You have to know yourself before you know what you’re looking for

A graduate of Kenyon College and Case Western Reserve University, Joan Baldwin is Curator of Special Collections for The Hotchkiss School where she works under the umbrella of the School’s Library. In 2020/21 she served as its Interim Director, serving as point person during the search for a new director. 

The co-author of Leadership Matters: Leading Museums in the Age of Discord, and Women and Museums: Lessons from the Workplace, she has spent her career in the museums,museum service organizations and libraries. 

Briefly describe the hiring process at your organization and your role in it:

Either as lead or as a team member craft job description, develop questions, participate in interviews. 

Titles hired include: Director, cataloguer, Circulation desk

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ HR

√ Library Administration

√ A Committee or panel

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

√ Online application

√ Cover letter

√ Resume

√ CV

√ References

√ Proof of degree

√ Supplemental Questions

√ Demonstration (teaching, storytime, etc)

√ More than one round of interviews

√ A meal with hiring personnel 

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?

Paper can be deceptive. Interviewing is a dialogue and sometimes what seems like perfection on paper falls apart in conversation. 

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Someone who says they won’t or can’t do tasks everyone is asked to do. 

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ Only One!

Resume: √ Two is ok, but no more  

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

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

They are too buttoned up and give pat answers or they don’t ask the kind of questions that make you think they care about your organization. 

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

Only during Covid. Make sure your IT works. Don’t carry your phone around the room. Your interviewers will feel dizzy.

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?

Concentrate on skills learned and qualities developed. Demonstrate some humility. The fact that you love books isn’t enough. Are you a good team player? Do you like people, college students or teens or whoever the organization defines as its audience? Enough to deal with them on their worst day?

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

√ We only discuss after we’ve made an offer

What does your organization do to reduce bias in hiring? What are the contexts in which discrimination still exists in this process?

Names are removed in first reading so resumes are read blind. They pronouns used. DEI program part of every interview and much more.

What questions should candidates ask you? What is important for them to know about your organization and the position you are hiring for?

Too often candidates either ask questions based on minutiae on our website rather than questions about how things actually happen—like how ideas develop.

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Northeastern US

What’s your region like?

√ Rural

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Never or not anymore

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 0-10

Note: although as an academic library we are part of a faculty/staff of 500+

Is there anything else you’d like to say, either to job hunters or to me, the survey author? 

You have to know yourself before you know what you’re looking for.

Author’s note: Hey, thanks for reading! If you like reading, why not try 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.

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Filed under 0-10 staff members, Academic, Northeastern US, Rural area

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