“There haven’t been any jobs I am qualified for that are accessible on public transportation”

Gentry George, 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 

√ Looking for a promotion/more responsibility 

√ My current job is temporary

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

Where do you look for open positions?  

Archivesgig.com; higheredjobs.com; SAA; ALA JobLIST; professional listserv

What position level are you looking for?  

√ Entry level 

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

√ Academic library

√ Archives

What part of the world are you in?

√ Western US (including Pacific Northwest) 

What’s your region like? 

√ Urban area 

Are you willing/able to move for employment? 

√ No 

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

Interesting collections; at least a two year appointment; vacation days

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

None yet. There haven’t been any jobs I am qualified for that are accessible on public transportation 

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

√ Having (and describing) excellent benefits

√ Introducing me to staff

√ Having a good reputation

√ Taking me out for a meal

√ Funding professional development

√ Prioritizing EDI work

√ 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?

Short-term appointments; unfocused list of responsibilities

The Process

How much time do you spend preparing an application packet?

6 hours

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

Taking notes on job ad, thoroughly researching hiring organization, adapting resume to posting, writing targeted cover letter, asking friends to review cover letter, revising as needed

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, unfortunately

How do you prepare for interviews?

Researching position, organization, and, if known, hiring committee members; drafting answers to a few broad categories of questions; mock interview with friend or partner 

What are your most hated interview questions, and why?

“Tell me about yourself” and “When did you face a challenge at work, and how did you respond to it?” The first question isn’t specific enough and encourages a gross neoliberal “elevator pitch” about yourself and your “brand.” For the second, I much prefer being given a scenario and then being asked how I would respond. It solicits the same information. And I honestly don’t know what counts as a “challenge” vs. just normal professional work of appropriate difficulty, so I’d rather the interviewers just tell me the kind of situations they are curious/worried about and see how I respond.  

During your current search, have you had any of the following experiences:

  • Submitted an application and got no response  √ Not Applicable
  • Had an interview and never heard back   √ Not Applicable
  • Interviewed for a job where an internal candidate was eventually chosen   √ Not Applicable
  • 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 have ever withdrawn an application, why?

Not for an LIS job. But I have for adjunct teaching positions when I decided I just couldn’t stomach the stress of those roles anymore. 

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

Clear communication about timelines for the process. Getting exact dates for when to expect responses would be a game changer.

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?


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’m an amateur at this. But I will say the number of postings in my area is fucking bleak.

Do you have any comments for Emily (the survey author) or are there any other questions you think we should add to this survey?

You should ask if unionized positions are more attractive. 

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)?

√ 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)?


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Filed under 2023 Job Hunter's Survey

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