I took some bad advice once and left “volunteer” off my volunteer jobs

Huntington Free Library and Reading Room, ca 1920-1929This anonymous interview is with a job hunter who has not 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, Public libraries, School libraries, Special libraries, IT and various information management or data management jobs at the following levels: Entry level, Requiring at least two years of experience. This job hunter is in a city/town, in the  Midwestern US, and is not willing to move.

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

1. A good work environment – some offices are so awful they lower my mood when I walk in the door. Much of this is attitude, not decor–but I do have to say that if all the chairs are vinyl secretary chairs from the 70s (something I’ve seen as recently as last week, in a tech services department) I’m pretty sure I’ll be spending a lot of time thinking more about my aching back than about the job.
2. Interesting work
3. A sense that the job matters, and doesn’t exist solely to keep the library from losing a position

Where do you look for open positions?

Everywhere! But these days, mostly local sources (state library jobline, individual library/university websites, newspaper)

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 spend a LOT of time preparing applications. I customize my resume and write a new cover letter (no boilerplate, although I do use a standard outline) for every job I apply for. Sometimes, if I’ve only got one or two applications out, I’ll change my online portfolio to be more specific to them, but that can backfire, so I’m cautious about it.

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

√ Other: I took some bad advice once and left “volunteer” off my volunteer jobs. Since being called on it in a job interview, I now make sure all my volunteer jobs are clearly indicated as such.

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)?

√ Tour of facility
√ Meeting department members/potential co-workers
√ Meeting with HR to talk about benefits/salary
√ Other:  Being able to ask questions and get honest answers

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

Be very clear about what they’re looking for in a candidate. I think they should also advertise salaries, but I don’t hold out a lot of hope for that happening.

I’ve seen a couple of job ads that made me want to apply immediately, even though neither was appropriate for me–both of them described the kind of person they wanted in the job more than the job itself.

For example, here’s a requested qualification from one of my all-time favorite ads (I kept it in Evernote, just because I liked it so much): “An instinctive predisposition to create and maintain order by giving sustained attention to detail.” (From University of the Ozarks, a couple of years ago) I want to meet the person who wrote that job ad. If I lived in Arkansas or wanted to relocate there, I would definitely have applied.

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

Quit using services like Taleo or that awful thing that EVERY university seems to use these days. I know they help HR with statistics and such, but they are just horrible for applicants. For the money they spend every year on systems that mine the data we spend two hours inputting, they could hire two people to actually LOOK at our resumes and cover letters.

I know libraries usually have no control over this, but I feel strongly that most of these systems are making the job search process more painful for everyone, and probably a lot less effective (by weeding out people who would be a good fit, but accidentally filled out the forms wrong).

What do you think is the secret to getting hired?

Be honest. In my younger days, I would tell interviewers what I thought they wanted to hear, even if I wasn’t that interested in the job. Apparently I was really good at that, and ended up in a few jobs that really were not right for me. I know that the job environment has changed; jobs are fewer and more competitive, and if you need a job, you should do whatever’s necessary to get one. But if you’re unhappy with your current job and looking for a new one, be totally honest about your skills, your goals, and your philosophy. Otherwise, you’re likely to end up in a job you’re even MORE unhappy with.

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

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! 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!

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Filed under Academic, City/town, Job hunter's survey, Midwestern US, Public, School, Special

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