This anonymous interview is with a job hunter who is currently employed (even if part-time or in an unrelated field), has 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 at the following levels: Entry level and requiring at least two years of experience. Here is this person’s experience with internships/volunteering:
I did an internship as an undergrad at my undergrad institution to make sure that I actually wanted to spend the money on grad school. That internship I worked on reference, digitization/preservation, collection development, and services assessment. I also did editing for a professional journal. My second internship was at a small private college where I worked on collection development (specifically weeding and replenishing the business reference collection), reference, and information literacy/tutorial creation. Getting a lot of different experiences and meeting a lot of people can really help when you go to look for jobs as you’ll have at least a little bit of experience with all of the different hats librarians wear.
This job hunter is in a suburban area in the Northeastern US and is not willing to move.
What are the top three things you’re looking for in a job?
Is full time; is in reference, information literacy, acquisitions or technical services; is in my home area.
Where do you look for open positions?
Professional listservs: LIS-JOBS-LIST and IST-JOBS-LIST.
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?
My routine is to go over the job ad and highlight specific things that they are looking for. Then, because I’ve written so many of them, I go over previous cover letters that secured phone or in-person interviews to see what I can re-use that showcases how I fit those qualifications. If there’s nothing already there, I develop it so that it is. I then go over and update my resume if necessary. I proofread everything twice and have a friend in the field also go over it for suggestions and proofing.
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
√ Once the position has been filled, even if it’s not me
How do you prefer to communicate with potential employers?
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: Explanation of how things (budget, organization, project management, etc.) work in that particular place.
What do you think employers should do to get the best candidates to apply?
Considering that at my current place of employment had one part time position open and received 40+ applications (two from people who held PhDs), and another place had a full time position that paid less than $25,000 per year and they received 120+ applications, I don’t think they have to try too hard. People in my area are absolutely desperate for librarian work.
What should employers do to make the hiring process less painful?
Be honest and communicate with applicants. If a position opens, be honest about the time frame that it will take to complete the hiring process. And once it is complete, at least let those who didn’t make the cut know in a timely fashion.
For those they do interview and or eventually hire, it would be wise to try to consolidate everything that they need from the applicant into one day. Stretching the process out over several days, several weeks apart can be very stressful for applicants.
What do you think is the secret to getting hired?
Networking and excellent performance. I got my first internship because my academic advisor knew a library director personally and vouched for my hard work. That director hired me for my first professional position, part time, when I finally completed library school. He in turn gave a great recommendation to another director, who also hired me part time. They both gave fantastic recommendations to a third director, who just hired me for my first full time position. I did my part by always doing the best job I could, but it was my supervisors’ recommendations that gave me the interviews that actually led to jobs.
Do you have any comments, or are there any other questions you think we should add to this survey?
I just want to pass on this small piece of advice to job seekers. Every little bit of experience that you can get will add up and help you. I have been working part time at two places for almost two years, but it was finally enough be able to secure a full time position. Just keep trying and good luck!
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!