Tag Archives: Academic library

If you’re stuck though, ask people what they like about working there. Long hesitation is telling.

Photograph of Society of American Archivists Study Tour, Vatican, Rome. National Archives.

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Academic Library

√ Archives 

Titles hired include: Collections archivist, archives director, librarian

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ A Committee or panel 

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

√ Online application

√ Cover letter

√ Resume

√ References

√ Proof of degree

√ More than one round of interviews

√ A whole day of interviews

√ A meal with hiring personnel

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ No

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

Committee crafts job description, admin approves, committee reviews all applications (resume, cover letter) and culls to 6-9 phone interviews, then 3-4 full-day interviews (usually in person but have been via Zoom recently). 

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

They made a good case for their ability to contribute to a team and they understood why they worked, not just how to follow instructions. 

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Too much reliance on a manager telling you what to do, lack of curiosity

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

How they handle disagreement or adversity.

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ Two is ok, but no more 

Resume: √ Two is ok, but no more

CV: √ As many as it takes, but keep it reasonable and relevant 

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

Answering questions with a yes or no. This is your chance to tell us about your work and ideas!

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

It’s hard not to talk over people in a Zoom meeting. Take a brief pause before speaking if you can. Don’t worry about avoiding awkwardness. Everyone feels a little weird!

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?

Never apologize for your experience or try to hide it! Lots of people have the degree, but very few have other experience and make a great case for how it makes them a better, more well-rounded candidate. Explain yourself as a whole person with a unique perspective, because you are! 

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

√ Other: Pushing to put it in the ad, but it’s not always done

What does your organization do to reduce bias in hiring? What are the contexts in which discrimination still exists in this process?

There is an HR training and we try to anonymize a bit in the first round. Improvements certainly possible.

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

Your questions are always best if you do a bit of research first. If you’re stuck though, ask people what they like about working there. Long hesitation is telling.

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Midwestern 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?

√ 51-100 

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, 50-100 staff members, Academic, Archives, Midwestern US, Urban area

Someone with expertise in an area we don’t have is usually attractive – something like e-resource management, coding and technical skills, archives, etc.

Rose Bush. From the UC Berkeley Library Digital Collection

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Academic Library 

Title: Director

Titles hired include: Reference and Instruction Librarian, Circulation Assistant, Circulation Staff, ILL Staff

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ HR

√ Library Administration

√ The position’s supervisor

√ A Committee or panel

√ 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

√ References

√ Proof of degree

√ Supplemental Questions

√ Oral Exam/Structured interview

√ Demonstration (teaching, storytime, etc)

√ More than one round of interviews 

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ Yes 

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

The library staff write the position description for approval by HR.  We create a selection committee of 3-5 people (usually supervisor, a coworker, and someone from outside the library).  We have access to applications and review candidates, and choose 5-8 for interviews.  For most positions, after interviews, we choose a candidate and do reference checks (our HR requires two, one of which must be supervisory), then HR approves the hire and calls to make the offer.  For any MLS required position, there may be a second interview with administration above the library director.

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

Candidates that are attractive have specific experience that fills a hole in my library.  We are a staff of 5, so someone with expertise in an area we don’t have is usually attractive – something like e-resource management, coding and technical skills, archives, etc.  It’s also impressive when candidates are able to answer interview questions with relevant examples that demonstrate their experience – many candidates try to do this, but are often too vague.

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

If someone didn’t follow the directions in the posting, they usually don’t make my interview list, unless there aren’t many candidates.

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

As a very small community college in a rural area in the midwest, I’m always curious why people from out of state are applying, or why people very over qualified for the position are applying.  Answering those questions in a cover letter could be helpful.

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ Two is ok, but no more  

Resume: √ As many as it takes, but keep it reasonable and relevant  

CV: √ We don’t ask for this  

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

In situational questions, saying “I don’t know how I would handle that” or “I’ve never been in that situation before” without speculating about how they would handle it.  In general, just being short with answers and not providing details or not connecting their experience to the question.

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

Yes we do.  Make sure you’re in a quiet location with a generally not-distracting background, with a functional camera and mic.  Make eye contact with the camera, and be as engaging as you would be in person.

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?

Focus on skills – someone with k-12 education experience knows a lot about curriculum and organization and deadlines.  Someone with retail experience has skills in dealing with patrons and answering phones, and potentially social media and marketing or inventory management.  Those are all things we’re looking for, so just make sure to take the time to explain the tasks that you have done and how they are similar to what we do in libraries.  With my small staff, I’m often looking for someone comfortable making decisions on their own and responsible enough to work alone sometimes – highlight those kinds of skills, it doesn’t matter what the decision was about.

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

√ Other: We list a range in the job ad, and that’s all I can speak to at the interview.  HR determines their salary based on education and experience, and discusses specifics in the offer.

What does your organization do to reduce bias in hiring? What are the contexts in which discrimination still exists in this process?

We have required EDI training before being placed on a selection committee.  All committees have a person of color serving on them, and ideally a mix of genders as well.  HR also reviews interview selections, and sometimes adds additional candidates to ensure diversity.  Because of the size of our institution, the same people keep getting asked to be on interview committees, which is not a fair ask.  

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

I just want them to ask something.  I don’t mind if they ask about salary or benefits, but like it when they ask something about the library or the job too.  Questions about management style, daily work and responsibilities, interaction with other departments, the college or library in general – all of that is good.

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Midwestern US 

What’s your region like?

√ Rural 

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Never or not anymore 

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 0-10 

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 0-10 staff members, 1 A Return to Hiring Librarians Survey, Midwestern US, Rural area

Internal hiring and promotions happen 80% of the time for posted positions.

Bodleian Library, Oxford: Duke Humfrey’s library with a man studying. From Wellcome Collection via CC BY 4.0

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Academic Library

 Title: Health Science Librarian

Titles hired include: Library Information Associate, Assistant Librarian 

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ Library Administration

√ The position’s supervisor

√ A Committee or panel 

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

√ Online application

√ Cover letter

√ Resume

√ CV

√ References

√ Oral Exam/Structured interview

√ Demonstration (teaching, storytime, etc)

√ More than one round of interviews 

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ No 

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

Job is posted for at least 4 weeks, then director and librarian take candidates based off of a rubric, phone interview with structured questions, interviewees are notified if they make second round, in person interviews, director and librarian meet and discuss candidates and select one to offer position. 

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

Library experience, customer service experience, math degree, knowledge of library systems

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

Internal hiring and promotions happen 80% of the time for posted positions. Also people have people in mind and hire them.

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ Two is ok, but no more 

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?

They don’t share enough details or examples of how they have done or not done something. 

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

Yes, a quiet place is best if possible. Headset with mic helps. 

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?

Tell your story and share your experience. Explain why you want a librarian position and how your previous experience helps you. Share what you learned.

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?

We ask all candidates the same prepared questions. We ask staff to sit in on final interviews. We provide questions printed out at the final interview. There is still bias towards people with no library experience. We have HR collect application materials. There is an online portal and screening rubric to record ranking and decisions. 

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 the job and university environment? Ask about students and faculty needs? Ask about schedule and coordination for coverage during holidays etc. ? Ask about things you want to know? 

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Southwestern US 

What’s your region like?

√ Urban

√ Suburban 

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Some of the time and/or in some positions 

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 0-10 

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 0-10 staff members, 1 A Return to Hiring Librarians Survey, Academic, Southwestern US, Suburban area, Urban area

Smoking while with members of the search committee

A man in a cap browses a colorful book shelf
Image: Tommy T. Gobena visiting Dilla University library. From UNICEF Ethiopia on Flickr via CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for an:

√ Academic Library

Title: Head of Content Curation

Titles hired: Library Director; Head of Research Services; Electronic Resources & Serials Librarian; Discovery & Systems Administrator, etc.

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ Library Administration

√ The position’s supervisor

√ A Committee or panel

√ 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

√ CV

√ References

√ Supplemental Questions

√ Demonstration (teaching, storytime, etc)

√ More than one round of interviews

√ A whole day of interviews

√ A meal with hiring personnel

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ No

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

As a supervisor, I generally chair the search committee for positions within my own department; and serve on other search committees as well.

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

They modeled kindness, respect, and diplomacy in their interactions.

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Disrespect; talking over everyone else at a meal and not letting the search committee members get a word in edgewise; smoking while with members of the search committee.

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

How well they get along with people in the workplace from day to day, not only in terms of respect, but also in terms of how they might continually burden others with their own anxieties.

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ As many as it takes, but keep it reasonable and relevant

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?

Trying to perform, even while in casual conversation, instead of communicating like an authentic human being.

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

Yes. They should be familiar with virtual presentation software and how to best situate their camera, lighting, etc., as well as having a strong connection (dialing in by phone for audio, for example, if their home network has bandwidth issues).

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?

Show that they’ve done their homework in researching the new library. Demonstrate that they understand the responsibilities, the environment, and the people, and what attracts them to this new role.

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

√ We only discuss after we’ve made an offer

What does your organization do to reduce bias in hiring? What are the contexts in which discrimination still exists in this process?

We have required online training in anti-bias hiring techniques from HR.

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

Ask us what we find fulfilling for ourselves here, and what we hope to see from the new person in this role in the short term. They should be familiar with our library’s mission, and our institution’s mission and values. And they should know the responsibilities and the organizational structure as described in the position ad.

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Southeastern US

What’s your region like?

√ Suburban

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? Or are there any questions you think we should add?

Our main challenge for the past 2 years has been getting approval to post positions. Like many other libraries, we are short-staffed due to normal attrition and not being permitted to hire replacements. The resulting double/triple workloads cause ripple effects, with the remaining people seeking other jobs due to burnout and little hope for improvement; thus exacerbating the situation. This is not limited to libraries; it’s pervasive across academia lately.

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

This Should Be a Profession That Cares and Has Empathy, Not a Profession That Reinforces a “Dog Eat Dog World.”

This post originally appeared on April 21, 2013. A year two follow up will post shortly.
raymond wangRaymond Wang volunteers at both the East Los Angeles College library and the Pacifica Radio Archive. He is proud of his work with students, both in his current position as a part-time tutor, where he has helped three students go from struggling to getting an A or B, and in his previous work at the Prince George County Public Schools (DC suburb), where 95% of students are on free or reduced lunch and his 7th grade Algebra class achieved an 80% student pass rate on their Maryland High School Assessment Test. Mr. Wang has been looking for a new position for more than 18 months, in Academic libraries, Archives, Library vendors/service providers, Public libraries, and Special libraries, at the entry level. Here is how he describes his experience with internships/volunteering:

Pacifica Radio Archives Feb 2013
East Los Angeles Community college Jan 2013- Present
Santa Barbara Public Library Aug 2012-Dec 2012
Duke Univ Perkins Library Jan 2010-May 2010

Mr. Wang was previously a college radio DJ at WXYC Chapel Hill and KVRX Austin, and he plays violin, keyboard and laptop. In his free time he collaborates with friends to make music. He has a featured article and a poem on the APALA segment “What’s Your Normal?” Mr Wang is in an urban area in the Western US, and is willing to move anywhere.

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

TRAINING
TRAINING
TRAINING

Where do you look for open positions?

ALA, Libgig, email listserv (CALIX, INFOLIT)

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 review the job description very thoroughly
Contemplate for hours to see if I meet the job description
If I decide I do, then I tailor my resume to the posting
Write a cover letter that showcases my experiences and skills to explain why you should hire me.
Send it to friends for edits (usually several iterations)
Contact references via email to make sure they are OK with me using them
Provide my references.
Fill out the application attach resume, cover letter and references.

Usually a week or 20 hrs for a library fellows position, depends 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 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: Let me know how I can improve my application

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

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

Provide a clear and succinct job description.
Be honest and realistic with regards to qualifications, experiences and job duties
Librarians are not clowns, we shouldn’t have to wear 20 different hats and juggle 5 batons or more. We didn’t go to school to work for Ringling Bros.
Show some respect,support and encouragement towards potential job seekers, don’t treat them like just another number. Always follow up, communicate, explain why and take the time as we have taken the time to fill out your application.

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

They need to make the online application more user friendly with less hoops.
Make it more personal.
Answer questions about the position with detail and honesty
Be thorough and not ambiguous
Most of all be respectful and understanding that there are people who have been unemployed for 2 or more years without income, experience and accumulated a lot of debt.
This should be a profession that cares and has empathy not a profession that reinforces “a dog eat dog world.”

What do you think is the secret to getting hired?

Connections
Hard Skills
Soft Skills,
Experience
AND MOST OF ALL TIMING!

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

Thank you for taking the time to create this survey. Also, I hope this will let the politicians and higher ups know how difficult it is to get a job. Library Fellowships need to be more flexible on the terms of graduation dates! There are also needs to be more of them.

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 Job hunter's survey, Urban area, Western US

Stop Wasting Applicants’ Time

This post originally appeared on March 24, 2013. A follow up with Ms. Parham will post in just a few moments.
Cathy ParhamCathy Parham earned her MLIS in 1998 from University of Alabama (ROLL TIDE)!! Most of her career has been spent in school libraries. She has experience in elementary, middle and high schools and three months experience in a public library as a Children’s Librarian.  She is currently the Senior Librarian at Sheik Zayed Private Academy in Abu Dhabi, UAE. She has been job hunting for more than 18 months, in Academic libraries, Archives, Library vendors/service providers, Public libraries, Special libraries, radio, television, and theater, at the following levels: Supervisory, Department Head, and Senior Librarian. Ms. Parham is in a city/town in the UAE, and is willing to move anywhere. 

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

1. Salary

2. Benefits

3. Compatability

 Where do you look for open positions?

I Need a Library Job

USA Jobs

Gems Schools

Department of Education

ALA Joblist

Random online 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 look at the requirements and if I meet the requirements I try to align my resume to the requirements. I have already uploaded my documents on most sites I apply for jobs so I resubmit them (required documents) if it is required. It may take several days to submit the actual application/resume. I don’t spend more than an hour at a time on an application. It gets too intense if I spend more than an hour doing an application.

 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

√ Meeting with HR to talk about benefits/salary

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

1. Don’t make the job description off putting. I am confident I can perform the tasks set forth for ANY librarian, however, when I read a job description I am often put off by the wording of the details and requirements. Why make it so wordy and complex? I am a school librarian and I perform EVERY duty required of any librarian from budgeting, management, teaching, cataloging, etc. However, when job searching, the descriptions don’t use simple terms, they use terms to put off job hunters. They describe the same jobs duties I perform but they put it in more technical terms.

2. Be honest about the availability of the job opening; if the job is already promised to your sister’s cousin’s husband’s friend just tell me. Stop wasting my time, especially if I never had a chance in the beginning.

3. Be fair in your salary offer. I DESERVE to be paid just like you.

4. Would it be too difficult to tell me why I didn’t get the job other than the standard “you were not qualified”, especially when I am qualified?

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

Stop hiring people they know and actually hire someone who is qualified for the job. Stop wasting applicant’s time. If you have someone in mind why lead us on? Why even post the announcement? If you have to post the announcement by law, shouldn’t you have to hire the right applicant by law? Instead of someone you know or someone who knows someone?

What do you think is the secret to getting hired?

Knowing someone who can put in a good word for you. It’s not what you know, it’s who you know. Unfortunately.

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

I would like to know how to write my resume to reflect my experience. I desperately want to move into another area of this field, but can’t seem to get out of the ‘black hole’ of education. Could someone provide some type of example of a resume when moving from one area to another? Has anyone else moved from schools to special/public libraries?

I think the questions on the survey are very well thought out and to the point.

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 Job hunter's survey

Be Specific … and Be Honest

This post originally appeared on March 25, 2013. A follow up with JJ Pionke will appear shortly.

JJ Pionke

JJ Pionke is currently a graduate student in the School of Information at the University of Michigan. She is looking forward to being an academic librarian, and has spent less than six months looking for a position in an Academic library, for positions requiring at least two years of experience. Here is how she describes her internship/volunteering experience:

I have 10 years of teaching experience, changing careers, 2 overseas internships in information literacy and cataloging, 4 semesters as a TA, 1 internship building an online and physical exhibit.

Ms. Pionke is in a city/town in the Midwestern US, and is willing to move anywhere. In her spare time, she rides a motorcycle, plays video games, and of course, reads a wide range of material including science fiction and Victorian poetry. You can find her at jjpionke.com.

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

job fit, salary, flexibility

Where do you look for open positions?

INALJ, ALA Joblist

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

√ Other: I prefer to see a salary listed but it’s not necessarily a red flag if it is not.

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

My first packet took about a day because I didn’t have anything put together. Now that I have everything organized, I probably spend a few hours on each packet with proofreading and updating any information.

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
√ To follow-up after an interview
√ Once the position has been filled, even if it’s not me

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

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

Be specific in what they are looking for and be honest. Example: if there has been a round of retirements as a cost saving measure, knowing that would be useful.

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

Be more communicative and be explicit in what they are and are not looking for.

What do you think is the secret to getting hired?

How well you fit with what they are looking for.

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

Ultimately, I think getting hired is a confluence of things, including fit. The job market can be an intimidating place but staying positive, keeping skills sharp, and continuing education while you look, are the keys to finding a job that will make everyone happy.

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 Job hunter's survey, Midwestern US

Appeal to Library Schools

This post originally appeared on February 10, 2013. I will post a year two follow-up with Ryan in just a few moments.
Ryan DreierRyan Dreier is currently the Volunteer Director at The Salvation Army of Brown County, where over 3,000 volunteers have logged at least one hour of service in 2012! He also works at FedEx Office as a “Generalist.” A librarian in the making, Mr. Dreier will finish his MLIS at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee this year. He has been job hunting for a year to 18 months in academic and public libraries, at the entry level. Of his internship/volunteering experience, he says:

Graduating by the end of summer, have done some volunteer work, no formal internship as I work two jobs to put myself through school without debt

He is in a city/town, in the Midwestern US, and is willing to move within an eight hour drive from home. You can follow him on Twitter @ryonlibraryon. Ryan also says:

Green Bay, WI–GO PACKERS!!!!

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

An opportunity to learn and grow
A position to use my experiences to grow programs
The opportunity to serve the community and share and disseminate information

Where do you look for open positions?

ALA Joblist

Libgig

Wisconsin Valley Job Posting Boards

inalj.com

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 include my resume, transcript, references, cover letter, and that’s on top of the job application requested by the potential employer

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

√ Other: Sometimes I feel like its a matter of interpretation on skill assessment surveys

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

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
√ Other: Commutation of expectations and vision of that specific library

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

Appeal to library schools, and post openings

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

Provide feedback on what you could do to improve when requested

What do you think is the secret to getting hired?

I think the secret is that you have to know someone or that full time positions are being filled by paraprofessionals or professionals that are on staff but only working part time, leaving little room to get in.

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 Job hunter's survey, Midwestern US

Be Realistic about How Many Applications Job Seekers are Forced to Put Out

This post originally appeared on March 4, 2013. A follow up with Ms. Becerra-Licha will post in just a few moments.
Sofia Becerra

This interview is with Sofía Becerra-Licha, the archivist at Berklee College of Music, a new position charged with formalizing the archives under a grant from the NHPRC. Ms. Becerra-Licha  earned her MSLS with a concentration in Archives & Records Management from UNC-CH (August ’12), where she was a Spectrum Scholar (2010-2011), a Carolina Academic Library Associate  (2010-2012), and was heavily involved as a student leader. She also holds a master’s degree in ethnomusicology and double-majored in music and Spanish as an undergraduate. Ms. Becerra-Licha was hired within the last two months, but prior to that was looking for a new position for six months to a year, in Academic libraries and Archives, for Entry level positions. This new grad describes her  internship/volunteering experience as:

2 years as a graduate assistant in public services at a small branch library. 1 year in a copy cataloging graduate assistantship for a large audiovisual archives. Two semester-long internships/volunteer positions: archival processing (papers) and original cataloging (music). Two months as a volunteer, cataloging videos. All of these positions were part-time and in academic libraries/archives.

She is in an urban area in the Northeastern US and was willing to move anywhere. Ms. Becerra-Licha is a member of the American Library Association (ALA), Society of American Archivists (SAA), and Music Library Association (MLA). She is currently documenting her first year on the job as a contributor to the SAA’s Students and New Archives Professionals (SNAP) roundtable blog series “A Year in the Life.”

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

Interesting work and/or responsibilities

Congenial colleagues

Salary proportionate to local cost of living

Where do you look for open positions?

Professional listservs and websites

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?

First, I reread the job description carefully and decide whether I meet the minimum requirements, as well as whether it sees like a genuinely good fit for my interests and skills. Next, I add the position as a possibility on my job applications spreadsheet, which includes fields for deadlines, number of references, and any special instructions. Based on the ad, I decide which references make the most sense for this type of position and contact them, including a few sentences about how my qualifications match up against the requirements and anything else particularly distinctive about the opportunity or my experience in relation to it. (And of course, I always include the caveat that they’re welcome to refuse if they have any reservations whatsoever, no questions asked!)

Simultaneously, I briefly research the institution and area to confirm this would be a liveable option, and to get ideas for connections I might mine for the cover letter. Assuming I don’t need to update my résumé, I draft the cover letter, potentially borrowing phrases from previous letters if I have applied for similar positions, but otherwise spending 30 minutes to an hour on the letter alone.

Overall, I would say an average application packet takes a couple of hours, but the length will depend on the demands of the process. I mostly applied to academic library positions, so another 30 minutes to an hour could go towards having to fill in a lot of the same information again on a general HR site, sometimes requiring the creation of an online account with that system. It’s hard for me to gauge because I rarely worked on a single application exclusively. I imagine I’m not the only one who tended to chip away at tasks in between other responsibilities, as I was taking classes full-time and working part-time.

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?

√ Other: Email to acknowledge application and any status updates; phone to follow up after an in-person interview. If I interviewed in person, then ideally phone notification once the position has been filled (but an email is definitely better than nothing!).

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

√ Other: Information on the area, touring the surrounding area, housing information, etc.

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

Think critically about the job description, particularly the required skillset, rather than recycling from old job descriptions or throwing together a massive wishlist. Be clear about the application process, requirements, and timeline. Avoid requesting an excessive amount of supplemental documents upfront.

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

Be realistic (or at least understanding) about how many applications job seekers are forced to put out and take this into consideration when asking for additional materials, particularly from references. If at all possible, avoid collecting redundant information in time-consuming ways (such as requiring registering for a website or having to enter every single job, when such information is part of the required resume). Above all, communication is greatly appreciated. I understand the back-end is complicated, inevitable hold-ups abound, and there are valid reasons why many details cannot be disclosed. But whenever possible, even something like a generic update on a website saying, “we are now at the phone interview stage” is more charitable than silence. Please follow up in some manner with anyone you interview, whether in person or on the phone, via skype, etc. Professionalism goes both ways.

What do you think is the secret to getting hired?

Being persistent, remaining connected and productive, applying selectively, and honestly, having a bit of luck.

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, Northeastern US, Urban area

Security, Wage, Satisfaction

Sylvia BlySylvia Bly graduated from Wayne State University in 2012 with a MLIS and a Certificate in Records Information Management. She is currently employed by Deloitte LP as an intern in their Records Information Management area.  She says:

The internship has been a wonderful experience. I have learned a great deal of information relating to the records environment, and am eager to continue in my career.

She has been job hunting for more than 18 months, at Library vendors/service providers, Public and Special libraries, and in Records, for positions at the level of requiring at least two years of experience. Ms. Bly is in a city/town in the Midwestern US, and is willing to move anywhere. She belongs to ALA and SLA as well as ARMA.  You can contact her via LinkedIn.

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

Security
Wage
Satisfaction

Where do you look for open positions?

Careerbuilder
Monster
ALA Joblist
various listservs
LinkedIn
Indeed.com

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?

Depends on what the job position is asking for.  Anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes.

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

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 with HR to talk about benefits/salary

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 Job hunter's survey, Midwestern US