This post originally appeared on December 26, 2013. This year’s follow up with Ms. Gilman will go live shortly.
Neyda Gilman took the Job Hunter’s survey on January 4, 2013. Her responses appeared as Being a New Grad I Feel Better Applying to Jobs That Indicate They are a Place to Grow and Learn
How long has it been since you got your library degree?
About a year. (I finished with classes in Dec 2012 and received my degree Feb 2013)
How many years of library work experience do you have?
2.5ish if you include practicums and volunteering
How many years of work experience outside of libraries do you have?
5 yrs as a medical technologist before returning to school. Many years before that working in laboratories and various customer service roles.
Your Job Hunt
How long did it take you before you found your job?
6 months of serious job searching. Probably another 3-4 months of searching while in school.
How many positions did you apply to?
How many interviews did you go on?
What was your work situation while you were job hunting?
Started while in school, but got more serious once I finished classes. I worked part time for most of that and volunteered some. The last month or so I just had some freelancing/volunteer duties.
Were you volunteering anywhere?
Health Sciences Library where I had previously worked. It was occasional work, mostly helping with weeding.
Did you travel for interviews? If so, who paid?
Yes, most were paid by the institution. I paid for one (local).
Did you decline any offers?
What’s your new job?
I am a Resident Librarian at an academic library
Is your job full or part time? Permanent or temporary?
full time, 2 year temporary
Did you relocate? If so, who paid?
I did, just a few hours away. The university reimbursed me.
How did you find the listing for your job?
I honestly don’t remember – I think it was one of the many listservs I am on.
Did you meet all of the required qualifications? How many of the desired qualifications?
I met them all – it is a posting geared towards new librarians so with that and my experience working in a library I was able to meet all the qualifications.
What was the application process like? How many interviews did you do?
They had an online form that I submitted along with my resume, cover letter and list of references. I had phone interview and then was invited for an on-site interview. The on-site was a full day interview with a presentation and lunch.
How did you prepare for the interview(s)?
I looked over the job posting and thought about how I met the qualifications and how I would perform the job duties. I also looked at the resume and cover letter I sent them to remind myself of what I already told them. Using this information I came up with answers to general interview questions and to questions I thought they may ask.
Did you know anyone in the organization that hired you? If so, how?
Is your job commensurate with your skills, experience and expectations?
Is the pay scale higher or lower than you were looking for?
A bit lower, but not terrible. Benefits are nice.
What do you think was the biggest obstacle in your job hunt? How did you overcome it?
For me one of my biggest obstacles was myself. I didn’t want just any job. I was selective in what I applied to. Many that I applied to I just barely met the qualifications, putting myself up against more qualified librarians. Also, even though I was searching nationwide, location was/is extremely important to me and would often be a deciding factor to apply for a job/accept an interview. This became really apparent to me when I made the difficult decision to turn down jobs because of their location. I was at a point in my life where I could afford to be picky, but it did cost me.
I was hoping for a full-time permanent position (aren’t we all?) but took my temporary position because I realized my pickiness was going to leave me permanently unemployed. I ended up taking a temporary position in an area I enjoy living, working with people I “fit” with, rather than a permanent position in a place I would probably try to leave as soon as I got there. The end result would be the same – getting experience to hopefully have a better job search in a couple years. This way just makes those couple of years enjoyable as well as educational.
What set you apart from the other applicants? Why did they hire you?
I think my background tends to grab attention. Even though my position isn’t science related, I think having a science background made me stand out.
I asked the people who hired me this question and here is what they said: I came across as interpersonal and outgoing, and I presented well. Also, my “interesting” experiences were brought up. Not just that I had them, but that I was able to tie them into librarianship – I showed my transferable skills. I also seemed to be a good fit, which was important.
State of the Job Market
What’s the most ridiculous thing you’ve seen on a job announcement?
I think I have blocked all that out…
What was your favorite interview question? What was the worst?
The one that stands out now is when I was asked “what is a question that you were expecting me to ask, that I haven’t?” I don’t know why, but I liked that question.
I can’t think of a specific example of the worst questions. I luckily didn’t run into any really bad questions, just some that I didn’t have a good answer for. Those questions were usually about areas where I didn’t have experience and that always makes for an awkward point during the interview.
Any good horror stories for us?
A couple. One funny, one not so much.
A librarian picked me up for dinner before the interview. He got lost and once he found the restaurant it was closed. He didn’t have his phone so we had to go to his apartment so he could get his phone and call the other librarian who was going to meet us. It turns out he was thinking of the wrong restaurant and a good part of the night was spent with them discussing how much they wish the dinner was at the other restaurant because they wanted to try the food there. It just made for a really awkward night.
The one that wasn’t funny involved me not being prepared for the interview. The whole application/interview process for this job was strange and I didn’t know what to expect. The in-person interview portion required a lot more specific knowledge of a certain discipline which I didn’t have, and didn’t prepare enough for. A part of the day was basically full of questions I just didn’t have answers to. It made for a very rough day and left me feeling defeated.
Has job hunting been a positive or negative experience, for the most part?
It was a learning experience! I guess in that way it was positive. I did learn a lot about myself and what I am looking for in a job. Of course not getting a job I was excited about, and the frustrations involved in job hunting were negative. I had my low points, but overall it was mostly positive.
Would you change your answer to “what’s the secret to getting hired”?
After going through a job hunt and now having been on some search committees I guess it would be to really put effort into the process, be excited about the jobs you are applying to, and do everything you can to not get discouraged. Easy right? When I got discouraged, I didn’t put as much effort into applications/interviews and it showed. So it was easy to get more discouraged. It is hard to break the cycle. I know I didn’t get some jobs partly because I wasn’t prepared enough, and I know I haven’t wanted to hire people when their application packet looks thrown together or they haven’t prepared for an interview. I think the only alternative to this is to be a librarian superstar. Either way, it’s hard work.
Anything else you want to tell us?
I guess I just want to reiterated how important it is to not get discouraged. It is important to remember that the search committee is looking at pieces of paper and then evaluating you in a few hours when you are under stress. It is not personal, and most likely if you weren’t selected it is not because you are bad, there was just someone with more experience. When I was searching I treated it as if it was a job in itself. I spent time on my applications and in preparing for interviews. I also learned it was important to take breaks or else I would become exhausted and frustrated.
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.