Category Archives: Other Organization or Library Type

Metadata models can be intimidating, and this candidate made it seem much more accessible.

WACS with the Army Service Force – Librarian. National Archives.

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Other: Software vendor

Title: Senior DAM Architect

Titles hired include: Taxonomist, DAM librarian

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ HR

√ The position’s supervisor

√ Employees at the position’s same level (on a panel or otherwise)

√ Other: CEO

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

√ Resume 

√ Supplemental Questions

√ Oral Exam/Structured interview 

√ More than one round of interviews 

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ No 

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

I currently hire information professionals as consultants – we’re hoping to start hiring FT roles once this program expands. I start by posting on LinkedIn, both my feed and on relevant professional group pages and will be posting to SLA in the future. I had candidates reach out to me on LinkedIn to start. It allowed me to vet them beyond their resume, and have a brief conversation before moving toward a full initial video interview (or phone, depending on their preference). Once someone passes that, I bring in our customer success managers who handle the areas where these folks would be working. Anyone who wows them moves back to me for follow up, then they provide references. Our head of hiring calls the references and has a lengthy conversation about the candidate and not only their strengths and weaknesses but how they prefer to communicate and the way to get the best out of them. She sends a detailed report to the CEO and me, and we discuss further. If we decide to move forward, I let the candidate know and then the CEO and CFO discuss the contract with them. We’re a small company, so working directly with the CEO isn’t outside the norm. However, a full-time employee may have a slightly different experience, as they won’t be dealing with the CEO for the contract – that will go through the CFO and hiring manager.

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

One of our recent candidates wowed everyone throughout the hiring process. She was knowledgeable but also approachable. She communicated clearly and resisted using industry jargon, except occasionally with me. It was clear that she had a lot of experience and could set clients at ease, which is important as our clients are usually speaking with a taxonomist or librarian because they are starting on their DAM journey or are having issues with an existing DAM. Metadata models can be intimidating, and this candidate made it seem much more accessible.

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Inability to communicate clearly and exaggerating experience.

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

Any constraints with working remotely – we have an office but have mostly been hiring full-remote candidates. It would be great to know if they have the appropriate bandwidth or need that to be supplemented, or if they are set up to work comfortably from home, or if they prefer to work in a public place or rent a workspace.

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ We don’t ask for this  

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?

Answering too quickly, which I commonly see leading to not answering the question thoroughly.

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

Yes, as of right now we only hire via virtual interviews due to the pandemic. Show that you can handle the technology – you’re going to need it anyway, so it’s disheartening to see someone who doesn’t know how to work their camera or lights themselves poorly (which I personally find distracting). 

Don’t worry about issues with internet connection or working with a particular video conferencing app for the first time. We have all been there, and it’s good to see how someone handles that. Pivot quickly and over-communicate if there’s an issue. We had a candidate who had construction that knocked out her wi-fi the morning of the call. She let us know immediately and offered a phone interview, which went very well.

Turn any mishaps into an opportunity to show how you can handle these (currently common) issues professionally and efficiently.

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?

I consider all of the facets of the role I’m hiring for. For better or worse, we typically end up managing our own projects. So project management experience is a plus. As we work with clients, I value experience in customer service. We also work with software engineers on occasion, so any work in that area, even a course on coding, is beneficial.

My advice to candidates is to find the pieces of your experience that you can tie into commonly used skills, even in a setting that you haven’t worked in before. Connect the dots for any hiring managers so they can see how your experience translates.

I would also say that candidates should come with some understanding of why their type of experience could bring new opportunities. One of my best supervisors had been a high school teacher, and that’s where she learned how to work with clients who had different ways of processing information and wrangling a meeting with lots of strong voices. Her skills from that background made her a more attractive candidate for the role she was in, but she had to make sure the hiring manager understood that.

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

√ Other: Only when we make an offer, but I am hoping to change this.

What does your organization do to reduce bias in hiring? What are the contexts in which discrimination still exists in this process?

To reduce bias in the interview process, we ensure there are a range of perspectives included and the panel is diverse. 

We currently don’t post in enough places and leverage my own network significantly, since we’re just starting to build out our team. While I try to ensure my network is diverse, posting in places where I’m more likely to reach diverse candidates is hampered because I cannot include the salary with the posting. Once that is fixed, I hope to reach more candidates.

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

They should ask me what tools we use to collaborate and communicate, why I chose to work at the company, and what challenges we’re trying to alleviate with this role.

It is important for candidates to know about our most recent (public) wins and that we service a wide range of clients. I would love for candidates to come into an interview with some basic knowledge of our product, whether that be from asking contacts who work with the tool or visiting our Youtube channel and/or our site. I’d hope any candidates who haven’t worked in digital asset management have read up on why librarians are important to the field and what skill sets they need to use.

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Western US 

What’s your region like?

√ Urban 

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Some of the time and/or in some positions 

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 51-100 

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

I would add more options for the type of organizations – none of my previous roles have been in those types of environments. I would include something software-related, as there are so many of us working for companies like Spotify or Netflix or software vendors, like me. I only worked for a library in grad school.

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.

2 Comments

Filed under 1 A Return to Hiring Librarians Survey, 50-100 staff members, Other Organization or Library Type, Urban area, Western US

Personal Professional Websites: Systematic Review Librarian

Headshot of Stephanie Roth, who wears a black dress with white polkadots and a pearl necklace. She has long brown hair and is standing in front of a Magnolia tree.

Stephanie Roth is a medical research librarian and currently works in the academic setting where she serves as team lead of the systematic review service. She has over 10 years of experience as a co-authored systematic review librarian. In addition, she designed an open-access model for providing a team-based systematic review service and teaches the model to other librarians as an Medical Library Association (MLA) CE course, now webinar, Easy Steps to Building a Systematic Review Service. She is also the instructor for a Library Juice Academy course, Systematic Review Essentials and is currently serving as the Caucus Chair for the MLA Systematic Reviews Caucus. When she is not working she enjoys running, surface pattern design and spending time with her husband and two daughters.

What is your site’s URL?

www.systematicreviewlibrarian.com

Briefly, what is the current purpose of your site?

To share my systematic review work all in one place and to highlight my course. I also wanted to keep some of this work separate from my job so the two don’t overlap. My webinars and course must be worked on outside of work hours so it made sense to move it away from my job and have it live in its own place.

Was the original purpose of your site different from this current purpose? If yes, how and why did it change?

I bought the domain name before I knew what the purpose would be but the domain name was the inspiration. It was sort of ironic because I had hoped for an official systematic review librarian title at work so essentially I gave myself the title before anyone else gave it to me.

Are you actively looking for work? (check all that apply)

√ Other: I am always looking to grow and I am open to new opportunities whether that be internal or external.

Has your site brought you any work? And if so, what?

I have gained email subscribers and some interest in my course and the new self-paced course that I now have. Having that list was recently really helpful and allowed me to use my own internal network to find volunteers for my July webinar.

About Your Site and Sites in General

Did you pay someone to design or build your site?

√ No

Which of the following content do you have on your site (check all that apply)?

√ Descriptions or list of services you provide 

√ References, testimonials and/or press

√ Twitter or other social media feed

√ Your Bio

√ Your photo 

Which of the following personal links or connection methods do you provide on your site? (Check all that apply)

√ Contact Form

√ Form for people to subscribe to your content

√ ORCiD 

√ Twitter 

√ Instagram 

Is your site strictly library/archives/LIS related?

√ Yes 

When was your site last updated?

√ Within the last month 

What causes you to update your site, and about how frequently does that occur?

If I have a change in a date a course is offered or once in a while I get the urge to change something.

Does your site use any of the following platforms/services?

√ WordPress.com 

How much do you pay annually to run your website? (for numbers not in American dollars, please use other)

√ $20.01-$50 

Do you allow comments on your site?

√ No 

Do you have advertising on your site?

√ No 

Do you have analytics on your site?

√ Yes

About how many people visit your site in a month?

√ Other: It ranges from 50-300+

Is having a personal website a “must”?

√ Nope! Not at All! 

Do you have any privacy concerns associated with sharing your personal information, resume, etc., on a public website? If so, what measures do you take to feel safer?

No, I don’t share a full resume. I am very careful about how much private information I share. I try to stick with keeping the website and social media platforms strictly professional.

What advice would you give someone wanting to create their own personal professional site?

Don’t wait for perfection to launch. Get it done and then you can work on improving it over time. 

This is funny but I was once asked to design a website for a previous job and I didn’t know how to code so I used a basic Weebly account to design what looked like a more expensive and complex website. Librarians are usually pretty good at figuring things out! 

Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about your website? Or personal websites in general?

This is actually my secondary website. I recently upgraded my primary website (for surface pattern design) to WordPress Pro. I love all the features with Pro and I would love to upgrade this one at some point. The Pro version integrates much better with my email service provider and it would make signing up for my newsletter much easier.

What is your job title?

Biomedical & Research Services Librarian

What types of organizations do you work for or with? (Check all that apply)

√ Academic Library 

√ Other: Medical Library 

What part of the world are you in?

√ Northeastern US 

Anything else you’d like to say, to me or to the readers?

I haven’t had my website for that long, it is still very new. It only took minutes to create on WordPress and I do most of it from my phone. I was able to create it and then leave it which is nice. I also feel like I lucked out with the domain name! I love to search for domain names and once in a while something will stick. 

Thanks for reading! If you have a personal professional website that you’d like to talk about, please fill out the survey.

Leave a comment

Filed under Academic, Northeastern US, Other Organization or Library Type, Personal Professional Websites

It’s okay if you don’t have experience working as a librarian, but you need to demonstrate that you can think like a librarian

Gemma Doyle is currently the Collection Development Manager at EBSCO, managing a team of other collection development librarians for the Books program. She spent over a decade as a paraprofessional in various library systems in the US and Canada before becoming a librarian. She worked in public and special libraries before moving over to the library vendor sphere with EBSCO. 

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

The application is screened by HR for bare essentials (MLS, etc.), phone screen by hiring manager or HR, first full interview by hiring manager, second interview by members of the team (2-3 people)

Titles hired include: Collection Management Specialist 1/Collection Management Specialist 2

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ The position’s supervisor 

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

√ Online application

√ Resume

√ References

√ More than one round of interviews

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ No 

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

The candidate had extensive experience in library work: had worked in different kinds of libraries, had supervisory experience, had handled a large budget used over multiple library departments, and had extensive achievements under each of these points of experience.  Their wide breadth of experience meant that they were comfortable doing just about any aspect of librarianship.

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Someone who is inflexible and doesn’t have the ability to self-motivate will not last in this environment.  We work with so many stakeholders, and the work has such a fast pace that flexibility and motivation qualities in candidates really are necessary.

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

What they work like under pressure; how they really handle conflict.

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ Only One!  

Resume: √ Two is ok, but no more  

CV: √ As many as it takes, but keep it reasonable and relevant  

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

For jobs with us in particular, I would say making assumptions about the job even after we explain its requirements.  Library vendor work can be very different from working in an actual library, and it’s hard to convey fully to candidates what a corporate, for-profit environment can be like to work in as compared to working in a library, even if the job is for librarians. Some candidates may find that’s not an environment they thrive in if they’ve never experienced it.

In general, I think candidates want so much to sell themselves to the interviewer that they forget that interviewing should be a two-way street.  They should be asking a lot of questions to determine if they job is actually right for them, too. 

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

Yes – every position on our team is permanently remote, so we do all interviewing virtually, even if they are local candidates.  As for shining, mostly the same things in a face-to-face interview – preparation, double-checking time zones, etc. but also try not to let any technical difficulties throw you for a loop.  Interviews are nerve-wracking for everyone, including the interviewer, but dealing with issues as they arise and being flexible around them is going to give everyone a good impression.  

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?

I spent a lot of my early career as a paraprofessional, so I understand some of the nuances of making that transition. Mostly, I think it comes down to mindset.  It’s okay if you don’t have experience working as a librarian, but you need to demonstrate that you can think like a librarian.  While you can answer the “tell me about a time when” questions using paraprofessional examples, you should also throw in “as a librarian, I would” answers. I’m going to want to know that I don’t need to train you on how a librarian should handle certain things, or even explain that there are differences there.

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

√ It’s part of the information provided at the interview (in the phone screen)

What does your organization do to reduce bias in hiring? What are the contexts in which discrimination still exists in this process?

Every candidate is asked the same questions in the same order (with follow up questions relevant to them, of course); all interviewers attend anti-bias classes before hiring begins. The training is only as good as the intentions of those doing the hiring, and HR doesn’t really monitor the actual hiring process or ask candidates for feedback on the process, which I think would be helpful.

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

What’s the day-to-day job like? Is there an onboarding and training plan in place? What are your favorite and least favorite parts of the job and the organization? are the ones that I think will give candidates insight on what it’s really like to work here.  The most important thing for them to know is that working for a for-profit company is going to sometimes be at odds with the ideals of librarianship, mostly in small ways but some big ones.  We try to stress that in interviews with candidates, but culture shock still hits hard whenever we hire anyone new. Candidates should definitely try to get a feel for the organization so they can make a choice that feels good for them.

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Northeastern US 

What’s your region like?

√ Suburban 

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Some of the time and/or in some positions (our team is all remote)

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 201+  

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under 1 A Return to Hiring Librarians Survey, 200+ staff members, Northeastern US, Other Organization or Library Type, Suburban area

Personal Professional Websites: Allie “Book Historia” Alvis

Allie Alvis is a book historian, and rare book cataloguer at DC antiquarian bookseller Typer Punch Matrix. They are the former special collections reference librarian of the Smithsonian Libraries and Archives, and hold masters degrees in book history and information management from the University of Edinburgh and the University of Glasgow. They are passionate about bibliographic communication, and maintain popular social media accounts on Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube (among others) as Book Historia.

What is your site’s URL?

https://www.bookhistoria.com/

Briefly, what is the current purpose of your site?

To act as a hybrid dynamic CV and central point of contact, with a place for miscellaneous pieces of writing not published elsewhere

Are you actively looking for work? 

√ Yes, for speaking gigs

Has your site brought you any work? And if so, what?

Yes! I’ve received a number of media inquiries and speaking opportunities through the “contact” portion of my website, and orders for book supports through my links. 

About Your Site and Sites in General

Did you pay someone to design or build your site?

√ No

Which of the following content do you have on your site (check all that apply)?

√ Resume or CV

√ Descriptions or list of services you provide

√ Blog about professional topics

√ List of publications

√ List of presentations

√ References, testimonials and/or press

√ Twitter or other social media feed

√ Your Bio

√ Your photo

Which of the following personal links or connection methods do you provide on your site? (Check all that apply)

√ Email

√ Contact Form 

√ Twitter 

√ Instagram 

√ TikTok

√ Tumblr

√ YouTube 

Is your site strictly library/archives/LIS related?

√ Yes 

When was your site last updated?

√ Within the last month 

What causes you to update your site, and about how frequently does that occur?

Generally whenever I give a new presentation or get new press, or get around to writing a blog post; frequency depends on how often those things occur

Does your site use any of the following platforms/services?

√ Squarespace 

How much do you pay annually to run your website? (for numbers not in American dollars, please use other)

√ Other: $144/year

Do you allow comments on your site?

√ Yes 

Do you have advertising on your site?

√ No 

Do you have analytics on your site?

√ Yes 

About how many people visit your site in a month?

√ Other: Depends on if I post a new blog; 0-50 if no new posts, 51-250 if I’m promoting a post on social media

Is having a personal website a “must”?

√ Nope! Not at All!

Do you have any privacy concerns associated with sharing your personal information, resume, etc., on a public website? If so, what measures do you take to feel safer?

Since I’m kind of a bibliographic “public figure,” there’s not much on my website that isn’t on my various social media presences, so I don’t feel any less comfortable having info there

What advice would you give someone wanting to create their own personal professional site?

That’s a hard one – I’m able to have an (I think) attractive website because I’m not *so* early career that I can afford to pay for it. If you don’t have the money to spend, Tumblr or WordPress can be a sort-of alternative.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about your website? Or personal websites in general?

I’ve been thinking about good web design since I had a LiveJournal back in 2002, so I’m a bit picky! But there are lots of nice templates out there that you can use as-is with very little additional work.

Demographics

What is your job title?

Rare Book Cataloguer

What types of organizations do you work for or with? (Check all that apply)

√ Other: Rare book seller, formerly (and likely future) special collections library

If you work for someone besides yourself, does that organization have rules about what you can share on your personal site?

√ Yes 

What part of the world are you in?

√ Eastern US  

Anything else you’d like to say, to me or to the readers?

This is a cool project, good luck! 🙂


Thanks for reading! If you have a personal professional website (kind of an awkward phrase) that you’d like to talk about, please fill out the survey.

Leave a comment

Filed under Northeastern US, Other Organization or Library Type, Personal Professional Websites

Salary discussion is handled by the recruiter

Two men and a women use a machine with large sheets of paper
[Librarians feeding large sheets of paper through a machine at the Card Section of the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.] From the Library of Congress

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for:

√ Other: Graduate Medical Education

Title: Director, Knowledge Management & Scholarly Communications 

Titles hired include: Research Publications Coordinator, Education & Digital Initiatives Specialist, Medical Writer, Medicare Editor

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ The position’s supervisor 

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

√ Online application

√ Resume

√ CV

√ Proof of degree

√ Supplemental Questions

√ More than one round of interviews 

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ No 

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

Create job description, send to compensation, send to recruiter, review applicants meeting requirements, interview applicants, extend offer to prefer candidate via recruiter

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

So very knowledgeable about information systems and architecture

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

No energy, doesn’t ask questions

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

How they got along with co-workers

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ We don’t ask for this  

Resume: √ Only One! 

CV: √ As many as it takes, but keep it reasonable and relevant 

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

Not asking questions

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

Yes.  It is really no different than an in-person meeting

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?

Provide examples of happy clients and successful projects.  Have a good answer to “Why should I hire you”?

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

√ Other: Salary discussion is handled by the recruiter

What does your organization do to reduce bias in hiring? What are the contexts in which discrimination still exists in this process?

Lots of training, practice interviews

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

Leadership/management style,  culture, team and individual expectations

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Southeastern US

What’s your region like?

√ Urban

 Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Some of the time and/or in some positions 

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 201+

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under 1 A Return to Hiring Librarians Survey, 200+ staff members, Other Organization or Library Type, Southeastern US, Urban area

Most people have not heard of us before applying with us

A group of four white people are having a discussion in front of book shelves. One man looks bemused.
Image: Special Collections Tour with Dr. and Mrs. Arnfield From Flickr user Topeka Library

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for:

√ Special Library

√ Other: government library

Title: Librarian

Titles hired include: library technicians & librarians

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ HR

√ Library Administration

√ The position’s supervisor

√ Employees at the position’s same level (on a panel or otherwise)

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

√ Online application

√ Cover letter

√ Resume

√ CV

√ References

√ Proof of degree

√ Supplemental Questions

√ Oral Exam/Structured interview

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ Yes

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

HR pre-screens initial applicants. Those deemed qualified are passed to the hiring panel (where I would be), who assess & invite ~4 candidates for interviews. References are checked and the hiring manager makes the final selection based on all the information gathered. The selection is passed back to HR, who extend the offer. 

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

Part of it was out of their control by the time they got to the interview: they had experience working with a niche type of materials our library offers. Part of it was in their control: They expressed a genuine interest in us and made the interview a conversation with give & take on both sides, both revealing the breadth & depth of their experience and knowledge and giving a small insight into what they would be like as a colleague. 

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Revealing they over-stretched the truth of their experience & expertise on their resume

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

It’s almost impossible to assess how they’ll *really* work on a team or on complicated projects, because that’s just not testable in the average library hiring process, and self-assessment isn’t always reliable. 

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ Only one! 

Resume: √ As many as it takes, but keep it reasonable and relevant 

CV: √ As many as it takes, but keep it reasonable and relevant  

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

Not displaying any curiosity about your potential new workplace. Especially in government hiring the questions we are allowed to ask are often formulaic and can’t be personalized for each candidate. Ask us follow up questions if you think of them. When we hand the floor over to candidates for their questions, that’s the time to really dive in and get a conversation out of us. Put together thoughtful questions about the organization – ask us about upcoming projects, recent challenges, jot notes about what we mention during the questions and ask us to expand, etc. This is another way of expressing enthusiasm about the position and getting to know the people you might be working with (and vice versa) that a surprising number of candidates forgo entirely. 

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

We do. My advice: Don’t overthink it, and keep it simple. You don’t need to stare into the camera the entire time or try to make it look like you don’t live in a house. Make sure your audio & camera (if relevant) are working, have a non-distracting (decently clean, no TV blaring, etc) background, & smile. Not that different than an in person interview really.  

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?

Take a copy of the job description you’re interested in. Highlight in one color everything you have experience in, or transferable experience in, and make notes on what that experience is to make sure it’s mentioned somewhere in your resume or cover letter. Make it really easy on the committee to see your qualifications. Highlight in another color everything you don’t have experience in, and do some research, even if it’s just passively watching a webinar. Hiring managers want to know that A) you can already do something, or B) you wouldn’t be difficult to train. Saying in an interview “I’ve never done X, but I’ve watched a webinar and worked on a committee with people who did, and I see (fill in the blank of) these parallels to Y, which I’m very experienced in” goes a long way. And it’s a step further than the majority of candidates go, which will make you stand out. It is more work, yes, but if you’re stretching for a job that’s not a clear cut match for you, I strongly recommend it. Doing this is what helped me make multiple big jumps across very different types of library work in my career. 

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

√ It’s part of the job ad 

What does your organization do to reduce bias in hiring? What are the contexts in which discrimination still exists in this process?

Every time a position is filled, there is a meeting to determine A) if the position really needs a masters B) how to advertise it as broadly as possible, with emphasis on under-targeted populations. If I had the power to do so I would love to see the additional step of blind reviewing materials to reduce potential name and gender bias. Appearance bias is hard to avoid with in-person or video interviews, but we try to select diverse panels and offer pre-hiring anti-bias training that helps the panel identify internalized biases as well. 

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

Most people have not heard of us before applying with us. We know that so don’t be afraid to admit it. Ask us a lot of questions about our structure, our history, our challenges, our successes, our goals, our work culture. Really dig in. As I mentioned before, what we can ask you is often structured and limited. Your questions are your time to get all the information you need, information we will happily give even if government hiring isn’t easily structured to let us offer it outright.  

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Northeastern US

What’s your region like?

√ Urban

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Some of the time and/or in some positions

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 11-50

Leave a comment

Filed under 1 A Return to Hiring Librarians Survey, 10-50 staff members, Northeastern US, Other Organization or Library Type, Special, Urban area

There is no “magic” question

Heather has worked in public libraries for several years, happily serving in every staff role. She cites the best part as helping staff reach their goals.

Outside of work, Heather can be found out hiking the local trails in Southern California.

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

First step is the online application with supplemental questions, second, the panel interview (internal or external depending on the position); if a two step position then it will be an internal panel second round interview. If a supervisory position, the final candidate would meet with the City’s executive team.

Titles hired include: Digital Navigators, Librarians, Supervisors, PT/FT

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ HR

√ Library Administration

√ The position’s supervisor

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

√ Online application

√ Resume

√ References

√ Proof of degree

√ Supplemental Questions

√ Oral Exam/Structured interview

√ Demonstration (teaching, storytime, etc)

√ More than one round of interviews

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ No

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

They were enthusiastic about the opportunity, the organization and understood that working in a public library was a challenge but it was one they really wanted.

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Attitude — unwillingness to learn, take direction; unfamiliarity with the job/organization; skills can be learned, attitude cannot.

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

Sometimes attitude isn’t revealed in the interview; there is no “magic” question.

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ Two is ok, but no more

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?

Being honest with themselves about whether or not this is the right position for them

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

Practicing beforehand and staying relaxed; it’s hard for both interviewer and subject; don’t be afraid to admit that this is awkward

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?

Try and build a bridge or tell a story about your experience that links the two; I’ve done x and this is how it relates to or is similar to y

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

√ It’s part of the job ad

What does your organization do to reduce bias in hiring? What are the contexts in which discrimination still exists in this process?

We have not examined our practices for bias, yet, but will be doing so.

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

What can I do to be successful in this role; What would be the most challenging aspect of the position; what is the culture like; what do you like about working there

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Western US

What’s your region like?

√ Suburban

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Some of the time and/or in some positions

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 0-10

Leave a comment

Filed under 0-10 staff members, 1 A Return to Hiring Librarians Survey, Other Organization or Library Type, Public, Suburban area, Western US

Ask about a typical day, ask what opportunities exist for advancement

Ryan McCrory is a historian of European Intellectual History with over 20 years of library experience in academic and public libraries, as far-flung as the University of Washington Libraries, Seattle Public Library, and Lititz Public Library.  

He is active in a variety of library organizations, and also serves on the Board of Directors of Hosting Solutions and Library Consulting.

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

Post job ad, receive and read applications, contact prospective candidates for interviews, interview and evaluate, make job offer. I do or assign each of these steps.

Titles hired include: Circulation Supervisor, Circulation Clerk, Maintenance

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ Other: Executive Director

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

√ Online application

√ Resume

√ References

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ No

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

Clearly articulated why they were interested in this particular job and had a clear understanding of what the job actually was.

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

No

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

Does their work match their words

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ Two is ok, but no more

Resume: √ As many as it takes, but keep it reasonable and relevant

CV: √ We don’t ask for this

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

Try to say what they think is wanted, instead of just speaking honestly.

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

We could, but we haven’t had the need. Make sure they test out the audio before the interview. If I can’t hear them effectively, I’m not going to remain engaged well enough to give them a proper interview

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?

Make me understand that they have people skills, can work with many types of people, are adaptable when necessary, and can think on their feet effectively.

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

√ It’s part of the job ad

What does your organization do to reduce bias in hiring? What are the contexts in which discrimination still exists in this process?

We are in a pretty homogenous area, so we don’t attract a lot of diversity. I think even prospective employees would have a hard time seeing themselves as working for us – we probably don’t appear as inclusive as we are. I don’t have an easy answer to fix that, but do try and make sure that our programming and collections give the sense that we are open to all.

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 a typical day, ask what opportunities exist for advancement. Ask how we would view someone not looking for advancement. Ask questions that would let them know what they are in for.

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Northeastern US

What’s your region like?

√ Suburban

√ Rural

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Other: Not really. There may be occasions for it, but very few

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 11-50

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under 10-50 staff members, Northeastern US, Other Organization or Library Type, Rural area, Suburban area

Ask questions tailored to the person interviewing you.

Headshot of Karen K. Reczek. She grasps her chin and smiles against a light blue background

Karen K. Reczek is a Social Scientist within the Standards Coordination Office (SCO) at the National Institute of Standards and Technology.  Karen works with high level Federal, State, Local & private sector officials to coordinate standards development and standards research to identify and support development of standard activities and programs to meet Federal needs. Previously Karen worked at Bureau Veritas CPS as Senior Manager, Information Resources Center for 14 years and prior to that at Bristol-Myers Squibb in Scientific and Information Resources and Services.  For over 30 years, Karen has served in various leadership positions in SLA, including elected and appointed positions at the SLA International, Community level. She is the winner of 2018 SLA John Cotton Dana Award.  She is currently President, SES: Society for Standards Professionals. 

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

Write description and skills requirements; work with HR to post the job; HR screens candidates that make a qualifying list; supervisor selects people to interview; panel interviews and makes selection in ranked order. HR extends offer. 

Titles hired include: Information Specialist

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ The position’s supervisor

√ A Committee or panel 

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

√ Online application

√ Resume 

√ Proof of degree

√ Supplemental Questions

√ Oral Exam/Structured interview 

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ Yes 

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

Short answers that answered the questions. Articulate, organized in their approach, good examples, personable, and asked good questions. 

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Won’t look me in the eye, even on camera! No questions for me. Unorganized responses or responses that make it clear the person did not understand the questions nor did they ask to clarify. 

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

Their real ability to let go of set ways and learn new things and continue to adapt to the role should it change. I try to ask behavioral interview questions to get some of this revealed. 

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ Only One!  

Resume: √ As many as it takes, but keep it reasonable and relevant 

CV: √ As many as it takes, I love reading.

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

Not researching the organization, or the department/divisions; not coming prepared to ask questions; not being prepared at all.

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

Yes, recently. See above. Turn your camera on. Make “eye” contact”; smile. Be brief. Ask clarifying questions.

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?

No need to convince me. I know it’s possible. Just offered an administrative person and info specialist role because they seemed very capable of owning the role and doing quality work once trained. 

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

√ It’s part of the job ad 

What does your organization do to reduce bias in hiring? What are the contexts in which discrimination still exists in this process?

HR’s new system is supposed to start to try and address that. Yet, it still exists. 

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

About opportunities for growth – like do you support belonging to professional orgs, attending conferences, opportunities for advancement. How the department works; what the supervisor’s style is and expectations; what the role is and responsibilities and what training will be offered to learn the job, etc. 

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Northeastern US

What’s your region like?

√ Urban 

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Some of the time and/or in some positions 

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 201+ 

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

Do your homework. Be prepared. Ask questions tailored to the person interviewing you. Ask HR about culture and training. Ask the hiring manager about day to day responsibilities, management style, work environment, etc. The job hunter is interviewing the organization just as much as the organization is interviewing the job hunter. Don’t forget that. Try to learn about the culture. Sometimes that’s make or break once you get there and realize it is not a good fit. 

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under 1 A Return to Hiring Librarians Survey, 200+ staff members, Northeastern US, Other Organization or Library Type, Urban area

You might be pleasantly surprised at how nice people are, especially library people.

Market before PassoverThis anonymous interview is with a librarian who works for a public library consulting service and has been a hiring manager and a member of a hiring or search committee. This person hires the following types of LIS professionals:

Youth services specialists, technology consultants, and adult services generalists.

This librarian works at a library with 0-10 staff members in an urban area in the Southern US.

Approximately how many people applied for the last librarian (or other professional level) job at your workplace?

√ 25 or fewer

Approximately what percentage of those would you say were hirable?

√ 25% or less

And how would you define “hirable”?

Met the qualifications in terms of education & experience.

How are applications evaluated, and by whom?

As the executive director of our organization, I do the “first cut” look to make sure the applicants meet the basic requirements of education & experience. We are a very small organization & don’t have an HR department.

What is the most common reason for disqualifying an applicant without an interview?

Education & experience is lacking.

Do you (or does your library) give candidates feedback about applications or interview performance?

√ No

What is the most important thing for a job hunter to do in order to improve his/her/their hirability?

Read the job posting carefully and make sure your education & experience are a good fit before applying. Do not just apply for something at a place you’d like to work to get a foot in the door if you are not really qualified.

I want to hire someone who is

smart

How many staff members are at your library/organization?

√ 0-10

How many permanent, full time librarian (or other professional level) jobs has your workplace posted in the last year?

√ 1

How many permanent, full time para-professional (or other non-professional level) jobs has your workplace posted in the last year?

√ Other: 0

Can you tell us how the number of permanent, full-time librarian positions at your workplace has changed over the past decade?

√ There are the same number of positions

Have any full-time librarian positions been replaced with part-time or hourly workers over the past decade?

√ Yes

Have any full-time librarian positions been replaced with para-professional workers over the past decade?

√ No

Does your workplace require experience for entry-level professional positions? If so, is it an official requirement or just what happens in practice?

We don’t hire entry-level professionals. We are a consulting organization to other public libraries, and as such, we must have experienced librarians.

Is librarianship a dying profession?

√ No

Why or why not?

We are re-inventing ourselves as community hubs of information & recreation. Libraries are developing makerspaces, have programs of interest, and supply communities with networking opportunities in a forum that is free and open to all. We serve all ages, all races, all ethnicities, and all levels of literacy.

Do you have any other comments, for job hunters or about the survey?

Don’t be afraid to take a job in a part of the country that you have never lived in or considered working in. You might be pleasantly surprised at how nice people are, especially library people.

Do you hire librarians?  Take this survey: http://tinyurl.com/hiringlibjobmarketsurvey or take other Hiring Librarians surveys.

For some context, look at the most recent summary of responses.

Leave a comment

Filed under 0-10 staff members, Other Organization or Library Type, Southern US, State of the Job Market 2015, Urban area