Category Archives: Reader Request

Reader Request: Greensboro Libraries

This interview is with Kathy Bradshaw, the Human Resources Librarian at The University of North Carolina Greensboro.  The University Libraries have 100-200 staff members. This interview was requested by a reader who is interested in their Diversity Residency.   These responses are not specific to the Diversity Residency posting, but are responses that are applicable to all positions. Ms. Bradshaw has been part of the hiring process as a manager, a member of a hiring committee, and in a human resources capacity.

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

  • Good writing skills.  The majority of the librarians at my institution are hired as tenure track faculty,  and publication is  expected.  Poor writing skills will not reflect well on your application.
  • A cover letter that outlines why the applicant is suitable for the position advertised.  The cover letter should tell us not only why you are a good candidate for the position, but how your skills and knowledge will benefit the organization, and how those skills are applicable to the advertised position.
  • Previous experience or education that matches the advertised position.  For entry level positions, internships and/or practicums, even volunteer  experience in a library is crucial.

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

  • Our professional librarians are required to have an ALA accredited MLS.  We always get applicants that don’t have the required degree.
  • Having an objective for a position that I didn’t advertise.  (I had an application from a person who gave her objective as “To obtain a position as a school media specialist.”  I work in an academic library-we don’t have any positions for school media specialists.)
  • Being unprepared for the interview (this happens more with telephone interviews.)
  • Applicants that send cover letters to the wrong employer (It happens more than you think; this is common because many people looking for a job, recycle both their resume and cover letters and use them for every job application.)
  • A poorly written cover letter.
  • Excessive typos (especially when they say they are a detail oriented person) in the cover letter or resume.

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

Letters with long descriptions of how hard working, industrious, etc. the applicant is, but fail to address the position requirements.

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

Hobbies are usually not relevant to the position advertised.  Listing your hobbies takes up precious space that could have been used to describe additional skills or accomplishments.  Applicants should also remember to put their full name and contact information (email, phone number) on every document that is submitted.

How many pages should a cover letter be?

√  Two is ok, but no more

How many pages should a resume/CV be?

√  Other:  We are an academic library, and it is expected that the experienced librarians we hire would have an extensive CV, detailing publication and presentation experience.  The exception would be for entry level positions.

Do you have a preferred format for application documents?

√  Other:  I actually prefer PDF, but what really matters is that the applicant follow the specific instructions outlined in the posting.

Should a resume/CV have an Objective statement?

√ Other:  To me, an objective is a waste of precious real estate on a resume/CV.  Hiring managers know that your objective is to get a job.

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

√ Other:  Again, it is crucial to follow the instructions in the posting.  In our current system, sending me the cover letter in the email means I have to copy that info and create a Word or PDF document.

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

An applicant that is prepared for the interview and demonstrates to the Search Committee that they have done research on the position, the library, and our institution.

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

Not showing enthusiasm for the position and for the interview, talking too long in response to a question, not providing well thought out answers to common interview questions,  not having any questions for the interviewers.

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

We request that references be submitted with the application.  Candidates should not only provide the name of their reference, but the full contact information for the reference (postal address, email address, phone number) and outline the relationship of the reference to the candidate.  Please let us know if this is your former supervisor, colleague, etc.  I have received reference lists with only a name and telephone number, a name and email address, etc.  I have no idea if the reference being provided is a former supervisor or your next door neighbor.

Please ignore this code, which is just some blog business: CECMZK72S3ZG

Advertisements

1 Comment

Filed under 100-200 staff members, Academic, Reader Request

Reader Request: Anythink Libraries

Susan DobbsThis is the first of our reader requests!  This interview is with Susan Dobbs, the Human Resources Director of Anythink Libraries.  Anythink is a public library system with 100-200 staff members. It serves the residents of Adams County, Colorado, but has operated independently from the county since 2004. Their website highlights a vibrant, community-driven organization that embraces innovation. If this sounds interesting to you, they provide a place for library enthusiasts to share their own revolutionary ideas at the Anythink Tank.  I contacted Ms.Dobbs at the request of a reader who is interested in their Adult Guide position. Ms. Dobbs is not a librarian. She has participated in hiring processes as a hiring manager, a member of a hiring committee, and of course as part of human resources. She can be  contacted for questions at  sdobbsATanythinklibraries.org

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

Competencies, Skills and Fun.

1)      Anythink has 13 core competencies such as adaptability, problem solving and innovation. We hire people that align with our competencies.

2)      We will look to the Adult Guide to bring skills and experience in programming, customer service, reference and leadership.

3)      Fun.  Bring it.

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

Do we have any deal breakers….Hmm.  Axe murder-is a definite no go.  But seriously there are no real deal breakers, just better matches.  Our interview process is to do our very best to describe our district and give the candidate a chance to talk about their experience, skills, hopes and dreams and see if there is a fit.   This is a little like speed dating hoping you find a spark with each other in an hour or so time frame.

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

A cover letter should have a little of someone’s personality in it.   A cover letter out of the sample cover letter book doesn’t help us understand who you are.  People are interesting… Show us what your passion and interests are and how they connect to Anythink.

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

Show us your versatility. Describe your value add.  What things are you into that could translate to Anythink.

How many pages should a cover letter be?

√ Only one!

How many pages should a resume/CV be?

√ Two is ok, but no more

Do you have a preferred format for application documents?

√  doc

Should a resume/CV have an Objective statement?

√ I don’t care

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 yourself, show your personality in the interview.   Be proud of your accomplishments and let us know about them in the interview.  Be confident but humble.

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

The big mistake is a candidate coming in and not researching who we are before they interview with us.  Know enough to be dangerous on the type of organization we are, what is important to us, and what we have done.

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

We have built a strong competency based interview process.  Skills are important but how you do things are more important to us.

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

Spelling and Grammar count.

Be Honest.

Explain any gaps in your employment history on your application.

Leave a comment

Filed under 100-200 staff members, Public, Reader Request