This 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 more than 18 months. This person is looking in academic libraries and archives, at the following levels: entry level. Here is this person’s experience with internships/volunteering:
I graduated from a large university with a dual MLS/MA. My coursework took 3 years and my MA thesis took an extra year to write. That’s why I was job searching for so long–I expected to be done sooner. While in grad school, I worked in the same library department for 4 years, had a second web design job for a summer, and had a summer internship/worked at an on-campus archive for a total of 2 1/2 years. Longevity at these jobs lead to great references from my supervisors.
This job hunter is in a city/town in the Midwestern US and is willing to move semi-regionally (moving to the Mid-South).
What are the top three things you’re looking for in a job?
1) Healthy work environment that focuses on users and professional development
2) A position with varied responsibilities that allows for creativity, not just copying the former staff member’s ways
3) A decent, livable salary worthy of a MLS
Where do you look for open positions?
Association of Christian Librarians Career Feed
Do you expect to see salary range listed in a job ad?
√ No (even if I might think it *should* be)
What’s your routine for preparing an application packet? How much time do you spend on it?
I print out the job description and highlight what I consider the key phrases. I have several cover letters (for different positions) that have elicited phone interviews in the past so I adapt those cover letters as appropriate for the position, using the key phrases from the job description. In the cover letter, I try to focus on 3 things the employer wants in the new hire and discuss briefly how I fit their needs. I also proofread the letter after writing it (especially checking that I changed all names/dates), ask my spouse to do so, and then proofread it again (at least an hour later or the next day). Then I gather other needed items, complete the application, etc. I spend about 2-3 hours on each application now, but when I first started it took probably 7-8 hours for each.
Have you ever stretched the truth, exaggerated, or lied on your resume, or at some other point during the hiring process?
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
√ To follow-up after an interview
√ Once the position has been filled, even if it’s not me
How do you prefer to communicate with potential employers?
√ Phone for good news, email for bad news
Which events during the interview/visit are most important to your assessment of the position (i.e. deciding if you want the job)?
√ Meeting department members/potential co-workers
√ Meeting with HR to talk about benefits/salary
What do you think employers should do to get the best candidates to apply?
Include salary ranges, be detailed but realistic in qualifications, provide information about the library especially if it is small (liberal arts college, special collection, etc.) without a fancy website.
What should employers do to make the hiring process less painful?
Employers should eliminate applications that duplicate a CV/resume. They should also not require letters of recommendation or official transcripts up front (especially when the application is only open for 2-3 weeks). Those things are fine once a candidate has advanced in the pool, and I understand those things are for the convenience of the employers–but I think those hurdles mean the best candidates do not apply.
What do you think is the secret to getting hired?
Well, I just got hired and start my first professional position on October 1st. Yay! [Note: This response was submitted September 2013] I don’t really know, except to say that I think timing has a lot to do with it. The position I was hired for first posted in late June. I didn’t apply until late July (there was no end date) and was asked for a phone interview two days later–unheard of in academic library circles! Things just happened very quickly and I just think I sent in my materials at just the right time. Not helpful for those still looking, but just trust your instincts and streamline your application process so you can apply for jobs quickly and somewhat painlessly. Be organized! I also think it helps to be flexible with location–I will be moving 300 miles away for this job.
Do you have any comments, or are there any other questions you think we should add to this survey?
I hope I’ll be included since I’m a new hire! This was a great resource as I was job hunting and hope hearing of a new hire will be encouraging to someone else. 🙂 Thanks!
Are you hunting for a new LIS job? Take the survey! http://tinyurl.com/hiringlibJOBHUNTERsurvey
This survey was co-authored by Naomi House from I Need A Library Job – Do you need one? Check it out!