Job Hunter Follow Up: JJ Pionke

JJ PionkeJJ Pionke took the Job Hunter’s survey on January 4, 2013.

It appeared on March 25, 2013 as Be Specific …and Be Honest.

Your Background

How long has it been since you got your library degree?

About a year and a half.

How many years of library work experience do you have?

1.5 years.

How many years of work experience outside of libraries do you have?

10 years.

How old are you? 


Your Job Hunt

How long did it take you before you found your job?

This is a complicated question. I actually did get a job very quickly out of grad school, did a year there, and then found a better fit job at the end of that year. For the first job, I searched for about 3 months. For the second job, about 2 months.

How many positions did you apply to?

The first job was about 50, my second job was 4.

How many interviews did you go on?

The first job was 4 including skype interviews. The second job was 3.

What was your work situation while you were job hunting?

The first time around I was still adjuncting at a community college and had moved in with Mom and Dad (Thank you!). The second time around, I was still employed while looking.

Were you volunteering anywhere?


Did you travel for interviews? If so, who paid?

Yes, I traveled for all interviews that were face to face. Either the university paid outright or I was reimbursed.

Did you decline any offers?


Your Job

What’s your new job?

I am an academic librarian at a large research institution.

Is your job full or part time? Permanent or temporary?

Full time, permanent

Did you relocate? If so, who paid?

Yes, I did relocate and they paid.

How did you find the listing for your job?

ALA Joblist

Did you meet all of the required qualifications? How many of the desired qualifications?

Most and most. The parts that I didn’t have, I sold as a learning opportunity for me.

What was the application process like? How many interviews did you do?

Academic hiring takes a long time, even when it is on the fast track. I sent in all my documentation then waited to hear. Most places do a Skype interview and then fly you out. My current position skipped the Skype and flew me out directly.

How did you prepare for the interview(s)?

Researched everything! I read up on the people that were on the interview team, the university, the library, the students. I wanted to be able to ask insightful questions and not ones that I could have easily found the answer to on Wikipedia.

Did you know anyone in the organization that hired you? If so, how?

Yes, we were grad students together. They were not on the hiring committee and in a completely different department. It was a good connection to have because it gave me some idea of the overall culture of the place.

Is your job commensurate with your skills, experience and expectations?


Is the pay scale higher or lower than you were looking for?


What do you think was the biggest obstacle in your job hunt? How did you overcome it?

Selling myself/putting myself out there. It’s tough, especially when I am not used to singing my own praises but in the job hunt you have to acknowledge, in a concise and quick way, all the cool things you have done and why they are cool. It’s not easy. To overcome it, I wrote out multiple drafts of my cover letters, had friends read them, and had discussions about my skills with neutral parties in an effort to really own my accomplishments.

What set you apart from the other applicants? Why did they hire you?

From what I know, my teaching skills were what got me hired among other things.

State of the Job Market

Any good horror stories for us?

Going out for a meal with some of the search committee and they spent the entire time talking to each other.

Has job hunting been a positive or negative experience, for the most part?

Mostly positive however, I have seen it as a way to reflect and learn about myself.

Would you change your answer to “what’s the secret to getting hired”?

I wouldn’t actually. For academic librarianship, it is about fit in large part because should you get tenure, you could be there for a very long time.

Anything else you want to tell us?

Make yourself stand out! After having been on a hiring committee, cover letters that didn’t just repeat what was in the resume and that stood out for some reason in a positive way were the cover letters that got a second look.


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