This anonymous interview is with an academic librarian who has been a hiring manager, a member of a hiring or search committee, and a human resources professional. This person hires the following types of LIS professionals:
ALA accredited only cataloguers, instruction & reference librarians, subject liaisons
This librarian works at a library with 0-10 staff members in an urban area in the UAE.
Approximately how many people applied for the last librarian (or other professional level) job at your workplace?
√ 25 or fewer
Approximately what percentage of those would you say were hirable?
√ 26-50 %
And how would you define “hirable”?
Meets or exceeds the skill sets and qualifications posted. Will fit into our work culture.
How are applications evaluated, and by whom?
Our software weeds the applications that meet the % of keywords we set. Then I pour through the applications. Then I send a copy to each person on the hiring team with a rubric. We meet once to compare rubrics and make the final determination on the tops candidates to invite for interviews.
What is the most common reason for disqualifying an applicant without an interview?
Does not meet the lowest qualifications. No cover letter. Spelling and grammar mistakes. Arrogance and exuding an unearned “I am awesome! entitlement attitude, while not mentioning why they are a good fit for us. Ultimately, that is what we care about- do you understand where you are applying and what position you are applying for AND what do you bring to our already stellar workplace.
Do you (or does your library) give candidates feedback about applications or interview performance?
√ Other: If asked I will give feedback informally and only verbally. Never written and never unsolicited. Ok- I have given gentle unsolicited advice to really newly librarians who were earnest and I knew it would be well received.
What is the most important thing for a job hunter to do in order to improve his/her/their hirability?
Besides the obvious: read the position description. Apply to THAT job. Follow the directions. Proofread.
And most importantly, work on their emotional intelligence and politeness. You may have all the mad skills in the world, but if you are rude to our secretary while being an ass kisser to me- I will never hire you.
I need to know you can pick up on social cues, that you can be professional to people you may not like, that you can handle yourself. I can teach you how to do the technical reference interview- I cannot teach you how to handle a grieving parent looking for headstones, or a mentally ill person looking for the nearest homeless shelter.
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?
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?
No, but it happens in practice.
Is librarianship a dying profession?
Why or why not?
The actual “work’ of librarians is being done by techs. Ref desk, cataloguers, systems librarians: all of these positions can be filled by people with BA’s in computer science, communications, and even English degrees.
Librarians without a subject specialty MA- even in public libraries will go by the wayside. You have to specialize to be recognized and even then the admin will expect you to be able to run the circ desk, hold story time, man the ref hours, and do online assistance.
I have no belief that Librarianship as a profession will be able to hold on. regardless of what all the tattooed spunky hipster librarians think.
We are all replaceable because we have no identity and once the ALA accepts the ridiculous Threshold Concepts- we won’t even be able to hold a conversation in academia without looking like the morons we allowed ourselves to become.
For some context, look at the most recent summary of responses.