The less you need the job, the more likely you are to be hired.

Housewives league at Wash. MarketThis anonymous interview is with a public librarian who has been a hiring manager and a member of a hiring or search committee, a human resources professional, library director, mentor, and someone who has recently been hired and hired others. This person hires the following types of LIS professionals:

All types, including reference/information professionals

This librarian works at a library with 10-50 staff members in an area that is a mix of rural and factory town in the Midwestern US.

Approximately how many people applied for the last librarian (or other professional level) job at your workplace?

√ 25 or fewer

Approximately what percentage of those would you say were hirable?

√ 25% or less

And how would you define “hirable”?

Qualified to do the job as described with nothing more than specific location training.

How are applications evaluated, and by whom?

The applications were evaluated by the Library Director, the assistant director, a staff person in the department, and an outside party who would be working regularly in the department.

What is the most common reason for disqualifying an applicant without an interview?

Lack of qualifications. The “I like books and kids, I can do that job” mentality.

Do you (or does your library) give candidates feedback about applications or interview performance?

√ Other: If asked.

What is the most important thing for a job hunter to do in order to improve his/her/their hirability?

Be qualified for the job you are applying for–read the description, learn about the area and the library to which you are seeking employment. Be as picky as you can. If you apply to a place where you don’t want to go–it shows. If you have personal baggage from a previous position still are tough about it–it shows.

I can’t fix that in an applicant.

I hate to write this, but the less you need the job, the more likely you are to be hired.

This means: operate from a position of strength, try and be at least OK with you current situation, be confident in your answers, even if you think that is not what the interviewer wants to hear.

I want to hire someone who is


How many staff members are at your library/organization?

√ 10-50

How many permanent, full time librarian (or other professional level) jobs has your workplace posted in the last year?

√ 3-4

How many permanent, full time para-professional (or other non-professional level) jobs has your workplace posted in the last year?

√ 2

Can you tell us how the number of permanent, full-time librarian positions at your workplace has changed over the past decade?

√ There are the same number of positions

Have any full-time librarian positions been replaced with part-time or hourly workers over the past decade?

√ Other: 5-6

Have any full-time librarian positions been replaced with para-professional workers over the past decade?

√ Other: 1-2

Does your workplace require experience for entry-level professional positions? If so, is it an official requirement or just what happens in practice?

No. And getting education on the job can be an issue.

Is librarianship a dying profession?

√ No

Why or why not?

Because the profession is dynamic, and is more about the contents of the materials that the materials themselves. As the profession changes–learns the vocabulary of the age it was waiting for–we will be the curators and the information keepers and navigators for future generations who don’t understand how the best tools for their tasks are created, let alone where they are located.

That is what we do.

Do you hire librarians?  Take this survey: or take other Hiring Librarians surveys.

For some context, look at the most recent summary of responses.

1 Comment

Filed under 10-50 staff members, Midwestern US, Public, Rural area, State of the Job Market 2015

One response to “The less you need the job, the more likely you are to be hired.

  1. “I hate to write this, but the less you need the job, the more likely you are to be hired.” My 8 years of experience, including building outreach programs, reference librarianship, presenting at conferences, publishing, and education are not enough. My desire to be gainfully employed in a profession I previously loved and believed was dedicated to furthering education, as well as pay for medication and housing are negatives rather than positives in this profession. Librarianship used to be something to aspire toward. I’m grateful to be changing careers, heading into a profession where I will be able to further the education of disenfranchised populations and know that I am helping those in need.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.