Lauren Bourdages took the Job Hunter’s survey on December 12/29/2012.
Her responses appeared as Preparation, Research and Enthusiasm.
How long has it been since you got your library degree?
About a year and a half.
How many years of library work experience do you have?
How many years of work experience outside of libraries do you have?
12 years of part-time and seasonal work.
How old are you?
Your Job Hunt
How long did it take you before you found your job?
Getting to the full-time position I am in now took 4 years, I started hunting in mid 2010 (after finishing my BEd and before starting the library technician program), along the way I did manage to get related part-time positions though.
How many positions did you apply to?
At least 163 (there are more but I can’t be sure how many because for school board positions you use a single application package for any openings they have through applytoeducation)
How many interviews did you go on?
45? For the same reason as with applications I can’t be 100% certain about the amount of interviews I went on.
What was your work situation while you were job hunting?
In school, full-time distance program, the entire time. My employment during that period was a bit of a journey. I started out in a movie theatre for a year before I finally got hired as a Page at a public library. I paged for a year and did my first of two field placements during that time. After that I then moved into a salaried part-time position managing a donor information database for a university, and did my second field placement during that time.After a year at the University I got a second job as a Supply School Library Technician. In February of this year I was laid off from my University position, and then while I was on seasonal layoff from my school board job I was hired for my current full-time position.
Were you volunteering anywhere?
Yes, I started off volunteering at the public library and then they hired me. I volunteered briefly with the organisation I did one of my field placements with and briefly at a school library in the board I was supplying with; and I also volunteer for INALJ and professional associations.
Did you travel for interviews? If so, who paid?
No, I only job hunted locally the furthest I had to go for an interview was 45 minutes one way.
Did you decline any offers?
Yes, 2. The first back in January of this year because the commute + the duties + the pay they were willing to offer and not budge on was not something I could see myself being happy with at all, especially not long term; and the second because it was a relief/part-time position and I had a second, better offer at the same time.
What’s your new job?
I am a Reserves and User Services Associate at the Wilfrid Laurier University Library.
Is your job full or part time? Permanent or temporary?
Full-time permanent with a 9 week seasonal layoff every year.
Did you relocate? If so, who paid?
No! In fact I’m back at my alma mater with a 10 minute commute which is right up my alley!
How did you find the listing for your job?
Checking the University’s job page daily was something I did for both myself and for my role as the Senior Assistant for INALJ Ontario.
Did you meet all of the required qualifications? How many of the desired qualifications?
The only desired qualification I didn’t have was experience working with ARES, but I was able to showcase how quickly I pick up new software.
What was the application process like? How many interviews did you do?
The University uses an ATS where you submit your resume and cover letter and fill out the standard ATS information. After the deadline they were very quick getting out invitations to interview. There was only 1 interview with 4 people, because it’s a split position I report to 2 supervisors so the interview was with them, the Library’s Administrative Manager and a representative from the University’s HR department. To put into perspective how fast everything moved, my cover letter is dated July 21, the application period ended on the 22nd, and I started in the job on August 18.
How did you prepare for the interview(s)?
I asked a colleague from the library at the University where I worked in fundraising who works with ARES to tell me about ARES so I could get a sense of the reserves process. I also asked a colleague at the hiring University who I already knew from a professional association committee to give me the inside scoop on things I should know about the current direction/inner workings of the library. I spent some time on the new library website. I didn’t have to do as much prep for this interview as I have had to for others because I am already incredibly intimate with the library at this University having been a student there for 6 years.
Did you know anyone in the organization that hired you? If so, how?
Yes, as I mentioned above I previously worked with one of the Librarians on a professional association committee.
Is your job commensurate with your skills, experience and expectations?
It most definitely is. It’s a library technician level position and I am a trained library technician. It’s entry level, and as it’s my first full-time position that’s exactly what I was after.
Is the pay scale higher or lower than you were looking for?
It’s what I was looking/hoping for but is higher than I was expecting based on other salaries in the industry that I have come across in this geographic area so I am happy with it.
What do you think was the biggest obstacle in your job hunt? How did you overcome it?
The biggest obstacle for me was just the market saturation in my area. I’m not actually able to relocate, and I don’t handle commuting well, so to actually find a position in my current geographical area smack in the middle of two cities offering MLIS programs, with a College that offers the Library Technician program meant I was constantly up against really stiff competition and routinely lost out to people who had many more years of experience than I do. Like the time I interviewed for a part-time children’s programmer position at a rural public library branch, I was one of 140 who applied, only 4 of us got interviews, the person they ended up hiring had 8 years of experience in children’s library programming compared to my similar years of experience in children’s programming outside of libraries.
What set you apart from the other applicants? Why did they hire you?
For this position it was my knowledge of and comfort with this particular University’s library that sealed the deal. I was talking to one of my coworkers the other day and he actually said to me that it was a coup to get me for this position because of how familiar I already am with the system.
State of the Job Market
What’s the most ridiculous thing you’ve seen on a job announcement?
As a volunteer for INALJ I look at A LOT of job postings but I can’t think of anything ridiculous that I’ve seen unless you mean ridiculous job titles in which case the most ridiculous one was the most awesome one there was a local tech company looking to hire someone under the title Data Geek.
What was your favorite interview question? What was the worst?
I don’t think I ever encountered any questions that really deviated from the standard type of interview questions. I always enjoyed explaining the work I do for INALJ so that was probably my favourite thing to be asked. The worst? For me it was any time someone seeing the BEd on my resume just assumed that having it meant I wanted to be a teacher, it is not fun to be regularly asked in an interview some variation of “So what would you do if someone offered you a teaching position tomorrow?” It’s just really frustrating to hear because it feels like it should be obvious that since I‘ve earned my library technician diploma AFTER my BEd and all of my listed work experience is in libraries and library related jobs that I clearly have no interest in teaching elementary or secondary school. I don’t regret doing my BEd because my instructional skills will be incredibly useful in libraries, but I do get irked with the constant questioning of why I have it.
Has job hunting been a positive or negative experience, for the most part?
For the most part it was a positive experience, you know aside from being long.
Would you change your answer to “what’s the secret to getting hired”?
I still believe that preparation, research and enthusiasm are 3 of the most important things to getting hired but I would also add connections and industry involvement.
Anything else you want to tell us?
Get involved with professional associations!! Seriously, being engaged in the profession can only benefit your personal job search and by getting involved you’re helping to keep professional associations running which benefits everyone in the industry.