This post originally appeared on December 9, 2013. This year’s follow up with Ms. Moran will post shortly.
Cristy Moran took the Job Hunter’s survey on January 4, 2013. Her responses appeared as There is a “Black Hole” of Information After One Drops a Resume.
How long has it been since you got your library degree?
I received my MLIS in August 2012.
How many years of library work experience do you have?
Not counting my fieldwork semester, just over a year.
How many years of work experience outside of libraries do you have?
I worked full-time as a full-time student since my freshman year of college. What I consider my professional career – in education programming and management, and since – I’ve been working in since 2005.
How old are you?
Your Job Hunt
How long did it take you before you found your job?
I was asked to apply to my current job and I did. The hiring process was purposely short and between applying and starting my position under a month had passed.
How many positions did you apply to?
I had searched sporadically for a library job while I had been securely employed and seeking my MLIS. However, when I got laid off from a job as Director of Education at a national tutoring company in February 2012, I applied to every possible job for which I was qualified. I had to file for unemployment and kept a spreadsheet of applications. I applied to over 200 library and non-library jobs combined between February 2012 and May 2013.
How many interviews did you go on?
I had several phone interviews but only went on five on-site interviews. All on-site interviews were in the South Florida area (where I live).
What was your work situation while you were job hunting?
Since February 2012, I was job hunting while unemployed. I completed two semesters in that time – during one of those semesters I did a fieldwork internship at Florida International University Library. One of the connections I made there suggested me for a Temporary Reference Librarian position (part-time) at Nova Southeastern University which I began in November 2012. I continued to search for permanent and full-time placement until I was hired as Part-time Information Literacy Instructor at Miami Dade College in May 2013.
Were you volunteering anywhere?
Did you travel for interviews?
Did you decline any offers?
Yes. I declined three offers.
What’s your new job?
I am the Associate Instructor at Miami Dade College’s Medical Campus Learning Resources.
Is your job full or part time? Permanent or temporary?
My position is full-time, permanent staff.
Did you relocate?
How did you find the listing for your job?
I was working at a PT librarian at a different campus. My director informed me of the opening and encouraged me to apply.
Did you meet all of the required qualifications? How many of the desired qualifications?
I met all the required qualifications. Though an MLIS isn’t required, it was highly recommended.
What was the application process like? How many interviews did you do?
Application was online. I was called for a panel interview during which I had to deliver a mock library instruction. A couple of weeks later, I was called for a second interview during which the directors of the various campus Learning Resources each asked a question. A week or so later, I was called by the College-Wide Director to congratulate me in getting the job.
How did you prepare for the interview(s)?
I was fortunate in that I had already delivered library instruction for the college so all I really had to do was modify existing Powerpoints. I reviewed the job descriptions as I usually do and identified the key components of the job that I would likely be asked about. I usually practice answering questions aloud beforehand, too.
Did you know anyone in the organization that hired you? If so, how?
I only knew my own campus library director. She was one of several on the panel.
Is your job commensurate with your skills, experience and expectations?
My job has exceeded my expectations. I think I bring a lot of additional skills to the table that have brought value to my library and I know there are a lot of things I’ve never considered learning about that I am finding myself engaged in and loving.
Is the pay scale higher or lower than you were looking for?
It’s what I was expecting but I was hoping for more.
What do you think was the biggest obstacle in your job hunt? How did you overcome it?
I think the lack of “2 or more years library experience” has been the biggest obstacle. Requisite skills? Check. Requisite education? Check. Glowing recommendations? Check. Experience outside of libraries? Check. Experience in libraries? Not so much. There’s really no overcoming it. There’s just accepting that – at least for two years – you’ll be working at a different position than you might otherwise have liked.
What set you apart from the other applicants? Why did they hire you?
I don’t know what set me apart on paper. I do know that, during interviews, I’m confident about what skills I have and what challenges I face, and I share them openly.
State of the Job Market
What’s the most ridiculous thing you’ve seen on a job announcement?
I can’t think of anything so outlandish.
What was your favorite interview question? What was the worst?
I like being asked scenario questions. As much as I appreciate the need to standardize interviews and ask the same questions to all candidates, I loathe being asked a question that I’ve already answered in response to another question.
Any good horror stories for us?
One of the jobs I turned down was at a really small private college (max 100 students total) where I would be the only person working at the library. The pay offered was $30,000/ year non-negotiable. This was for over 40 hours per week and six days a week. The schedule would require me to be there for morning sessions, then take a break of 2-3 hours so that I could come back for evening sessions that ended well into the night. I’d also be coming into a library with no existing librarian to pass the torch or mentor me or even tell me what needed to be done. This was prior to me having any library experience other than my three-month fieldwork.
Has job hunting been a positive or negative experience, for the most part?
For me, it was a really hard time – not just because of the difficulty in getting a library job, but because I was unemployed for a large part of it and had no job security for the time I was temping. Even finding work outside of libraries felt impossible.
Would you change your answer to “what’s the secret to getting hired”?
I had said the secret what being at the right place at the right time and knowing the right people…I think my experience in libraries continues to prove this true to me: I got a temp position because a librarian I worked with during my fieldwork internship passed along my name to a librarian at a different library. I got a second temp gig because the library director where I was doing my first temp gig thought I could help out at one of her other campuses. I got a job offer (I later turned it down) for a position that I had interviewed only after I was asked to apply. I was asked to apply because I had come highly recommended to the library director by my graduate advisor. Even my current placement was gained by right place/right time/ right connection: II knew about my current position’s opening because my library director told me about it. She knew my work and thought I could do well in this position.
…of course, you could be in the right place at the right time and know the right people and it still wouldn’t make you any more likely to land a job if you didn’t assert your value every day. People have to want to recommend you. They have to know that you’re capable and that you’d be an asset to someone else’s team.
Anything else you want to tell us?
My experiences and struggles looking for work introduced me to the concept of career literacy. Maybe it’s me looking at the glass half-full, but I’d like to think that going through everything from filing for unemployment to creating resumes to choosing outfits for interviews to really wondering whether or not I would be able to afford groceries on $16/ month of food stamps has helped me be a better librarian. I became career literate by necessity and learned, from experience, what college students looking for professional work will have to face in their near futures. It’s knowledge that can’t be gained through any amount of study and it makes me passionate about providing the best information, digital, and career literacy instruction I can.
If you took the Job Hunter’s Survey some time in the last year and are interested in doing a follow-up, even anonymously, please contact me at hiringlibrarians AT gmail.