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 Six months to a year. This person is looking in Public libraries, at the following levels: Entry level, Requiring at least two years of experience, Supervisory, Department Head, Senior Librarian, Branch Manager, Director/Dean. This is a new grad that did fieldwork for a library system, meaning I got to spend time at about 20 different libraries. I recommend that to anyone who needs a variety of experience and doesn’t have a lot of time. I also worked in a library through Grad school. This job hunter is in a rural area, in the Midwestern US and is willing to move within Wisconsin.
What are the top three things you’re looking for in a job?
Opportunities to work with the public
Great coworkers and supportive library board
Where do you look for open positions?
public library listservs, LinkedIn, INALJ, specific library websites
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 spend anywhere between 2 and 8 hours (usually spread over multiple days) combing through my resume, researching (and visiting, if possible) the library, and preparing any application or cover letters as necessary. If I know anyone who is familiar with the workings of the specific library, I ask some questions about the library board or other administration.
Have you ever stretched the truth, exaggerated, or lied on your resume, or at some other point during the hiring process?
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
√ 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
√ Meeting department members/potential co-workers
√ Other: Meeting library board if possible
What do you think employers should do to get the best candidates to apply?
Consider interviewing those with fewer years of experience than you prefer. A person can learn an awful lot in a few years, and he/she could be just as qualified as someone who has been in the profession for your preferred number of years. More years doesn’t automatically mean quality experience.
Be realistic about your expectations. Do not pay $10 per hour for 10-20 hours per week and expect to get a bunch of applicants with an MLIS to apply (or, if you get one, don’t expect them to stay).
Advertise the position widely and transparently (pay, benefits if there are any, and other conditions like specific hours)– unless you have an internal candidate in mind anyways.
I always try to visit the library before I apply. Seeing working conditions that are less than ideal (like a work space that is horribly claustrophobic and crammed with stuff or looks generally chaotic) usually makes me think twice about my desire to work there.
What should employers do to make the hiring process less painful?
Write a job description that makes sense for the position- don’t just list every duty that EVERY library staff member needs to be able to do–especially for advanced positions.
Don’t give false hope. If you know you’re hiring someone from within, don’t hold a 3 hour interview (or two, or three, interviews) with an outside candidate. As soon as you have a decision, a phone call or an email to the candidates not selected is appreciated.
What do you think is the secret to getting hired?
Knowing your profession, understanding the position that is being applied for, and having a personality that meshes with the organization.
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! 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!