Wouldn’t it be better to talk to the reference one-on-one rather than just read their thoughts on paper?

Rabbit hunting on the Otago Central Railway, ca 1900This 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 six months to a year. This person is looking in academic and publicl libraries, at the following levels: entry level. Here is this person’s experience with internships/volunteering:

I volunteered for several special collections at my university (rare books, archives and a fashion collection), doing preservation and digitization work. I also volunteered for the local public library teaching internet skills workshops.

At the same time, I held a Graduate Library Assistantship doing reference and bibliographic instruction in a scienceand engineering library.

This job hunter is in an rural area in the Southern US and is not willing to move.

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

Room for creativity and development, a fair salary, staff that are enthusiastic and motivated

Where do you look for open positions?

Indeed, INALJ, institutional websites, county websites

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

√ No (even if I might think it *should* be)

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

In short, it depends. I try to get applications done pretty quickly (within a day), with the thought that this puts me at the top of the pile, but I have also also spent more time on applications and felt much more confident about them. A lot of it depends on the job application deadline, as well.

When applying for a position, I always print out the posting and read through it several times. I then highlight the key aspects of the position and I write down notes as to how each of these aspects/skills/job responsibilities matches up to my experiences. I use this to add applicable skills to my cover letter, and I highlight these in my resume as well.

I typically write my cover letter fairly quickly, but I allow about a day to revisit it on and off – this allows me plenty of time to read, re-read, revise and get it to be perfect for each job. I struggle with putting too much in the cover letter, so I allow myself extra time to really dwindle it down to the essential aspects that I need to emphasize. My resume generally stays the same, however I reorganize and reword job responsibilities so they are tailored to the specific position.

All in all, this doesn’t take much time; what really eats up time is the process of requesting letters of recommendation and filling out application forms online. I think this could be streamlined if institutions asked for references rather than letters of rec. Wouldn’t it be better to talk to the reference one-on-one rather than just read their thoughts on paper? Just a thought.

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 acknowledge my application
√ To tell me if I have or have not been selected to move on to the interview stage
√ To follow-up after an interview
√ Once the position has been filled, even if it’s not me
√ Other: I think I am just eager to be contacted, period. I think too many employers don’t contact you at all, which is a pet peeve of mine. If the answer is no – fine – just let me know so I can move on with my life.

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
√ Meeting department members/potential co-workers

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

Be honest, realistic and clear in your job postings (stop being so vague!); understand that the majority of recent grads don’t have much experience yet, and if they do, it’s all paraprofessional or graduate assistantships. No, we may not have the 2-5 years experience that you would like to see, but we are eager, sharp and 100% willing to learn. We are up to date on recent technology, trends and issues.

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

Don’t take so much time in the hiring process! I have heard stories of some students not hearing back from a position for up to 6 months! Who has the time to wait around for a job like that? Times are tough, and employers should be sympathetic to that. My current job (academic, but not a library job) had one of the shortest timelines I have encountered, but it was still too much – from the day I applied to the day I accepted the position, it took 3 1/2 months. Luckily, I still had a graduate assistantship during that time, but I really don’t know how people who have no job at all manage it.

Another thing, which I have already mentioned, is better communication. Some employers just never communicate with you and this drives me insane. I realize that it takes time to respond to potential candidates, but to get their hopes up is unfair. If the answer is no – let that person know, so they can keep hunting.

What do you think is the secret to getting hired?

I have gotten every single job I have had because I had a network there – a friend, a classmate, etc. Networking and word of mouth recommendations by those already at the institution really make a difference – which stinks in many cases (especially when moving to an entirely new place/state, as I did), but it can work in your advantage.

In my current job, my network was my school – my boss had his own professional connection there and therefore had a positive image of the school as a whole. This worked in my favor. If he hadn’t made that connection, I wouldn’t have gotten the position – my university is notorious for only hiring within.

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, Rural area, Southern US

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