Further Questions: Do employers even look at portfolios?

This week we asked people who hire librarians

What is your perspective on portfolios, especially if they are mostly comprised of class projects? Some library schools build them into coursework as a graduation requirement. Are they useful or influential in the hiring process? Do employers even look at them? If so, does format (electronic vs. print) matter?

Christine Hage - Dark backgroundNot really interested in portfolios.  Sometimes the web pages are interesting, but I haven’t seen anything super impressive.
I’m much more interested in personality.  What kind of work ethic does the person have?  What kind of customer service skills?  Do they have any library experience?  Have they worked anywhere as a volunteer?
– Christine Hage, Director, Rochester Hills Public Library

I’ve never been given a portfolio as part of an application. Resumes, yes, but portfolios, no. I’m not sure when it might be useful, unless I was advertising for a very specific job and the portfolio showcased skills needed for that position. But for the kinds positions I’ve hired-general reference or public service librarians, I can’t really think of how a portfolio could be any more helpful than a well-crafted resume and/or solid work experience.

– Margaret M. Neill, Regional Library Branch Manager, Main Library, El Paso Public Library

Julie TodaraI like it when applicants send or bring portfolios to the interview. While it is not practical to think that employers would look at it during the interview, it is great to have someone provide something to review post-interview. Also, it is my opinion that employers understand that recent grads have content from their coursework. With that in mind; however, it is important that people choose class projects that relate to the jobs they want…so if you are applying for work with me at the college and it’s for reference, a portfolio of technical services projects (or visa versa) – while helpful by design and delivery – is less helpful than a reference class project. If that’s all you have for us though…connect the dots for me…that is, indicate what about it contributed to or formed your skill sets…. the instructional design, the webpage success illustrated by metrics, etc.
I also love to get podcasts, streaming video, a CD/DVD of a body of work OR a webpage designed by the applicant. That being said, you need to have been responsible for all of it…so a LibGuide or SubjectsPlus or a teaching or IL presentation should be content ONLY from you.
So they ARE helpful or useful and can be influential (especially when the content relates to the institution you are interviewing with)…YES, we look at them and while the general format answer is “it depends” in today’s market you can prepare something in print but I would have a e-component to it.
– Julie Todaro, Dean, Library Services, Austin Community College

I have found portfolios to be very helpful, especially when hiring librarians for children’s work. And for a position in Graphics, it was essential.

– Kaye Grabb, Lake Forest Library

Thank you as always to our contributors for their time and insight.  If you’re someone who hires librarians and are interested in participating in this feature, please email us at hiringlibrariansquestionsATgmail.com.

Thank YOU for reading!  If you liked reading, you’re going to really love COMMENTING.



Filed under Further Questions

3 responses to “Further Questions: Do employers even look at portfolios?

  1. Pingback: Further Questions Questions | Hiring Librarians

  2. Pingback: What value is a librarian’s portfolio? | Mica Meerbach

  3. Pingback: Return to Further Questions Questions | Hiring Librarians

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