What I feel like works against me is that my background for the last 15 years to current, has been a blue collar job (HVAC Operator/Building Automation Specialist).

Michael is an aspiring archivist.  

He is a hopeful jobseeker who is just looking for someone to give him a chance. However, coming from his working background, he is finding it difficult to succeed at gainful and meaningful employment.  

Your Demographics and Search Parameters

How long have you been job hunting?

√ A year to 18 months 

Why are you job hunting?  

√ This is the next step after finishing library/archives/other LIS graduate degree 

Where do you look for open positions?  

LinkedIn, Indeed, Archivesgig, ALA, SAA

What position level are you looking for?  

√ Entry level

√ Other: 1 Year Experience

What type(s) of organization are you looking in? 

√ Academic library

√ Archives 

√ Public library

√ School library

√ Special library 

What part of the world are you in?

√ Southwestern US 

What’s your region like? 

√ Urban area

√ Suburban area 

Are you willing/able to move for employment? 

√ Yes, anywhere 

What are the top three things you’re looking for in a job?

Relating to archives, ability to advance, job willing to invest in certifications

How many jobs have you applied to during your current search? (Please indicate if it’s an estimate or exact)


What steps, actions, or attributes are most important for employers to take to sell you on the job?  

√ Pay well

√ Having (and describing) excellent benefits 

√ Funding professional development 

Do you expect to see the salary range listed in a job ad?

√ No (even if I might think it *should* be) 

Other than not listing a salary range, are there other “red flags” that would prevent you from applying to a job?

When the job is listed on a job-seeking site that is difficult to use and not listed anywhere else.

The Process

How much time do you spend preparing an application packet?

Depends on the job and the applications they use or if they require answers in a questionnaire. 

What are the steps you follow to prepare an application packet?

I read the job description, alter my standard cover letter to match the job in question, then make sure all of my documents are in order.

How do you prefer to communicate with potential employers?

√ No preference 

When would you like potential employers to contact you? 

√ To acknowledge my application

√ To tell me if the search is at the interview stage, even if I have not been selected

√ Once the position has been filled, even if it’s not me 

How long do you expect an organization’s application process to take, from the point you submit your documents to the point of either an offer or rejection?

Within 2-3 weeks of application deadline.

How do you prepare for interviews?

I go over the position listing again, look at the institution’s archive/library page to get an idea of what they do, prepare questions relating to their projects/collections/archives 

What are your most hated interview questions, and why?

I do not really have any hated questions, but I suppose the “5 year plan” question can be annoying, because that is bound to change based on where I will be eventually hired.  How would it look if I answer “I am looking to use your institution as a stepping stone to something better?”  An “honest” answer to this question could make them think “this guy is not going to be here for the long haul.”  Though, to be clear, I’d be very happy to find employment with an institution that has advancement opportunities, and that I could retire from in the future; I do not want to job “hop,” I want stability. 

During your current search, have you had any of the following experiences:

  • Submitted an application and got no response  √ Happened more than once 
  • Had an interview and never heard back  √ Not Applicable
  • Interviewed for a job where an internal candidate was eventually chosen  √ I don’t know 
  • Asked for an accommodation for a disability  √ Not Applicable
  • Withdrawn an application before the offer stage  √ Happened more than once 
  • Turned down an offer √ Happened once 

If you have ever withdrawn an application, why?

The only time I have withdrawn was due to research on the area of employment (have a family with school age kids, so if the area does not have a good school system, or maybe has a high violent crime rate, I have withdrawn).

If you’ve turned down an offer (or offers), why?

Once, because the pay was not even close to what I would consider (the offer was out of state, so in order to actually move, I expect an offer that makes the move worth taking). 

What should employers do to make the hiring process better for job hunters?

Just be as responsive as possible throughout the process.  There is nothing more disappointing than never hearing back that I was not even selected for the initial round of interviews until the position has been filled, especially if it was a position I was really excited about.

You and Your Well-Being

How are you doing, generally?

√ I’m somewhat depressed 

√ I’m frustrated 

√ I feel alone in my search  

What are your job search self-care strategies?

Can’t say I have any.  After I have a promising interview that does not go my way, I tend to feel disheartened and do not even want to look for work for a couple of weeks.

Do you have any advice or words of support you’d like to share with other job hunters, is there anything you’d like to say to employers, or is there anything else you’d like to say about job hunting?

What I feel like works against me is that my background for the last fifteen years to currently, has been a blue collar job (HVAC Operator/Building Automation Specialist).  This has left me without any real day-to-day library experience.  But as the breadwinner for my 4 person family, I cannot start at the lowest level, therefore I cannot apply for “library page” type of work.  So, my advice is, if your current finances/situation allows it, get a job, while in school, in a library (or archive) that has relatable experience to the positions you are going to be applying for.  This is important because many of the jobs out there either require or prefer you have experience using library-related software that you can only gain working in a library.  Sadly, I lack that experience, and I feel that no matter how amiable and outgoing I am during an interview, that lack of experience at the lowest level really works against me, which is really unfortunate because I feel like I can bring something different to a library/archive than most applicants can on average.  

Do you have any comments for Emily (the survey author) or are there any other questions you think we should add to this survey?

No.  This has been a good survey and I think it is important to ask these questions of potential job-seekers.  

Job Hunting Post Graduate School 

If you have an MLIS or other graduate level degree in a LIS field, what year did you graduate? (Or what year do you anticipate graduating?)

Winter 2021

When did you start your first job search for a “professional” position (or other position that utilized your degree)?

√ Other: Got an intern position at the college I work for to satisfy my practicum requirement.  Other than that, directly after I graduated is when I began to seriously look for work.

In relation to your graduation, when did you find your first “professional” position?

√ Hasn’t happened yet – I’m still looking 

What kind of work was your first post-graduation professional position? 

√ N/A – hasn’t happened yet 

Did you get support from your library school for your first job hunt (and/or any subsequent ones)?

No.  And I signed up for career help; never heard back from them.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about searching for or finding your first post-graduation position?

Just that I try and remain hopeful.  I constantly have to tell myself that 11 years of part time coursework (from associate’s degree, to bachelor’s degree, to my master’s) was not a waste of money.  I believe in an education….I just hope that my own children will see first hand that an education can lead to a better life. 

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