“They must genuinely like working with kids of all ages. Library policies and practices can be taught.”

By the 1890s, Users in Close Quarters: A 220th Birthday Salute to the Library of Congress (LOC). By Flickr user The Library of Congress.

Please note: this is an anonymous response to an online survey; I do not have any way of contacting the respondent or verifying responses. Their answers may reflect good, bad, or middling hiring practices. I invite you to take what’s useful and leave the rest.  

This person hires for a:

√ Public Library 

Title: Youth & Family Services Manager

Titles hired include: Teen Specialist, Children’s Assistant

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ Library Administration

√ The position’s supervisor 

√ Other: We’re a small, rural library. No HR dept. Hiring decisions are ultimately made by director, with input from the respective dept head

Which of the following does your organization regularly require of candidates?

√ Online application

√ Cover letter

√ Resume 

√ Other: Cover letters matter!

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ No 

Briefly describe the hiring process at your organization and your role in it:

The respective Dept. Head and Director review the description to see if any updates are needed and compose the job posting, which is posted on our website, social media, state library job list, LinkedIn, and Indeed. Generally open until filled. Being a small community, we generally don’t get many applicants, and sometimes have to repost. Try to have 2-3 to interview, then decide whether to check references and make an offer, or repost.

Think about the last candidate who really wowed you, on paper, in an interview, or otherwise. Why were they so impressive?

Resume was neat, well-organized, and to the point without any padding or fluff. In the interview the candidate impressed with thoughtful answers that showed insight into library practices and working with kids, good customer service, and maturity to know when to refer things to someone else or ask for help.

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Poor communication skills, no experience with kids, seeming as though they do not really like kids, including teens, and/or would not have the patience required. They must genuinely like working with kids of all ages. Library policies and practices can be taught.

What do you wish you could know about candidates that isn’t generally revealed in the hiring process?

What they are really like working with. Are they a team-player, flexible, self-motivated? Can they work independently? Do they have good judgment?

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ Only One!  

Resume: √ Two is ok, but no more 

CV: √ We don’t ask for this 

What is the most common mistake that people make in an interview?

Not preparing. Typical interview questions are very easy to find online; there is no excuse for not being prepared for the most common, standard questions. Not knowing anything about the library and community it serves. Be familiar with recent programs and new services, be prepared to suggest others.

Do you conduct virtual interviews? What do job hunters need to know about shining in this setting?

Yes. Be sure you know what time zone your interview appointment is. Take it seriously and be ready on time, don’t bale. Dress professionally, try to have a neutral or pleasant background and good lighting.

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?

Spell out what you did and how it is related to the job you want; positions with the same title can be very different at different libraries, so don’t assume we know. Connect the dots for us, prove you have transferable skills.

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

√ Other: For me, I didn’t find out the salary until the interview. Since I started, the pay info is included in the job ad.

What questions should candidates ask you? What is important for them to know about your organization and the position you are hiring for?

Ask about training and how you will be supported as you learn. Too many places still follow the “sink or swim” method. Ask questions that show a genuine interest in the job and organization, and show you have a deeper understanding of the job.

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Southeastern US 

What’s your region like?

√ Rural 

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Never or not anymore 

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 11-50 

Is there anything else you’d like to say, either to job hunters or to me, the survey author? 

Be sure you include any relevant information that might set you apart from other candidates on your resume, and work it into the interview somehow. Your cover letter should show genuine interest and enthusiasm, and not just rehash your resume.

Author’s note: Hey, thanks for reading! If you like reading, why not try commenting or sharing? Or are you somebody who hires Library, Archives or other LIS workers? Please consider giving your own opinion by filling out the survey here.

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Filed under 1 A Return to Hiring Librarians Survey, 10-50 staff members, Public, Rural area, Southeastern US

“getting rejected does not mean you’re unqualified or unworthy”

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Please note: this is an anonymous response to an online survey; I do not have any way of contacting the respondent or verifying responses. Their answers may reflect good, bad, or middling job searching practices. I invite you to take what’s useful and leave the rest.

Your Demographics and Search Parameters

How long have you been job hunting?

√ Less than six months 

Why are you job hunting?  

√ This is the next step after finishing library/archives/other LIS graduate degree 

Where do you look for open positions?  

LinkedIn, Indeed, Jobsuk

What position level are you looking for?  

√ Entry level 

√ Clerk/Library Assistant 

What type(s) of organization are you looking in? 

√ Academic library 

√ Public library 

What part of the world are you in?

√ Other: France

What’s your region like? 

√ Urban area

Are you willing/able to move for employment? 

√ Yes, anywhere 

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

location, missions and salary

How many jobs have you applied to during your current search? (Please indicate if it’s an estimate or exact)

50

What steps, actions, or attributes are most important for employers to take to sell you on the job?  

√ Pay well 

√ Having a good reputation 

√ Funding professional development 

√ Prioritizing work-life balance 

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

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

The Process

How much time do you spend preparing an application packet?

2 hours

What are the steps you follow to prepare an application packet?

I read the job description and work on a cover letter

How do you prefer to communicate with potential employers?

√ Email 

When would you like potential employers to contact you? 

√ Once the position has been filled, even if it’s not me 

How long do you expect an organization’s application process to take, from the point you submit your documents to the point of either an offer or rejection?

no more than 3 weeks

How do you prepare for interviews?

I practice interview questions and prepare questions for employers

What are your most hated interview questions, and why?

“why should we hire you?”

During your current search, have you had any of the following experiences:

  • Submitted an application and got no response  √ Happened more than once 
  • Had an interview and never heard back  √ Happened more than once 
  • Interviewed for a job where an internal candidate was eventually chosen  √ Happened more than once 
  • Asked for an accommodation for a disability  √ Not Applicable
  • Withdrawn an application before the offer stage √ Not Applicable
  • Turned down an offer  √ Not Applicable

If you’ve asked for an accommodation, what happened?

they usually tell me to look myself

What should employers do to make the hiring process better for job hunters?

tell us as soon as possible that we’re rejected especially after interviews, there is nothing worse than waiting or even having to call them because they “forgot” to tell you.

You and Your Well-Being

How are you doing, generally?

√ I’m optimistic 

√ I’m frustrated 

√ Not out of money yet, but worried 

What are your job search self-care strategies?

maintain a schedule like job search between 10 to 4 and rest during the weekend. 

Do you have any advice or words of support you’d like to share with other job hunters, is there anything you’d like to say to employers, or is there anything else you’d like to say about job hunting?

getting rejected does not mean you’re unqualified or unworthy 

Job Hunting Post Graduate School 

If you have an MLIS or other graduate level degree in a LIS field, what year did you graduate? (Or what year do you anticipate graduating?)

I graduated in 2022

When did you start your first job search for a “professional” position (or other position that utilized your degree)?

√ After graduating with my MLIS/other LIS degree 

In relation to your graduation, when did you find your first “professional” position?

√ Hasn’t happened yet – I’m still looking 

What kind of work was your first post-graduation professional position? 

√ N/A – hasn’t happened yet 

Did you get support from your library school for your first job hunt (and/or any subsequent ones)?

if I have a question about applications or job interviews  my lecturers/tutors are happy to help but I feel that they should share opportunities with us more often. 

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“Sloppy dress, bad posture, one-word answers”

Image copying librarian, Mitchell Building, By Flickr user the State Library of New South Wales

Please note: this is an anonymous response to an online survey; I do not have any way of contacting the respondent or verifying responses. Their answers may reflect good, bad, or middling hiring practices. I invite you to take what’s useful and leave the rest.  

This person hires for a:

√ Public Library 

Title: Circulation Librarian

Titles hired include: Shelver, Library Clerk, Library Assistant

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ A Committee or panel 

Which of the following does your organization regularly require of candidates?

√ Online application 

√ 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:

I am part of a 3 person team who screens applications and interviews applicants.

Think about the last candidate who really wowed you, on paper, in an interview, or otherwise. Why were they so impressive?

Alert, enthusiastic, flexible

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Sloppy dress, bad posture, one-word answers.

What do you wish you could know about candidates that isn’t generally revealed in the hiring process?

how reliable they will be

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 appear interested in job

Do you conduct virtual interviews? What do job hunters need to know about shining in this setting?

We will if a candidate is out of town.  Test all systems first, make sure everything works.

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?

List all the types of work you have done

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?

The interviewers do not get age, sex, or race information.

What questions should candidates ask you? What is important for them to know about your organization and the position you are hiring for?

When will make a decision?  What is a typical day like? Is it a team atmosphere, or individual work?

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Western US 

What’s your region like?

√ Rural 

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Never or not anymore 

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 11-50 

Author’s note: Hey, thanks for reading! If you like reading, why not try commenting or sharing? Or are you somebody who hires Library, Archives or other LIS workers? Please consider giving your own opinion by filling out the survey here.

Thanks for reading! You can support this project by joining our Patreon or through any of the other (monetary and non-monetary) methods on this page.

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Filed under 1 A Return to Hiring Librarians Survey, 10-50 staff members, Public, Rural area, Western US

“every position I’ve had since 2016 when I entered the field has been contract”

Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Please note: this is an anonymous response to an online survey; I do not have any way of contacting the respondent or verifying responses. Their answers may reflect good, bad, or middling job searching practices. I invite you to take what’s useful and leave the rest.

Your Demographics and Search Parameters

How long have you been job hunting?

√ Other: I’m always looking because every position I’ve had since 2016 when I entered the field has been contract

Why are you job hunting?  

√ Looking for more money

√ Looking for a promotion/more responsibility 

√ I want to work at a different type of library/institution 

√ Looking for remote/virtual work (or at least hybrid)

√ My current job is temporary 

√ My current job is boring 

√ I’m worried I will be laid off/let go/fired from my current position 

√ Because I reassessed my priorities after COVID

Where do you look for open positions?  

INALJ, Libgig, LinkedIn, Indeed, SAA/ALA/AAM/HigherEdJobs job boards

What position level are you looking for?  

√ Entry level

√ Requiring at least two years of experience 

√ Other: Independent Contractor

What type(s) of organization are you looking in? 

√ Academic library

√ Archives

√ Other: Museum libraries/archives

What part of the world are you in?

√ Mid-Atlantic US 

What’s your region like? 

√ Urban area 

Are you willing/able to move for employment? 

√ No 

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

Permanence, relevant to my experience/interests, pays enough to live on

How many jobs have you applied to during your current search? (Please indicate if it’s an estimate or exact)

~20 in the last year

What steps, actions, or attributes are most important for employers to take to sell you on the job?  

√ Pay well

√ Having (and describing) excellent benefits

√ Introducing me to staff 

√ Funding professional development 

√ Prioritizing work-life balance

√ Other: Communicating steps of the selection/interview/hiring process promptly and clearly

The Process

How much time do you spend preparing an application packet?

1+ hours per application

What are the steps you follow to prepare an application packet?

Examine job posting, research the institution and its library/archives/collections, tweak base resume for job requirements, write cover letter from scratch, have friends in the field check application materials over 

When would you like potential employers to contact you? 

√ To acknowledge my application

√ To tell me if the search is at the interview stage, even if I have not been selected

√ Once the position has been filled, even if it’s not me

√ Other: If I’m taken out of consideration at ANY point, even if it’s the day after I applied.

How long do you expect an organization’s application process to take, from the point you submit your documents to the point of either an offer or rejection?

I’ve received responses to applications anywhere between a week and six months after submitting material

How do you prepare for interviews?

Review job posting info, rehearse answers to questions I expect, run mock interview with friends/partner

What are your most hated interview questions, and why?

“Why did you leave your previous position?” Because it was contract and the contract ended, like every other job in the field, probably including the one I’m interviewing for when the question is asked

During your current search, have you had any of the following experiences:

  • Submitted an application and got no response  √ Happened the majority of the time or always 
  • Had an interview and never heard back  √ Happened more than once 
  • Interviewed for a job where an internal candidate was eventually chosen  √ Happened more than once 
  • Asked for an accommodation for a disability  √ Not Applicable
  • Withdrawn an application before the offer stage  √ Not Applicable
  • Turned down an offer √ Not Applicable

If you want to share a great, inspirational, funny,  horrific or other story about an experience you have had at any stage in the hiring process, please do so here:

Applied for a position at an academic library you’ve definitely heard of, and one I’d worked at on contract for two years previously. Made it through two stages of interview, spaced out over three months, and waited for two more with no word about scheduling the final round, until I saw the job posting had been resubmitted to all the sites I have on email alert. Emailed the hiring manager to find out what was going on/if I should resubmit, and was told they had chosen another candidate. The renewed job posting was left up for another two months, and then the hiring manager left the institution entirely. The position still isn’t listed on the staff page.

What should employers do to make the hiring process better for job hunters?

Respond as soon as you know an application won’t be moving forward in the process. Don’t leave candidates hanging for months on end because you want to keep the pool open if your xth choice declines the offer.

You and Your Well-Being

How are you doing, generally?

√ I’m somewhat depressed

√ I’m despondent

√ I’m frustrated 

√ I’m running out of money 

What are your job search self-care strategies?

Complain to friends in the field who know the deal; keep myself from getting too excited about any opportunities that open up. 

Job Hunting Post Graduate School 

If you have an MLIS or other graduate level degree in a LIS field, what year did you graduate? (Or what year do you anticipate graduating?)

January 2020

When did you start your first job search for a “professional” position (or other position that utilized your degree)?

√ More than six months before graduating with my MLIS/other LIS degree 

In relation to your graduation, when did you find your first “professional” position?

√ I was actually hired before I graduated 

What kind of work was your first post-graduation professional position? 

√ Part Time

√ Contract 

Did you get support from your library school for your first job hunt (and/or any subsequent ones)?

No

Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about searching for or finding your first post-graduation position?

I got extremely lucky while I was still in school and had an amazing (part time, project-based contract) job that was exactly what I want to be doing with my degree, and then I completed the contract in December 2019 and graduated directly into the pandemic. When I finally started getting responses to applications after all the hiring freezes finally let up in late 2021, almost all my references had retired or left the field. 

Thanks for reading! You can support this project by joining our Patreon or through any of the other (monetary and non-monetary) methods on this page.

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“it’s obvious that the position is actually 2-3 roles crammed into one.”

Gentry George, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Please note: this is an anonymous response to an online survey; I do not have any way of contacting the respondent or verifying responses. Their answers may reflect good, bad, or middling job searching practices. I invite you to take what’s useful and leave the rest.

Your Demographics and Search Parameters

How long have you been job hunting?

√ More than 18 months 

Why are you job hunting?  

√ I’m underemployed (not enough hours or overqualified for current position) 

√ Looking for more money

√ Looking for a promotion/more responsibility 

√ I want to work at a different type of library/institution 

√ Looking for remote/virtual work (or at least hybrid) 

√ My current job is boring

√ My current job is awful/toxic 

√ Because I reassessed my priorities after COVID 

Where do you look for open positions?  

LinkedIn, Code4Lib, local sites

What position level are you looking for?  

√ Senior Librarian 

What type(s) of organization are you looking in? 

√ Archives

√ Library vendor/service provider 

√ Special library 

What part of the world are you in?

√ Southeastern US 

What’s your region like? 

√ Urban area 

Are you willing/able to move for employment? 

√ Yes, within my state 

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

Remote/hybrid setting, more responsibility, better culture

How many jobs have you applied to during your current search? (Please indicate if it’s an estimate or exact)

4 (est)

What steps, actions, or attributes are most important for employers to take to sell you on the job?  

√ Pay well

√ Having (and describing) excellent benefits 

√ Having a good reputation 

√ Funding professional development 

√ Prioritizing work-life balance 

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

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

Other than not listing a salary range, are there other “red flags” that would prevent you from applying to a job?

 Not being clear on what the duties are, or it’s obvious that the position is actually 2-3 roles crammed into one.

The Process

How much time do you spend preparing an application packet?

2-3 hours

How do you prefer to communicate with potential employers?

√ Email 

When would you like potential employers to contact you? 

√ To acknowledge my application

√ To tell me if the search is at the interview stage, even if I have not been selected

√ Once the position has been filled, even if it’s not me 

How long do you expect an organization’s application process to take, from the point you submit your documents to the point of either an offer or rejection?

1-2 months

How do you prepare for interviews?

Reading advice and practice questions online, writing down possible responses

What are your most hated interview questions, and why?

“Why do you want to work here?”; “Tell me about yourself” (too vague); “What is your biggest weakness?” (boring overused question)

During your current search, have you had any of the following experiences:

  • Submitted an application and got no response  √ Happened once  
  • Had an interview and never heard back  √ Happened more than once 
  • Interviewed for a job where an internal candidate was eventually chosen  √ I don’t know  
  • Asked for an accommodation for a disability  √ Not Applicable
  • Withdrawn an application before the offer stage  √ Happened once 
  • Turned down an offer √ I don’t know 

If you have ever withdrawn an application, why?

After looking at the salary and cost of living, it wouldn’t be an advancement from where I was at the time.

What should employers do to make the hiring process better for job hunters?

Be transparent and willing to accommodate–everyone’s got different needs.

You and Your Well-Being

How are you doing, generally?

√ I’m somewhat depressed 

√ I’m frustrated 

√ I feel alone in my search  

Job Hunting Post Graduate School 

If you have an MLIS or other graduate level degree in a LIS field, what year did you graduate? (Or what year do you anticipate graduating?)

2015

When did you start your first job search for a “professional” position (or other position that utilized your degree)?

√ Less than six months before graduating with my MLIS/other LIS degree, but still before I graduated 

In relation to your graduation, when did you find your first “professional” position?

√ I was actually hired before I graduated 

What kind of work was your first post-graduation professional position? 

√ Full Time 

Did you get support from your library school for your first job hunt (and/or any subsequent ones)?

No 

Thanks for reading! You can support this project by joining our Patreon or through any of the other (monetary and non-monetary) methods on this page.

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“60k base pay. medical+dental benefits. hybrid+remote option.”

Keep applying. Have a template cover letter

Please note: this is an anonymous response to an online survey; I do not have any way of contacting the respondent or verifying responses. Their answers may reflect good, bad, or middling job searching practices. I invite you to take what’s useful and leave the rest.

Your Demographics and Search Parameters

How long have you been job hunting?

√ Less than six months 

Why are you job hunting?  

√ This is the next step after finishing library/archives/other LIS graduate degree 

√ Looking for remote/virtual work (or at least hybrid)

√ My current job is temporary 

Where do you look for open positions?  

LinkedIn, Archivesgig, INALJ, ALA

What position level are you looking for?  

√ Entry level

√ Requiring at least two years of experience 

√ Other: Archivist, digital archivist

What type(s) of organization are you looking in? 

√ Archives 

√ Special library

√ Other: digital archives, gaming industry, apple, microsoft, etc.

What part of the world are you in?

√ Western US (including Pacific Northwest) 

What’s your region like? 

√ Urban area

√ Suburban area

√ Rural area 

Are you willing/able to move for employment? 

√ Yes, anywhere

√ Yes, within my state

√ Yes, within my country 

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

60k base pay. medical+dental benefits. hybrid+remote option.

How many jobs have you applied to during your current search? (Please indicate if it’s an estimate or exact)

I have applied to at least 12 jobs. 

What steps, actions, or attributes are most important for employers to take to sell you on the job?  

√ Pay well

√ Having (and describing) excellent benefits

√ Introducing me to staff

√ Having a good reputation

√ Taking me out for a meal

√ Funding professional development

√ Prioritizing EDI work

√ Prioritizing work-life balance 

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

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

Other than not listing a salary range, are there other “red flags” that would prevent you from applying to a job?

Sparse description, generalized language.

The Process

How much time do you spend preparing an application packet?

20 minutes.

What are the steps you follow to prepare an application packet?

Attach cover letter and resume; putting everything in one pdf;  filling out online profile.

How do you prefer to communicate with potential employers?

√ Email 

When would you like potential employers to contact you? 

√ To acknowledge my application

√ To tell me if the search is at the interview stage, even if I have not been selected

√ Once the position has been filled, even if it’s not me 

How long do you expect an organization’s application process to take, from the point you submit your documents to the point of either an offer or rejection?

2 weeks to 1 month.

How do you prepare for interviews?

I generally re-read a job description, then write a script for it and study that.

What are your most hated interview questions, and why?

What are your greatest weaknesses? What can you bring to the team? 

During your current search, have you had any of the following experiences:

  • Submitted an application and got no response  √ Happened more than once  
  • Had an interview and never heard back  √ Not Applicable
  • Interviewed for a job where an internal candidate was eventually chosen  √ I don’t know 
  • Asked for an accommodation for a disability √ Not Applicable
  • Withdrawn an application before the offer stage √ Not Applicable
  • Turned down an offer √ Not Applicable

You and Your Well-Being

How are you doing, generally?

√ I’m optimistic 

What are your job search self-care strategies?

Knowing that there’s a lot out there. 

Do you have any advice or words of support you’d like to share with other job hunters, is there anything you’d like to say to employers, or is there anything else you’d like to say about job hunting?

Keep applying. Have a template cover letter.

Job Hunting Post Graduate School 

If you have an MLIS or other graduate level degree in a LIS field, what year did you graduate? (Or what year do you anticipate graduating?)

I am graduating from UCLA’s MLIS in 2023.

When did you start your first job search for a “professional” position (or other position that utilized your degree)?

√ More than six months before graduating with my MLIS/other LIS degree 

In relation to your graduation, when did you find your first “professional” position?

√ Other: I’ve had internships my entire time at UCLA.

What kind of work was your first post-graduation professional position? 

√ N/A – hasn’t happened yet 

Did you get support from your library school for your first job hunt (and/or any subsequent ones)?

Yes 

Thanks for reading! You can support this project by joining our Patreon or through any of the other (monetary and non-monetary) methods on this page.

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Filed under 2023 Job Hunter's Survey

“There haven’t been any jobs I am qualified for that are accessible on public transportation”

Gentry George, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Please note: this is an anonymous response to an online survey; I do not have any way of contacting the respondent or verifying responses. Their answers may reflect good, bad, or middling job searching practices. I invite you to take what’s useful and leave the rest.

Your Demographics and Search Parameters

How long have you been job hunting?

√ Less than six months 

Why are you job hunting?  

√ This is the next step after finishing library/archives/other LIS graduate degree 

√ Looking for a promotion/more responsibility 

√ My current job is temporary

√ My current job provides insufficient or no benefits (Healthcare or beyond) 

Where do you look for open positions?  

Archivesgig.com; higheredjobs.com; SAA; ALA JobLIST; professional listserv

What position level are you looking for?  

√ Entry level 

What type(s) of organization are you looking in? 

√ Academic library

√ Archives

What part of the world are you in?

√ Western US (including Pacific Northwest) 

What’s your region like? 

√ Urban area 

Are you willing/able to move for employment? 

√ No 

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

Interesting collections; at least a two year appointment; vacation days

How many jobs have you applied to during your current search? (Please indicate if it’s an estimate or exact)

None yet. There haven’t been any jobs I am qualified for that are accessible on public transportation 

What steps, actions, or attributes are most important for employers to take to sell you on the job?  

√ Having (and describing) excellent benefits

√ Introducing me to staff

√ Having a good reputation

√ Taking me out for a meal

√ Funding professional development

√ Prioritizing EDI work

√ Prioritizing work-life balance 

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

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

Other than not listing a salary range, are there other “red flags” that would prevent you from applying to a job?

Short-term appointments; unfocused list of responsibilities

The Process

How much time do you spend preparing an application packet?

6 hours

What are the steps you follow to prepare an application packet?

Taking notes on job ad, thoroughly researching hiring organization, adapting resume to posting, writing targeted cover letter, asking friends to review cover letter, revising as needed

How do you prefer to communicate with potential employers?

√ Email 

When would you like potential employers to contact you? 

√ To acknowledge my application

√ To tell me if the search is at the interview stage, even if I have not been selected

√ Once the position has been filled, even if it’s not me 

How long do you expect an organization’s application process to take, from the point you submit your documents to the point of either an offer or rejection?

3-6 months, unfortunately

How do you prepare for interviews?

Researching position, organization, and, if known, hiring committee members; drafting answers to a few broad categories of questions; mock interview with friend or partner 

What are your most hated interview questions, and why?

“Tell me about yourself” and “When did you face a challenge at work, and how did you respond to it?” The first question isn’t specific enough and encourages a gross neoliberal “elevator pitch” about yourself and your “brand.” For the second, I much prefer being given a scenario and then being asked how I would respond. It solicits the same information. And I honestly don’t know what counts as a “challenge” vs. just normal professional work of appropriate difficulty, so I’d rather the interviewers just tell me the kind of situations they are curious/worried about and see how I respond.  

During your current search, have you had any of the following experiences:

  • Submitted an application and got no response  √ Not Applicable
  • Had an interview and never heard back   √ Not Applicable
  • Interviewed for a job where an internal candidate was eventually chosen   √ Not Applicable
  • Asked for an accommodation for a disability  √ Not Applicable
  • Withdrawn an application before the offer stage  √ Not Applicable
  • Turned down an offer √ Not Applicable

If you have ever withdrawn an application, why?

Not for an LIS job. But I have for adjunct teaching positions when I decided I just couldn’t stomach the stress of those roles anymore. 

What should employers do to make the hiring process better for job hunters?

Clear communication about timelines for the process. Getting exact dates for when to expect responses would be a game changer.

You and Your Well-Being

How are you doing, generally?

√ I’m somewhat depressed

√ I’m despondent

√ I’m frustrated 

√ I feel alone in my search 

What are your job search self-care strategies?

LOL

Do you have any advice or words of support you’d like to share with other job hunters, is there anything you’d like to say to employers, or is there anything else you’d like to say about job hunting?

I’m an amateur at this. But I will say the number of postings in my area is fucking bleak.

Do you have any comments for Emily (the survey author) or are there any other questions you think we should add to this survey?

You should ask if unionized positions are more attractive. 

Job Hunting Post Graduate School 

If you have an MLIS or other graduate level degree in a LIS field, what year did you graduate? (Or what year do you anticipate graduating?)

2023

When did you start your first job search for a “professional” position (or other position that utilized your degree)?

√ Six months before graduating with my MLIS/other LIS degree 

In relation to your graduation, when did you find your first “professional” position?

√ Hasn’t happened yet – I’m still looking 

What kind of work was your first post-graduation professional position? 

√ N/A – hasn’t happened yet 

Did you get support from your library school for your first job hunt (and/or any subsequent ones)?

No 

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Stats and Graphs: Job Search Self Care, Part 1 of Many

The 2023 Job Hunter’s Survey collects information from LIS workers who are currently looking for work, crossing multiple experience levels, specializations, and library types. There are 37 questions, including a special section that asks for information about the length of time taken to find the first post-grad school position (which for some respondents was quite a few years ago). The survey opened on February 2nd, 2023. It will remain open indefinitely, but as of April 11, 2023, there were 434 responses. Most chose to fill it out anonymously, but 30 people did leave contact information. I am posting both individual responses and statistics, as I can get them written up. Given the number of responses, it will most likely take more than a year for me to share them all. 

This is the sixth 2023 Job Hunter’s Survey statistics post! Please note I don’t use representative sampling, so it would be inappropriate to draw conclusions about the larger population of LIS Workers as a whole.

In this post, I’m again looking at just one question that I asked job hunters.

What are your job search self-care strategies?

This is an open-ended question, and it’s taking me FOREVER to code all the responses, so I don’t have any charts for you today. But, I did still want to broach the topic. We should talk more about this! Job searching is a tough, soul-grinding activity, even for the most optimistic, sunshine personalities. My thought is I’ll keep slowly working through the answers and then talk about the various groupings I find as I go. Hopefully this will open up more thought and dialogue on the topic. In writing this post I’m realizing that some of the categories I was thinking of as larger groupings are actually only mentioned by a few people. I still think they are worth sharing because they might be useful to folks who are examining their own strategies.

Today I will mention some of the more straightforward strategies/responses (please note that many folks had multiple strategies):

  • No response -112 respondents skipped this question (25.8%)
  • No strategy/Not sure – mentioned by 34 respondents (7.8%)
  • LOL – mentioned by 2 respondents (0.4%)
  • Media: TV/movies/video games/YouTube/podcasts… – mentioned by 17 respondents (3.9%)
  • Books/Reading – mentioned by 11 respondents (2.5%)
  • Therapy/psychological care – mentioned by 14 respondents (3.2%)
  • Meditation – mentioned by 6 respondents (1.3%)
  • Reward/Treats – mentioned by 7 respondents (1.6%)
  • Crying – mentioned by 6 respondents (1.3%)

No response

A quarter of all respondents skipped this question, which seems fairly significant. We don’t have any way of knowing why, of course. It could be because they did not have self-care strategies. However, this was question 28, so it is also possible that the folks who skipped this question did so because of survey fatigue.

No strategy/Not sure and LOL

34 people said they did not employ any self care strategies, or were uncertain about it. 1 person replied “LOL” and another replied “LOL” and followed with “Taking any job I can. Applying for SNAP so I can eat without running up my credit card.” I lump these LOL in with the no strategy answers because it seems like many folks find the idea of self care laughable, impossible, or simply puzzling.

Some of the uncertain folks said things like, “I don’t know what job search self-care would look like.” or “?????” Others were uncertain what self care meant in this context but described a possible strategy, such as “? Hope?” or “There are self-care strategies? No but seriously I’m honestly not practicing them beyond taking weeks where I simply “forget” I should be applying to jobs because my application process is driven by a certain level of desperation right now.” or “Don’t know that I have any beyond stubbornly keeping at it (Healthy, eh?)”

Some folks without strategies also expressed that job hunting had a negative impact. One person replied, “Can’t say I have any. After I have a promising interview that does not go my way, I tend to feel disheartened and do not even want to look for work for a couple of weeks.” Another expressed years of pain, saying, “I should probably get some. At the end of the day, though, years of rejection are really painful, even when you know they have nothing to do with you or your qualifications. I put my life on hold starting at age 25 and… somewhere in there… I turned 40. I’d sacrificed my whole personal life for the job and the job never appeared.”

Like the last respondent, a few folks expressed that even though they didn’t have any strategies, they thought this was something they should pursue, “I don’t have any but I wish I did! If you share the results of this question that would be great :)”

Media: TV/movies/video games/YouTube/podcasts…

17 respondents mentioned various forms of media as a self-care strategy. These ranged from “Play videos to turn my brain off for an hour or so” to “Lots and lots of TV shows and chocolate. Also, looking at cute animals.” to “Reading zines. Watching Murder She Wrote. Walking and enjoying trees and nature.” In general, this is a strategy of distraction, although it also serves to remind folks that there is more to life than job searching, and that this “more” can be funny, engaging, or otherwise enjoyable. It can also be a strategy of social bonding, as with the respondent who said “take breaks and ignore it for a while to focus on schoolwork. talk to my friends and family. watch tv with my housemate.” And of course the bonding need not be with another human, as for the person who responded, “Civ 5, watching movies with my cats, complaining to my friends. Trying to give myself days off from the job search.”

Books/Reading

I did pull books/reading out as a strategy separate from Media above, simply because I wanted to know how often LIS workers rely on books for self care. Fewer folks mentioned this narrower category (only 11). Most spoke about books or reading in general terms, although a few did specify type (zines) or genre: “Pilates or watch anime or read fan fiction.” Like Media, Books/Reading might be primarily a distracting tactic. However respondents did call out other specific benefits. One person included books in a list of intellectually stimulating activities, “Weekly therapy, long walks with my dog, regular exercise, staying intellectually stimulated with other activities (books, puzzles, DIY projects, gardening), and lots of socializing with friends and family!” Another called out reading as an activity that helped them de-stress, “read to de-stress, scream into a pillow at being this deep in debt & not able to move out of my parents’ house” And one person who spoke about books put it into the social/bonding context (as well as keeping spirits up) by saying that they had joined a book club: “Following the Stutz ‘life force’ pyramid. I am not spending all my time on job searching, but instead have identified other things that will keep my spirits up while also potentially helping my job search: volunteering (with also turns into a form of networking), joining a book club, working out, exploring my local area, and taking LinkedIn Learning classes to further my expertise in areas of interest. I’m also allowing myself to do the fun stuff I didn’t have time for when I was working 40+hrs/wk and stressed out.”

Therapy/Psychological Care

13 people mentioned therapy but I expanded this category to include Psychological care to be able to add in one more response: “I was finally diagnosed as not neurotypical, which may help long term with my career.” I’m assuming this person saw a psychiatrist, which to me is distinct from therapy. Most folks just included the single word “therapy” but a few were more elaborate. Some specified that they “include job search info when I check in with my therapist.” And one person identified that although they did not go to therapy, they received therapeutic support because “I’m grateful that my wife is a therapist. And one of my dogs thinks they’re a therapy dog.” These answers don’t provide a lot of specifics about how therapy functions as job search self-care, but from my own experience and understanding I might suppose that therapy offers the opportunity to feel support, to work through difficult emotions, and to find coping strategies that are specific to the difficulties of the individual. It is also a regular reminder to take time for oneself, that our thoughts and feelings are important, and worth our time and care.

Meditation

Six respondents mentioned meditation as a strategy. Two of those mentioned no other strategies. The others mentioned meditation in context with other things, such as, “daily meditation, walks, keeping lists.” Only one of the six mentioned meditation in a spiritual or religious context, “I turn to the support of my religious community. I pray and meditate on the promises of God in the bible. I take some breaks from the job search, too.”

Rewards/Treats

Seven people mentioned using rewards or treats. This was often after a particular task, such as the person who said, “For every three applications I fill out, I reward myself with something small.” Not everyone specified what kinds of rewards or treats were used but they ranged from little things, such as in this response, “Limit myself to applying to jobs only on certain days. Rewarding myself for submitting applications or completing an interview (this can be little things like giving myself time to read for fun during day, taking a long walk, or going to a nice coffee shop).” to more intangible things such as a little break, “Reward myself after an interview (positive or negative) with a little break of a few days so I can do something for myself, like indulge in a hobby, to remind myself that there’s more to life than this bullshit.” or just “something I enjoy.”

Crying

Six people specifically mentioned crying; enough that I wanted to separate it into it’s own category. Crying is an expression of despair and loneliness, “I sometimes just sit and cry in front of my computer and hope my wife doesn’t hear me when it happens.” but it also seemed like many who mentioned it were acknowledging a need to process through feelings “Cry when I need to, go to therapy, keep working on other skills.” One person named crying as an expression of their own personality “Crying? I am a very dramatic person.”

If you would like to cry but find it difficult, I recommend this classic song from my favorite childhood album, Free to Be You and Me. It’s Rosey Grier singing, “It’s All Right to Cry” (I grew up in the 80s and 90s, not the 70s, but we had this record).

Thanks for reading! You can support this project by joining our Patreon or through any of the other (monetary and non-monetary) methods on this page.

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Free Hiring Librarians Webinar for Folks Who Hire and More News

Hello Friends and Colleagues!

Free Hiring Librarians Webinar Next Week

Folks who hire LIS workers, please join me next Wednesday at 10 AM Eastern for a free webinar hosted by the Indiana State Library. I’ll be using results from the job hunters survey as well as current research and my own thoughts and ideas to talk about how YOU can improve your recruitment strategies. The goal is a better understanding of how to get clear on your needs, communicate effectively with candidates, and above all center kindness in an arduous process. You will leave with a practical guide to revamping your announcements and reaching great candidates.

Learn more/sign up here

This is hosted by the Indiana State Library’s Office of Professional Development, which supports library staff with tons of free webinars each month. Just as an aside, did you know Indiana requires that many public library staff be certified? With continuing education requirements for some? Interesting, huh? This means that they have A LOT of free professional development content, and you don’t have to be a Hoosier to access it.

and More News: No Ads!

For the last year or so I have been (fairly halfheartedly) experimenting with ways to make Hiring Librarians pay for itself and maybe even recompense me for my time. If you want to read more about the costs and strategies, I break them down on the Participate page. I also have a link there for Paypal donations.

My new strategy is to stop running ads and see if folks are interested in being Patreon supporters. If you’d like to help fund the blog for the low low cost of $3, $8, or $12 per month (cancel anytime!) please navigate to: https://www.patreon.com/hiringlibrarians and thank you!

Your Pal,

Emily

A drawing of a man with a bugle, with a banner that says ads. A circle with a slash is superimposed on it.
Northeast Texas Digital Collections: 1920 Locust yearbook, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

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“it’s a question that makes it seem like I’m not allowed to apply because I want to live.”

National Archives and Records Administration, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Please note: this is an anonymous response to an online survey; I do not have any way of contacting the respondent or verifying responses. Their answers may reflect good, bad, or middling job searching practices. I invite you to take what’s useful and leave the rest.

Your Demographics and Search Parameters

How long have you been job hunting?

√ Less than six months 

Why are you job hunting?  

√ This is the next step after finishing library/archives/other LIS graduate degree 

√ I’m underemployed (not enough hours or overqualified for current position) 

√ Looking for more money

√ Looking for a promotion/more responsibility 

√ Looking for remote/virtual work (or at least hybrid) 

√ My current job is awful/toxic 

Where do you look for open positions?  

Indeed, LinkedIn, Google, Institution websites

What position level are you looking for?  

√ Entry level 

√ Supervisory 

√ Senior Librarian 

What type(s) of organization are you looking in? 

√ Academic library 

What part of the world are you in?

√ Southeastern US 

What’s your region like? 

√ Suburban area 

Are you willing/able to move for employment? 

√ Yes, within my state 

√ Yes, to a specific list of places

√ Yes, as long as at least some of my moving costs are covered 

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

Benefits/pay, location, responsibilities 

How many jobs have you applied to during your current search? (Please indicate if it’s an estimate or exact)

4

What steps, actions, or attributes are most important for employers to take to sell you on the job?  

√ Pay well 

√ Having a good reputation 

√ Prioritizing work-life balance 

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

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

Other than not listing a salary range, are there other “red flags” that would prevent you from applying to a job?

Listing higher level degrees but the responsibilities are for a lower level position, not giving a range for when the job will start 

The Process

How much time do you spend preparing an application packet?

5-10 minutes

What are the steps you follow to prepare an application packet?

Check over resume, write/edit cover letter, double check references

How do you prefer to communicate with potential employers?

√ Email 

When would you like potential employers to contact you? 

√ To acknowledge my application

√ To tell me if the search is at the interview stage, even if I have not been selected

√ Once the position has been filled, even if it’s not me 

How long do you expect an organization’s application process to take, from the point you submit your documents to the point of either an offer or rejection?

A few weeks

How do you prepare for interviews?

I don’t

What are your most hated interview questions, and why?

Why do you want this job, because obviously I need to work. I want this job to survive. If there’s any other special reason it’ll come up or I’ll tell you but it’s a question that makes it seem like I’m not allowed to apply because I want to live. 

During your current search, have you had any of the following experiences:

  • Submitted an application and got no response  √ Not Applicable
  • Had an interview and never heard back  √ Not Applicable
  • Interviewed for a job where an internal candidate was eventually chosen   √ I don’t know 
  • Asked for an accommodation for a disability  √ Not Applicable
  • Withdrawn an application before the offer stage  √ Happened more than once 
  • Turned down an offer √ Happened once  

If you have ever withdrawn an application, why?

I reassessed the job duties and decided they were too similar to what I already do and not worth the move/changes

If you’ve turned down an offer (or offers), why?

The pay wasn’t enough to sustain my lifestyle 

What should employers do to make the hiring process better for job hunters?

Be transparent at every stage

You and Your Well-Being

How are you doing, generally?

√ I’m somewhat depressed 

√ I feel supported in my search 

Job Hunting Post Graduate School 

If you have an MLIS or other graduate level degree in a LIS field, what year did you graduate? (Or what year do you anticipate graduating?)

expected Summer 2023

When did you start your first job search for a “professional” position (or other position that utilized your degree)?

√ Six months before graduating with my MLIS/other LIS degree 

In relation to your graduation, when did you find your first “professional” position?

√ I was actually hired before I graduated 

What kind of work was your first post-graduation professional position? 

√ N/A – hasn’t happened yet 

Did you get support from your library school for your first job hunt (and/or any subsequent ones)?

No 

Thanks for reading! You can support this project by joining our Patreon or through any of the other (monetary and non-monetary) methods on this page.

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