Richard Bee was born and raised in rural Manitoba. He began his librarian career working at a local university library for over a decade, then went to pursue his MLIS from the University of Alberta. Upon graduating in 2017 with his MLIS, he has worked three public library management jobs throughout Canada, two of which were maternity leave contract positions.
Your Demographics and Search Parameters
How long have you been job hunting?
√ Less than six months
Why are you job hunting?
√ I’m unemployed
Where do you look for open positions?
Partnerships Job Board; University of Toronto iSchool Job Board; local and regional job boards
What position level are you looking for?
√ Department Head
√ Senior Librarian
√ Branch Manager
What type(s) of organization are you looking in?
√ Academic library
√ Public library
What part of the world are you in?
What’s your region like?
√ Urban area
√ Rural area
Are you willing/able to move for employment?
√ Other: I am able to move, but I am trying to stay where I currently am due to personal reasons
What are the top three things you’re looking for in a job?
Competent management and governance; salary that will allow me to comfortably support myself; professional fulfillment
How many jobs have you applied to during your current search? (Please indicate if it’s an estimate or exact)
To date: 5 in total
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
√ Having a good reputation
√ Prioritizing work-life balance
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?
Poorly worded and vague job descriptions; lots of jargon and ‘business speak’ used in the posting
How much time do you spend preparing an application packet?
Depends on the type of job and if I have previously applied for a similar position before, but I would say an average minimum preparation time is 1 hour
What are the steps you follow to prepare an application packet?
I first review the job posting and find the specific details about expectations and qualifications. I then look through my current resume to see if it reflects that I possess those qualifications and modify the resume accordingly. After that I then work on the cover letter, where I emphasize the specific knowledge and experiences I possess that I believe are most applicable to the position I am applying for.
How do you prefer to communicate with potential employers?
When would you like potential employers to contact you?
√ To acknowledge my application
√ 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?
3 weeks maximum
How do you prepare for interviews?
I research the organization and find important information (i.e. mission statement, strategic plan, annual reports) to study, which is particularly important if the interview requires doing a presentation, (which I have done twice for job interviews). I then review the qualifications of the posting to determine which are the priority ones that may be the focus of the interview, and whether I need to refresh myself on terminology and concepts for the position that I may be ‘rusty’ on or do not possess much current familiarity with.
What are your most hated interview questions, and why?
I used to hate the standard ‘tell us about a time you faced a difficult situation at work’, but having worked in public libraries for several years I now have quite a few experiences to pick from to answer that question very thoroughly!
During your current search, have you had any of the following experiences:
- Submitted an application and got no response √ I don’t know
- Had an interview and never heard back √ I don’t know
- Interviewed for a job where an internal candidate was eventually chosen √ Happened once
- Asked for an accommodation for a disability √ Not Applicable
- Withdrawn an application before the offer stage √ Not Applicable
- Turned down an offer √ Not Applicable
If you want to share a great, inspirational, funny, horrific or other story about an experience you have had at any stage in the hiring process, please do so here:
After I had graduated with my MLIS, I was applying for as many jobs as possible. One position I applied for was for a permanent public library branch manager position in rural Canada (in a Prairie province, which is kind of like the American Midwest I think?). I had no public library experience at this point, and no personal desire to work in public libraries, but I figured ‘Hey, why not apply? I might get an interview experience out of this if I do’ and I sent the application.
Well lo and behold I receive an email back asking for an interview. We set up a time and day for the interview (which was held over Skype), and on the day of the interview it was myself and two Board members of the public library conducting the interview. The interview goes fairly well and they let me know they’ll contact me within the week about the decision.
A few days later I receive a phone call from one of the Board members. She tells me they want to hire me, but asks if I would actually be willing to accept the position as a 1 year contract instead of as permanent. According to her, they wanted to give a current staff member, who had just left on maternity leave, an opportunity to apply for the position. I thought that was pretty considerate of the Board, and given the fact that I wasn’t certain if I wanted to work in a public library job, I accepted the position as a 1 year contract instead of as permanent (I then signed a contract a month later for a 1 year position).
Fast forward several months, and a different staff member and I are talking about the position of the person who supposedly didn’t get a chance to apply. During the conversation, it is revealed that not only did the person apply for the position, they in fact actually got the job. I then spoke with this person (she came into the library quite a bit to visit staff and for personal use, and the two of us got along quite well), and we discovered that the Board member who offered me the job not only lied to me about her not getting a chance to apply, this Board member also told her that I would just move into her old position once my contract was done (her position was unionized btw and the branch manager position was out of scope), which was something I never agreed to do or had even been asked about.
So my first ever post-MLIS job ended up being a maternity leave coverage in disguise…
What should employers do to make the hiring process better for job hunters?
Be open and forthright with interviewees throughout the application and interview process; let interviewees know about the outcome of the position regardless of whether they got the job or not.
You and Your Well-Being
How are you doing, generally?
√ I’m somewhat depressed
√ I feel alone in my search
What are your job search self-care strategies?
Mostly unhealthy ones, like being on YouTube a bunch or playing video games for hours on end, but I do hang out with friends nearly every weekend, so that is at least a healthy bit of self-care.
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?
To job hunters: make sure to save job postings you applied to, both so you have it available while preparing for a potential interview and to have for future comparison to other jobs you might apply for.
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 taking the time to create this survey. I hope the results will be helpful for future job hunters, and that you’re able to get a rich set of data to analyze!
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?)
When did you start your first job search for a “professional” position (or other position that utilized your degree)?
√ After graduating with my MLIS/other LIS degree
In relation to your graduation, when did you find your first “professional” position?
√ Less than six months after graduating
What kind of work was your first post-graduation professional position?
√ Full Time
Did you get support from your library school for your first job hunt (and/or any subsequent ones)?
There were some job hunting workshops available through my school and the local student chapter of CAPAL if I remember correct.
Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about searching for or finding your first post-graduation position?
If you’re able to move, then be prepared physically and mentally to move far away in order to get your first professional job.