“I was then thanked for my ‘professionalism’ which I read as ‘thanks for not making us uncomfortable'”

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

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 more money 

√ Looking for remote/virtual work (or at least hybrid) 

√ Because I reassessed my priorities after COVID

√ Because I’m worried about a possible recession

Where do you look for open positions?  

Mostly listservs, linkedin, government websites.

What position level are you looking for?  

√ Requiring at least two years of experience 

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

√ Academic library 

√ Library vendor/service provider 

√ Special library 

What part of the world are you in?

√ Canada 

What’s your region like? 

√ Urban area 

Are you willing/able to move for employment? 

√ Yes, within my state 

√ Yes, to a specific list of places

√ Yes, as long as at least some of my moving costs are covered 

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

Job security, work from home, variety of responsibilities.

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 

√ Having a good reputation 

√ Funding professional development

√ Prioritizing EDI work

√ Prioritizing work-life balance 

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?

A very long responsibilities list. Very specific combinations of skills that not many people would have (e.g. MBA and fluent in German….clearly supporting two different Liaison areas). Passive aggressive asks for professionalism or respect of colleagues.  

The Process

How much time do you spend preparing an application packet?

3-5 hours

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

Reviewing the job ad to match skills and experience. Looking over annual reports and other planning documents that are available to find connextions to professional values and goals. Reviewing the library’s website. Looking into publications or projects of employees. Social media posts from employees and users. Reviewing the collective agreement if applicable.

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?

3-6 months for academic institutions. 1-2 months for other libraries.

How do you prepare for interviews?

Review my application package and other documentation that I collected to write my application. Prepare questions for the committee in advance. Usually working on a presentation as they tend to be required a lot. If I know someone from the institution, I may contact them to ask questions. Go over standard interview questions I’ve been asked in the past, considering how I update them for this context.

What are your most hated interview questions, and why?

Tell us about yourself: Too general and can leave you open to go on tangents that the committee doesn’t like. Simplistic questions about EDI: Prefer when they ask for actions you have taken or how you incorporate into your work. If the question just asks for awareness I feel like that means they don’t really care and are checking a box.

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 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 √ Not Applicable

If you have ever withdrawn an application, why?

I accepted an offer at another institution.

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:

I was an internal candidate that didn’t get the job. The way my rejection was handled by leadership was very cold. Leadership preferred to ignore the outcome until my contract ended. I was then thanked for my “professionalism” which I read as “thanks for not making us uncomfortable”. I reached out to leadership and some close colleagues stating this had impacted my mental health and I was having doubts about my ability as a librarian. I received assurances from colleagues, but not from our head. I wasnt expecting huge amounts of praise but just an acknowledgement that I wasn’t terrible at my job. I had only received positive and encouraging annual reviews during my time there. The reasons given for why I was unsuccessful were vague. The majority of my colleagues were surprised that I was not selected and were very supportive as I worked through the rejection.

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

Be more clear about timelines and update those who applied whether they have been selected or not. Post the salary range in the job ad…don’t make us hunt for it. Don’t make the applicants do project work for you for free.

You and Your Well-Being

How are you doing, generally?

√ I’m somewhat depressed

√ I’m despondent 

√ Other:  I’ve had a couple traumatic events in my career that have changed my outlook on my work, job prospects, and work culture forever. I feel less motivated in my current work and disconnected from my colleagues. I don’t feel comfortable sharing my experiences with them as you dont know who knows who and how sharing details might impact your career down the line.

What are your job search self-care strategies?

Don’t spend more than an a couple hours at a time preparing and take breaks to do something relaxing or eat a snack. Spread out applications so that I’m not working on multiple applications on the same day. Therapy!

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?

Please remember that every person who applies or interviews is a human being who putting themselves in a vulnerable position. We’re all stressed and a bit of empathy and encouragement can go a long way to restoring or starting a relationship. You want people who didn’t get the job to think of you and the institution positively.

Job Hunting Post Graduate School 

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?

√ 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)?


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Filed under 2023 Job Hunter's Survey

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