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:
Currently trying to get positions approved for subject liaisons, technology librarians, paraprofessionals in cataloging and metadata management.
This librarian works at a library with 10-50 staff members in a suburban area in the Western US.
Approximately how many people applied for the last librarian (or other professional level) job at your workplace?
Approximately what percentage of those would you say were hirable?
√ 25% or less
And how would you define “hirable”?
Shows promise in fulfilling the job duties of the position s/he is applying for, shows evidence of commitment to the profession, i.e. involvement in associations, publishing, or other activities that go beyond just work experience.
How are applications evaluated, and by whom?
Sometimes HR will weed out any that don’t fulfill the educational requirements, otherwise we get most applications. We have rubrics and applications are reviewed by all members of a committee (normally with three members)
What is the most common reason for disqualifying an applicant without an interview?
Another candidate had more evidence of experience and/or professional development involvement
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?
Make achievement based resumes, be smart about applying specifically to the job that is advertised (we can tell when it’s a standard resume and it pushes the candidate further down the list).
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?
√ Other: only posted part time
How many permanent, full time para-professional (or other non-professional level) jobs has your workplace posted in the last year?
√ Other: none
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?
Have any full-time librarian positions been replaced with para-professional workers over the past decade?
Does your workplace require experience for entry-level professional positions? If so, is it an official requirement or just what happens in practice?
We generally put specific experience requirements under “preferred” qualifications, especially in the case of an entry-level professional position.
Is librarianship a dying profession?
√ Other: it depends
Why or why not?
If we continue to recruit for old positions like reference and instruction and don’t rethink what we’re doing as a profession, yes, it’s dying. Things like search engine optimization, taxonomy, scholarly communication, library as the publisher, are potential avenues to rethinking what the library does. A lot of institutions aren’t innovating fast enough strategically and technologically, so it is easy to make the library a target for budget cuts.
Do you have any other comments, for job hunters or about the survey?
I have a part-time librarian who works for me and she is so intelligent and socially savvy, but just doesn’t have a resume that supports her abilities. It’s SO important to have a strong resume that is written for the position – it’s even more important to get involved in professional development opportunities if you are interested in academic librarianship. I ran an interest group and was in the process of publishing while trying to get my first professional job right out of grad school and I honestly believe that these experiences got me a lot more interviews and made me much more marketable than just work experience alone.
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.
One response to “she is so intelligent and socially savvy, but just doesn’t have a resume that supports her abilities.”
“It’s SO important to have a strong resume that is written for the position – it’s even more important to get involved in professional development opportunities if you are interested in academic librarianship.”
If you are “allowed”. It’s all politics and games in academia.