Job Hunter Follow Up: Michael Grutchfield

Michael Grutchfield

Michael Grutchfield took the Job Hunter’s survey on January 7, 2013.

His responses appeared earlier today as I Want to Put My Training to Use.

Your Background

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

2 and a half years

How many years of library work experience do you have?

about four years

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

Well, my first job was 24 years ago, though to be honest, I’ve been in and out of school and unemployment, so it’s somewhat less than that

How old are you? 

44

Your Job Hunt

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

Two years

How many positions did you apply to?

104

How many interviews did you go on?

Six

What was your work situation while you were job hunting?

Mixed. I started while still in school, was employed part time part of the time, and self-employed part of the time.

Were you volunteering anywhere?

Yes.

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

I did travel, and in all cases I paid for it.

Did you decline any offers?

No.

Your Job

What’s your new job?

I have two now: the first is Reference Librarian for Rogue Community College and the second is Collection Development Librarian for Josephine Community Libraries

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

RCC is part time and temporary. JCLI is part time (expanding to full time some of the time) and permanent.

Did you relocate? If so, who paid?

I did, and I paid.

How did you find the listing for your job?

RCC was I think through the Pacific Northwest Library Assc. They were the ones who told me about Josephine.

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

Almost certainly yes to the first question. I don’t recall now, but I’d say at least half of the desired qualifications.

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

RCC: the application was the usual HR online form, followed by a single telephone interview. JCLI had a Word document I had to fill out and print to sign, then scan and send back to them. I had a screening interview with an HR contractor via Skype. Then they set aside a day for interviews in person. I think there were three distinct interviews that day: one by the current collection development librarian (that was more like an informal conversation about collection development and the reality of working here), one by several members of the staff, and one by a couple of members of the board.

How did you prepare for the interview(s)?

I seem to recall that the RCC interview happened within 24 hours of their first contact with me, so there wasn’t much time to prepare! I took some time to look at their website and resources, and to familiarize myself with the school’s website. For Josephine, I had more time, so I looked at their business plan and spent some time going through their catalog to get an idea what they had and where I might find “holes” in the collection.

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

No.

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

For RCC: yes. For Josephine, I’d be inclined to to say that I came in with less experience than would be preferable, but the opportunity for experience was too good to pass up.

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

RCC is higher than I expected per hour, but of course it’s only part time. Josephine is much lower than I’d have taken without the second job.

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

Probably living in an area with a LOT of unemployed/semi-employed librarians, and also a library school putting new people into the market each year

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

Well, apart from being personable and brilliant, I bring a certain amount of life-experience as an older candidate, which gives me a broader set of skills than many recent library school graduates.

State of the Job Market

What’s the most ridiculous thing you’ve seen on a job announcement?

I think I used it in the initial interview.

What was your favorite interview question? What was the worst?

Ugh. Actually, I like the part where they ask if there’s anything I’d like to tell them about myself. Also, what’s my favorite book (my new manager admitted that my answer to this question sealed the deal for me). I hate the one about my biggest weakness, but it’s always going to be there.

Any good horror stories for us?

There’s one issue that’s bothered me for some time, which is the way HR depts at academic libraries are dismissing ALA accreditation. Because I went to school outside the country (Canada), I had to pay an independent company $200 to “evaluate” my degree in order to apply to most schools in California, and even some in Oregon. I think that’s a ridiculous requirement – the ALA has already “evaluated” my school, and they have far more qualification to do so than any contractor or HR dept does. I think ALA should issue a statement on this

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

Job hunting is not positive, but the interviews are usually enjoyable opportunities to meet other librarians.

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

I said “persistence” and I’d stand by that. Maybe I’d add “luck” and “flexibility.”

Anything else you want to tell us?

Nope, that’s it for now! Thanks.

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