Do you have collections I care about? Will I actually enjoy doing these tasks?

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 special collections at the entry level. Here is this person’s experience with internships/volunteering:

I’ve completed one internship working as a processing archivist at a national park. I’ve taken two different internships at the same university special collections, one as a processing archivist and the other as a rare book cataloger. I’ve also worked part time for a year and a half at a rare book library and volunteered at a private research library and archive dedicated to African American history.

This job hunter is in an urban area in the Western US and says:

My preferred locations are Texas and Southern California, but I’d move pretty much anywhere for the ideal job

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

Type of institution/job responsibilities-Do you have collections I care about? Will I actually enjoy doing these tasks?
Location/number of potential applicants-Do I actually want to live in this place? Is there even a point in trying for this position?
Institutional personality and atmosphere-Do you require that I overwrite my personality with your institution’s or do I have the autonomy to use my preexisting personality to find ways to contribute?

Where do you look for open positions?

ALA Joblist, professional listservs, state professional association joblists, general job search websites, government joblists, websites for specific municipalities/universities/etc.

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

√ Other: No, but if you don’t give me a range, I won’t give you a number unless you force me [to].

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

I spend a lot of time on each cover letter, probably too much time, average of 2+ hours.

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

√ Other: Sometimes I’ve said I had a degree (which I will get in one month) because my only options are radio buttons and if I select “Did not graduate” it implies I flunked out.

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
√ Once the position has been filled, even if it’s not me

How do you prefer to communicate with potential employers?

√ Email

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

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

Don’t let some guy in HR who doesn’t understand the job requirements write the job requirements.
Put emphasis on qualify of a person’s skillset (regardless of whether they have worked 1 year or 5).
Be more open-minded about what kinds of experience and education qualify a person for a job.
Don’t pigeon-hole applicants and assume only specialists can get the job done.

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

Let me know that I didn’t get selected. Let me know the main reason I didn’t get selected even if it’s one sentence “Not enough instruction experience” or “skillset not relevant,” etc.

What do you think is the secret to getting hired?

10% meeting job requirements and having a good application package, 20% knowing someone, 70% luck that you happen to align with the hiring committee’s idiosyncrasies and tastes

Are you hunting for a new LIS job? Take the survey!

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 Job hunter's survey, Urban area, Western US

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