This anonymous interview is with a job hunter who is currently employed (even if part-time or in an unrelated field), has not been hired within the last two months, and has been looking for a new position for less than six months. This person is looking in academic libraries and archives at the following levels: entry level. Here is this person’s experience with internships/volunteering:
I have not had the financial privilege to be able to work for free. I have over three years of paraprofessional experience working in archives.
This job hunter is in a city/town in the Western US and is willing to move
anywhere where there are legal protections for queer people in terms of employment and housing
What are the top three things you’re looking for in a job?
Intellectually challenging/interesting, good collaboration and communication with colleagues, salary that will allow me to pay off my student loans without eating ramen.
Where do you look for open positions?
Academic Library Jobs, ALA Joblist, Archives Gig, code4lib jobs, INALJ, Jobs in Alaska, LibGig Jobs, and various professional listservs. I get most through an RSS feed so I don’t have to spend much time actively searching.
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 cover letter “templates” for different sorts of jobs (instructional librarian, reference librarian, technology librarian, archivist, digital librarian, etc). For each job, I spend a good deal of time carefully reading the job ad and making sure I’m a good fit and it’s a good fit for me. Then I explore the library’s website and look at the mission, vision, strategic plan, and staff. From there, I tailor one of the cover letters to the specific library and what they’re looking for in their ad. I also create a resume from my master CV to highlight specific skills or experiences to match the library and their needs. Finally, I do the tedious online application and attach my resume and cover letter. Depending on how similar the job is to other jobs I’ve applied for, the whole process can take between one hour and a whole day (but usually closer to two hours).
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)?
√ Tour of facility
√ Meeting department members/potential co-workers
√ Being able to present
√ Other: Having ample time to ask questions of the hiring committee
What do you think employers should do to get the best candidates to apply?
More transparency in the hiring process. Clearly state what the steps are, how long each step will take, and what the salary and benefits are. Also, many job ads are terrible- filled with buzz words and containing little information about the day-to-day of the job. Perhaps having someone in the department write the job ad rather than HR might help.
What should employers do to make the hiring process less painful?
What I said above, plus having the name of the committee chair easy to find. We’d all love to personalize the cover letter but if it takes longer than 30 minutes to locate a name, my motivation starts to wane.
What do you think is the secret to getting hired?
For the initial review, probably having strong general skills, plus some niche skills that stand out. For the interview, confidence and a good presentation. Overall, though, I suspect networking and having a strong professional presence (Internet, conference presentations, publications) goes a long way to scoring that interview.
Are you hunting for a new LIS job? Take the survey! http://tinyurl.com/hiringlibJOBHUNTERsurvey
This survey was co-authored by Naomi House from I Need A Library Job – Do you need one? Check it out!