Post salary expectations (and then increase them!)

Andrew Harman is a Certified Archivist from Orange, California and historian with degrees from Chapman University. After student work in Chapman’s special collections and archives, he earned certifications through the Society of American Archivists and the Society of California Archivists and returned to Chapman to steward two collections in the library’s special collections. Lacking an MLIS, Andrew has utilized other means of professional educational resources to advance his professional knowledge and hiring potential. 

Your Demographics and Search Parameters

How long have you been job hunting?

√ More than 18 months (selectively)

Why are you job hunting?  

√ Looking for more money

√ Looking for a promotion/more responsibility 

√ Other: Issues with current workplace

Where do you look for open positions?, SAA listservs

What position level are you looking for?  

√ Supervisory

√ Department Head 

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

√ Academic library

√ Archives 

What part of the world are you in?

√ Southwestern US 

What’s your region like? 

√ Suburban area 

Are you willing/able to move for employment? 

√ Yes, anywhere 

√ Yes, within my country 

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

Compensation, culture, work environment

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

Approximately 60

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 

√ Prioritizing work-life balance

√ Other: Culture; giving a sense of the type of work environment

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

√ Yes, and it’s a red flag when it’s not 

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

Unrealistic requirements for low pay, i.e. MLIS + loads of experience for a low title/pay/etc.

The Process

How much time do you spend preparing an application packet?

Not much; I have materials ready, i.e. general cover letter and CV, just providing some alterations to certain areas to be position-specific.

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

Add or edit cover letter template and CV for the specific job.

How do you prefer to communicate with potential employers?

√ Email 

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?

Two-three months. One month to ingest applications, one week to look over, one week to set up initial/phone interviews, one week to set up first round in-person/zoom interviews, one-two weeks for second round interviews, and maybe a week for finals or offers/rejections. Any org. that is serious about the hiring process should be reviewing applications either on a rolling basis or as a batch at the end of closing the posting and setting aside other duties to get that done in a day or two and move on to next steps.

How do you prepare for interviews?

Review articles on interview questions, best interview practices, etc. Review my own materials, accomplishments, CV and cover letter, etc. Research the organization, their history, their staff, the people with whom I would be working, etc.

What are your most hated interview questions, and why?

Name a time you encountered a problem/conflict/etc.  These questions test more of a person’s ability to act or massage the truth than it does actually getting at someone’s experience. More general questions are helpful, but asking to recount a specific event and make yourself come off well is a waste of time.

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

  • Submitted an application and got no response  √ Happened the majority of the time or always  
  • Had an interview and never heard back  √ Happened more than once 
  • 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 once 
  • Turned down an offer √ Happened once  

If you have ever withdrawn an application, why?

Location and type of work environment. Upon further reflection, the pay wasn’t right for the location and the work was confidential and I would rather be in an open environment.

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

Compensation. I countered, but they could not get close to what I expected for even living costs. Most positions in archives and libraries, non-governmental, are wildly underpaid for a single-person income. 

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

Post salary expectations (and then increase them!) and communicate!

You and Your Well-Being

How are you doing, generally?

√ I’m optimistic 

√ I’m somewhat depressed

√ I’m despondent

√ I’m frustrated 

√ I feel alone in my search 

What are your job search self-care strategies?

None. Do it as infrequently as possible while still getting my CV out there.

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?

Most employers do some calculation on cost of living for a couple or family and use the low end number to apply it to these positions. If the position requires a graduate degree plus more than two years experience, a single person should be able to live alone comfortably, period. Take whatever number you have and add 15 percent to it and you might be close to what these professionals deserve.

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

Thank you for doing this and I hope you get this out to employers in every way possible. I am of the belief that compensation in these fields, both libraries and archives, is in a sad state and not at all keeping up with inflation and housing.

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?)

MA History, 2016

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

√ Six months before graduating with my MLIS/other LIS degree 

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

√ A year to 18 months after graduating 

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

√ Part Time

√ Contract

√ Temporary/Limited Term 

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


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

Got lucky; I was contacted by my former supervisor from my student position for a temp opening.


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Filed under 2023 Job Hunter's Survey

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