services are also extended into the community via bookmobile visits to schools, senior centers, and local businesses.

How To Apply

Applications and resumes may be submitted online at or can also be submitted to the Human Resources Division, [address and phone number]. Application materials will be accepted until 5:00 p.m., Wednesday, June 4, 2014, or until 100 applications are received, whichever occurs first. Qualified applicants are encouraged to apply early.  Only the candidates with the most relevant qualifications will be invited to an oral interview (weighted 100 percent).  Depending on the number of applications, the above process may be altered.

Candidates with a disability who may require special assistance in any phase of the application or testing process should advise the Human Resources Division upon submittal of application.  Documentation of the need for accommodation must accompany the request.  The City is an Equal Opportunity Employer (EOE).

Prior to hire, candidates will be required to successfully complete a preemployment process, including employment verification and a Department of Justice (DOJ) fingerprint check. A conviction history will not necessarily disqualify an applicant from appointment; however, failure to disclose a conviction will result in disqualification or termination.

Supplemental Questionnaire required

PS Considering making this a regular feature, if I can get enough interested organizations. If you’d like feedback on your job announcement(s), email me at hiringlibrariansATgmail.


Filed under Critique this job announcement

6 responses to “HR is Listening: Critique This Job Announcement

  1. It’s a very attractive listing to me (2013 MLIS, employed full-time in non-LIS industry, looking for a foot in the door). As a jobseeker, I would want to know whether my MLIS would disqualify me from applying. Is the LA job in this library only for non-credentialed staff? However, I can understand that it might not be beneficial to the library to state that in the listing. My other concern (again, it might not be part of the listing, but should be discussed early in the application process) is whether the 20 hours/week have a fixed schedule, and what that schedule is. Knowing that beforehand would influence a lot of applicants and prevent a waste of their time and yours.


  2. This job announcement reads well and is for the most part unproblematic, but I do have a couple of suggestions.

    First, the information that I’m most hoping to find — and which helps me to decide whether or not to apply — appears after the more marketing– and human resources–oriented information. Consider how meaningless this particular job title, Library Assistant I/II, is to an outsider. “What would I actually be doing?” is always my first question when I look at a new vacancy announcement and this title, like most, only gives the most vague sense of the duties. My next question is always, “Should I even waste my time (or yours)?” To answer that question, my strategy is to just search for (Ctrl+F) the following strings, because generally they’re spread out all over the place: minim*, requir*, and year*. Until I know that I have some kind of a fighting chance of landing an interview, I really don’t care about the 401K or dental insurance.

    So essentially I would flip much of the order that’s presented here. The job title alone doesn’t immediately tell me whether I’m wasting my own time or yours. Start by getting me excited about reading books to kids or shelving books and making photocopies or learning to do some copy cataloging. Whatever those responsibilities are, just lay them out as clearly as possible. Bulleted lists are awesome! Then tell me about any additional expectations — remember: “MINIMum REQUIRed YEARs…”. This will tell me how I can best present my candidacy in a cover letter or interview. Everyone wins! Finally, summarize the organization and my future coworkers, describe the beautiful wooded campus, and tell me about the retirement plan.

    It’s rare that I would use a salary or benefits information as part of my decision on whether to apply for a job or not. With a limited amount of time to devote to a job search, however, I will routinely decide against submitting an application for something which is just a bad match.


  3. Only one small criticism: The third paragraph of the job description asks for a “fun and highly motivated individual with friendly customer service skills,” etc. “Fun” is super nebulous and might turn off a lot of strong candidates who don’t see themselves as the life of every party. I would substitute for it “highly motivated individual with a great sense of humor and friendly customer service skills.” Something along those lines.


  4. Matt

    I would separate out the job description from the “our ideal candidate” section and put that under its own heading. Aside from that I think it’s very well-done. I’m glad you’re including the pay scale. When I was looking for jobs, I’d never apply to someplace that didn’t provide the pay. I just assume they’re excluding that information because it’s so low it will deter people from applying.


  5. MJW

    The ad does make that library seem like a fun place to work, and that would definitely stand out. It also provides information I really like to know — namely the pay and a bit about the library atmosphere.

    However, I have to agree with Giso that “Library Assistant I/II” is meaningless for an outsider, and, to further the point, the title is still rather vague to someone familiar with libraries because it doesn’t name a department or skill.

    When I look at a library job, my major interest is what tasks the position entails. Sure, a sales pitch might grab my attention (the second paragraph is not bad), but I’m not getting excited about a job until I know what the job is. It isn’t until nearly halfway through the ad that I learn what I actually would do (every library wants people that provide “excellent service”, even out of their back room folks) and the more descriptive title of the job, Customer Service Library Assistant, which tells me at the very least I’m going to be on the front lines with patrons at the Circulation or Reference Desk and/or on the floor. (That title should be in the heading, by the way; that will also save the time of many job-seekers.)

    Along those lines, the sentence “The Library is a busy environment with up to 3,000 people visiting each day and almost 1.8 million items loaned out each year” hides the description of the job; I admit that I had to read through a bit slower than I normally do to find the description. Keep the sentence and place it under “Library Department” (perhaps as the first sentence there), but I believe it should be moved from where it is.

    Another nitpick: Some variant of “great customer service” appears three times in the “Ideal Candidate” section alone, which is a bit redundant.

    Hope this helps!


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