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.
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