“In the acknowledgement email, they need to provide a timeline for when I can expect to hear back, and if it’s a multi-stage process”

McCrensky Debbie, 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?  

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

√ I’m underemployed (not enough hours or overqualified for current position) 

√ Looking for more money 

√ I want to work with a different type of collection 

√ My current job is temporary

√ My current job provides insufficient or no benefits (Healthcare or beyond)

√ My current job is boring

Where do you look for open positions?  

INALJ, SAA careers website, my LIS school’s virtual job board, and whatever comes across my Twitter feed

What position level are you looking for?  

√ Entry level

√ Requiring at least two years of experience 

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

√ Archives 

√ Special library 

What part of the world are you in?

√ Northeastern US 

What’s your region like? 

√ Urban area 

Are you willing/able to move for employment? 

√ Yes, within my country

√ 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?

Full-time work (there are way too many hourly jobs that can only have you there for 15 hours a week!!!), interesting collection, opportunities to take initiative within the institution

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

estimate of 10 total– I started mostly applying to part-time positions but my priorities shifted and I think I’ve applied to 2 or 3 full-time positions by now

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

√ Pay well 

√ Having a good reputation 

√ Funding professional development 

√ 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?

 If the required duties are actually the work of 2 or 3 people (especially if I know that the library in question has recently had a budget contraction– in my subfield, this is usually well-known via the grapevine); if the salary range and desired qualifications are a total mismatch (like, $30K USD a year but they want a specialized master’s in addition to the MLIS)

The Process

How much time do you spend preparing an application packet?

I try not to spend more than an hour on a cover letter for part-time positions; I’ll usually spend 2-3 hours for a full-time job over about a week.

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

Create a new job-posting specific resume by copy-pasting relevant things from my master resume; draft cover letter; fill out application online/draft email to hiring manager depending on system; proofread resume and cover letter; attach; send

How do you prefer to communicate with potential employers?

√ Email 

When would you like potential employers to contact you? 

√ To acknowledge my application 

√ Other: In the acknowledgement email, they need to provide a timeline for when I can expect to hear back, and if it’s a multi-stage process (that should be in the job posting anyway, but if it’s not…)

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?

I expect it to take around 6 weeks from closing date of the posting (and I usually end up waiting more like 8 weeks because I tend to submit as soon as is feasible for me when the posting goes up), but in reality, it’s been more like an average of three months

How do you prepare for interviews?

Reading the Ask A Manager blog for interview dos and don’ts, writing out exactly how I fit the listed requirements so that I feel more confident about my suitability for the position, reviewing any relevant technical standards if mentioned in the posting, making a list of questions for the employer

What are your most hated interview questions, and why?

Not a specific question, but I CAN tell when all the people on the panel have just been to an HR training and are reading questions off a very specific list that they’re using with all candidates in order to avoid bias but that means they never ask follow-ups or allow me to get a sense of them/the institution– please, interviewers, don’t be formulaic robots!

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 √ Not Applicable
  • Turned down an offer √ Not Applicable

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

ALWAYS list salary ranges; if a part-time position, indicate whether there are absolute limits on how many hours or how long you can work there; acknowledge my application and TELL ME THE TIMELINE

You and Your Well-Being

How are you doing, generally?

√ I’m maintaining 

√ I feel alone in my search

What are your job search self-care strategies?

I try to view every application and every interview just as “practice” with no expectation that I’ll get an offer, since I do currently have part-time work and I’m still in my LIS program full-time– so it’s not URGENT that I get a full-time position, but it’s something on the horizon and frankly I dislike my program and would be willing to go part-time/online if the right full-time position came up 

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?)

expecting to graduate January 2024

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

√ More than six months before graduating with my MLIS/other LIS degree 

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)?

They have a pretty robust job-listing board but otherwise, no.  

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