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 a year to 18 months. This person is looking in public libraries at the following levels: entry leve. Here is this person’s experience with internships/volunteering:
Internship during graduate school in the Adult Services Department of the public library where I currently work as a substitute librarian.
This job hunter is in an urban area in the Western US and is willing to move anywhere.
What are the top three things you’re looking for in a job?
Position responsibilities (reference, readers’ advisory, collection development)
‘Feel’ of the institution
Salary compared to local cost of living
Where do you look for open positions?
ALA Joblist, Government Jobs, state and regional lists
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?
It depends on the job, and how excited I am about it – if it’s something that fits my minimum requirements (full-time, public library, enough to live on) but it doesn’t really speak to me, then I’ll spend perhaps one to two hours. For ‘dream jobs’ – exciting places, good vibe from the website, language about potential projects and responsibilities that excite me – I may spend eight to ten hours over the course of several days making sure that my cover letter is perfectly tailored, extra questions are thoroughly answered, etc.
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
√ Once the position has been filled, even if it’s not me
How do you prefer to communicate with potential employers?
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
√ Other: Time to speak informally with hiring panel, either before or after – less of an assembly line feel
What do you think employers should do to get the best candidates to apply?
Be specific about expectations, requirements versus preferences, if education substitutes for experience, etc. – don’t refer to “position meets requirements of State Classified Level IV-A…” and then expect the candidate to track down what that means, exactly. The more detail an ad gives about the specific responsibilities, projects, and potential for growth in a position, the better.
What should employers do to make the hiring process less painful?
Give a clear timeline whenever possible – knowing the interviews are going to take so long, and then reference calls will be made, and then an offer, and then other candidates notified by such and such date is much better than just waiting with no contact for weeks after.
What do you think is the secret to getting hired?
Experience is key to getting the interview – the best cover letter detailing all of a candidate’s non-library experience and how that relates to librarianship doesn’t seem to hold up to the worst cover letter of someone with professional experience. Once you’ve got the interview, being able to demonstrate how that experience fits the position being considered is key.
Do you have any comments, or are there any other questions you think we should add to this survey?
Perhaps a question about how well we feel our MLIS program prepared us for the job market – in my case, not well at all! The support for finding volunteer positions/internships was minimal, and the faculty were tremendously out-of-touch about the reality of the professional outlook. The required classes all seemed to reiterate the same theories ad nauseum, and there was no institutional support for taking classes from other departments such as business, marketing, even museum studies. I love the field, and desperately want to be in it full time, but my degree felt like a waste of time and money.
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!