Back in 2012/2013 I ran a survey of job hunters (co-authored by Naomi House of INALJ). It had over 500 responses, including 117 people who were at least initially willing to be non-anonymous. In this series, we check in with these respondents to see where they are about a decade later.
“Anonymous 3” filled out the original survey in late 2012 and her answers appeared as How About Not Discouraging People From Out of State. At the time she was not employed and looking in multiple library types for entry-level or early career librarian positions. We followed up in early 2014, and found that she was doing government contract work while completing her PhD. Then, in the end of 2014, she had transitioned to full time work as a financial manager.
When I checked in with her recently I learned that she has continued her shift to the Data side. She was kind enough to answer my questions below:
Where are you now? What’s your work situation like, and what path did you take to get where you are?
I continued to embrace my love of data – the Information Science piece of my MLIS – over the librarianship side of it and moved further into the world of data analytics. I worked hard and became the first Chief Analytics Officer at my organization; near the end of the pandemic, I accepted a full time remote position at a global company. I work with many people who actually started as librarians and then realized that world wasn’t for them and shifted into data. If someone’s education had a solid foundation in databases and systems, but they’re not fully enjoying working as a librarian, data may be a world that they could explore.
Were any parts of your journey completely unexpected?
Becoming a C-suite leader was not anything I had planned on, but it was a great journey that I fully enjoyed. It truly showed me that I had my feet on the right path for my career, and that path has taken me even further than I had ever dreamed would be possible for my life. I am so deeply grateful for where I am and what I have achieved.
Looking over your past answers, what pops out at you? Has anything changed?
My anger over not accepting out of state employees! The out of state employees anger was – and is – still valid in many ways; if someone is willing to move, don’t count them out. As a full time remote worker at this point, I think that the pandemic has further emphasized that you don’t need to confine yourselves to local resources, though I do realize that statement doesn’t apply to in-person librarians. Another thing that stood out were my comments about education not being valued as much as experience – looking back, that was definitely the frustrated 22-year old in me that could not find a job in a faltering economy in a very tight field. Experience can be invaluable, but I do think there are key aspects of hiring new grads that many hiring managers tend to overlook, such as the ability to train up and mold that person the way that you feel is best vs having to break bad habits.
Have you had a chance to hire anyone? If so, what was that like?
I have hired multiple people throughout my career; there are so many great candidates that it really does come down to the interview. I rarely, if ever, looked at cover letters because those get screened before they made their way to me. The resumes usually have the key information for me – if there are certain skills or indicators that the person can learn what I need them to, they go into the interview process. I try to have as little bias as possible when I interview someone; if the candidates are polite and professional, that is what is important. Once I interviewed someone who refused to make eye contact with me, had an angry attitude, crossed their arms, and watched the clock the entire time. Needless to say, despite being immensely qualified, that person did not get a call back.
Do you have any advice for job hunters?
Ensure that you have quantifiable achievements on your resumes – e.g. “This analysis served 14K+ people and saved the organization $150K in labor per month.” These quantifiable metrics mean far more to a hiring manager than “I am a hard worker!” Think hard about how you can bring something new to the table and make sure that you sound organic in your responses when interviewing. I have seen people rejected for being “overconfident” and also “seeming scripted” – note that these were not positions for which I was hiring, but others that I knew.
Do you have any advice for people who hire LIS folks?
It depends on the field. If hiring outside of librarianship, focus on their database skills, web development skills, and knowledge (all of which I had back when I graduated and I am certain are far more common in today’s programs). I’m afraid that I cannot speak to those within the library field as I have so thoroughly departed from it.
Anything else you’d like to tell us?
Never give up! There are a lot of opportunities out there; you just have to make yourself open to seeing them and developing yourself.