Working with undergrads during finals season is nothing to working with an office full of lawyers!

Ptarmagin HunterThis 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 non-profit, research NGO, at the following levels: entry level, requiring at least two years of experience. Here is this person’s experience with internships/volunteering:

I was a mentee in an academic library environment for two years during graduate school, and had worked two years as a paraprofessional in an archive. I could not undertake any other internships, as I worked full time during school to support myself.

This job hunter is in an urban area in the Northeastern US and is willing to move anywhere.

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

As I read job ads, I am looking primarily for the following:
1. Work in digital literacy, emerging technologies, or digital humanities but with an emphasis on pedagogy rather than programming.
2. Location! I am willing to move for a job, but would prefer to stay in an urban environment.
3. A salary proportional to the local cost of living, factoring in student loan repayment. I can budget myself, but prefer not to starve.

Where do you look for open positions?


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?

Depending on the application requirements, I spend 30-60 minutes on the required application materials. I keep a .doc file of various cover letter “sections,” which I can tailor to the ad itself. Many jobs require that I fill out an online application with the same information as in my CV, which adds to the overall time.

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

√ Yes

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)?

√ Being taken out to meal
√ Meeting department members/potential co-workers
√ Other: Watching a presentation from other library staff.

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

Employers need to look at qualities in a candidate beyond the basics addressed in the job ad. Experience in other areas of life or lines of work can translate to a library environment in different ways. I spent many years in the legal field, and I can say that working with undergrads during finals season is nothing to working with an office full of lawyers! It is up to the candidate to be able to articulate how such “unrelated” work can translate to the library world, but such work should not be discounted by the hiring manager.

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

I hate the standard HR systems that require I create a profile, enter all the info from my CV, and then upload the CV as well. Many places use the same software, but they do not link together. It is time consuming to create a whole new profile for every application, in addition to the actual application materials.

What do you think is the secret to getting hired?

In my experience, a degree from the “right” school or knowing someone through networking can be instrumental in the initial process, but in an interview situation it is up to the candidate to “sell” why they are the best fit for the job. Often times it is not the “perfect” candidate who is hired, but the one with the right skills set who still has the ability to grow in the position.

Do you have any comments, or are there any other questions you think we should add to this survey?

I would be interested to know how many other “entry level” applicants are only “new” to professional library work, but have experience working in other fields- teaching, research, etc. and how this has impacted their job search/ work as a new librarian.

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, Northeastern US, Urban area

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