Subject Librarians (Research & Instruction)
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?
Approximately what percentage of those would you say were hirable?
√ 25% or less
And how would you define “hirable”?
Met required qualifications for education & experience, showed interest in our specific job & institution (as demonstrated by content of cover letter).
How are applications evaluated, and by whom?
All applications are evaluated by a library search committee (not screened by HR). We do use a standardized rubric regarding required and desirable experience & skills.
What is the most common reason for disqualifying an applicant without an interview?
Lack of compelling relevant experience (when hiring subject librarians in an academic setting, demonstrable subject-area expertise is essential.)
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?
Write an excellent cover letter that clearly describes relevant expertise and interest in our specific job & institution. We receive many letters that are quite generic; although we do understand that the job hunt can be repetitive & arduous, it’s hard to get excited about candidates who don’t seem excited about us.
I want to hire someone who is
a team player.
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 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 advertise positions as “2+ years of professional experience in an academic setting preferred.” We are aware that our institution does not have a particularly strong culture of mentorship, and therefore an experienced candidate is more likely to be successful.
Is librarianship a dying profession?
Why or why not?
I think it’s an evolving profession more than a dying one. I do think that successful candidates must distinguish themselves with special skills or experience, and once hired, must be prepared to do outreach & demonstrate their value. The English majors who just really “love books & helping people” are a dime a dozen, but there are more opportunities for those with specialized subject-area expertise and/or technical (coding, UX, etc) skills.
Do you have any other comments, for job hunters or about the survey?
Proofread all your materials, and then proofread them again. During the initial review of (usually dozens or more) applications, we are looking for a reason to say no to you, so don’t make it easy with a poorly written, generic cover letter.
For some context, look at the most recent summary of responses.