Amy Musser took the Job Hunter’s survey on January 4, 2013. Her responses appeared as Creative Freedom/Independence.
How long has it been since you got your library degree?
I graduated with my MLS in May 2013.
How many years of library work experience do you have?
1 year as a shelver, a 6 month public library internship, and nearly 2 years of experience as a children’s librarian.
How many years of work experience outside of libraries do you have?
9 years of work experience in theatre/stage management, book store retail, administrative assistance, and sundry other work.
How old are you?
Your Job Hunt
How long did it take you before you found your job?
I was extremely lucky, I started my job 1 month before I graduated.
How many positions did you apply to?
How many interviews did you go on?
1! Crazy, right?
What was your work situation while you were job hunting?
I was unemployed, doing my internship, and finishing up grad school.
Were you volunteering anywhere?
I was volunteering for the Read Aloud Program (reading in classrooms) with Denver Public Library. Now, I read in those same classrooms as part of my job 🙂
Did you travel for interviews? If so, who paid?
Did you decline any offers?
What’s your new job?
I’m a children’s librarian at the Central Children’s Library of Denver Public Library.
Is your job full or part time? Permanent or temporary?
part time (20 hours), permanent.
Did you relocate? If so, who paid?
How did you find the listing for your job?
I was checking the Colorado Jobline website on a daily basis.
Did you meet all of the required qualifications? How many of the desired qualifications?
I believe the only area I was lacking (and this wasn’t a requirement, just a preference) was Spanish language skills.
What was the application process like? How many interviews did you do?
I only did 1 interview, but it was for 4 positions at the same time. I was hired during a “hiring frenzy.” The city of Denver had just passed a ballot measure that allowed all the Denver Public Library branches to add more hours. This resulted in DPL hiring over 100 people!
How did you prepare for the interview(s)?
I asked my internship supervisors for advice. Several librarian friends emailed me sample interview questions. I spent time typing out my answer to as many questions as I could. I also was required to do a 10 minute storytime, so I practiced that a lot. I visited all the branches I was interviewing for to get a feel for the community and size. I also prepared a portfolio binder.
Did you know anyone in the organization that hired you? If so, how?
I knew a senior cluster manager from my involvement in ALSC.
Is your job commensurate with your skills, experience and expectations?
Definitely. I work in a Children’s Library, so I am expected to be a subject specialist. This is exactly what I was looking for and I think choosing projects and classes in grad school that supported this goal was key.
Is the pay scale higher or lower than you were looking for?
it’s about what I expected, although I am hoping to become full time sometime soon.
What do you think was the biggest obstacle in your job hunt? How did you overcome it?
Lack of librarian experience. I overcame it by using my cover letter to show how my other work experience was applicable, by blogging about children’s literature for several years, by becoming involved in ALSC, and by bringing in my portfolio binder to the interview.
What set you apart from the other applicants? Why did they hire you?
I think they saw my passion and energy for children’s services. I love to work with children and I think that was obvious in my interview. I was able to roll with the questions, ask for clarification when needed, and speak clearly and concisely.
State of the Job Market
What’s the most ridiculous thing you’ve seen on a job announcement?
Anythink libraries here in Colorado have the weirdest job announcements. They want people to be “gurus” and talk about magic…it always puts me off a bit.
What was your favorite interview question? What was the worst?
I love reader’s advisory questions. I dislike when they ask me to point out my weaknesses.
Any good horror stories for us?
Nope, so far my 1 interview was fairly tame!
Has job hunting been a positive or negative experience, for the most part?
Positive, but I think I was just in the right place at the right time.
Would you change your answer to “what’s the secret to getting hired”?
I can’t remember what I said, but right now, I would say that it’s a matter of showing them how your experience, energy, and passion make you a good fit for the job. Don’t expect anyone to be a mindreader, show them what you can bring to the job.
Anything else you want to tell us?
If you don’t have a certain skill or experience, make your own opportunity to increase your knowledge while creating a product you can show potential employers. That’s the reason I decided to create a blog on children’s literature while in grad school. Not only has it opened doors for me with jobs, I have also used it on my resume to apply for seminars, conferences, and other applications. I also use my blogs as a resource for reader’s advisory. So my advice would be, find your passion, show your passion.