Category Archives: Special

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

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

It is still very much WHO you know not WHAT you know.

Christchurch libraryThis anonymous interview is with a job hunter who is currently employed (even if part-time or in an unrelated field), has been hired within the last two months, and has been looking for a new position for More than 18 months. This person is looking inAcademic library, Archives, Library vendor/service provider, Public library, School library, Special library at the following levels: Entry level , Requiring at least two years of experience. Here is this person’s experience with internships/volunteering:

3 years @ Melbourne Museum – Volunteering in Customer service, Library and Digitisation 6 month internship @ Melbourne Museum – Doing research in the Humanities department 1 month internship @ the Parliamentary Library, Canberra – worked in collection management, digitisation, databases and media services, customer service and coding.

This job hunter is in a Urban area in Australia/New Zealand and is willing to move Anywhere.

What are the top three things you’re looking for in a job?

A good salary, professional development opportunities and career progression.

Where do you look for open positions? (e.g. ALA Joblist, professional listserv, LinkedIn)

Networking with people, attending library related events, Linkedin, ALIA job board, libraryjobs.com.au

Do you expect to see salary range listed in a job ad?

  • Yes, and it’s a red flag when it’s not

What’s your routine for preparing an application packet? How much time do you spend on it?

Anywhere from 1-2 days to a couple of hours each day through-out the week.

Have you ever stretched the truth, exaggerated, or lied on your resume, or at some other point during the hiring process?

  • Other: stretched the truth

When would you like employers to contact you?(Please select all that apply)

  • To acknowledge my application
  • To tell me if I have or have not been selected to move on to the interview stage
  • To follow-up after an interview
  • Once the position has been filled, even if it’s not me

How do you prefer to communicate with potential employers?

  • Phone for good news, email for bad news

Which events during the interview/visit are most important to your assessment of the position (i.e. deciding if you want the job)?(Please check all that apply)

  • Tour of facility
  • Meeting department members/potential co-workers

What do you think employers should do to get the best candidates to apply?

Be clear in the position description about the responsibilities of the job. Be clear in the interview about the type of person/personality you are looking for the interview.

What do you think is the secret to getting hired?

It is still very much WHO you know not WHAT you know.

Do you have any comments, or are there any other questions you think we should add to this survey?

Good direct questions, easy to answer.

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Filed under Academic, Archives, Australia/New Zealand, Job hunter's survey, Public, School, Special, Urban area

I felt that I had been somewhat misled before coming in for the interview

Hunting Party Near The Writing-On-Stone Royal Northwest Mounted Police Detachment Galt Museum and Archives on the Flickr CommonsThis anonymous interview is with a job hunter who is not currently employed (even if part-time or in an unrelated field), has not been hired within the last two months, and has been looking for a new position for Less than six months. This person is looking in Academic library, Public library, Special library, at the following levels: Entry level , Requiring at least two years of experience. Here is this person’s experience with internships/volunteering:

Not entry level, but willing to go back there for the sake of starting somewhere!

This job hunter is in a Urban area in the Western US and is not willing to move anywhere.

What are the top three things you’re looking for in a job?

A sane and collegial work environment, with colleagues who care about their work and about maintaining a harmonious, productive workplace. A good match with my particular interests. Room to expand my skills in new areas.

Where do you look for open positions?

Professional listservs (mostly regional), Indeed.com, Higheredjobs.com, occasionally even Craigslist

Do you expect to see salary range listed in a job ad?

√ No (even if I might think it *should* be)

What’s your routine for preparing an application packet? How much time do you spend on it?

I spend a lot of time customizing my letter and resume for each position, rereading the job description, and, to my constant chagrin, filling out those online application forms, each of which seems to ask for some new, obscure detail I can barely manage to get my hands on. A lot of this time is not active–there’s a combination of procrastinating and revising, the exact balance of which varies depending on my level of excitement about the position.

Have you ever stretched the truth, exaggerated, or lied on your resume, or at some other point during the hiring process?

√ Other: I have frequently felt myself in an awkward position when answering the supplemental questions on many applications, which (I hope wrongly) I assume are used for initial screening/weeding of candidates. The wording of these questions is frequently black and white in a way that forces you to choose between discounting relevant experience that may be directly comparable, or risking an accusation of having inflated your claims of experience. I dread these questions, and almost always err on the side of discounting the experience that I think is directly comparable.

When would you like employers to contact you?

√ To acknowledge my application
√ To tell me if I have or have not been selected to move on to the interview stage
√ To follow-up after an interview
√ Once the position has been filled, even if it’s not me

√ Other: To acknowledge a thank you email after an interview! Receiving a polite, short, and completely noncommittal response feels infinitely better! Surely there is some way to do this politely without giving false hope.

How do you prefer to communicate with potential employers?

√ Email

Which events during the interview/visit are most important to your assessment of the position (i.e. deciding if you want the job)?

√ Tour of facility
√ Meeting department members/potential co-workers
√ Other: Having the sense that my understanding of the position from the description/application matches the interviewer’s discussion of it. I have had several experiences where I felt that I had been somewhat misled before coming in for the interview, perhaps accidentally, and each time this has felt like a red flag (among other signs of potential trouble). If the scope of the position is not yet completely worked out, it may be too early to be bringing in candidates! That said, I can imagine that a more flexibly defined position with room for growth could certainly be presented in a positive way.

What do you think employers should do to get the best candidates to apply?

Be specific and as detailed as possible in job descriptions, providing information when possible about salary range, benefits, and scheduling expectations. I would not mind seeing less librarians-as-unbelievably-awesome-superheroes rhetoric in job descriptions, in favor of substantive descriptions of the responsibilities and functions of the position. Be flexible as to how to count previous experience. While recognizing that there are real differences between public and academic librarianship, I tend to think that many job descriptions overemphasize the importance of having public library experience for public library work, and likewise for academic. Surely there is some amount of overlap that is worth valuing, and maybe it is the case that (some) hiring managers factor this in when looking at individual applications–if so, it would be nice to see that reflected in job descriptions. I think that many of us have gotten locked into one track or the other as the result of jobs taken in necessity when starting out.

What should employers do to make the hiring process less painful?

So much! I’ll limit myself to four suggestions, two of which I know are unrealistic. 1. My fantasy is that employers would move away from online application forms and simply require a resume, cover letter, and possibly a list of references. I realize there are reasons for these forms, though, and so I think the next best thing is to move to standardized, common application forms (e.g., GovernmentJobs.com) whenever possible. 2. One of the most important things I think employers can do is to recognize that many new librarians are frequently managing to get experience through cobbling together a number of part-time or sometimes extremely contingent positions. If you understand this, feel that two or three jobs simultaneously held are not equivalent to one full-time job (I’m not saying this is indefensible), and ask questions (supplemental questions, say) about years of experience, then it would be very helpful to provide examples of how to calculate years of experience that resemble the employment reality that many of your applicants have been facing. It would also be nice to see hourly wages given as an option on application forms when salary is being inquired about. 3. My other fantasy comes back to my enduring fear that supplemental questions are used to disqualify applications in bulk, without a human reviewing them. If that is the case, then I would love to see these questions function as a self-screening that would tell applicants up front, “don’t bother: you’re not qualified for this position!” and not allow them to proceed any further. Like I said, it’s a fantasy. I guess what I am trying to say is that if these supplemental questions are yes/no questions with no room for elaboration, they should be thought out very carefully, and should represent real, absolute deal-breakers rather than a wish-list. 4. Probably the most inevitable source of pain for those of us on the market is the uncertainty of when you will hear back from anyone. It is so hard, when you’ve applied or interviewed somewhere, to keep in mind that the hiring process is likely not the highest priority of that institution, and that there are bound to be reasonable causes of delay. I would just hope that employers can remember how miserable it is on the other end, and do everything in their power to update applicants/candidates as promptly as possible, and at multiple stages of the process. I would also say that if it’s not necessarily feasible to give candidates who are interviewing a more *realistic* idea of a timeframe, it is possible to name only the outer limit of your estimate. (It should take one week, but might take two? Tell them two, not one.) I think most of us would much rather be surprised by early news than agonize through a Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday when we’ve been told on Monday that there will definitely be a decision by the end of the week.

What do you think is the secret to getting hired?

Solidly meeting all of the most important requirements–and then some combination of the following: luck, timing, knowing someone, interviewing skill, and that nebulous thing, “fit.”

Do you have any comments, or are there any other questions you think we should add to this survey?

This is a great blog

Are you hunting for a new LIS job? Take the survey! http://tinyurl.com/hiringlibJOBHUNTERsurvey

This survey was co-authored by Naomi House from I Need A Library Job – Do you need one? Check it out!

Leave a comment

Filed under Academic, Job hunter's survey, Public, Special, Urban area, Western US

Nothing is worse than getting hired and then sitting around waiting for information about the hiring process.

This anonymous interview is with a job hunter who is currently employed (even if part-time or in an unrelated field), has not been hired within the last two months, and has been looking for a new position for Less than six months. This person is looking in Academic libraries, Library vendors/service providers, Public libraries, School libraries, and Special libraries, at the following levels: Entry level, Requiring at least two years of experience, Supervisory. This new grad/entry level applicant has internship/volunteering experience:

6 years public library experience (through high school, college, and post-undergrad)
Marketing & Publicity Internship
Youth Activism volunteer

This job hunter is in a city/town, in the Midwestern US, and is willing to move anywhere.

What are the top three things you’re looking for in a job?

 1. If it’s full time and if not, does it pay enough that I could survive for a bit while I look for a second job
2. If FT, benefits/sick/vacation
3. Location. I’m honestly not too picky about location, but it’s difficult to job-search across states as I’ve learned that many employers are very leery about hiring from out of state.

Where do you look for open positions?

ALAJoblist, INALJ (spanning several states), local library websites

Do you expect to see salary range listed in a job ad?

√ No (even if I might think it *should* be)

What’s your routine for preparing an application packet? How much time do you spend on it?

Hours: adjusting my cover letter, making sure my resume is up-to-date, making sure I crossed all of my ‘t’s and dotted all of my ‘i’s.

Have you ever stretched the truth, exaggerated, or lied on your resume, or at some other point during the hiring process?

√ No

When would you like employers to contact you?

√ To acknowledge my application
√ To tell me if I have or have not been selected to move on to the interview stage
√ To follow-up after an interview
√ Once the position has been filled, even if it’s not me

How do you prefer to communicate with potential employers?

√ Email

Which events during the interview/visit are most important to your assessment of the position (i.e. deciding if you want the job)?

√ Tour of facility
√ Meeting department members/potential co-workers

What do you think employers should do to get the best candidates to apply?

Be specific in what it is that you’re looking for in a potential candidate. Yes, being broad in what your post can attract a wide pool of applicants, but what if you get someone who’s great at one thing but downright awful at another? People will pick and choose what attributes of a job application they desire and you won’t get the full package you want.
Hire from outside. OR: do internal recruiting for a week. After a week if there are no internal bites, post the job publicly. It’s incredibly frustrating to apply for a job only to discover that the employer has gone with an internal candidate, despite the job being posted publicly.
Be honest in what is required of the job. Going to require 2 nights and one weekend a month? Mention that.
If it’s part time, will the opportunity arise for it to go full-time? Mention that — especially if it’s a position that could only go full-time if the applicant gets an MLIS.

What should employers do to make the hiring process less painful?

Communicate.
Communicate, communicate, communicate.
Communicate what is happening, where you are in the process, who you are in contact with and who, if anyone, I should be in contact with. Nothing is worse than getting hired and then sitting around waiting for information about the hiring process.

What do you think is the secret to getting hired?

I wish I had a clear-cut idea. I wish I could say it’s ‘having a perfect resume!’ or ‘having a stunning cover letter!’ or ‘having TONS of experience’ but surely, it’s not just that. All I can say is be personable and passionate about your profession. Know how to market yourself. If you’re unemployed, learn a new skill, a valuable skill — web design, a programming language. These will make you more marketable and wanted in information professions.

Do you have any comments, or are there any other questions you think we should add to this survey?

Great survey. Loving reading through the responses.

For some context, take a look at the most recently published summary of responses.

Are you hunting for a new LIS job? Take the survey! http://tinyurl.com/hiringlibJOBHUNTERsurvey

This survey was co-authored by Naomi House from I Need A Library Job – Do you need one?  Check it out!

Leave a comment

Filed under Academic, Job hunter's survey, Midwestern US, Public, School, Special

currently obtaining my MLIS, as it is a (painfully reinforced) professional ceiling

PhC42.Bx17.Hunting.F12-3This anonymous interview is with a job hunter who is not currently employed (even if part-time or in an unrelated field), has not been hired within the last two months, and has been looking for a new position for Less than six months. This person is looking in Academic libraries, Archives, Library vendors/service providers, Public libraries, Special libraries,  Informatics environments, knowledge management, records managemen at the following levels: Requiring at least two years of experience, Supervisory,  Senior Librarian, Branch Manager. This new grad/entry level applicant has internship/volunteering experience:

I have five years of combined public and academic (both university and community college level) library experience, and am currently obtaining my MLIS, as it is a (painfully reinforced) professional ceiling.

This job hunter is in an urban area, in the Northeastern US, and is not willing to move anywhere.

What are the top three things you’re looking for in a job?

Livable wage/reasonable salary with room for advancement.

Engaged, supportive staff environment where innovation, exploration, and collaboration are encouraged at all levels.

Opportunities for continuing education; awareness of organization’s place in greater network of the profession.

Where do you look for open positions?

CLIR jobs list, local institutions’ websites, ALA Joblist, various listservs.

Do you expect to see salary range listed in a job ad?

√ Only for certain kinds of employers

What’s your routine for preparing an application packet? How much time do you spend on it?

Depends on the application/institution. I tend to tweak the master copy of my resume to better reflect the specifics in a job posting. A few hours, usually over coffee or lunch to stay relaxed and focused.

Have you ever stretched the truth, exaggerated, or lied on your resume, or at some other point during the hiring process?

√ No

When would you like employers to contact you?

√ To acknowledge my application
√ To tell me if I have or have not been selected to move on to the interview stage
√ To follow-up after an interview
√ Once the position has been filled, even if it’s not me

How do you prefer to communicate with potential employers?

√ Email

Which events during the interview/visit are most important to your assessment of the position (i.e. deciding if you want the job)?

√ Meeting department members/potential co-workers
√ Meeting with HR to talk about benefits/salary

What do you think employers should do to get the best candidates to apply?

Intimidating list of qualifications and requirements, list of salary and benefits, ease of access and understanding of online applications. Simply accept a resume instead of reiterating resume information in feilds; eliminate the copy and paste syndrome!

What should employers do to make the hiring process less painful?

It helps (and hurts!) a lot to get rejection notices so the applicant can brush herself off and move on.

I like the idea of being taken out to lunch, but this has never been my experience.

Less paperwork, if possible.

What do you think is the secret to getting hired?

There is no secret. You keep your skills sharp, develop your talent deeply, work hard, keep your resume up to date and flexible, and nail the interviews. Compete. Believe in yourself.

For some context, take a look at the most recently published summary of responses.

Are you hunting for a new LIS job? Take the survey! http://tinyurl.com/hiringlibJOBHUNTERsurvey

This survey was co-authored by Naomi House from I Need A Library Job – Do you need one?  Check it out!

Leave a comment

Filed under Academic, Archives, Job hunter's survey, Northeastern US, Public, Special, Urban area

I have applied for many jobs and never even gotten a phone interview

PhC42.Bx17.Hunting.F13This anonymous interview is with a job hunter who is currently employed (even if part-time or in an unrelated field), has not been hired within the last two months, and has been looking for a new position for Less than six months. This person is looking in Academic libraries, Library vendors/service providers, Public libraries, and Special libraries, at the following levels: Requiring at least two years of experience, and Other: Anything I’m qualified for.  This job hunter is in an urban area, in the Midwestern US, and is willing to move anywhere.

What are the top three things you’re looking for in a job?

Interesting and challenging work
To know my contributions are valued
Good pay

Where do you look for open positions?

LinkedIn
ALA Joblist
Higher Ed joblist
Library websites

Do you expect to see salary range listed in a job ad?

√ No (even if I might think it *should* be)

What’s your routine for preparing an application packet? How much time do you spend on it?

It depends. Sometimes hours are spent rewriting my resume and cover letter.

Have you ever stretched the truth, exaggerated, or lied on your resume, or at some other point during the hiring process?

√ No

When would you like employers to contact you?

√ To acknowledge my application
√ To tell me if I have or have not been selected to move on to the interview stage
√ Once the position has been filled, even if it’s not me

How do you prefer to communicate with potential employers?

√ Phone for good news, email for bad news

Which events during the interview/visit are most important to your assessment of the position (i.e. deciding if you want the job)?

√ Other:  I wouldn’t know. I have applied for many jobs and never even gotten a phone interview

What do you think employers should do to get the best candidates to apply?

I really don’t know anymore.

What should employers do to make the hiring process less painful?

Contact everyone who applies with something other than a robo-email to acknowledge their application.

What do you think is the secret to getting hired?

You have to know someone who works there for them to pull your application out of the pile and be your advocate

For some context, take a look at the most recently published summary of responses.

Are you hunting for a new LIS job? Take the survey! http://tinyurl.com/hiringlibJOBHUNTERsurvey

This survey was co-authored by Naomi House from I Need A Library Job – Do you need one?  Check it out!

Leave a comment

Filed under Academic, Job hunter's survey, Midwestern US, Special, Urban area

sometimes the best employees come from outside a social circle of the Friends

This anonymous interview is with a job hunter who is currently employed (even if part-time or in an unrelated field), has not been hired within the last two months, and has been looking for a new position for Less than six months. This person is looking in Library vendors/service providers, Public libraries, School libraries, at the following levels: Requiring at least two years of experience, Supervisory, Department Head, Branch Manager. This new grad/entry level applicant has internship/volunteering experience:

I worked for 2 years in an academic library, specifically the computer labs and as an assistant to an art history professor with building a digital slide library. After graduating from college, I worked 16 months at one library, then 3 years at another – both working in teen services.

 This job hunter is in a rural area, in the Southern US and is willing to move anywhere.

What are the top three things you’re looking for in a job?

Technology focus, rural setting, east coast

Where do you look for open positions?

State Library website

Do you expect to see salary range listed in a job ad?

√ Yes, and it’s a red flag when it’s not

What’s your routine for preparing an application packet? How much time do you spend on it?

Thirty minutes to an hour, depending on what the job is and how I want to present my information (research, updating info, etc)

Have you ever stretched the truth, exaggerated, or lied on your resume, or at some other point during the hiring process?

√ No

When would you like employers to contact you?

√ To acknowledge my application
√ To tell me if I have or have not been selected to move on to the interview stage
√ To follow-up after an interview
√ Once the position has been filled, even if it’s not me

How do you prefer to communicate with potential employers?

√ Phone for good news, email for bad news

Which events during the interview/visit are most important to your assessment of the position (i.e. deciding if you want the job)?

√ Tour of facility
√ Meeting department members/potential co-workers
√ Meeting with HR to talk about benefits/salary
√ Being able to present

What do you think employers should do to get the best candidates to apply?

Look beyond the community they serve; sometimes the best employees come from outside a social circle of the Friends and are often the most eager for the job.

What should employers do to make the hiring process less painful?

Start with a tour of the facility!

What do you think is the secret to getting hired?

Being familiar with the area that you’re applying to, even if all you’ve heard is things via word-of-mouth. Show interest in the community you want to serve and give evidence why.

For some context, take a look at the most recently published summary of responses.

Are you hunting for a new LIS job? Take the survey! http://tinyurl.com/hiringlibJOBHUNTERsurvey

This survey was co-authored by Naomi House from I Need A Library Job – Do you need one?  Check it out!

Leave a comment

Filed under Job hunter's survey, Public, Rural area, Southern US, Special

I felt that I had been somewhat misled before coming in for the interview

Hunting Party Near The Writing-On-Stone Royal Northwest Mounted Police Detachment Galt Museum and Archives on the Flickr CommonsThis anonymous interview is with a job hunter who is not currently employed (even if part-time or in an unrelated field), has not been hired within the last two months, and has been looking for a new position for Less than six months. This person is looking in Academic library, Public library, Special library, at the following levels: Entry level , Requiring at least two years of experience. Here is this person’s experience with internships/volunteering:

Not entry level, but willing to go back there for the sake of starting somewhere!

This job hunter is in a Urban area in the Western US and is not willing to move anywhere.

What are the top three things you’re looking for in a job?

A sane and collegial work environment, with colleagues who care about their work and about maintaining a harmonious, productive workplace. A good match with my particular interests. Room to expand my skills in new areas.

Where do you look for open positions?

Professional listservs (mostly regional), Indeed.com, Higheredjobs.com, occasionally even Craigslist

Do you expect to see salary range listed in a job ad?

√ No (even if I might think it *should* be)

What’s your routine for preparing an application packet? How much time do you spend on it?

I spend a lot of time customizing my letter and resume for each position, rereading the job description, and, to my constant chagrin, filling out those online application forms, each of which seems to ask for some new, obscure detail I can barely manage to get my hands on. A lot of this time is not active–there’s a combination of procrastinating and revising, the exact balance of which varies depending on my level of excitement about the position.

Have you ever stretched the truth, exaggerated, or lied on your resume, or at some other point during the hiring process?

√ Other: I have frequently felt myself in an awkward position when answering the supplemental questions on many applications, which (I hope wrongly) I assume are used for initial screening/weeding of candidates. The wording of these questions is frequently black and white in a way that forces you to choose between discounting relevant experience that may be directly comparable, or risking an accusation of having inflated your claims of experience. I dread these questions, and almost always err on the side of discounting the experience that I think is directly comparable.

When would you like employers to contact you?

√ To acknowledge my application
√ To tell me if I have or have not been selected to move on to the interview stage
√ To follow-up after an interview
√ Once the position has been filled, even if it’s not me

√ Other: To acknowledge a thank you email after an interview! Receiving a polite, short, and completely noncommittal response feels infinitely better! Surely there is some way to do this politely without giving false hope.

How do you prefer to communicate with potential employers?

√ Email

Which events during the interview/visit are most important to your assessment of the position (i.e. deciding if you want the job)?

√ Tour of facility
√ Meeting department members/potential co-workers
√ Other: Having the sense that my understanding of the position from the description/application matches the interviewer’s discussion of it. I have had several experiences where I felt that I had been somewhat misled before coming in for the interview, perhaps accidentally, and each time this has felt like a red flag (among other signs of potential trouble). If the scope of the position is not yet completely worked out, it may be too early to be bringing in candidates! That said, I can imagine that a more flexibly defined position with room for growth could certainly be presented in a positive way.

What do you think employers should do to get the best candidates to apply?

Be specific and as detailed as possible in job descriptions, providing information when possible about salary range, benefits, and scheduling expectations. I would not mind seeing less librarians-as-unbelievably-awesome-superheroes rhetoric in job descriptions, in favor of substantive descriptions of the responsibilities and functions of the position. Be flexible as to how to count previous experience. While recognizing that there are real differences between public and academic librarianship, I tend to think that many job descriptions overemphasize the importance of having public library experience for public library work, and likewise for academic. Surely there is some amount of overlap that is worth valuing, and maybe it is the case that (some) hiring managers factor this in when looking at individual applications–if so, it would be nice to see that reflected in job descriptions. I think that many of us have gotten locked into one track or the other as the result of jobs taken in necessity when starting out.

What should employers do to make the hiring process less painful?

So much! I’ll limit myself to four suggestions, two of which I know are unrealistic. 1. My fantasy is that employers would move away from online application forms and simply require a resume, cover letter, and possibly a list of references. I realize there are reasons for these forms, though, and so I think the next best thing is to move to standardized, common application forms (e.g., GovernmentJobs.com) whenever possible. 2. One of the most important things I think employers can do is to recognize that many new librarians are frequently managing to get experience through cobbling together a number of part-time or sometimes extremely contingent positions. If you understand this, feel that two or three jobs simultaneously held are not equivalent to one full-time job (I’m not saying this is indefensible), and ask questions (supplemental questions, say) about years of experience, then it would be very helpful to provide examples of how to calculate years of experience that resemble the employment reality that many of your applicants have been facing. It would also be nice to see hourly wages given as an option on application forms when salary is being inquired about. 3. My other fantasy comes back to my enduring fear that supplemental questions are used to disqualify applications in bulk, without a human reviewing them. If that is the case, then I would love to see these questions function as a self-screening that would tell applicants up front, “don’t bother: you’re not qualified for this position!” and not allow them to proceed any further. Like I said, it’s a fantasy. I guess what I am trying to say is that if these supplemental questions are yes/no questions with no room for elaboration, they should be thought out very carefully, and should represent real, absolute deal-breakers rather than a wish-list. 4. Probably the most inevitable source of pain for those of us on the market is the uncertainty of when you will hear back from anyone. It is so hard, when you’ve applied or interviewed somewhere, to keep in mind that the hiring process is likely not the highest priority of that institution, and that there are bound to be reasonable causes of delay. I would just hope that employers can remember how miserable it is on the other end, and do everything in their power to update applicants/candidates as promptly as possible, and at multiple stages of the process. I would also say that if it’s not necessarily feasible to give candidates who are interviewing a more *realistic* idea of a timeframe, it is possible to name only the outer limit of your estimate. (It should take one week, but might take two? Tell them two, not one.) I think most of us would much rather be surprised by early news than agonize through a Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday when we’ve been told on Monday that there will definitely be a decision by the end of the week.

What do you think is the secret to getting hired?

Solidly meeting all of the most important requirements–and then some combination of the following: luck, timing, knowing someone, interviewing skill, and that nebulous thing, “fit.”

Do you have any comments, or are there any other questions you think we should add to this survey?

This is a great blog

Are you hunting for a new LIS job? Take the survey! http://tinyurl.com/hiringlibJOBHUNTERsurvey

This survey was co-authored by Naomi House from I Need A Library Job – Do you need one? Check it out!

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Filed under Academic, Job hunter's survey, Public, Special, Urban area, Western US

Don’t insist on a single “right” way to process every applicant

Goose hunting in Klamath County, Oregon, OSU Special Collections via Flickr CommonsThis anonymous interview is with a job hunter who is currently employed (even if part-time or in an unrelated field), has not been hired within the last two months, and has been looking for a new position for A year to 18 months. This person is looking in Academic library, Archives, Library vendor/service provider, Public library, School library, Special library at the Entry level and for positions Requiring at least two years of experience. This job hunter is in a City/Town in the Western US and is willing to move To a specific area.

What are the top three things you’re looking for in a job?

I’m looking within a geographically-targeted area for paraprofessional library openings that I feel match my qualifications. I want to be physically active on the job (i.e. shelving returns) and be able to walk or bike to work. In my ideal job, supervisors and colleagues would have collaborative relationships, and expectations would be communicated explicitly.

Where do you look for open positions? (e.g. ALA Joblist, professional listserv, LinkedIn)

Potential employers’ websites, professional listservs, ALA Joblist, LinkedIn

Do you expect to see salary range listed in a job ad?

√ Yes

What’s your routine for preparing an application packet? How much time do you spend on it?

I compose a cover letter for each position I apply to. I incorporate the job description’s language when describing my qualifications and addressing ways that I will contribute to the employer’s diverse workplace.

The application process for many library jobs is through a shared portal (i.e. NeoGov), which streamlines attaching certain files that are associated with my profile – letters of reference, degree and certificate, unofficial transcripts.

Have you ever stretched the truth, exaggerated, or lied on your resume, or at some other point during the hiring process?

√ No

When would you like employers to contact you?

√ To acknowledge my application
√ To tell me if I have or have not been selected to move on to the interview stage
√ To follow-up after an interview
√ Once the position has been filled, even if it’s not me

√ Other: Invite me for an interview and offer me the job

How do you prefer to communicate with potential employers?

√ Email

Which events during the interview/visit are most important to your assessment of the position (i.e. deciding if you want the job)?

√ Meeting department members/potential co-workers
√ The interview itself–how it’s conducted, the people i meet, etc.

√ Clear understanding of responsibilities

√ Potential relationship with supervisor and colleagues

What do you think employers should do to get the best candidates to apply?

Look at barriers to hiring and employment and be open to solutions that eliminate those barriers. For example, to attract long-distance applicants, consider video interviews. Don’t insist on a single “right” way to process every applicant, or assume that everyone will perform essential functions in exactly the same way.

What should employers do to make the hiring process less painful?

Look beyond superficial impressions that an applicant might present, recognizing that the job-application structure does not duplicate the work environment.

What do you think is the secret to getting hired?

I hope the most significant factor is possessing the desired skills. A successful interview should establish the abilities of the job applicant. Beyond that, I think a lot depends upon the mindset and attitudes that have been brought together. Work and management styles, values held, even the other person’s “likability.”

Are you hunting for a new LIS job? Take the survey! http://tinyurl.com/hiringlibJOBHUNTERsurvey

This survey was co-authored by Naomi House from I Need A Library Job – Do you need one? Check it out!

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Filed under Academic, Archives, Job hunter's survey, Public, School, Special, Western US

Networking and knowing the right people is the secret of getting the job

Brian Hunter, 1984, Asst Librarian, Slavonic Collections, London School of Economics This anonymous interview is with a job hunter who is not currently employed (even if part-time or in an unrelated field), has been hired within the last two months, and has been looking for a new position for more than 18 months . This person is looking in Academic libraries, Archives, Public library, Special library at the following levels: Entry level . This new grad/entry level applicant has internship/volunteering experience:

I had a nearly three-month internship for my MLS at a community college library and I currently volunteer in circulation at a public library coming close to one year.

This job hunter is in an Rural area, in the Southern US, and is not willing to move.

What are the top three things you’re looking for in a job?

1-) A kind and collaborative environment.

2-) The ability to learn new skills and grow professionally.

3-) A living wage with benefits.

Where do you look for open positions?

Local and state government job sites, Indeed.com, state library job sites

Do you expect to see salary range listed in a job ad?

√Yes, and it’s a red flag when it’s not

What’s your routine for preparing an application packet? How much time do you spend on it?

I usually use a recent cover letter and resume as a template, change the contact information, and address some of the job’s qualifications in the cover letter and resume.

Have you ever stretched the truth, exaggerated, or lied on your resume, or at some other point during the hiring process?

√ I do my best to tell the truth. I feel though that I may be exaggerating at times.

When would you like employers to contact you?

√ To acknowledge my application
√ To tell me if I have or have not been selected to move on to the interview stage
√ To follow-up after an interview
√ Once the position has been filled, even if it’s not me

How do you prefer to communicate with potential employers?

√ Email

Which events during the interview/visit are most important to your assessment of the position (i.e. deciding if you want the job)?

√ Tour of facility
√ Meeting department members/potential co-workers
√ Meeting with HR to talk about benefits/salary

√ Being able to present

What do you think employers should do to get the best candidates to apply?

I think being open and honest about the position, what it entails, and its salary and benefits is important to get the best job candidates. The less you say about the position, such as wage/salary, the more suspicious I am going to be about it.

What should employers do to make the hiring process less painful?

Employers need to have a more humane application process. This means letting people know where their application is in the process. I want to know as early in the process as possible if I have a chance or if I need to move on. Hiring managers need to be clear exactly what information/documents/whatever they want submitted, particularly if applicants have to deal with clunky application tracking systems.

What do you think is the secret to getting hired?

Networking and knowing the right people is the secret of getting the job. Volunteering is a particularly good strategy as you can gain skills and keep in touch with the profession while also developing a network that can inform you of upcoming or hidden jobs.

For some context, take a look at the most recently published summary of responses.

Are you hunting for a new LIS job? Take the survey! http://tinyurl.com/hiringlibJOBHUNTERsurvey

This survey was co-authored by Naomi House from I Need A Library Job – Do you need one?  Check it out!

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Filed under Academic, Archives, Job hunter's survey, Public, Rural area, Southern US, Special