Don’t go into a detailed skills list for jobs you’ve had that have no relevance.

View of street vendors at 7th and B Streets, NW (Ca. 1880) MarketThis 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:

catalogers, electronic resources managers, subject liaisons/subject research instruction, reference.

This librarian works at a library with 10-50 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”?

Meeting minimal qualifications

How are applications evaluated, and by whom?

HR dept screens for meeting basic requirement(s) (e.g. has the appropriate academic degree)
Library Dean & Dept. head review the candidates and preselect those with the credentials/skills that most closely match the position to narrow the list to about 25. That list with the applicant’s submissions is reviewed by the search committee. The committee recommends 6 or 7 candidates to interview.

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

The applicant didn’t respond to the job description/list of qualifications needed, they sent a generic resume.

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?

Only apply to positions for which they are qualified or have a strong interest in developing skills to be successful in that job.

I want to hire someone who is

goal oriented

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?

√ 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?

√ 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 have entry level positions, but are flexible in the type of experience needed to meet our needs. Often non-library experience, both paid and volunteer, will transfer well into a position and fill the skills base we’re looking for.

Is librarianship a dying profession?

√ No

Why or why not?

There is always a need for organizing, preserving, aggregating information and helping or teaching others how to retrieve it. That’s especially true in our information clogged world. The titles may change, but the skills are needed.

Do you have any other comments, for job hunters or about the survey?

Even though it’s time intensive, tailor each application/cover letter/resume to address the qualifications needed by the place doing the hiring. Tell them how you will fit into their workplace and into that particular position.
Don’t go into a detailed skills list for jobs you’ve had that have no relevance. E.g. List the job title, but don’t give a list of all the duties for that accounting job if you’re applying for an online reference position. It just clutters up the resume.

Do you hire librarians?  Take this survey: 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, State of the Job Market 2015, Urban area, Western US

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