This post originally appeared on January 8, 2014. A year two follow up will post shortly (Ms. Brown had originally taken the survey in January of 2013).
Sarah Brown completed the original survey on January 4, 2013. At the time, she was currently employed (even if part-time or in an unrelated field), had not been hired within the last two months, and had been looking for a new position for six months to a year. She was looking in archives and special libraries, at the entry level. Here how she described her experience
Current: Campus Library Director at a small (<1,000 students) academic library. Solo librarian. 9 months. Full time.
Current: county history center. Museum store book purchaser. 8 hrs/wk.
Internship: Ringling Museum of Art Library. Research/reference and cataloging focus. 3 months. Full time. Summer 2011.
Volunteer: county History Center. Archives and Collections Management. 14 months. 12 hrs/wk.
Volunteer: University archive. Processing archivist work. 4 months. 12 hrs/wk.
Volunteer: city public library. Reference and archives. 4 months. 12 hrs/wk.
Ms. Brown was in an urban area in the Southern US, and was willing to move anywhere.
What are the top three things you’re looking for in a job?
1- Size of library and number of professionals and paraprofessionals. I’m still new, so I’m looking for a community to learn from and add to my skills as a librarian.
2- Managerial organization. I’m currently in a position where my manager has no idea what I’m supposed to do, making it hard to get constructive feedback and grow professionally.
3- Location. I DO want to move out of my current area, so I’m looking at places that are “cool” to live in, and also have jobs available for my husband. He needs to work too.
Where do you look for open positions?
ALA Joblist, LibGigs, HigherEdJobs, AAM Career HQ, ARLIS/NA JobNet, SAA Job Center, ArchivesGig, Idealist, Indeed, USAJobs
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?
Print/save announcement. Highlight keywords, required/desired skills in announcement. Reword my resume if necessary, using keywords in the announcement if they are synonymous with skill/s I have listed. Write cover letter using highlighted announcement and updated resume. Proofread cover letter. Have husband/mother/sister read cover letter for errors and wording quirks. Inform references of job I am applying to. Submit materials. Average time total: 4 hours. Shortest time: ~1 hour. Longest time: Over 10 hours.
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?
√ Other: Phone or email, though employers seem to prefer 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
What do you think employers should do to get the best candidates to apply?
I’m frustrated with the trend of employers listing the the “required” section of the announcement a minimum 1 – 2 years experience for entry level positions. I think this should be eliminated from announcements for positions that are not supervisor or senior level positions, or at the very least moved to the “preferred” area of the announcement. How else will the new wave of smart, forward-thinking librarians ever get their start?
I also think listing salary range is something more employers should do. Many librarians in my position (1 year out of MLIS; less than 1 year FT experience) are geographically flexible, but want to know a salary range before they spend the time applying to a job in NYC that turns out to make only $20k/yr. If you let us know up front, you’ll get quality applicants that you can afford, and no candidates (or at least fewer) dropping out when they find out the salary range.
I would also discourage employers from posting their job ad to generic job boards. If its an Art library, post to ARLIS/NA and Special Libraries Assoc. If it’s academic, post to HigherEdJobs. The people who are interested in your type of open position know where to look. By posting to Monster, CareerBuilder, etc you get so many applicants you fatigue the person screening the resumes, thus creating the potential for oversight of great candidates.
What should employers do to make the hiring process less painful?
Let me know where I stand! If you’re not interested, say so. Don’t let me continue hoping for months on end. When someone has been chosen and accepted the position, let everyone else know, even through a form email.
What do you think is the secret to getting hired?
Being genuine and slightly aggressive. The two jobs I was offered were both jobs that my cover letter was fully honest about who I was as a person and the position I was in (ie: recent graduate, less than 1 yr. experience but huge desire to learn) as well as my educational and professional qualifications. Also, both positions were ones that I followed up with after both the initial and follow-up interview by email.
Do you have any comments, or are there any other questions you think we should add to this survey?
Q:Describe best interview question you have ever been asked OR What question did an interviewer ask you that made you certain you wanted to be a part of that organization/team/etc.
This survey was co-authored by Naomi House from I Need A Library Job – Do you need one? Check it out!