This anonymous interview is with an academic librarian who has been a member of a hiring or search committee. This person hires the following types of LIS professionals:
Subject librarians, cataloging librarians, administrative librarians, student workers (I have not been directly involved with the hiring process for all of these types of positions)
This librarian works at a library with 10-50 staff members in an urban area 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?
√ 51-75 %
And how would you define “hirable”?
I would define “hirable” as having at least a basic understanding of the library’s mission, including the populations it serves, and a willingness to build on current skills and experiences related to the position, including learning new skills, when necessary. I would add that a candidate should be reliable, particularly in showing up on time and completing assigned tasks, and that a candidate should also be able and willing to interact with many different personality types, among both staff and customers.
How are applications evaluated, and by whom?
Since I have been involved with only the interview itself, I am not familiar with the formal process for evaluating candidates prior to inviting them to an interview. I do know that the human resources department at my institution verifies the information on the official application at some point during the search process (perhaps after a candidate has been formally recommended to fill a position, following the initial evaluation and the interview).
What is the most common reason for disqualifying an applicant without an interview?
Again, I can only speculate, but I imagine it would be due to a serious error or omission on the application or a complete lack of experience related to the position. Also, if a candidate is contacted for additional information after submitting the application, and that individual does not respond or provides incomplete or inaccurate information, I would guess that this will at least decrease the individual’s chances of being invited to an interview.
Do you (or does your library) give candidates feedback about applications or interview performance?
What is the most important thing for a job hunter to do in order to improve his/her/their hirability?
In the cover letter, a candidate needs to emphasize the particular skills or experiences that would be most relevant to the position (rather than simply rehashing the information in the resume). A candidate also needs to display a genuine interest not just in the position itself, but in the mission of the larger organization and helping that organization achieve its mission.
I want to hire someone who is
How many staff members are at your library/organization?
How many permanent, full time librarian (or other professional level) jobs has your workplace posted in the last year?
How many permanent, full time para-professional (or other non-professional level) jobs has your workplace posted in the last year?
Can you tell us how the number of permanent, full-time librarian positions at your workplace has changed over the past decade?
√ There are more positions
Have any full-time librarian positions been replaced with part-time or hourly workers over the past decade?
√ I don’t know
Have any full-time librarian positions been replaced with para-professional workers over the past decade?
√ I don’t know
Does your workplace require experience for entry-level professional positions? If so, is it an official requirement or just what happens in practice?
I am not familiar with any official requirement for prior experience for entry-level professional positions. The expectation is that the candidate will have completed the requisite degree (in the case of a professional librarian position, a master’s in that area) and will have at least a general understanding of the issues and technology related to the position, even if she or he does not actually have experience with the responsibilities of that particular position.
Is librarianship a dying profession?
Why or why not?
As long as there is specialized knowledge that cannot be retrieved solely from a Google search, and as long as that knowledge has to be applied to schoolwork, a job, or another activity requiring accurate information, libraries will continue to be relevant, at the very least as “gatekeepers” of information. How large of a role libraries continue to play will depend on their willingness to adapt, and, more importantly, their ability to match resources and programs with the changing needs of users.
Do you have any other comments, for job hunters or about the survey?
Job hunters need to be willing to apply for positions that require taking some risks, as far as learning new skills and gaining new experiences. One cannot expect to find a “perfect” match, particularly in a profession as fluid as librarianship.
Do you hire librarians? Take this survey: http://tinyurl.com/hiringlibjobmarketsurvey or take other Hiring Librarians surveys.
For some context, look at the most recent summary of responses.