Underselling themselves; being too humble

A young person studies a book in a migrant camp library
Image: Arvin camp for migrant workers (Farm Security Administration-FSA) California. Retrieved from NYPL Digital Collections

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for:

√ Other: Federal Libraries

Title: Account Manager

Titles hired include: Metadata librarian, cataloger, project manager, library technician

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ The position’s supervisor

Which of the following does your organization regularly require of candidates?

√ Online application

√ Resume

√ Oral Exam/Structured interview

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ No

Think about the last candidate who really wowed you, on paper, in an interview, or otherwise. Why were they so impressive?

Asked intelligent questions and demonstrated passion for librarianship

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Poor communication / response time

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ We don’t ask for this

Resume: √ As many as it takes, but keep it reasonable and relevant

CV: √ We don’t ask for this

What is the most common mistake that people make in an interview?

Underselling themselves; being too humble

Do you conduct virtual interviews? What do job hunters need to know about shining in this setting?

Test equipment/software in advance; make sure background isn’t distracting (or use software features to obscure background); eliminate background noises such as pets, kids, roommates, construction & appliances

How can candidates looking to transition from paraprofessional work, from non-library work, or between library types convince you that their experience is relevant? Or do you have other advice for folks in this kind of situation?

Just be honest about what attracted you to the library world (maybe it was a friend/relative who works in the field, or you just enjoyed spending time in a library setting in school or taking your kids to one). Soft skills are the most important (library science isn’t rocket science). Skills can be learned on the job; friendliness, reliability, professionalism, work ethic cannot.

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

√ We only discuss after we’ve made an offer

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Northeastern US

What’s your region like?

√ Urban

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Some of the time and/or in some positions

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 101-200

Author’s note: Hey, thanks for reading! If you like reading, why not trying commenting or sharing? Or are you somebody who hires Library, Archives or other LIS workers? Please consider giving your own opinion by filling out the survey here.

1 Comment

Filed under 1 A Return to Hiring Librarians Survey, Federal, Northeastern US, Urban area

One response to “Underselling themselves; being too humble

  1. One Special Librarian

    Doesn’t request a CV and doesn’t mention salary until the offer is made? This has to be a federal contractor as opposed to a federal library – as far as I know the lengthier the better on US federal resumes / CVs and salary band are required to be public


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