Further Questions: Should a candidate ever try to connect with you on a social media/networking service?

This week we asked people who hire librarians

Should a candidate ever try to connect with you on a social media/networking service? Is it ever appropriate for a candidate to try to connect with you through social media (i.e. LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, LibraryThing, your blog…)? If so, which ones and under what circumstances? What about in person (at a conference, etc)? Please feel free to include any additional insight you have on networking etiquette.

Marge Loch WoutersWhile we are actively recruiting and in the interview process, I turn away requests for social media connections if I am aware that a candidate is making the request. While I don’t share any hint of the process in my active social media life, I am uncomfortable with that request. The same goes for conferences. I am well aware of who is applying. Hitting me up won’t help and usually hinders – that goes for references as well!! I like to keep the application/interview waters clear and unmuddied. That thrown stone of contact is not usually appropriate.

After the process is over, I am again open to requests. I want to connect with everyone as a peer and colleague whether they were successful or not in our process. Librarianship is a small world – I will be working and interacting with former candidates throughout their career. It’s important for former candidates to know that I had one job for ninety applicants. I still appreciate their skills and knowledge even if they didn’t make it onto our staff!

– Marge Loch-Wouters, Youth Services Coordinator, La Crosse (WI) Public Library

Laurie PhillipsNo, absolutely not. I do not connect with candidates on social media. I ignore requests from candidates to connect on LinkedIn. My tumblr is personal. I have met candidates at conferences and that’s perfectly appropriate.

– Laurie Phillips, Associate Dean for Technical Services, J. Edgar & Louise S. Monroe Library, Loyola University New Orleans

LinkedIn would be the only appropriate social media. Conferences usually have something set up for meeting and interviewing. That would be appropriate.

– Kaye Grabbe, Lake Forest Library

If the candidate has applied for an open position and they are still in the active pool of candidates I think it is completely inappropriate for the candidate to then try to connect with the supervisor on any social media/networking service.

If you met at a conference and have not applied for a job I think it would be a great idea to connect with them afterwards. Just make sure your profiles are up to date (I forgot to update Linked In before a conference one time, I was a little embarrassed)!

If you met at a conference and you are applying for a job it is possible it would be appropriate if you had a long enough conversation with them that they would remember meeting you. This particular scenario is purely a professional judgment call. I wouldn’t mind it if the conversation went beyond a name introduction and an “oh by the way I applied for your open position.”

– Julie Leuzinger, Department Head, Eagle Commons Library, University of North Texas

Marleah AugustineI think the best practice is for candidates to NOT connect with me through personal social media, especially my personal Facebook. My Goodreads happens to be pretty open since I sometimes refer to it for work purposes, so that’s more of a gray area, as is LinkedIn. If a candidate tried to connect with me through my personal blog, which has very little relevance to myself and my library, I would feel awkward.
I wouldn’t mind if a candidate approached me at a conference — networking opportunities are one of the reasons we are there, after all.
– Marleah Augustine, Adult Department Librarian at Hays Public Library

Samantha Thompson-FranklinThat’s a very good question. I would say that it might be awkward for an interviewer to connect with a candidate or potential employee via a social media site while the interview process is taking place, and so I would probably not recommend it.  It might also be seen as a possible conflict of interest for the interviewer. If, however, after the interview process is over, an interviewer and/or candidate wished to connect with one another, I would see no problem with that. I also think that it’s fine for candidates to seek out potential employers and/or interviewers at conferences and in fact it can be beneficial for interviewers to meet candidates in that type of forum or venue.

– Samantha Thompson-Franklin, Associate Professor/Collections & Acquisitions Librarian, Lewis-Clark State College Library

Celia RabinowitzI would not recommend that a candidate for a job contact anyone involved in the search using social media.  There certainly isn’t anything stopping a candidate from looking at the presence of those individuals on social media sites just as a committee might look for the digital media footprint of a candidate.  This one is easy, I think.  Somehow we all get that it doesn’t “feel” right.
If a candidate for a job is attending a conference he/she could certainly contact a search committee member or library director/dean to inquire about whether there might be an opportunity to meet either formally or informally.  The process does need to be handled carefully so that all candidates receive the same information and access to the search committee.  So if time to talk is not made available to all candidates, I imagine a committee member might not want to set up time with one individual candidate.
– Celia Rabinowitz,  Dean of Mason Library at Keene State College in Keene, NH.

My answers (advice) below are from a public sector library director for job seekers who have submitted a job application and are awaiting a decision by the hiring librarian and public sector employer. None of these answers applies if there is no current recruitment in progress; all connection opportunities can then be pursued, within reason, of course.

My answers may apply only to public sector applicants, although I would still tread cautiously unless you know the lay of the land at the hiring institution.

Social media: no, no, no, no, please, no. (But inadvertent connections and pre-existing connections are not a problem, depending on how you handle the situation.)

In-library: Library visits to scope out the place: yes, entirely appropriate. Library visits to “connect” with the hiring librarian: no, please no.

Email: Please don’t, unless it’s in response to a question or if you would like a status update and no other contact person has been provided for that status update. And please, please, please don’t have your references call before you have been short-listed or otherwise informed that references are needed.

Conference: Unless the hiring librarian has vetoed it, conference connections are entirely appropriate, in fact connecting is a great use of conference time, whether the hiring librarian is actively interviewing at the conference or just there to network. Networking = Connecting. But if you do not have a set appointment to discuss a (or the) job opening, please disclose up front that you have submitted your application for x job or plan to.

Applying for jobs in the public sector is a unique exercise. Please talk to public sector librarians or HR professionals BEFORE you apply for public sector jobs if you’ve never submitted one or made it to a short list. And please, please, please, read the application instructions carefully and read about how applications are screened in the public sector. A colleague and I have an almost-written article on this subject because it drives us crazy – great applicants with flawed applications – but it’s no secret how the process works.


Thank you as always to our contributors for their time and insight.  If you’re someone who hires librarians and are interested in participating in this feature, please email us at hiringlibrariansquestionsATgmail.com.

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2 responses to “Further Questions: Should a candidate ever try to connect with you on a social media/networking service?

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