Further Questions: Does it matter when in the process an applicant applies?

This week we asked people who hire librarians

Does it matter when in the process an applicant applies? That is, do you accept applications on a rolling basis, select a quota, and work from there? Or are applications set aside until a deadline and reviewed all at once? Do you use the same approach for all positions, or are professional versus paraprofessional treated differently in this regard?

Laurie Phillips

For our library faculty positions, we have a closing date and that is firm. It doesn’t matter when someone applies during the open period, but we firmly close on the closing date. We have to file a search plan with Academic Affairs, so all of the dates for review of applications, phone/Skype interviews, and campus interviews are set from the beginning. For paraprofessional positions, we accept applications on a rolling basis, review applications as we go, and interview once we have a group of candidates we’re interested in.
– Laurie Phillips, Associate Dean for Technical Services, J. Edgar & Louise S. Monroe Library, Loyola University New Orleans

Celia RabinowitzVery often an academic institution has a policy for faculty (MLS librarians) positions which uses a rolling acceptance until the position is filled.  That might also be accompanied by a date for beginning review of applications which I find useful. Most search committees will wait until that deadline to begin reviewing applications. Before each decision point (for narrowing the initial pool, before phone interviews, and before campus interviews) newly arrived applications should be reviewed.  One of my best hires came from an application that arrived after we had already been through two rounds of unsuccessful campus visits.  I was very glad that we were still accepting applications on a rolling basis.  Sometimes a really great application arrives so late in the process that it is difficult to find a way to fit that person in, but the rolling acceptance approach can work well.

This same approach is used for non-MLS positions, but if the search is only advertised locally the bulk of applications usually arrives very quickly and tapers off.  Also – the time frame for searches for non-MLS positions is much shorter so search committees work more quickly and applications which arrive after the search is well under way are considered but may end up in a back-up pool if candidates have already been selected for interviews.

– Celia Rabinowitz,  Dean of Mason Library at Keene State College in Keene, NH

Jessica OlinSo long as someone applies before the deadline, it works for us. I tend not to look at the applicant pool until after the deadline, anyway, although I know other people who look at them as they come in. It’s more a factor of how busy I am than anything about the positions themselves. Having said that, I’m usually more forgiving when I first start reviewing applications than when I finish, and I do try to review them in chronological order from earliest submissions to latest, so it doesn’t hurt to get your application materials in early.

– Jessica Olin, Director of Parker Library, Wesley College

J. McRee ElrodWhen an applicant applies doe not matter to us.  A cataloguer may depart at any time.

If applying for a professional entry level position, just after library school graduation might not be the best time.


– J. McRee (Mac) Elrod, Special Libraries Catalouging




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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1 Comment

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One response to “Further Questions: Does it matter when in the process an applicant applies?

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

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