I was one of the naïve people who entered library school with no library experience

Picnic lunch on a hunting party, Queensland, ca. 1912

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 more than 18 months. This person is looking in public libraries and also glances at academic and special libraries, at the following levels: entry level, requiring at least two years of experience. Here is this person’s experience with internships/volunteering:

I was one of the naïve people who entered library school with no library experience. I completed a one-year, unpaid internship at the reference desk of the local public library while earning my MLS. I now also have a little over a year of experience as a part-time, solo librarian in a very rural library.

This job hunter is in a rural area in the Midwestern US and is willing to move anywhere.

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

-A salary that supports living expenses and student loan payments
-In a public library
-A job description and/or library mission statement that “excite” me

Where do you look for open positions?

-Individual library websites
-State library association websites
-Regional library association websites
-INALJ
-Listservs

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?

I print out the job description and list ways I fit each bullet point. I also peruse the library’s website hoping to get a feel for the tone of my application. I then tailor my resume and cover letter to that job specifically. Depending on how in-depth the job posting has gone, this usually takes at least an hour, usually two or three hours.

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

√ No

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?

√ 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
√ Other: Whether I “click” with the interviewer(s).

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

While I recognize why libraries are unable to do this, offering full-time positions instead of part-time would increase the quality of candidates. I live in a very rural area, so I have to move to wherever I apply. In this economy you just can’t guarantee being able to get a second or third job to support yourself, so I have passed over numerous jobs that I would love to have. Also, please give us longer/better job descriptions! There are positions I have applied for where I have been forced to use generic cover letters because I know nothing other than you are looking for a librarian who can work the reference desk. I need to believe you are as interested in hiring me as I am working for you.

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

Please be in contact. I get excited when I receive rejection letters because they come so rarely. If your online application has a feature that allows you to set the status of an application, please use it. If not, in this age of e-mail, a generic two-sentence note letting me know you have moved on is better than the silence that usually follows applications. As a job hunter, I’m attempting to be professional and kind in my interactions with you, the least you could do is show me the same courtesy .

What do you think is the secret to getting hired?

Know the right people, be willing to apply for positions you are overqualified for, and/or wait on an opportunity to come your way. Despite hundreds of applications, the few interviews I have had have come from positions that did not require my MLS.

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!

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Filed under Job hunter's survey, Midwestern US, Rural area

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