A workplace where I can learn but also have my ideas be heard

ThisConDev5378A Hunting Dog, 1945, Washington County, NC 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 Six months to a year. This person is looking in Academic libraries, Public libraries, at the following levels: Entry level, Requiring at least two years of experience. This job hunter is in a suburban area, in the Western US, and is willing to move anywhere.

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

A sense of fulfillment, or somewhere where I feel like I am able to help people or make a difference

A salary I can live on

Where do you look for open positions?

ALA Joblist
State professional association joblists
Government joblists
Websites for specific cities or counties

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?

I have a “default” cover letter and resume that I update to highlight qualifications and skills mentioned in the job ad. 1/2-2 hours depending on the job.

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 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)?

√ 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?

Be very clear about your expectations and needs, if a skill is needed don’t put __ preferred. I don’t want to waste your time or mine if my not having that skill is going to rule me out.

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

Keep applicants informed during the selection process

What do you think is the secret to getting hired?

Either knowing someone on the selection committee or having something unique in your application to make you stand out

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

No, this was great

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, Entry Level, Job hunter's survey, Public, Suburban area, Western US

Tiring a Librarian

Dear Readers,

Thank you so much for reading, sharing, supporting, and ranting about Hiring Librarians.

I started this blog in February 2012, so we have been going for nearly 4 years.  The first year, I found the topic so interesting that I was happy to spend a good deal of my free time working on it.  The second and third years, I had a bit more going on in my professional life, a bit less interest in the topic, and it was only with the help of volunteers that we stayed robust.  This last year, I have had some upheavals in my personal life, I’ve been much less interested in the topic, and I just really want to do non-blog-things with my free time.  My involvement has been a bit auto-pilot this year.

So what does that mean for year 5?  

I don’t have a new survey to post.  I’m interested in exploring hiring and diversity, but I’m having a lot of trouble figuring out how to frame a survey that would end up illuminating the problem in a constructive way, rather than just providing a lot of potentially pain-causing confessions.  

And I really don’t want to spend time writing this anymore.  Frankly.  I want to spend my free time on bike rides, hanging out with my friends, listening to music, and doing other fun stuff.  And maybe writing an article or two, or serving on a committee or whatever.  Just not this blog anymore.

So I’m turning out the lights.  

I will keep the content up, and continue to purchase the domain.  There are a few survey responses still to be posted, and we will post the final Further Questions question on the 29th. But after that, no new content will be posted (although of course you can always add to the Interview Questions Repository).  

I want to say a big THANK YOU to the current active volunteers, who made this last year possible:

  • Sarah Keil has been writing the weekly Further Questions feature since June 2014.  
  • Jen Devine has been transcribing surveys since March 2014.  
  • Sherle Abrams has run the crowd-sourced resume/CV review service since May of 2014, and was a Further Question respondent for a while before that.

And I also want to say a big THANK YOU to all of the people who have helped with this project – all the previous volunteers, my co-authors for various surveys: Jill from Librarian Hire Fashion, Naomi House from I Need a Library Job, Brianna Marshall from (at the time) Hack Library School, the pool of Further Questions respondents, LIS career authors and researchers, the people who run LIS career sites, the people who run library school career centers, the tattooed librarians, job hunters who let me follow up with them, sometimes for multiple years, people who’ve added interview questions to the interview questions repository, candidates for ALA and other presidencies, anyone who responded to a survey, and of course YOU.  

Thank YOU, reader. 

You’re awesome.  I know you will find a job you love and make the world a better place.  GOOD LUCK WITH EVERYTHING!

Your Pal,




Filed under News and Administration

Further Questions: What Should Candidates Wear?

Edited on January 29, 2016 to add…

Wow, lots of discussion about this post! While there is much that could be said in response to the dialogue of race, gender, privilege, etc. and all associated expectations in the library world, I want to make this note brief. I am sorry that the wording and/or images on this post caused some bad feelings. That was not the intention, and it does not necessarily reflect the opinions of this blog’s creator and volunteers.

When the question about interview attire was posted in 2012, responses generated good discussion (and even some about non-Western/ethnic dress, so check that out too). When this question was posed recently, it was copied verbatim. Since 2012, we have learned a lot about assumptions and gender and dress. Due to my workload and personal circumstances, I did not stop to fully consider how such phrasing may be received in 2016. Similarly, time constraints (as well as copyright notices on websites with images I initially wanted to use) did influence the image choices.

Are there better images that could have been used? Yes. Do I wish that diversity (of all types) was more apparent? Yes. However, as with all questions and replies on Further Questions, time and other constraints render it nearly impossible to fit every scenario or address every consideration fairly. This is true for the blog’s creator and volunteers, as well as the panelists and all who have filled out a survey on Hiring Librarians over the years. Panelists rarely answer every aspect of a question, so I would have been surprised if each image was equally addressed. Regardless of how this post was received, I’m happy to see Hiring Librarians causing discussion all the way to the end! If you wish to dialogue further, please email me at hiringlibrariansquestions@ gmail.com. I would love to chat with you and share more than can be said in a short blog post! Thanks for reading! –Sarah


This week we asked people who hire librarians a question that was asked previously, and still remains popular on Hiring Librarians… the inevitable “What should I wear?!?!” question that nearly ALL job seekers struggle with during the job interview process.

Which outfit is most appropriate to wear to an interview with your organization? Please pick one for women and one for men, and feel free to provide commentary as to why you chose one over the others (or share how you might change an outfit). Bonus question:  Can you share any funny stories about horrifying interview outfits?

Female A : What Should Candidates Wear?

Female A. Source: Rotary Club of Clayton-Ladue, click on image for original.

Female B: What Should Candidates Wear?

Female B. Source: Accurate Court Reporting, click on image for original.

Female C: What Should Candidates Wear?

Female C. Source: J’s Everyday Fashion, LLC, click on image for original.

Female D: What Should Candidates Wear?

Female D. Source: Plus Size Outfits, click on image for original.

Male A: What Should Candidates Wear?

Male A. Source: The Denver Post, click on image for original.

Male B: What Should Candidates Wear?

Male B. Source: The Fashionisto, click on image for original.

Male C: What Should Candidates Wear?

Male C. Source: The Working Wardrobe, click on image for original.

Male D: What Should Candidates Wear?

Male D. Source: Epaulet New York, click on image for original.

Christine Hage songstressBased on attire only I would hire any of the first three women with a slight preference for the first woman. She looks like people in my community. I’m not sure how long the second woman would make at one of our services desks in those heels!
I’d feel comfortable with the guy in the suit and the guy in the shirt and tie, with a preference for the shirt and tie. He looks relaxed yet appropriately dress for work.
It also depends on the job the person is applying for. Reference? Youth services? Outreach? Library director? Bookmobile librarian?
I do look at how a person is dressed and figure this is the best they will look when they come on the job.
Clothing fit is important. I once interviewed a fellow that looked like a kid wearing his dad’s dress shirt. I appreciated his effort, but questioned whether he looked in the mirror before he came to the interview.

Years ago a library director colleague friend of mine got a complaint from a parent about a youth services librarian. The librarian had VERY high end designer tastes. The parent felt the librarian was dressed like a hooker, because she had a mini skirt on with high heeled leather boots on the came over the to of her knees. 

Neat, clean, well groomed, good smile and an upbeat personality go a long way with me, especially the smile. Does the person look approachable? Will they make our customers feel welcome?  Will they fit into our community?  Does their attire look like the used common sense putting their look together?

– Christine Hage, Director, Rochester Hills Public Library

Laurie PhillipsFor a woman, I think A and B are most appropriate. Honestly, I don’t care if someone if wearing a matching suit jacket and pants or skirt. Candidates should be dressed professionally and a notch more formal than you would normally wear to work. Female C is not inappropriate, *however* the blouse is a bit sheer. I have had a young female faculty librarian wear a similar blouse to work with a hot pink/coral bra under it and wearing a jacket that matched the bra. That’s just a no-no. Cute but not work appropriate. So I would say C would entirely depend on how you wear it. A jacket or cardigan could make it look more appropriate, but I’d skip the sheer blouse. I’ve seen women wearing a dress and jacket that looked more garden party than job interview. Be careful about that. Male A is the obvious choice. He’s wearing a suit with a solid shirt and tie and appropriate dress shoes. B and C are way too casual. Those shoes on B are not dress shoes. D would be ok if he was wearing socks and a jacket. I don’t mind personality or print. We don’t expect to have you completely strip away your personality. Show personality in your accessories! I don’t really have any funny stories, although I did have a friend who had a candidate who was trying to remove a knot from his shoelace with his teeth. Probably not a smart choice.

– Laurie Phillips, Associate Dean for Technical Services, J. Edgar & Louise S. Monroe Library, Loyola University New Orleans

Jessica OlinSince gender isn’t a binary, I say you wear whatever you feel is appropriate to the level for which you’re applying. In general, dress just a little bit nicer than you think you would dress if you got the job. If you feel unsure, check with a friend/contact who already has a job in the kind of library where you are interviewing. Don’t know anyone? Feel free to reach out to me and I’ll get you in touch with someone who can help.
– Jessica Olin, Director of Parker Library, Wesley College

MargaretI know you asked us to pick one for each gender, but honestly, I don’t have opinions on any of the outfits, even the more casual ones. They all seem fine. I might judge a man in an extremely ill-fitting suit, like David Byrne in the 80’s, or something that’s completely unflattering (“that pattern…girl…., whose couch did you have to kill for that?”), but even that won’t have much weight on my decision. As long as they’re clean, fully clothed and give a good interview, a person’s professional fashion sense is not really a deal-killer for me. Now, if you had put up pictures of people in ripped jeans and t-shirts or a tank top and flip flops, we’d be having a different conversation. Also, the City I work for has a rule about visible tattoos, wild hair colors and visible non-ear piercings (like nose) so those are issues that are usually brought up if someone is offered a job. I wonder, is this a generational thing? I’m at the tail end of Gen-X. We thought flannel and baby-doll dresses were a good idea.

– Margaret M. Neill, Regional Library Branch Manager, Main Library, El Paso Public Library

I work at a public research flagship institution in New England. Generally, business formal or one step down is going to be the best bet here because candidates will probably interact with the director, associate director, and department heads during their interviews, and half the staff at that level dress in business formal attire, while others generally dress in business casual attire. Candidates for department head and coordinator positions should definitely wear a suit or the equivalent for women. The fit and state of the outfit also matter; some candidates wear clothing that is too large or small, and they just look uncomfortable. I have also seen wrinkly or stained clothing and that can be a little distracting. Candidates will often take a tour of the library and will walk across campus for lunch, so comfortable shoes are important.


For a woman, outfit A, B, and C would all be appropriate, but in my opinion, it looks dated when the shirt collar comes over the jacket (as in image A).


For a man, outfit A would be appropriate, and outfit D would also be appropriate if accompanied by a jacket. Here is an article explaining why.

– Anonymous


Jason GrubbI feel the position you are interviewing for and the location of the position determine what you should wear. In Wyoming, any of these outfits would be appropriate. Male A and Female B may be too much if interviewing for a non management position, but better to be over dressed than under. We are flexible and casual. As a consequence, nothing surprises us, so no funny stories to share. Be yourself and wear what you are comfortable in.

– Jason Grubb, Director, Sweetwater County Library System

Thank you as always to our contributors for their time and insight.  If you’re someone who hires librarians and are interested in participating in this feature, please email us at hiringlibrariansquestionsATgmail.com. Special thanks to the websites providing the images. Please click on the image to be linked to the original.

Thank YOU for reading!  If you liked reading, you’re going to really love COMMENTING.


Filed under Further Questions

Job Hunter Follow Up: Laura Perenic

We last heard from Laura Perenic on December 26, 2014, in the post titled,  It is hard to imagine all the form completing and hoop jumping I have been doing really results in finding quality staff.

Where are you now? What’s your work situation like, and what path did you take this last year?

I have been employed full-time since April 2015 after four months of unemployment. I work as the Children’s and Teen Services Librarian at the main branch of the Clark County Public Library in Springfield, Ohio. My work situation contains a variety of tasks and responsibilities. I have many opportunities to collaborate with co-workers and the public we serve. I plan and implement numerous programs for children, teens and families. I also provide outreach in the community. I am dedicated to youth services. The percentage of time I focus on kids or teens can change but I don’t see a time where I won’t be involved with the needs of the 18-and-under crowd.

Looking at last year’s answers, have any of your attitudes changed?

I was able to get through my unemployment with minimal harm to my career. When I read over my previous answers I feel frustrated that my experiences did not better equip me to help those who are currently unemployed. I feel more sad and jaded about the job hunting process. I see myself as having many desirable qualities that would make me an asset to an employer and it still took months to find a suitable job. As someone who still cannot get management experience in my chosen field, I wonder how newly minted librarians will ever break into the workforce if we hold their lack of library experience against them? I’ve seen quite a few cruelly funny memes indicating that to get a library job you need an Olympic medal. For those trying to land or change library jobs this black humor is all too accurate.

What’s your best advice for job hunters?

My best advice for the unemployed is to treat your helpful friends and family, who often have job advice that isn’t practical, as if they are offering you an opportunity to practice your elevator speech. Rehearse your answers to questions such as: Why are libraries relevant? Why are you relevant? Convince those around you of your value and worth. Sell yourself at every turn. This will allow you to interview with extreme confidence. In the really dark times, when your ego cannot take one more rejection letter, you can remind yourself what you are fighting for. Being unemployed was one the hardest things I’ve ever survived and I wouldn’t wish it on most people.

Anything else you want to share with us?

My job hunt showed that networking was the best tool I had. Surround yourself with people of all skills set as if they are your office. Create a team that cannot and will not let you down. You are going to need them and someday they might need you. Don’t do this alone. Take time to craft an online footprint that will attract employers to you. Also take time for yourself. I had to remind myself to stop job hunting sometimes. Running was the best, free activity I had and it was also the most enjoyable part of my day.

If readers ask questions in the comments section, Laura is willing to answer them.

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Further Questions: How should job seekers display their degrees and certifications?

This week we asked people who hire librarians

How should job seekers display their degrees and certifications in documents like resumes or signatures (in cover letters or emails)? Should they put “John Smith, MLS, MIS” at the top of their resume or when signing a cover letter or email, or should that information be included elsewhere, as in an education section, or text in the cover letter? Does etiquette change if the degrees are terminal such as a PhD or JD (or the MLS)? What about librarians who hold other degrees beyond the master’s level such as a subject area PhD, EdD, etc.?

Laurie PhillipsNo. I personally think it’s pretentious. It should be in the education section of the resume. I wouldn’t ding someone for doing it, but it’s unnecessary. We require an ALA-accredited MLS (or equivalent degree) for our faculty positions and we do not require any other master’s degree or Ph.D. or Ed.D. Some do for Dean or Director level positions and some do for subject-specific librarian positions (for example, I believe a friend of mine completed her PhD in musicology for a position at UC Boulder, where they have stringent tenure requirements and she’s now teaching in the music school). Many of us have or have had second master’s degrees in a field. I have an M.A. in musicology but I would never put M.A., M.L.S. after my name. For hiring, it’s just not necessary. If someone were applying for a position as a law librarian where a J.D. is required, they might do it, but truly, putting the initials after the name is not necessary.

– Laurie Phillips, Associate Dean for Technical Services, J. Edgar & Louise S. Monroe Library, Loyola University New Orleans

J. McRee ElrodAt least once as initials, e.g.,

J. McRee Elrod,  A.B., MA, MA (CLT), MLIS




– J. McRee (Mac) Elrod, Special Libraries Catalouging

MargaretI personally don’t use my degree as part of my signature, so I really don’t notice it much when others do. Put all your education and degrees on your resume, most definitely, but putting a Ph.D. or JD after your name won’t be something I’ll note in a cover letter or email beyond a superficial sort of acknowledgement. I think those things probably carry more weight in  academic libraries than public, where specialization can be a very important part of the job (like having a Master’s in English and being the library liaison to that department).

– Margaret M. Neill, Regional Library Branch Manager, Main Library, El Paso Public Library

Celia RabinowitzI think it is important for a job seeker to be sure potential employers know about their academic qualifications and credentials.  A resume or cv will have the person’s educational history and so I don’t think it is necessary to include the degrees (e.g., MLS, PhD) at the top of the document.  I think it is appropriate to put those at the bottom of a cover letter in the signature much as many of us do in our email signature files.  It makes most sense to include required or terminal degrees, but not others.  So – MLS holders already have a BA (or BS, etc.) so it is not necessary to include that.

Including that information in your personal or work email or other correspondence is partly a matter of personal preference, I think.  They can certainly send a message or reminder to our colleagues on campus about our professional preparation which is useful.  That might be preferable to feeling as if we have to tell people we have one, or more, graduate degrees.  So – for job applications and letters be sure you educational achievements are clear (what degrees, which institutions, what program), and for your ongoing digital or print identity, whatever makes you feel most comfortable about you represent yourself.
– Celia Rabinowitz,  Dean of Mason Library at Keene State College in Keene, NH
Thank you as always to our contributors for their time and insight.  If you’re someone who hires librarians and are interested in participating in this feature, please email us at hiringlibrariansquestionsATgmail.com.

Thank YOU for reading!  If you liked reading, you’re going to really love COMMENTING.

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Filed under Further Questions

Job Hunter Follow Up: Neyda Gilman (year three)

Neyda Gilman


Neyda Gilman took the Job Hunter’s survey on January 4, 2013.

Her responses appeared as Being a New Grad I Feel Better Applying to Jobs That Indicate They are a Place to Grow and Learn.

We followed up with her on December 26, 2013 and again on December 2, 2014.

Where are you now? What’s your work situation like, and what path did you take this last year?

I am still in the full time position that I had during last year’s interview. The work situation is good; it is a stable job with enjoyable colleagues. This past year I focused on getting to know my current place of employment and building my skills. (Last year’s interview was shortly after I started this position)

Looking at last year’s check-in, have any of your attitudes changed?

Not really. I have had the opportunity to serve on additional search committees, including ones for librarians, and those experiences have reinforced how… crazy the search process is. As job hunters our future is decided by strangers. For those on the search committee, we have to decide who would be the best person for the position, for the library, with fairly limited knowledge.

What’s your best advice for job hunters?

Same as last year. Put effort into your applications. Make sure your cover letter and resume/CV actually talk about the qualifications listed on the job posting. Proof read. Have others proof read. For the job interview – do your research, know about the library, the job, and what you want to say about yourself. Be yourself, be honest, be excited.

Anything else you want to share with us?

If you are applying to jobs “correctly” then you are putting a fair amount of time and energy into it. It can be extremely disheartening to not get an interview and/or the position. Try to remember that there are a lot of variables and if you see a position at the same institution don’t hesitate to try again!

Neyda is willing to answer questions you post in the comments section.

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Job Hunter Follow Up: Maria Lin

maria linMaria Lin completed the original survey on February 13, 2013. Her responses as Hire for work ethic first, past achievement second. We followed up with her on January 6, 2014

Where are you now? What’s your work situation like, and what path did you take this last year?

I’m in the same position I was last year. My responsibilities have increased some and I’ve done some book dealing independently outside of work as well. In 2014 I received a scholarship to attend the Rare Book School, which was an amazing experience, and in spring of this year I attended the international antiquarian book fair in Tokyo, which was also extremely educational. I also spent the year serving as a volunteer coordinator for an all volunteer library, which kept my toes in the library world a little.

Looking at last year’s answers, have any of your attitudes changed?

Not really. I’m still quite passionate about the value of archives and special collections, but I feel I’m contributing more as a dealer than I might as an archivist or librarian. I think the only sort of job that might lure me back to libraries would be a good cataloging position.

What’s your best advice for job hunters?

The world of libraries sits inside a larger world of books and information. For some of us, there are careers that run parallel to libraries that are a perfect fit, and don’t require us to push into a very crowded job market. I’m not a librarian, but I still interact with libraries almost every day, and I get to help librarians from around the country develop their collections. If you’re having a hard time finding a traditional library position, there may be something that gives you what you want just outside your field of vision.

Anything else you want to share with us?

Don’t think so.

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