“They must genuinely like working with kids of all ages. Library policies and practices can be taught.”

By the 1890s, Users in Close Quarters: A 220th Birthday Salute to the Library of Congress (LOC). By Flickr user The Library of Congress.

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 hiring practices. I invite you to take what’s useful and leave the rest.  

This person hires for a:

√ Public Library 

Title: Youth & Family Services Manager

Titles hired include: Teen Specialist, Children’s Assistant

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ Library Administration

√ The position’s supervisor 

√ Other: We’re a small, rural library. No HR dept. Hiring decisions are ultimately made by director, with input from the respective dept head

Which of the following does your organization regularly require of candidates?

√ Online application

√ Cover letter

√ Resume 

√ Other: Cover letters matter!

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ No 

Briefly describe the hiring process at your organization and your role in it:

The respective Dept. Head and Director review the description to see if any updates are needed and compose the job posting, which is posted on our website, social media, state library job list, LinkedIn, and Indeed. Generally open until filled. Being a small community, we generally don’t get many applicants, and sometimes have to repost. Try to have 2-3 to interview, then decide whether to check references and make an offer, or repost.

Think about the last candidate who really wowed you, on paper, in an interview, or otherwise. Why were they so impressive?

Resume was neat, well-organized, and to the point without any padding or fluff. In the interview the candidate impressed with thoughtful answers that showed insight into library practices and working with kids, good customer service, and maturity to know when to refer things to someone else or ask for help.

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Poor communication skills, no experience with kids, seeming as though they do not really like kids, including teens, and/or would not have the patience required. They must genuinely like working with kids of all ages. Library policies and practices can be taught.

What do you wish you could know about candidates that isn’t generally revealed in the hiring process?

What they are really like working with. Are they a team-player, flexible, self-motivated? Can they work independently? Do they have good judgment?

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ Only One!  

Resume: √ Two is ok, but no more 

CV: √ We don’t ask for this 

What is the most common mistake that people make in an interview?

Not preparing. Typical interview questions are very easy to find online; there is no excuse for not being prepared for the most common, standard questions. Not knowing anything about the library and community it serves. Be familiar with recent programs and new services, be prepared to suggest others.

Do you conduct virtual interviews? What do job hunters need to know about shining in this setting?

Yes. Be sure you know what time zone your interview appointment is. Take it seriously and be ready on time, don’t bale. Dress professionally, try to have a neutral or pleasant background and good lighting.

How can candidates looking to transition from paraprofessional work, from non-library work, or between library types convince you that their experience is relevant? Or do you have other advice for folks in this kind of situation?

Spell out what you did and how it is related to the job you want; positions with the same title can be very different at different libraries, so don’t assume we know. Connect the dots for us, prove you have transferable skills.

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

√ Other: For me, I didn’t find out the salary until the interview. Since I started, the pay info is included in the job ad.

What questions should candidates ask you? What is important for them to know about your organization and the position you are hiring for?

Ask about training and how you will be supported as you learn. Too many places still follow the “sink or swim” method. Ask questions that show a genuine interest in the job and organization, and show you have a deeper understanding of the job.

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Southeastern US 

What’s your region like?

√ Rural 

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Never or not anymore 

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 11-50 

Is there anything else you’d like to say, either to job hunters or to me, the survey author? 

Be sure you include any relevant information that might set you apart from other candidates on your resume, and work it into the interview somehow. Your cover letter should show genuine interest and enthusiasm, and not just rehash your resume.

Author’s note: Hey, thanks for reading! If you like reading, why not try commenting or sharing? Or are you somebody who hires Library, Archives or other LIS workers? Please consider giving your own opinion by filling out the survey here.

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Filed under 1 A Return to Hiring Librarians Survey, 10-50 staff members, Public, Rural area, Southeastern US

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