good salary ($40,000+)

Hunter and Daughter before Sunset Waiting for a Deer...National Archives at College Park via Flickr commonsThis 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 less than six months. This person is looking in Academic libraries, Library vendors/service providers, Public libraries, and Special libraries, at the following levels: Entry level, Requiring at least two years of experience, Supervisory. Here is this person’s internship/volunteering experience: 

I had two internships, one doing online chat reference in an academic library, and the other analyzing library budgets and usage statistics. I worked in several student library jobs throughout library school, as well as working at a public library during schools breaks. I also volunteered in a student organization that runs the local jail’s library.

This job hunter is in an urban area, in the  Midwestern US, and is willing to move anywhere, but

prefers some locations over other.

What are the top three things you’re looking for in a job?

good salary ($40,000+), enjoyable and varied job duties, pleasant environment (the feel of the library itself as well as the general geographic area)

Where do you look for open positions?

ALA Joblist, INALJ, HigherEdJobs, Music Library Assocation website,, reference and cataloging listservs

Do you expect to see salary range listed in a job ad?

√ Other: I’ve seen so many ads with no salary listed that I don’t expect to see it, but employers really should list a salary so that I’m not wasting my time or theirs if it turns out to be too low.

What’s your routine for preparing an application packet? How much time do you spend on it?

At the beginning of my application process, I spent a lot of time revising my resume and writing cover letters. It takes less time now that I have several good cover letters already written and can copy/paste relevant information from them into a new cover letter. Right now my applications take anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours depending on the length of the cover letter as well as any online application I have to submit.

Have you ever stretched the truth, exaggerated, or lied on your resume, or at some other point during the hiring process?

√ Other: I strive for truth, though I have a few skills listed on my resume that are rather “rusty” at this time.

When would you like employers to contact you?

√ To acknowledge my application
√ To tell me if I have or have not been selected to move on to the interview stage
√ Once the position has been filled, even if it’s not me
√ Other:  To tell me the timeline of the interview process, or inform me of unexpected delays in the process

How do you prefer to communicate with potential employers?

√ Email

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: Asking questions about the institutional culture and any future challenges the staff can foresee.

What do you think employers should do to get the best candidates to apply?

Provide a salary range in the job ad, and make the salary worth my time to apply. I have student loans and can’t realistically work for just $26,000 per year. (Yes, I’ve seen salaries this low!)

Remove the requirement for a second master’s degree or a certain number of years’ experience if they aren’t relevant to the job’s duties. There aren’t enough entry-level jobs being advertised right now. I have worked at several libraries while earning my master’s degree. I have lots of library experience, but not at the professional level, and I haven’t had the chance to work at just one job for years at a time, as implied in many job ads.

Advertise on as many websites as possible, and contact library schools so they can send the job ads to any interested students and/or recent graduates.

What should employers do to make the hiring process less painful?

Let applicants email their cover letter and resume to the hiring manager. Forcing applicants to use a complicated online application system may lead to fewer people applying for the job. These systems are often redundant, as they require you to type out your entire work history, references, etc. when they are likely already on your resume.

What do you think is the secret to getting hired?

Determination–send out lots of applications!
Experience–get as many varied experiences as you can while in library school.
Writing skills–being able to explain your qualifications in a cover letter while putting a positive spin on less-desirable facts such as a lack of professional experience.
Luck–even the best applicants may not find a job for a long time.

Do you have any comments, or are there any other questions you think we should add to this survey?

What qualifications do you often see in job ads that you are uncomfortable with (e.g. a second master’s degree, or experience that is difficult to get while still in school)?

For some context, take a look at the most recently published summary of responses.

Are you hunting for a new LIS job? Take the survey!

This survey was co-authored by Naomi House from I Need A Library Job – Do you need one?  Check it out!

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Filed under Job hunter's survey, Midwestern US, Urban area

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