“If I put out my feelers and your administration is known to be toxic on the whisper network, I won’t apply.”

Hunting Party at Norderhamn beach near the Cave of Stora Förvar, Stora Karlsö, Gotland, Sweden
Hunting Party at Norderhamn beach near the Cave of Stora Förvar, Stora Karlsö, Gotland, Sweden

Please note: this is an anonymous response to an online survey; I do not have any way of contacting the respondent or verifying responses. Their answers may reflect good, bad, or middling job searching practices. I invite you to take what’s useful and leave the rest.

Your Demographics and Search Parameters

How long have you been job hunting?

√ Less than six months 

Why are you job hunting?  

√ Looking for a promotion/more responsibility 

√ My current job is awful/toxic 

√ Because I reassessed my priorities after COVID

√ Other: I want to work somewhere that administration actually cares about serving students and the wellbeing of employees instead of feathering their caps on our backbreaking labor so they can get promoted. 

Where do you look for open positions?  

INALJ, ALA Joblist, Chronicle, Inside higher Ed

What position level are you looking for?  

√ Department Head

√ Senior Librarian 

√ Director/Dean 

√ Other: Associate dean/assoc director, also looking for LIS program teaching positions

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

√ Academic library 

√ Other: SLIS programs

What part of the world are you in?

√ Western US (including Pacific Northwest) 

What’s your region like? 

√ Suburban area 

Are you willing/able to move for employment? 

√ Yes, anywhere  

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 

√ Introducing me to staff

√ Having a good reputation 

√ Prioritizing work-life balance

√ Other: I want to hear from staff how they feel about working there.

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?

 The Library world is small. If I put out my feelers and your administration is known to be toxic on the whisper network, I won’t apply.

The Process

How much time do you spend preparing an application packet?

4-5 hours per job

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

Draft cover letter specific to ad, refresh librarianship and diversity statements, confirm with my references

How do you prefer to communicate with potential employers?

√ Phone for good news, email for bad news 

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?

Higher ed is a morass, I figure if I havent heard anything after 5-6 months, that they hired someone else. 

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  √ 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 more than once
  • Turned down an offer √ Happened more than once

If you have ever withdrawn an application, why?

Yes, but only because I took another job

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

I’ve turned down an offer that wouldnt bargain to compete with another offer I had in hand 

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:

Shoutout to the place where, when my disease landed me in the hospital on the morning I was to fly out, was exceedingly kind when I called in a panic from my hospital bed to apologize for wasting their time and plane ticket.

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

Keep us informed of steps, if there’s a delay due to a chill, please have HR send a note

You and Your Well-Being

How are you doing, generally?

√ I’m maintaining 

√ Other: Maintaining. I’m saving up for a full-bore search, right now only applying to very attractive options I wouldn’t turn down based on job description and salary

What are your job search self-care strategies?

My major strategy is to never get my hopes up, ever, until an offer is made.

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?

You’re not alone; don’t limit yourself to libraries, your skills & talents are enormous and flexible; as someone who has chaired searches, I am rooting for every applicant to wow me–we’re on your side. 

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 this, makes me feel less alone.

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?)

2006 MLS, but additional degree in 2020

When did you start your first job search?

√ Other: I’m mid-career starting my first search in 8 years.

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? 

√ Full Time 

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?

Keep a spreadsheet with application deadlines, submission, and contact info. Keep all application documents for each institution in their own folder. Tailor your cover letters

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Filed under 2023 Job Hunter's Survey

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