Don’t let HR whitewash the job description that you really want to post

Farmers' Hunt in Llanbrynmair on New Year's DayThis 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 Academic libraries, Archives, Library vendors/service providers, Public libraries, School libraries, and Special libraries, nonprofits, museums, corporate, tech companies, private libraries, everything at the following levels: Entry level, Requiring at least two years of experience, Supervisory. This new grad/entry level applicant has worked at a public library in grad school as well as a library-related nonprofit. I also did my student practicum at a public library. Since then, I’ve spent time volunteering at a museum and an academic library. This job hunter is in an urban area, in the Western US, other: and is not willing to move anywhere.

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

1) Professional salary
2) Location
3) Potential to learn new skills & develop my career

Where do you look for open positions?

INALJ, LinkedIn, Indeed, large city & county aggregator sites, ALA, local library organizations, various listservs, and websites for individual organizations, all within an hour’s commute of where I live: county & city libraries, universities, museums, nonprofits, tech companies, etc.

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

√ Only for certain kinds of employers

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

I generally use the same updated resume, but I definitely customize the cover letter, which can take me several hours depending on how much I want the position. I aim to make every sentence count. If I’m not familiar with the organization, I’ll spend some time looking over their site to get a feel for them, which may influence how I write the letter. I poke my husband to review cover letters for me, but he’s getting very tired of doing that. The entire application process can take anywhere between an hour and several, depending on how annoying their online application forms are.

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

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)?

√ Tour of facility
√ Meeting department members/potential co-workers
√ Meeting with HR to talk about benefits/salary
√ Other: The actual conversation I get to have with the interviewer

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

Don’t let HR whitewash the job description that you really want to post. If you actually want to REQUIRE Spanish fluency, don’t list it as a preferred skill. If you want 5 years of experience, don’t list it as “entry level”! On the flip side, don’t say you need someone that’s already used your specific software for several years if you’re actually willing to train people on it that haven’t used it before. Be clear & straightforward. Don’t dangle carrots in front of people that have no chance at making it to an interview.

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

GET BACK TO ME! I know you get hundreds of applicants, but an automated rejection letter is better than not knowing anything. I know you’re all busy and important people, but you’re dealing with people’s lives here. Some of which very desperately want the job you’re advertising. Also, if you’re a smaller organization & have the time, give people feedback about why they were rejected, especially if they made it to an interview stage.

What do you think is the secret to getting hired?

Seems like you have to know a guy and have an “in.” I don’t know anyone and I don’t have a new job either.

For some context, take a look at the most recently published summary of responses.

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 Academic, Archives, Job hunter's survey, Urban area, Western US

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