Category Archives: Management

Author’s Corner: Looking Beyond the LIS Universe

Kim Dority is a fount of knowledge about non-traditional (and traditional) LIS careers.  You may remember her as the brain behind Infonista, featured on this blog back in February. Reading her bio just now, I was also reminded of the wonderful group she manages on LinkedIn, LIS Career Options.  If you’ve been looking for a place to discuss the twists and turns in your career path, look no further. She very kindly wrote this post about what looking for outside-the-box information can do for your career.  In addition to this wonderful strategy for resilience, I hope you will enjoy getting a taste of what you can find in her most recent book:

LIS CAREER SOURCEBOOK


How do you navigate all of the challenges, changes, and opportunities – both anticipated and unforeseen – that comprise a typically dynamic LIS career? Given how unpredictable the profession has become, trying to gain firm footing on our shifting career sands can be both an adventure (good day) and crazy-making (not-so-good day)!

One of the things I’ve found most useful in attempting to create a resilient career is to learn not only from thought leaders and experts within the profession, but also from those outside it.

At an early point in my career I worked as an executive information advisor for a corporate CEO and developed the habit of doing a monthly “magazine cruise” to expose myself to emerging ideas in multiple areas of research and endeavor. I’d hit my local bookstore, start with art, and happily make my way through magazines devoted to art, foreign affairs, history, military strategy, science, sports, technology, travel, and all the topics in between. My goal was to look for developments and insights outside the usual information we’d automatically be exposed to within the industry, and then reframe those developments and insights into a meaningful context for our work.

Adding online resources, I’ve continued this environmental scanning habit ever since. Yep, I monitor all the key LIS information sources, but I also scan tons of other non-LIS information sources at least once a month so that my thinking – and career framework – is broadened beyond the traditional LIS field.

Although I sort of fell into this process and then realized later how powerful a broader information universe could be to my career opportunities (read: I can’t take any credit for this being a brilliant career strategy on my part!), it has, in fact, been incredibly helpful in building a resilient career. Here’s why I’d recommend this type of information monitoring for your LIS career as well:

  • You’ll usually know at least a top-level something about nearly every topic a patron or client might bring up
  • In an LIS environment, you’ll be able to bridge concepts and solutions between libraries and, say, the corporate world (or military strategy!)
  • You may often help patrons or clients spot new opportunities outside their usual information universe
  • It’s a great way to stay intellectually engaged with the world outside the library, which will make you a better librarian or information professional for your entire career
  • It’s a great way to take charge of your career by developing the habit of looking for and often finding emerging opportunities for information skills

In 2012, I wrote LIS Career Sourcebook (Libraries Unlimited), which addresses each of the career stages LIS professionals are likely to encounter and the recommended resources for navigating those stages effectively and successfully. For example, there are chapters on the LIS career universe, education options, job hunting, professional development, building a professional network, establishing a professional brand, managing, leading, going independent, and dealing with career transition points. As I began putting the materials together, I tried to take a similarly inclusive approach to help readers expand their frame of reference beyond the library discipline.

So, for example, the chapter on management recommends not only Curzon’s Managing Change: A How-to-Do-It Manual for Libraries, but also key management books from Peter Drucker (Management: Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices), Marcus Buckingham (First, Break All the Rules), Robert B. Cialdini (Influence: Science and Practice), and Daniel Goleman (Working with Emotional Intelligence). Although none of these thought leaders had libraries or information organizations in mind when they wrote these landmark books, their lessons and insights are nevertheless highly applicable.

When it comes to creating a resilient career, I’d strongly suggest that one of your goals be to create a broad knowledge base, both inside and outside of the LIS world. My recommendation: go for a magazine cruise once a month and look at all the different topics (scanning the tables of contents usually suffices), set up an online environmental scan using the reader that works best for you, and follow thought leaders in non-LIS disciplines using your favorite social media tools. Because in my experience, the broader your information universe, the broader your career opportunity universe.


Kim DorityKim Dority is the founder and president of Dority & Associates, an information strategy and content development company. During her career, she has worked in academia, publishing, telecommunications, and the library fields, in for-profit and nonprofit settings, for both established companies and start-ups. Kim created and teaches a course on alternative LIS career paths in the University of Denver’s LIS graduate program, and is the author of two books on LIS careers, Rethinking Information Work (2006) and LIS Career Sourcebook (2012), both published by Libraries Unlimited. In addition, Kim created and manages the LinkedIn “LIS Career Options” group, which now includes more than 6,000 members from 60 different countries commenting on roughly 575 discussions. She received her MLS from the University of Denver.

 

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Author’s Corner: Launching Your Career through Professional Service

After so much recently for new graduates, I’m pleased to present today’s post by Linda Crook and Dawn Lowe Wincentsen.  They are the editors of Mid-Career Library and Information Professionals: A Leadership Primer, a resource which might be of interest to those of you who have established a toehold, and want to know how to get even further up LIS mountain.  In this post, Crook and Wincentsen each share a personal anecdote, which should give you a feel for the style of their book: personal and easy-to-read.

Mid Career Library and Information Professionals


Linda Crook: My Time as NMRT President

As I prepared to write about my involvement with NMRT, my first thought was “I’m getting tired of telling this story.” Upon reflection, however, I realized that it’s the story itself that is the key. By launching my career through professional service, I have given a shape to my career. I have created a narrative that illustrates my growth and accomplishments.
Although I earned my MLIS in 2000, my career didn’t start until 2007, when I went to ALA Midwinter. I shyly attended the New Members Round Table informal “meet and greet,” and it was love at first sight. I participated in two committees my first year in NMRT, and chaired a committee the following year. I was elected NMRT Networking Director, a 2-year board position, which was one of the ways I made a connection with Dawn. As I completed that term, I was elected to a three-year NMRT Presidential term (one year each as Vice President, President, and Past President). As my past-presidential year winds down, my NMRT service demonstrates my development in the profession, and it’s a great stepping-off place for the next adventure.

Around the central narrative of my career are the hundreds or thousands of connections I’ve made with library workers and library students. Any of those relationships could become a bigger part of the story as I continue on my way. I met Dawn through NMRT service, and that connection and our conversations created the opportunity to co-edit a book together. All of the NMRT Board members for the past several years have had the opportunity to work closely with Courtney Young, who launched her career with professional service in an epic way. We all have the opportunity to shape the narrative of our career through professional service, whether we want to go straight up the ladder, specialize in one area, or explore a range of options. I am proud of the career I have shaped with NMRT, and I know that relationship will continue to nourish my soul long after my term in NMRT has ended.

Dawn Lowe Wincentsen:What I Have Learned by Saying Yes

It was a sunny day in Louisiana (as many days are,) and I said yes. No, it was not a proposal, it was a volunteer opportunity.  That first time was to be part of the Graduate Information Science Student Association (GLISSA) in the School of Library and Information Science (SLIS) at Louisiana State University (LSU). The next time was a to a colleague who suggested I volunteer for an NMRT committee.  It all began to snowball after that. I would see an opportunity on a listserve and I would say yes. A colleague would mention a committee in need and I would say yes. I have gotten better, and more selective since then, but along the way I have learned quite a lot.

It was a warm summer day in Chicago a few years later. I was at the American Library Association Annual conference. Linda and I were having a conversation that led to a twitter discussion on a book idea. In that case we both said yes, and co-edited, “Mid-Career Library and Information Professionals: A Leadership Primer.” The connections made through saying yes are just as important as the skills developed, if not more so.

Earlier this year I put together my promotion portfolio, basically a review of everything I have done over the last five years. In this review included all of my committees, from those on campus to national organizations, each one doing something a bit different. This review reminded me that I have worked on many different projects from developing policy to allocating funds to event planning. Each of these builds a bit different of a skill set. Each of these skill sets is then something I can come to when needed, either in my professional life, or my volunteer life.

I no longer wait for opportunity to come knocking. I go out to find it. I look on listserves and web pages of associations. I send letters to people putting together committees, I show up to meetings and events – even if only virtually when travel is a barrier. I put myself out there. This is something that employers look for, people who are willing to come to them, and put themselves out there, to develop new skills, and adapt to new situations. All of this makes me more marketable as a librarian.

So, don’t wait for sunny days, and opportunity to come to you, go find it, and say yes.  Build new skills, and make new connections.


Linda CrookLinda Crook is Reference Team Leader & Science Librarian at Washington State University in Pullman, WA. She earned her MLIS at the University of Washington in 2000, and earned a Certificate of Advanced Studies in Health Sciences Librarianship at the University of Pittsburgh in 2011. She is current Past President of the ALA New Members Round Table, and co-editor of, “Mid-career library and information professionals: a leadership primer.” She has recently started job hunting in Eugene, OR

Dawn Lowe WincentsenDawn Lowe Wincentsen is the Wilsonville Campus Librarian at Oregon Institute of Technology. She graduated with her MLIS from Louisiana State university in 2003, has previously worked at Florida State University, and Louisiana State University, and is the co-author of “A Leadership Primer for New Librarians“ (2008) and co-editor of, “Mid-career library and information professionals: a leadership primer.”

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Further Questions: Advice for “older” job hunters

This week I asked people who hire librarians:


Just as younger librarians worry about being perceived as inexperienced and skipped over, older librarians worry about stereotypes preventing them from finding work.  Can you dispel some of this worry by sharing a story about hiring an “older” librarian?  Any particular advice for this type of job hunter?  And finally, just for fun, which do you think is a bigger disadvantage in a job hunt: youth or age?


Marge Loch-WoutersI had great luck hiring two older staffers at my previous management position. In particular, we were looking for a level of maturity to balance our team and lend perspective to our efforts.  We really looked for clues that the older applicants were movers and shakers in terms of creative ideas and energy.  It was a delicate balance because some applicants bringing in almost too much experience at a management level and it’s difficult in a non-management position to know if this applicant can blend in with the team without overtly leading it. We felt great about the hires.
Best advice to older job applicants? Stay current and demonstrate ability/knowledge in areas that are trending now – maker spaces; digital content; early literacy chops; Common Core; fiction/non-fiction blending in collections; etc. That way you can stand shoulder to shoulder with younger applicants.
Bigger disadvantage – youth or age?  That’s tough. Young applicants often lack necessary experience and hiring managers know they might have to do a lot of training to bring them up to speed. Older applicants run the risk of too much experience that makes hiring managers shy away. I have hired both demographics and just find that the best candidate, regardless of age/experience, always rises to the top.
– Marge Loch-Wouters, Youth Services Coordinator, La Crosse (WI) Public Library
Nicola FranklinDespite legislation in many countries, age discrimination (even if it’s subconscious on the part of the hirer) can still unfortunately play a part in some hiring decisions.  Employers may feel they need someone with a certain amount of experience for them to be able to do their job successfully.
This could be because they feel it will have taken a long time for someone to have gathered the range or depth of skills they think is necessary, or because they feel that someone needs a certain degree of gravitas in order to interact successfully with their patrons or other staff and may assume that only comes with age or length of experience.
It is important to challenge these stereotypes.  People learn skills at different rates – it is perfectly possible for one person to become expert in something after a year or two, while another person may do a job for ten years and never really “get it”.  Some people naturally inspire confidence, at any age, while others will never project a strong personality whatever their age.
If a certain range or depth of skill is required, or certain personality characteristics are sought, these should be assessed objectively (by test, application form, interview, role play, etc), not assumed from someone’s age.How successful a candidate is at getting a job depends much more on their attitude than on their numeric age.  I have met candidates in their 40’s who have been made redundant and are convinced they will never work again – I remember one lady being in floods of tears during her registration interview because of this worry, and it took a long while to coax her to tell me about her skills.  Another candidate, of much the same age who I saw within a week of the first person, hadn’t given such a possibility a thought and was too busy promoting her great skills and experiences to worry about her age!
As a recruiter I put forward candidates based on the match of their skills and personality to the requirements of the job, and I take off any mention of age or date of birth from CVs and resumes.  If a client asked me a candidate’s age I wouldn’t tell them – often I have no idea myself!  It simply isn’t a relevant factor.
– Nicola Franklin, Director, The Library Career Centre Ltd.
J. McRee Elrod

We find retired cataloguers with their long experience make excellent part time distance cataloguers.

– J. McRee (Mac) Elrod, Special Libraries Catalouging
In a recent candidate search I ended up with two finalists who were very different: gender, age and experience. Both had much to offer.  One was a fairly recent graduate, one had been a professional for many years. Because of the nature of the position, I chose the more experienced librarian. There were several reasons.  The person had more experience in a rural library setting, in a position with a similar level of independence that the job required. And the person had done more research and was much more acquainted with the weather, the size of the community and other such factors. Finally, the more experienced candidate really wowed key members of the interview team.
My advice for the “older” applicant is this: project energy, enthusiasm and forward thinking.  Show that you’re aware of current and future trends in the profession; even better, that you have such experience. Do your homework about the institution, the job and the community.  I am surprised at the candidates who don’t. I recently changed jobs myself as an “older” job hunter.  It can be done.
I believe that age is a disadvantage in this job market.  Recent surveys show that even though older workers are less likely to lose their job they have a more difficult time finding another one.  Agism is alive and well even in the field of librarianship.  With the retiring of we who are baby boomers, employers do look for applicants who can take the institution into the future, i.e. succession planning.  Even I feel the pull of nurturing the future leaders in our profession.  As well, I think older workers are at a disadvantage especially for entry level jobs. Just my honest opinion.
– Melanie Lightbody, Director of Libraries, Butte County
I hired an “older” librarian last year.  I passed the question on to her and thought you might like her response:
As an “older” librarian who spent nearly two years looking for employment and was fortunate enough to find work in Georgia a little over a year ago, the frustrations I ran into are not unlike those of new graduates.  We apply for positions based on our abilities, experience and preferences (if possible) and wait.  And wait. And wait some more.  While age isn’t listed on applications or resumes, a look at experience gives some idea about the age of the prospective employee but if you can’t get an interview it’s difficult to sell yourself regardless of age.  Some employers want new graduates to save money, to mold librarians to their institutions’ needs or perhaps because they believe that the brand new MLS candidate will have new ideas, attitudes and energy to bring to the job.  On the other hand, if the system is established and perhaps short staffed and there’s a need for someone who can hit the ground running, the director may be looking for the experienced professional. 
Of the scores of applications I filled out for positions across the country I had only two interviews.  I was willing to travel. I was willing to take a part time position for what was essentially a full time work load.  I didn’t care where the library was located.  As a person desperately seeking employment I was willing to compromise, a lot.  When it comes down to it, my younger fellows and I had the same issue.  We really never knew what our prospective employers were looking for in spite the job descriptions.  My current director wanted someone who knew that people lie. She wanted a librarian who knew how libraries worked and could acclimate quickly. Though it wasn’t her intention, during my first week on the job I was taken from system training to running a branch with some political issues.  To me it was a blast.  To a new graduate it could have been a nightmare.  It all comes under other duties as assigned.
-Joan
– Response collected by Dusty Gres, Director, Ohoopee Regional Library System
Most importantly, you need to be active in the community: serve on committees, attend meetings, respond to ILL requests, BE HELPFUL!!! Why should people help you if you sit in your office all day and give nothing back? We are all busy, so that is no excuse.You also need to write. Your local chapter newsletter can always use content, apply to present at seminars and write articles that go with them.Be visible, be helpful, contribute.

Also, dress nicely all the time, get a haircut or update your look.

– Jaye Lapachet, Manager of Library Services, Coblentz, Patch, Duffy & Bass LLP
Donald LickleyAs a recruitment agency, we meet and successfully place candidates at all stages of their careers.
In the UK, when the Age Discrimination Act 2006 came into force, in addition to the practical requirements of the new legislation, there was much discussion in recruitment circles about ensuring that job descriptions and adverts were carefully worded to avoid discriminatory practice. Now that the legislation has bedded down and litigation activity on that front has been somewhat less than anticipated, we are a little more relaxed about vocabulary, but we have no problem in adhering to recommended best practice. Certainly we do encounter a few employers who, more or less explicitly, will not look at candidates over a certain age (ironically some law firms can be particularly prone to this).  This kind of attitude invariably comes from managers whose practical skills in managing workplace diversity in general are very undeveloped. A question for job seekers in these circumstances could be – would you want to work for this kind of manager anyway?
I can think of several candidates around statutory retirement age whom we have placed in excellent roles recently. In particular, one candidate who is in the UK on a working holiday has just completed one successful project for us in a major university library service, and is about to commence another.  Another candidate with a long career in public libraries was offered retirement folllowing a workplace restructure, but decided that they were not ready to stop working. They are now developing an impressive portfolio of temporary management roles, still in public libraries. Their feedback to us: “It’s so encouraging to find that someone of my age can get two temporary contracts through a recruitment agency in the short time I have been registered”.  The key to success is always attitude.  Job seekers with a positive, enthusiastic and flexible attitude, alongside excellent, up-to-date technical skills will always do well, regardless of age.
– Donald Lickley, Recruitment Consultant, Sue Hill Recruiting
Terry Ann LawlerUnfortunately for new library school graduates, an older or more experienced librarian generally has broader levels of skills which could really make a difference my community.  I think the older librarian has a huge benefit over the younger one with his or her added years of experience both in the library and in other fields outside of librarianship.  I would not say that it is an issue in my community for an older librarian versus a younger one to get a particular job.  I and everyone I work with have always hired the candidate with the best experience as well as the person who is the best fit for our team, regardless of age.

I would say that one of the exceptions to this would be computer skills.  If you are an older person who has not really kept up with technology, this could hurt you in terms of job competition.

– Terry Lawler, Assistant Manager and Children’s Librarian, Palo Verde Branch, Phoenix Public Library

Thank you as always to our contributors for their time and insight.  If you’re someone who hires librarians and are interested in participating in this feature, please email me at hiringlibrariansATgmail.

Quoth the raven “CAW-ment! CAW-ment!” Thanks for reading!

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Further Questions: Should Coursework Go on a Resume?

This week I asked people who hire librarians:

Under what circumstances, if any, would you want to see coursework listed on a resume?

Laurie PhillipsI think there are times when I’ve seen a heading for “Coursework In:” on a resume and I think that’s helpful if someone is coming right out of library school. More often, I like to hear in the letter of application how the person’s coursework and particular experiences in those courses might relate to the job I’m posting. For example, we’re a team based organization so I want to hear how the person has worked collaboratively and successfully on group projects. But, if the person has particular technical skills associated with coursework, that can be great on a resume.

– Laurie Phillips, Associate Dean for Technical Services, J. Edgar & Louise S. Monroe Library, Loyola University New Orleans

Marge Loch-Wouters

Rule of thumb: do not go over the top on this. I like to see only coursework pertaining to the position in the resume. If there is other coursework that might be pertinent based on the posted job description, that can go in as a mention in the cover letter.

– Marge Loch-Wouters, Youth Services Coordinator, La Crosse (WI) Public Library

There are no circumstances under which I’d want to see coursework on a resume.  On an application, yes but not on a resume even for brand new grads.

– Melanie Lightbody, Director of Libraries, Butte County

I am not interested in seeing coursework on a resume. I can’t think of any circumstances in which I would want to see it, though it would be a good addition to a cover letter, if it was relevant to a special project mentioned in the ad. It would also be a good topic to discuss in the interview. It could also be a separate page, like publications and speaking engagements, with course title and description. Instructor might also be useful.

– Jaye Lapachet, Manager of Library Services, Coblentz, Patch, Duffy & Bass LLP

Nicola FranklinCoursework could mean a list of modules taken during an MLS, or the dissertation topic.  If it’s the second, I would expect to see it listed on a new (or relatively new) graduate’s resume, and especially so if it were relevant to the post being applied for (eg something on an aspect of public library policy or on diversity outreach, when applying for a public library job).  If it’s the first case, I don’t think I’d ever advocate to include a full list of all modules, since they can take up a lot of space and it’s almost impossible for all of them to be relevant to any one job.  Sometimes it might be useful for a new graduate to include one or two modules they’ve taken where those are directly relevant to the job being applied for (cataloguing for a cataloguing job, or information retrieval for a research job, for example).

I wouldn’t advise a more experienced candidate to include either modules or dissertation title on their resume / CV, just to put the awarding institution and qualification gained.  They should have plenty of other experiences, skills and achievements to talk about on their resume!

– Nicola Franklin, Director, The Library Career Centre Ltd.

J. McRee Elrod

Since not all library schools now require cataloguing, we are only interested in what cataloguing courses have been taken.

– J. McRee (Mac) Elrod, Special Libraries Catalouging

Marleah AugustineIt would be most important and most valuable to see coursework if a person were applying for a job with a specific specialty area or if they did not major in that specific field. If someone is applying for an ESL position and they have an MLS, I’d like to see examples of the language or education coursework that would be applicable. My husband, for example, has a philosophy degree and worked as a computer programmer. He listed networking and computer coursework that he had taken on his application, since at first glance the philosophy degree does not tell you why he might be qualified.

– Marleah Augustine, Adult Department Librarian at Hays Public Library

Petra MauerhoffI would like to see coursework listed on someone’s resume if it is relevant to the position and the person graduated within the past 12 to 18 months. Meaning, if they do not have a lot of professional experience related to the position for which they are applying, but have completed relevant course work. That also means that I really only want to see coursework listed on a resume if the application is for an entry level position. If you are applying for a management position and you are telling me what courses you took in library school related to the position, I will assume that you don’t have enough actual experience to apply for that job.

– Petra Mauerhoff, CEO, Shortgrass Library System

Emilie SmartI guess if the candidate is a new grad and took some specialized courses that ran outside the norm for library school, it might be useful to list them — but only if they are really special. If the candidate has library experience and took specialized coursework as continuing education, I’d probably like to see what those courses were.  It would be a good indicator that the candidate is interested in professional growth and upward mobility.

– Emilie Smart, Division Coordinator of Reference Services & Computer Services at East Baton Rouge Parish Library

Terry Ann LawlerI would only want to see course-work on the resume if it was something really, really impressive.

I understand that it is difficult to flesh out a resume when you haven’t had a lot of jobs and it is tempting to put “relevant” course work on your resume to make it seem less sparse.  If that is your issue, I would urge you to find other resume formats that don’t leave you looking at white space.  For example, a skills based resume could highlight all the things you learned in school without actually referencing actual course work and would conveniently fill in a paragraph or bulleted section.  In fact, this type of resume is very handy for both the prospective employee and the employer.  It allows the hiring supervisor to scan through it quickly to check off the necessaries and allows the future employee to highlight outstanding skills and specialties that might not be obvious in a more traditional or chronological resume.

On the other hand, if you did something really cool that no one else you know has done, by all means, show it off!

One great way to show off your coursework is to have an online profile.  You can reference your online profile on your resume without having to put everything in it on actual paper.  This allows you to really highlight your technical skills, volunteer work and other parts of your personality and skill set that you might have a spot for on your resume. It also allows you to network on a social media level.  Try Google + or Yahoo for free resume/profile websites.  I’ve even seen profiles on Prezi.  Good luck!

– Terry Lawler, Assistant Manager and Children’s Librarian, Palo Verde Branch, Phoenix Public Library

Thank you as always to our contributors for their time and insight.  If you’re someone who hires librarians and are interested in participating in this feature, please email me at hiringlibrariansATgmail.

Comments are a girl’s best friend, and  I could really use a friend.  Thanks for reading!

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Filed under Academic, Cataloging/Technical Services, Entry Level, Further Questions, Management, MLIS Students, Other Organization or Library Type, Public

We are Generally Looking for People Who Will Be Able to Grow and Change with the Library We Now Work In

Wren Library, Trinity College, Cambridge, ca. 1865-1885Here is another anonymous interview with a non-librarian! This person has worked in human resources and has been a hiring manager and a member of a hiring committee at an Academic Library with more than 200 staff members.
What are the top three things you look for in a candidate?

ability to work with others OR managerial and supervisory skills/experience
creativity
knowledge of and ease with technology

Do you have any instant dealbreakers, either in the application packet or the interview process?

If it seems like someone is dishonest on their resume or in answering questions, or inflating their experience, it can really turn everyone off.

What are you tired of seeing on resumes/in cover letters?

People who say they love to read, love books, have always wanted to be a librarian. We are generally looking for people who will be able to grow and change with the library we now work in. People who have a broad range of skills, are adaptable, and (often, depending on the job) with other work experience outside libraries will get more attention.

Is there anything that people don’t put on their resumes that you wish they did?

Numbers! How many people did you supervise? How many records do you catalog each month? What size budget were you responsible for? etc.

How many pages should a cover letter be?

√ Only one!

How many pages should a resume/CV be?

√ Other: depends on age, experience, position type

Do you have a preferred format for application documents?

√ No preference, as long as I can open it

Should a resume/CV have an Objective statement?

√ No

If applications are emailed, how should the cover letter be submitted?

√ I don’t care

What’s the best way to win you over in an interview?

Be prepared. Show you did some research on our organization. Listen and ask good questions. Be honest about what you know and don’t know. Sense of humor!

What are some of the most common mistakes people make in an interview?

Not preparing. Think about your past work experience and specific examples of projects you’ve worked on, problems you’ve solved, what you like and don’t like. You don’t know exactly which questions you will get, but if you prepare in this way, you can use different examples where you need them.
Presentations that go over the time allotted. Better to pick one area you know well, refine it, and be ready for questions. You can always say what else you could do with more time.

How has hiring changed at your organization since you’ve been in on the process?

I have been here in HR about 6 years. We receive more applications in the past few years, especially for entry level jobs. More and more aspects now go through electronic communication, including rejections (instead of doing them by phone).

Anything else you’d like to let job-seekers know?

Don’t take it personally when you don’t hear back after applying. You have no way of knowing who you are up against. Take time to write a cover letter and tailor your resume specifically and you will see more results that throwing in lots of applications all over. We want to know why you are interested and the right fit for that specific job. Also, networking is still a good way to get an in, so someone at least looks more carefully at your application.

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Filed under 200+ staff members, Academic, Cataloging/Technical Services, Entry Level, Management, Original Survey

Every Accomplishment Isn’t Important Since Oftentimes Those Accomplishments Overlap

Botany Library, Field Columbian Museum, 1912This anonymous interview is with a librarian from a special library with 0-10 staff members. S/He has been a hiring manager and a member of a hiring committee.

What are the top things you look for in a candidate?

Commitment to librarianship and the particular area of librarianship that I am hiring for.
Confidence in existing experience and in any learning that will be required in the position being hired for.

Do you have any instant dealbreakers, either in the application packet or the interview process?

Not really but not applying your application to the job you are applying for makes me weary.  I work for a very specific type of library and many applicants apply to jobs I have available as if they were just any kind of library job.  While any library/librarianship experience will be important and relevant, for example if you’ve spent most of your time at a reference desk and you are applying for a cataloging position please tell me how your experience makes you a good candidate for the job, don’t just tell me that you worked at a reference desk and therefore can do any library job.

Is there anything that people don’t put on their resumes that you wish they did?

I’m tired of new librarians or those early in their careers leaving out other work experience.  You may not have a lot of library experience, but then you need to showcase how your other experience qualifies you for the job.

How many pages should a cover letter be?

√ Only one!

How many pages should a resume/CV be?

√ Other: This really depends on the applicant.  Early career librarians need not have a long resume, nor try to beef it up with  unnecessary material, theirs should be just one page.  But if you have more extensive experience, by all makes, more pages is fine but it should still be kept short and sweet, every accomplishment isn’t important since oftentimes those accomplishments overlap.

Do you have a preferred format for application documents?

√ No preference, as long as I can open it

Should a resume/CV have an Objective statement?

√ Other: I’m inclined to say no.  They aren’t particularly useful, and are always quite generic.  I think the cover letter should focus on that.

If applications are emailed, how should the cover letter be submitted?

√ I don’t care

What’s the best way to win you over in an interview?

Appear interested in the job you are applying for and conversational.  Don’t just repeat what you’ve written in a cover letter/resume.  Be yourself.

What are some of the most common mistakes people make in an interview?

Talk in bullet points.  I am hiring a person, employee, not a resume.

Anything else you’d like to let job-seekers know?

Do what you can to connect to the job you are applying for.  Of course there will be times when you are applying for jobs that might not be your ideal employment, but find a way that you could make that job yours, what you can bring to it, what you can get out it.  Be honest, don’t just say what you think the interviewer wants you to say.

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Filed under 0-10 staff members, Cataloging/Technical Services, Entry Level, Management, Original Survey, Public Services/Reference, Special

We work with the Public All Day; They Need to Hear You Speak

Belmont Branch Construction, 1956This anonymous interview is with a public librarian who has been a hiring manager and a member of a hiring committee at a library with 50-100 staff members.

 

What are the top three things you look for in a candidate?

People Skills: I want staff that enjoys working with the public as well as with other staff.
Desire for growth: I want to hire staff that are interested in moving up in the organization; or interested in developing their own unique skill sets as a professional. A library is a place of learning, so demonstrate your curiosity!
Trainability: I want to know if you will be able to learn the skills necessary for the job, and willing to learn from your peers.

Do you have any instant dealbreakers, either in the application packet or the interview process?

Sloppy resumes/cover letters: I get a lot of resumes that it is obvious that they just tweaked a template or copied it off the internet, or filled in some online form. Please take the time to make a comprehensive, personal resume/cover letter.
In the interview: if you are too quiet for me to hear you clearly. We work with the public all day; they need to hear you speak.

What are you tired of seeing on resumes/in cover letters?

For some reason people seem to include that they are physically in good health a lot in their cover letters.
Having no demonstrated interested in libraries. I’ve had applicants with pharmacy tech. degrees and no experience apply; if that is your background please include some information as to why you want to work in library.
Education without any experience, please at least volunteer at a library or do an internship/practicum at one.

Is there anything that people don’t put on their resumes that you wish they did?

Include customer service experience! I hire for the circulation desk and sometimes don’t hear about a person’s customer service experience until I pry it out of them in an interview. I’ve had people with and an MLIS only talk about their education; if you were a waitress, bartender, worked retail I want to know because it shows me how you work with people.

How many pages should a cover letter be?

√ Two is ok, but no more

How many pages should a resume/CV be?

√ As many as it takes, but keep it short and sweet

Do you have a preferred format for application documents?

√ .pdf

Should a resume/CV have an Objective statement?

√ Other: If you have one make sure it shows that you could grow in my organization.

If applications are emailed, how should the cover letter be submitted?

√ As an attachment only

What’s the best way to win you over in an interview?

Be interested in working with the public, excited is even better. Show me that you are not only interested in the job but also the organization. Bonus points if you show that you are interested in the community. Be enthusiastic about librarianship and aware of recent developments in libraries in general, keep up with your current events.

What are some of the most common mistakes people make in an interview?

They treat it more like a question answer session than a conversation. Feel free to think about what I am asking you, and elaborate on your responses. If there is a natural segue into something  you are interested or know something about than feel free to talk about that.
I like long interesting interviews where the person is comfortable talking to me.
They don’t dress appropriately. Iron your clothes, wear something business like. Don’t come to an interview with me in khakis and polo. Libraries are business casual, but management here tends to be less casual than regular staff so you don’t want to underdress for the interview. If you can walk through the library at least once to get an idea how staff dress, step it up a notch from that or if you see someone in management match their level of dress.

How has hiring changed at your organization since you’ve been in on the process?

I hire for the circulation department, library subs, and other management. Since I came on board we look more at customer service skills and trainability over just education. Also for entry level jobs we look more closely at a potential growth path for that employee.

Anything else you’d like to let job-seekers know?

Be willing to move, jobs are hard enough to come by without limiting yourself to a specific location.

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Filed under 50-100 staff members, Circulation, Entry Level, Management, Original Survey, Public, Substitutes/Pool