If you don’t accept applications through some sort of electronic media, I’m going to assume your organizational mindset is stuck in the 1950’s.

Hunting Party at Norderhamn beach near the Cave of Stora Förvar, Stora Karlsö, Gotland, SwedenThis anonymous interview is with a job hunter who is not currently employed (even if part-time or in an unrelated field), has not 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, archives, public, and special libraries, as well as historical societies and correctional facilities at the following levels: entry level, requiring at least two years of experience, supervisory and solo librarian.

This job hunter is in a city/town in the Midwestern US and is willing to move to any city along the Eastern/Western seaboard or in the Midwest.

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

1) Either a public service position or duties which include public service. I don’t mind tech services, but I dont’ want to do it all day, every day.

2) Location, benefits, and salary.

3) The ability to grow into other duties and functions

Where do you look for open positions?

INALJ, Indeed, local consortiums.

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

√ Other: I expect the salary to be obscured in *some* instances (corporate is notoriously bad about listing salary), but it is a huge red flag if academic institutions do not list salary.

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

For all applications I have a couple standard resumes and cover letter frameworks. I then go through the ad and address the qualifications/job skills specifically. I have a new letter framework with a table where I insert the qualification/duty verbatim on one side, and address it on the opposite site. This is much quicker, but not all positions lend themselves to this format.

If I’m just emailing/uploading documents, it can take as little as a half hour. If I have to fill out one of those stupid forms, upwards of an hour.

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

√ Yes

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
√ Other: To tell me as soon as I am no longer in the running for a position. If the job is reposted, you’re not going to hire me, so tell me.

How do you prefer to communicate with potential employers?

√ Other: I communicate through e-mail because dates can be automatically put in a calendar, and I have a written record of the conversation. Never, ever, ever send me a piece of printed mail.

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

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

–Be the type of organization where excellent people want to work. Be mindful of the preferences of Millennials, since they’ll be a lot of your new hires. Flexibility, room for growth, new and exciting challenges, a progressive and responsive board/leadership.

–Pay people what they are worth. Ask yourself: How much would I want to be paid if I had just dropped 50k+ on an undergraduate education, and 20k+ on a graduate degree? Pay that much.

–Stop making librarianship a part-time gig in order to save money. There is this phenomenon that when someone retires, 2 part-positions suddenly replace a FT position so an employer won’t have to pay benefits. Stop that. Also, a library run by two part-time co-directors is going to be awful.

–(More general comment) If you don’t want awesome people to leave the profession: appreciate them, and not just by your definition of “appreciate”.

–Stop discriminating against individuals who are not currently employed, or have been long-term unemployed. Unemployment actually pays BETTER than a 40/wk $9/hr job. Besides, when would I have time to craft my perfectly unique cover letters?

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

A short list of things from the past three years:

—I cannot say this with enough emphasis: Get rid of the forms. Uploading a resume and then copy/pasting that information into boxes so your system can check keywords is excessive.

—I do not pay to apply for jobs. This includes, but is not limited to: transcripts (I have a set you can copy), ACT/GRE scores (it’s been 7+ years..why?!), an upgraded subscription to Skype for screen sharing (get GoToMeeting), or even stamps.

—If you have a job form in PDF format, make sure it can be saved without printing. I am not going to fill out a form, print it and then scan it to get it to you.

—This is the 21st century. If you don’t accept applications through some sort of electronic media, I’m going to assume your organizational mindset is stuck in the 1950’s.

—I can find the money to move to another state. I cannot find the money to pay for a plane ticket and other associated expenses just for an interview.

—In the same vein, if you are interviewing someone who is an hour or more away in the first stage of a multi-interview process, give them the option of phone or Skype.

—Answer questions directly, or state that you cannot answer them. If you cannot answer my question about salary for whatever reason, state as much. Do not leave the e-mail unanswered. It’s unprofessional.

—Honestly? Stop expecting unique cover letters and hand-crafted resumes. When you’ve applied for 1000+ positions in the past year and under a looming cloud of financial uncertainty and depression because of your lack of a job despite those 1000 unique applications, you kind of stop caring.

—Standardized lists of questions are fine, but make the questions relevant to the job.

—Do not jam-pack interviews. A departmental head interview which includes 3 committees and 3 tours cannot reasonably be done in 2 hours. It makes the interview incredibly rushed, runs the risk that you will not be able to ask all of your questions, and forget about my questions.

—Do not assume that I even remember applying for your job. I try to apply for ten jobs every single day. Unless your job is super special awesome (think curator of the British Library awesome), or I applied literally yesterday, I’m probably not going to remember.

What do you think is the secret to getting hired?

If I knew that, I’d have had a steady job 3 years ago.

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!


Filed under Job hunter's survey, Midwestern US

2 responses to “If you don’t accept applications through some sort of electronic media, I’m going to assume your organizational mindset is stuck in the 1950’s.

  1. Debi

    I see some valid points here. However, one thing that caught my attention is not customizing cover letters and resumes. I don’t know that I’d consider an applicant that didn’t customize their application materials for an open position for my library. It would come off as if you don’t care about the job, or that you’re applying to tons of places–which then makes me wonder what is unappealing about the applicant that he or she hasn’t been hired. It’s a tough thing, though. I can see how an applicant sending out tons of resumes wouldn’t want to take the time and effort to put care into it. But I also think the applicant is wasting their own time even sending them in that case.


  2. David

    Based on your responses I’m not surprised you haven’t landed a posisition. I wouldn’t hire you either.

    I have a strong suspicion that the attitude displayed here is probably apparent during the interview process and contributing to your lack of employment.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.