This person took the job hunter survey on December 30, 2012. Her responses appeared as Do I have a chance or am I wasting my time? I’d like to know. We last followed up with her on February 10, 2014.
What’s your current work situation?
I work full time in a law firm library, also work part time as a library substitute with a county public library system
Did you relocate for your job? If so, who paid?
I did not relocate
How did you find the listing for your job?
I am an avid searcher like all other job seekers using multiple list servs specific to my state as well as Indeed, INALJ
Did you meet all of the required qualifications? How many of the desired qualifications?
The requirements were posted through a recruiter (Robert Half Legal) and were pretty vague, required qualifications were a BA and some library experience. Desired qualifications were a MLIS. So I met those requirements.
What was the application process like? How many interviews did you do?
I applied through the recruiter, pretty par for the course online application. Did a phone interview, an in person interview with HR/Library/Marketing staff (.1 of this job does some work with Marketing and prospect research). Did a final round interview with partner and CFO.
How did you prepare for the interview(s)?
Since we all know how great networking is, I reached out to my contacts and asked for any advice on preparing for the interview. Since I know some lawyers I asked what they expect from their librarians. I looked into the firm, the folks I was interviewing with and the practice (It’s an Intellectual Property law firm). I did my basic practice that I do for all interviews where I try to come up with examples for the questions we all know are coming (experience, conflict resolution, etc). Practiced and discussed my strategy with a friend/mentor.
Did you know anyone in the organization that hired you? If so, how?
I did not know anyone in the organization, but I knew a lawyer at another firm who knew one of the partners (not the one I interviewed with).
Is your job commensurate with your skills, experience and expectations?
I expected a steep learning curve because of the IP focus, but my employer has been great about trainings so that I can learn about the tools I have at my disposal. I think my skills and experience work well for this job- I know how to work with all kinds of people since I’ve worked in Academic, Public and School libraries. I also have skills that are being used by marketing (BA in journalism, some html skills, database/knowledge management skills).
Is the pay scale higher or lower than you were looking for?
It’s more than I made as a school librarian and higher than most entry level public librarian jobs posted in my area. So I’m happy.
What do you think was the biggest obstacle in your job hunt? How did you overcome it?
My biggest obstacle was getting nervous during interviews- talking too fast, not being wordy enough. I really had to practice on elaborating on my skills and really selling myself, instead of letting my resume speak for itself.
What set you apart from the other applicants? Why did they hire you?
I think (since I don’t really know) it was the skills I could also bring for the marketing department. I’ve been asked questions regarding AP Style for news announcements and for help redesigning an internal daily email blast, all things I learned on my own/in past jobs and not in library school. I also have a work record that showed that I am able to come into a situation “green” and learn quickly and efficiently, and that’s something I like to emphasize in interviews.
Your Job Hunt
How long did it take to find your job?
About 1 year, year and a half.
How many positions did you apply to?
I honestly didn’t keep track- but well over 100.
How many interviews did you go on?
Again, lost track, but probably averaged at least 1 per month for about 18 months
What was your work situation while you were job hunting?
I graduated in August 2012 and was hired to help run a large school library with a school library media specialist. The media specialist resigned a week before school and I was asked to get a temporary teaching license and take on the role. I did that, and in the first year explored the options to get licensed. I decided to not pursue getting licensed for cost/time reasons (it would be about 10 classes, have to complete in 2 years plus tests). So I started job searching about 6 months into this position. I was able to teach for 2 years on the temporary license, and in the last 6 months of my employment I took on 2 extra part time jobs subbing in county public library systems. I figured all the experience at a variety of library types couldn’t hurt my chances. When my school librarian job ended, I was lucky enough to secure some long term subbing assignments and work full time in public libraries while I job searched.
Were you volunteering anywhere?
Did you travel for interviews? If so, who paid?
Did you decline any offers?
Yes. I had an offer from a publishing company, but the pay was less that what I made in jobs I had previously that didn’t require college degrees. Plus it was a long commute. And I did some research on Glassdoor and contacted current employees through LinkedIn who told me to not seek employment with the company.
State of the Job Market
What’s the most ridiculous thing you’ve seen on a job announcement?
I haven’t really seen anything too crazy- just long laundry lists of qualifications that are almost impossible to possess.
What was your favorite interview question? What was the worst?
Those that were open ended and allowed me to open up and really sell my experiences.
Any good horror stories for us?
I applied for a job that (now that I know, is understandable) was horrible with communication. They called me to set up a phone interview while I was at work, then I spent 2 whole days calling almost every hour, getting voicemail. Finally was able to set up by looking up email of hiring manager. Phone interview went well, as did first in person interview. Then communication fell off again (I sent my thank you emails). I emailed after 2 weeks, said they would have info by the next week for me. Didn’t hear anything, contacted again after waiting a week. Was then asked to do a final round interview with 2 more folks. First person I interview with went well, then the other person was MIA, couldn’t be reached by phone. They sent me on my way after 15 minutes. 30 min later I get a call asking to set up another time by the person who was MIA, went back (was near my job, so I was in the area) and interviewed with them. Was told I’d hear by end of week (this was a Tuesday). Nothing. Next week I interviewed at a job that I wasn’t excited about, but they gave me an offer. I went back to this job (which I really wanted) and leveraged this offer into the job I have today. There were some sickness/vacations/mergers that held up the process, hence why it’s understandable.”
I applied for a job early on in my job search within the school district I was working at, doing project work on integrating ipads/tablets into school curriculums. First bad sign was they closed the posting 5 hours earlier than the job posting stated. Luckily since I knew someone was able to get it submitted. Then they called about an interview. I call back later in the day and they say that the only time they have available to interview me is smack middle of the morning. I ask if there’s any flexibility because I work for the district, thus getting time off early in the school year is difficult. They said they’d look at schedules. Left me a voicemail the next day stating that the one slot was all they had available and that they weren’t going forward with my application because they needed someone who could start ASAP and I would have to give some notice to my school. The same district I worked for wanted me to burn bridges with one of its schools and pretty much leave it high and dry just for an interview.
Has job hunting been a positive or negative experience, for the most part?
That is a tough question- because when you are job hunting, it’s hard to see much positive. Once you have a job you do suffer from some rose colored glasses, but when you’re in the thick of it- it sucks. You feel let down a lot, yet you have to keep investing yourself emotionally to put together good applications and have good interviews. It’s a rollercoaster and definitely takes its toll. But I guess it’s like they say, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”. As an avid reader of this blog and others I know many will read this and have something cynical to say- that’s fine. I was in the same position not long ago. Sometimes being able to be snarky (in a responsible way) is what you need to pick yourself up again and keep going. So please, snark away about my luck, my qualifications or lack thereof, etc- and please use it as motivation to keep searching. My past responses show my cynicism with many aspects of job searching- I doubt I’m the only one who has felt that way. There were many times where I figured that everything I did was in vain, as it was a crapshoot of luck and I had to get out of that mindset and create my own luck.
Would you change your answer to “what’s the secret to getting hired”?
I know in my previous response I was pretty snarky in my answer for this question. But in the end, the advancements I made were made because of networking. I got the long term temp jobs with the public library because someone I had previously interviewed with (didn’t get the job, but we did talk and I got feedback- so helpful!) remembered me and gave my contact info to another librarian. Having some networking contacts who are lawyers helped me get a leg up on what is expected in a firm library. You don’t need to know every librarian, but a good variety of solid networking contacts can really help.
What’s your ideal work situation?
One where I’m able to have flexibility (not a fan of task master supervisors) and able to use my variety of skills to make my workplace better.
Anything else you want to tell us?
I really love the Hiring Librarians blog- not only does it help us librarians relate to each other as we job search I also enjoyed getting to read what prospective employers think behind the guise of anonymity. And to all these librarians who are hiring for positions and look down on people who get their MLIS through an online program- please rethink your bias. As a profession, are we graduating too many people? Yes. But just because someone graduated from an online program doesn’t mean they’re a bad candidate. I did my entire MLIS online in 2 years while working full time. I’d say that speaks of a lot of desirable qualities in a job (time management, willingness to go above and beyond, able to manage multiple tasks, etc). Plus, as our lives become more and more digital, wouldn’t it be important to have people on staff who understand what it’s like to do online learning? Don’t you think they may have some insight and be able to relate in a different way? I’d say so. I just wanted to speak to other online MLIS folks- you have a lot of great skills and you are valuable. Make sure that you are spinning this in your interviews so that we can squash this unfortunate bias.