Monthly Archives: May 2015

Children like books a lot and, coincidentally, children are our future.

Fruit and vegetable vendors, Pike Place Market, Seattle, WashingtonThis anonymous interview is with an academic librarian who has been a hiring manager and a member of a hiring or search committee. This person hires the following types of LIS professionals:

Paraprofessionals only

This librarian works at a library with 0-10 staff members in an urban area in the Western 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”?

Meets minimum qualifications; “red flags” not present on application or resume

How are applications evaluated, and by whom?

No weeding by HR, they all come to the committee
We use rubrics

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

Application materials are poorly written

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

√ No

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

Show that you have some knowledge of the organization you are applying to

I want to hire someone who is

cooperative

How many staff members are at your library/organization?

√ 0-10

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

√ 1

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 more positions

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

√ No

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

√ No

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

We don’t require it, but so many experienced people apply that we usually use it as a factor in narrowing down the pool

Is librarianship a dying profession?

√ No

Why or why not?

People in general still like books, though they don’t have as many.
Children like books a lot and, coincidentally, children are our future.
Students still need training in research.
Research databases still need to be procured and managed.
People still need a quiet space where they can read, think, and work.
People still need help finding the resources they need.
Librarians understand how to make all of the functions of a library come together to meet their users’ needs.

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.

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Filed under 0-10 staff members, Academic, State of the Job Market 2015, Urban area, Western US

I am not familiar with the formal process for evaluating candidates prior to inviting them to an interview.

Fish MarketThis 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?

√ Yes

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

passionate

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 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?

√ No

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.

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

Further Questions: What soft skills do you look for in job candidates within librarianship?

This week we asked people who hire librarians

What soft skills do you look for in job candidates within librarianship? How can candidates naturally demonstrate these skills to you? Is it ever appropriate to include them on resumes/CVs? How do you evaluate soft skills?

Jessica OlinMy library is really small, so everyone works at the circulation desk – even me on occasion. So the biggest soft skill I look for is friendliness. Nothing worse than getting up your nerve to go ask for help only to have the person behind the desk breathe fire at you. And it’s simple: does the candidate smile in a genuine way and/or have open body language? Skills and qualifications are uppermost, but between two equally qualified candidates, we hire the friendlier one.
– Jessica Olin, Director of Parker Library, Wesley College

 

For soft skills, the most important ones to me are communication, problem solving and critical thinking. I look for good communication skills during the interview-even nervous candidates can show good communication skills. Does the candidate look at the interviewers, do they speak well (no mumbling!), do they need to be prompted to answer a question more thoroughly? Problem solving is very important-I like a candidate who can think on their feet. It can be woven into the narrative during an interview-usually we’ll ask a question about dealing with an issue and the candidate can show skills there. Critical thinking is sort of nebulous, but I look for candidates who give thoughtful answers and who ask good questions during the interview. I like a good, interactive experience. An interview shouldn’t be one-sided.

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

 

Laurie PhillipsI would say we look for ability to multi-task, deal with stress and conflict in a productive way, solve problems, adapt to change, work easily with others in a team and collaborate. If we address specific skills in the qualifications (which we often do), then yes, address it in the letter, but probably not the resume/CV. Most of these are demonstrated through the questions we ask in the interview, interactions during the interview day, and through the questions we ask of references. That’s a good reason to make sure you choose your references well!

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

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.

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Filed under Further Questions

Information is power and we have it in our hands.

Astor Market - Demonstrating CoffeeThis anonymous interview is with a public librarian who has been a hiring manager and a member of a hiring or search committee. This person hires the following types of LIS professionals:

Children’s Librarians

This librarian works at a library with 50-100 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?

√ 25-75

Approximately what percentage of those would you say were hirable?

√ 25% or less

And how would you define “hirable”?

Has requisite skills and background to suggest they would excel in youth services work.

How are applications evaluated, and by whom?

First pass through is by department manager to winnow the field to no more than 20 candidates to proceed through candidacy process. Essay questions are sent out and graded by the same manager to come up with a pool of 4-10 candidates (if more than 4 candidates, a brief Skype interview is held to produce the final four in-person interviews- done by committee of 3-4 managers). Rubrics are used in all phases of the hiring process – how well does the candidate match what we are asking for?

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

Expertise in areas other than youth services; lack of MLS; candidate produces boilerplate cover letter and resume that doesn’t respond to the specifics of the job posting.

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

√ Yes
√ Other: if asked

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

Research the institution and community to make the case for why your qualifications match our needs..

I want to hire someone who is

outstanding

How many staff members are at your library/organization?

√ 50-100

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

√ 2

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 more positions

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

√ No

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

√ Yes

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

No

Is librarianship a dying profession?

√ No

Why or why not?

Information is power and we have it in our hands. It isn’t just about books but the strength of community partnerships and supporting literacy on all levels for all ages throughout our communities.

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.

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Filed under 50-100 staff members, Midwestern US, Public, State of the Job Market 2015, Urban area

Does not have the requested qualifications or experience.

Push cart market -- New York (LOC) This anonymous interview is with a public librarian who has been a hiring manager. This person hires the following types of LIS professionals:

Deputy Director

This librarian works at a library with 10-50 staff members in a suburban area a 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 %

How are applications evaluated, and by whom?

Rubrics

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

Does not have the requested qualifications or experience.

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

√ No

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

Research the Library

I want to hire someone who is

energetic

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?

√ Other: 0

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

√ Other: 0

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?

√ Yes

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

√ No

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

Yes, MLIS

Is librarianship a dying profession?

√ No

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.

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

However, “experience” to us can mean internship/volunteer experience obtained as a student.

Young boy tending freshly stocked fruit and vegetable stand at Center Market, 02181915This anonymous interview is with an academic librarian who has been a hiring manager and a member of a hiring or search committee. This person hires the following types of LIS professionals:

Subject librarians

This librarian works at a library with 100-200 staff members in an urban area in the Western US.

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

√ 25-75

Approximately what percentage of those would you say were hirable?

√ 25% or less

And how would you define “hirable”?

If they met the minimum qualifications, and a majority of the desired qualifications.

How are applications evaluated, and by whom?

All applications evaluated and scored by entire committee. Committee members develop and use the same rubric.

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

Didn’t fully articulate how they met/exceeded the qualifications.

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

√ No

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

They need to write thorough letter, fully addressing their qualifications as stated in the advertisement.

I want to hire someone who is

exceptional

How many staff members are at your library/organization?

√ 100-200

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

√ 2

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

√ 3-4

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

√ There are fewer positions

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

√ No

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

√ No

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

Sort of. It is always in the desired qualifications, so people with experience will end up scoring higher than inexperienced applicants. However, “experience” to us can mean internship/volunteer experience obtained as a student.

Is librarianship a dying profession?

√ No

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.

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Filed under 200+ staff members, Academic, State of the Job Market 2015, Urban area, Western US

I think it’s more important to get the best candidates to accept the job

The Young People's Librarian, 1938 This anonymous interview is with a job hunter who is currently employed (even if part-time or in an unrelated field), has not been hired within the last two months, and has been looking for a new position for six months to a year. This person is looking in Academic libraries, at the following levels: Entry level, Requiring at least two years of experience. This new grad/entry level applicant has internship/volunteering experience:

I’ve been at my current place of work almost three years, and though I was originally not hired in a library role, I’ve had increasing library responsibilities (and have been the sole librarian at the institution for the last two years). It’s been one year since I earned my MLIS.

This job hunter is in an urban area, in the Northeastern US and is willing to move anywhere that doesn’t get too much snow!.

What are the top three things you’re looking for in a job?

A place where I can learn and grow (and am given support and the budget to do so)
A place that lets me be autonomous, take risks, and if necessary, to change things up
A competitive salary in a place that doesn’t get too cold!

Where do you look for open positions?

Professional listservs, primarily. Sometimes ALA Joblist or INALJ.

Do you expect to see salary range listed in a job ad?

√ No (even if I might think it *should* be)

What’s your routine for preparing an application packet? How much time do you spend on it?

If I’ve applied for similar positions before (and since I’m looking for specific types of positions, I probably have), I don’t spend more than a couple of hours on the application packet. I first visit the website to learn a little more about the institution, looking especially for the mission statement of the institution and the library. Then I take a cover letter or two from a similar job posting, and rework it so that it speaks to the specific job description and institution. I then fill out all aspects of the application and look over my resume to make sure nothing needs to be added/changed/removed.

I honestly don’t spend too much time researching the institution before applying, because in my experience, I don’t get an interview for a majority of the places I send an application packet. I do a lot more research about the institution before a phone interview, and even more than that if I get an in-person interview.

Have you ever stretched the truth, exaggerated, or lied on your resume, or at some other point during the hiring process?

√ Other: I might gloss over things or be vague, but it mak [text stops here]

When would you like employers to contact you?

√ To acknowledge my application
√ To tell me if I have or have not been selected to move on to the interview stage
√ To follow-up after an interview
√ Once the position has been filled, even if it’s not me
√ Other:  I don’t expect to be notified if I haven’t moved on to a first interview. But once I’ve been interviewed, I expect to be kept in the loop, no matter whether or not I’m progressing.

How do you prefer to communicate with potential employers?

√ Email

Which events during the interview/visit are most important to your assessment of the position (i.e. deciding if you want the job)?

√ Tour of facility
√ Meeting department members/potential co-workers
√ Meeting with HR to talk about benefits/salary

What do you think employers should do to get the best candidates to apply?

Widely advertise the job, I guess. I think it’s more important to get the best candidates to accept the job, which can be done by really making them feel welcome during the interview and by showing them why the institution would be a great place to work. And then of course, once you make the offer, be sure that the salary and benefits are competitive (or at least not insulting given the librarian’s qualifications).

What should employers do to make the hiring process less painful?

Be up front about salary and other benefits. It can save us both from wasting time.

What do you think is the secret to getting hired?

Still trying to figure this out!

For some context, take a look at the most recently published summary of responses.

Are you hunting for a new LIS job? Take the survey! http://tinyurl.com/hiringlibJOBHUNTERsurvey

This survey was co-authored by Naomi House from I Need A Library Job – Do you need one?  Check it out!

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Filed under Academic, Job hunter's survey, Northeastern US, Urban area