I Want to Put my Training to Use.

Michael Grutchfield took the job hunter’s survey on January 7, 2013. A follow up will appear shortly.
Michael GrutchfieldMichael Grutchfield is a new librarian with plenty of life-experience. He is a graduate of the University of British Columbia with dual Masters’ in Library and Information Science and Archival Studies, and also has a Masters in History from Portland State. Mr. Grutchfield currently works part time for the University of Portland as Reference Librarian, and does volunteer chat reference through L-NET/Answerland. He has been job hunting for six months to a year, in academic libraries, archives, library vendors/service providers, public libraries, and corporate records management, at the entry level and for positions requiring at least two years of experience. Here is how he describes his experience with internships/volunteering:

I worked as a student librarian (part time) at the University Library where I went to library school. This included virtual and live reference, and instructional responsibilities. I worked with InterPARES on a database of archival terminology, using my German skills to translate to and from English.
I did a two-week practicum with the State Library of Washington. I am currently volunteering with L-NET two hours a week to do virtual reference. Some years ago, I volunteered with Multnomah County’s ILL Dept.
As a student I was active in SLA, and was student representative to the Western Canada chapter. I was Secretary to the UBC chapter. I am currently on the board of ORSLA as “Ethics Ambassador.” I am also active in OLA, and am working with the archives team to help organize their records.

He is in an urban area in the Western US, and is:

Willing to move, preference for 600 miles from Portland, but for the right job in the right town, anything is possible.

Mr. Grutchfield has posted hundreds of in-depth book reviews, of books read at all stages of life, on goodreads.

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

1) Location is very important to me. I’d like for it to within driving distance of Portland, OR – which I define as about 600 miles. If not, it needs to be a town with similar cultural benefits and social attitudes.
2) I want to put my training to use. I focused my skills deliberately in library school, and I’m trying to build on that skill set, rather than get diverted into other directions.
3) Ideally, I’d like to work in higher education. I was on track for a professorship before I made the decision to switch professions and go into libraries, and I think I have the most to contribute to an academic library.

Where do you look for open positions?

The best resource is I Need a Library Job. They compile all the most recent postings into a single location, and only very rarely do I find something they’ve missed.
Before heading there each week, I usually check the pacific northwest library association, which is useful for focusing on local positions.

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?

It somewhat depends on the job and what they’ve asked for. I have a standard set of references and a basic template for my resume, which I modify from time to time. Usually what I’ll do is begin by opening the most recent application I made for a similar position and tweak it to the job posting. All of this usually takes less than 20 minutes.
The cover letter is usually the thing I spend the most time on, and how long depends on how much I really want the job. I find that the most personalized cover letters get the best responses, so I try to do some research into the employer and craft the cover letter to appeal to them. I also try to put as much of the actual language of the ad into the cover letter as possible – without actually cutting and pasting or interfering with my own voice. I have spent between ten minutes and one hour on cover letters, probably an average of about 30 minutes.
The toughest thing is when there’s an essay component as well, asking about my “teaching philosophy” or asking me to write a sample blog entry or something of that nature. I try not to spend more than 30 minutes each on these, because frankly this is stuff they should be asking me at the interview, and if they’re going to be lazy then so am I.

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

√ No

When would you like employers to contact you?

√ To tell me if I have or have not been selected to move on to the interview stage
√ Once the position has been filled, even if it’s not me

How do you prefer to communicate with potential employers?

√ Phone

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

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

In this job market, it’s hard for me to imagine that this is a problem. I know people with 20 years experience who are applying for part time positions with no benefits.

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

Simplify the online application and get HR out of the process as much as possible.

What do you think is the secret to getting hired?


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

I think it would be fun to include some of the more ridiculous boilerplate that we’ve seen HR depts stick on library job postings. Two of my favorites are:
“This entry level position requires five years of experience in a similar institution”
“Please do not mail your application. Do not submit your application by email, text, or any electronic means.”

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, Urban area, Western US

2 responses to “I Want to Put my Training to Use.

  1. Pingback: Job Hunter Follow Up: Michael Grutchfield | Hiring Librarians

  2. Pingback: About a Decade Later: Former (and Current) Job Hunter Michael Grutchfield | Hiring Librarians

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