Further Questions: What are the biggest mistakes you’ve made while job searching?

This week we asked people who hire librarians

What are the biggest mistakes you’ve made while job searching? And what (if anything) led you to those things, and how did you figure out you should do things differently?

Samantha Thompson-FranklinI would say the biggest mistake I once made was not to address all of the points listed under required qualifications in the job ad in my cover letter and resume. I believe that it caused me not to get an interview for the position. So I always stress to job candidates to make sure that they address all of the points listed in the ad, especially those that are required, and in turn, I always make sure that when I am on a search committee, I check applications received to make sure that they have taken the time to acknowledge the qualifications we are looking for in the position. The person doesn’t have to have all of the qualifications, but must at least make reference to them in their cover letter and/or resume.

– Samantha Thompson-Franklin, Associate Professor/Collections & Acquisitions Librarian, Lewis-Clark State College Library

There are two things that stick out in my memory:
1. Not verifying the kind of position it was. I once applied for what seemed like a general public service librarian position, but when I got to the interview, I discovered it was for a children’s librarian position. I’m definitely not a children’s librarian, so it was a waste of my and the interview committee’s time. Although the job description didn’t include that info, I should have asked when they contacted me for the interview.
2. This was after I was offered a position: I should have asked if the salary was negotiable. Most of the time it isn’t, but it’s always smart to ask. I was raised to believe you never do that, but my attitude has evolved on that one, especially when I was told once when I accepted a job that I could have asked for more. Just be polite when you ask.
– Margaret M. Neill, Main Library Manager, El Paso Public Library

Marleah AugustineNot being prepared, and not tailoring my skillset to the particular job description. And it was truly trial by fire — after an interview that did not go well for those reasons, I learned quickly that I would have had better answers had I gone through the “required skills” section and identified specific examples of how I would meet those expectations. Often times we vaguely understand how we would answer interview questions, but it’s important to have specific instances ready to go.

I think interviewees also need to really assess whether the job they are applying for is the job they want. It’s easy to see a salary amount or location that is appealing, but you have to look at whether you think you’d be happy in that particular organization, in that particular position. Don’t get caught up in what’s just in front of you.

– Marleah Augustine, Adult Department Librarian at Hays Public Library

angelynn kingI think the biggest mistake I’ve made on the job market is privileging the place over the work. When you’re searching nationally, there is a lot of fantasy about what your life might be like in a different location, and that’s natural. But you’ll be miserable anywhere if you don’t really like what you’re doing (and the people you’re doing it with) on a day-to-day basis. I’ve been lucky enough to end up in jobs that were good fits, but I’ve had some really uncomfortable interviews that probably could have been avoided if both sides had not indulged in quite so much wishful thinking.

– Angelynn King, Head Librarian, Delaware Technical Community College, Owens Campus

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.

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Filed under Further Questions

2 responses to “Further Questions: What are the biggest mistakes you’ve made while job searching?

  1. Paulina

    Margaret, you did nothing wrong! A job posting that you can’t tell is for a children’s librarian must be terribly terribly badly written. (And they interviewed you even though I assume you mentioned nothing about children’s librarianship in your application? That’s on them.)


  2. Pingback: Return to Further Questions Questions | Hiring Librarians

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