Further Questions: Would you recommend informational interviews or job shadowing for job seekers–why or why not?

This week we asked people who hire librarians

Conventional job searching tips suggest informational interviews or job shadowing as a tactic to make connections and get your foot in the door with employers. Are these strategies used in your library? Does your library ever receive requests for this? Would you recommend these for job seekers–why or why not?

Any networking you can do is useful, that includes job shadowing, but it does not replace work experience.
We have two library schools in our area so we receive many requests for interviews and job shadowing that we accommodate whenever possible. We also use job shadowing for training and advancement in house.
– Julie Leuzinger, Department Head, Library Learning Services, University of North Texas Libraries
Jessica OlinOne of our circulation aides got the job that way, but in general I find it off-putting. I believe all job hunting advice, conventional or unconventional, is hit or miss. What one hiring manager appreciates, another will not. The one piece of advice I’ve gotten and heard that I know is going to work no matter who you are: be yourself. If you aren’t yourself and you get the job, you’ll be miserable. If you don’t get the job by being yourself, you wouldn’t have been happy there anyway.
– Jessica Olin, Director of Parker Library, Wesley College

Laurie PhillipsWe generally don’t get requests to job shadow or even informational interviews. We have a lot of people who do reference observation for library school here. We also often have people in library school who apply for part time staff or librarian positions in order to gain experience in an academic library. I’m always really careful to caution those candidates that we don’t often have faculty librarian positions open and that they would have to compete in a national search to be considered for the tenure track position. Some people in those positions have successfully parlayed their experience into being hired in a tenure track position. Others have been unsuccessful because they were unable to use their experience and knowledge to make the case for their candidacy. Or they were applying for a position for which they really were not suited just because they wanted to work here. So there is absolutely no guarantee and it’s not really a foot in the door. As long as they’re okay with that, I would say go for it.

– Laurie Phillips, Associate Dean for Technical Services, J. Edgar and Louise S. Monroe Library, Loyola University New Orleans

I’m responding anonymously because I know this will make me sound really cranky, but I don’t have time for this sort of thing during my workday. I do freely dispense advice via e-mail, though, and I am happy to have coffee with anyone who’d like to chat about working conditions at my place of employment or the library field in general.

A few tips for the job searcher: Do not be a pest. Be alert to clues that you are taking up too much of your colleague’s time. Don’t ask for information that you should be able to find on your own. Don’t expect special consideration. And offer to pay for the coffee (I won’t let you, but you should offer.)

– Anonymous

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.

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Filed under Further Questions

2 responses to “Further Questions: Would you recommend informational interviews or job shadowing for job seekers–why or why not?

  1. Pingback: Further Questions Questions | Hiring Librarians

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