“I don’t really think I’m unique, and I’m not sure what they want me to say.”

Hillebrand Steve, 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?

√ Six months to a year 

Why are you job hunting?  

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

√ I’m unemployed 

Where do you look for open positions?  (e.g. INALJ, ALA JobLIST, professional listserv, LinkedIn)  

all of the above

What position level are you looking for?  

√ Entry level 

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

√ Academic library 

√ Public library 

What part of the world are you in?

√ Mid-Atlantic US 

What’s your region like? 

√ Suburban area 

Are you willing/able to move for employment? 

√ Yes, within my state 

√ Yes, to a specific list of places 

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

Having a job, being paid a livable wage, realistic expectations

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

probably about 50 by now

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

√ Introducing me to staff

√ 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?

numerous typos in posting (repeated ones, usually), little description of job duties, inaccurate description of job duties, ‘we’re a family, not a job’

The Process

How much time do you spend preparing an application packet?

depends on the application and what it requires

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

review the job description, fill out the application, write and any required documents, proofread documents before attaching them, double-check the application, submit

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?

Up to three months, but I rarely get interviews, so I’m not sure if this is a good expectation.

How do you prepare for interviews?

I review what I have done (coursework, projects, internship) to see what could be brought up during the interview and then I try to calm myself down because I am terrible with new people and interviews.

What are your most hated interview questions, and why?

Anything about how I am unique. I don’t really think I’m unique, and I’m not sure what they want me to say.

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  √ I don’t know  
  • Interviewed for a job where an internal candidate was eventually chosen √ Happened more than once  
  • Asked for an accommodation for a disability  √ Not Applicable
  • Withdrawn an application before the offer stage  √ Not Applicable
  • Turned down an offer √ Happened once  

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

The library did not mention that there would be a renovation starting immediately after I started, and the job relied too much on community partnerships for me to be comfortable in that position during a renovation, as I would have had to relocate to an area I had never been to before. 

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

Be more open about their process and contact people if they are rejected, even if it’s by the automated system. Also, for entry-level jobs, don’t have a requirement of at least one year on the job, especially if the applicant has interned for the organization before.

You and Your Well-Being

How are you doing, generally?

√ I’m somewhat depressed

√ I’m despondent

√ I’m frustrated 

√ I feel alone in my search 

What are your job search self-care strategies?

Lots and lots of TV shows and chocolate. Also, looking at cute animals.

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?

I don’t have advice, as I am a brand-new MLIS-holder, but good luck! it is very disheartening to apply to jobs and get absolutely no response, so it would be nice if employers could at least have a form email or something when someone gets rejected. It’s frustrating to wait on a response and never receive one. Also, it would be really nice if we could know why, exactly, we are being rejected so we can fix it or at least know why they don’t want us. 

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)?

√ Less than six months before graduating with my MLIS/other LIS degree, but still before I graduated 

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)?

Not really, but to be fair to them, it’s in a very different state. 


Filed under 2023 Job Hunter's Survey

2 responses to ““I don’t really think I’m unique, and I’m not sure what they want me to say.”

  1. pigbitinmad

    Yes, I hate this question too. So presumptuous, the whole notion that everyone is unique and “special.”


  2. Jimmie Epling

    Looking at the writer’s request, “it would be really nice if we could know why, exactly, we are being rejected so we can fix it or at least know why they don’t want us,” from an employer’s side there are problems with offering a response.

    There is the obvious issue of staff time needed to write an individual response or even to send an impersonal rejection form letter.

    The reason employers do not write a response noting why a candidate was rejected is it may result in litigation. A candidate may take issue with a reason not to be hired and will find an attorney to file a lawsuit against the employer, resulting in considerable expense for the institution in legal fees.

    As an employee on a hiring committee honestly answer this question, “Do I want my reason for rejecting a candidate to be documented?” Your reason for to rejecting a candidate is legitimate and well reasoned, but how might the written explanation be spun by an attorney in court?


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