Tag Archives: alternative lis careers

About a Decade Later: Former Job Hunter Anonymous 3

Back in 2012/2013 I ran a survey of job hunters (co-authored by Naomi House of INALJ). It had over 500 responses, including 117 people who were at least initially willing to be non-anonymous. In this series, we check in with these respondents to see where they are about a decade later. 

“Anonymous 3” filled out the original survey in late 2012 and her answers appeared as How About Not Discouraging People From Out of State.  At the time she was not employed and looking in multiple library types for entry-level or early career librarian positions. We followed up in early 2014, and found that she was doing government contract work while completing her PhD. Then, in the end of 2014, she had transitioned to full time work as a financial manager.  

When I checked in with her recently I learned that she has continued her shift to the Data side. She was kind enough to answer my questions below:

Where are you now? What’s your work situation like, and what path did you take to get where you are?

I continued to embrace my love of data – the Information Science piece of my MLIS – over the librarianship side of it and moved further into the world of data analytics. I worked hard and became the first Chief Analytics Officer at my organization; near the end of the pandemic, I accepted a full time remote position at a global company. I work with many people who actually started as librarians and then realized that world wasn’t for them and shifted into data. If someone’s education had a solid foundation in databases and systems, but they’re not fully enjoying working as a librarian, data may be a world that they could explore.

Were any parts of your journey completely unexpected?

Becoming a C-suite leader was not anything I had planned on, but it was a great journey that I fully enjoyed. It truly showed me that I had my feet on the right path for my career, and that path has taken me even further than I had ever dreamed would be possible for my life. I am so deeply grateful for where I am and what I have achieved.

Looking over your past answers, what pops out at you? Has anything changed?

My anger over not accepting out of state employees! The out of state employees anger was – and is – still valid in many ways; if someone is willing to move, don’t count them out. As a full time remote worker at this point, I think that the pandemic has further emphasized that you don’t need to confine yourselves to local resources, though I do realize that statement doesn’t apply to in-person librarians. Another thing that stood out were my comments about education not being valued as much as experience – looking back, that was definitely the frustrated 22-year old in me that could not find a job in a faltering economy in a very tight field. Experience can be invaluable, but I do think there are key aspects of hiring new grads that many hiring managers tend to overlook, such as the ability to train up and mold that person the way that you feel is best vs having to break bad habits.

Have you had a chance to hire anyone? If so, what was that like?

I have hired multiple people throughout my career; there are so many great candidates that it really does come down to the interview. I rarely, if ever, looked at cover letters because those get screened before they made their way to me. The resumes usually have the key information for me – if there are certain skills or indicators that the person can learn what I need them to, they go into the interview process. I try to have as little bias as possible when I interview someone; if the candidates are polite and professional, that is what is important. Once I interviewed someone who refused to make eye contact with me, had an angry attitude, crossed their arms, and watched the clock the entire time. Needless to say, despite being immensely qualified, that person did not get a call back.

Do you have any advice for job hunters?

Ensure that you have quantifiable achievements on your resumes – e.g. “This analysis served 14K+ people and saved the organization $150K in labor per month.” These quantifiable metrics mean far more to a hiring manager than “I am a hard worker!” Think hard about how you can bring something new to the table and make sure that you sound organic in your responses when interviewing. I have seen people rejected for being “overconfident” and also “seeming scripted” – note that these were not positions for which I was hiring, but others that I knew.

Do you have any advice for people who hire LIS folks?

It depends on the field. If hiring outside of librarianship, focus on their database skills, web development skills, and knowledge (all of which I had back when I graduated and I am certain are far more common in today’s programs). I’m afraid that I cannot speak to those within the library field as I have so thoroughly departed from it.

Anything else you’d like to tell us?

Never give up! There are a lot of opportunities out there; you just have to make yourself open to seeing them and developing yourself.

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Filed under Job Hunter Follow Up

It’s okay if you don’t have experience working as a librarian, but you need to demonstrate that you can think like a librarian

Gemma Doyle is currently the Collection Development Manager at EBSCO, managing a team of other collection development librarians for the Books program. She spent over a decade as a paraprofessional in various library systems in the US and Canada before becoming a librarian. She worked in public and special libraries before moving over to the library vendor sphere with EBSCO. 

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

The application is screened by HR for bare essentials (MLS, etc.), phone screen by hiring manager or HR, first full interview by hiring manager, second interview by members of the team (2-3 people)

Titles hired include: Collection Management Specialist 1/Collection Management Specialist 2

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ The position’s supervisor 

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

√ Online application

√ Resume

√ References

√ More than one round of interviews

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ No 

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

The candidate had extensive experience in library work: had worked in different kinds of libraries, had supervisory experience, had handled a large budget used over multiple library departments, and had extensive achievements under each of these points of experience.  Their wide breadth of experience meant that they were comfortable doing just about any aspect of librarianship.

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Someone who is inflexible and doesn’t have the ability to self-motivate will not last in this environment.  We work with so many stakeholders, and the work has such a fast pace that flexibility and motivation qualities in candidates really are necessary.

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

What they work like under pressure; how they really handle conflict.

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ Only One!  

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?

For jobs with us in particular, I would say making assumptions about the job even after we explain its requirements.  Library vendor work can be very different from working in an actual library, and it’s hard to convey fully to candidates what a corporate, for-profit environment can be like to work in as compared to working in a library, even if the job is for librarians. Some candidates may find that’s not an environment they thrive in if they’ve never experienced it.

In general, I think candidates want so much to sell themselves to the interviewer that they forget that interviewing should be a two-way street.  They should be asking a lot of questions to determine if they job is actually right for them, too. 

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

Yes – every position on our team is permanently remote, so we do all interviewing virtually, even if they are local candidates.  As for shining, mostly the same things in a face-to-face interview – preparation, double-checking time zones, etc. but also try not to let any technical difficulties throw you for a loop.  Interviews are nerve-wracking for everyone, including the interviewer, but dealing with issues as they arise and being flexible around them is going to give everyone a good impression.  

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?

I spent a lot of my early career as a paraprofessional, so I understand some of the nuances of making that transition. Mostly, I think it comes down to mindset.  It’s okay if you don’t have experience working as a librarian, but you need to demonstrate that you can think like a librarian.  While you can answer the “tell me about a time when” questions using paraprofessional examples, you should also throw in “as a librarian, I would” answers. I’m going to want to know that I don’t need to train you on how a librarian should handle certain things, or even explain that there are differences there.

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

√ It’s part of the information provided at the interview (in the phone screen)

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

Every candidate is asked the same questions in the same order (with follow up questions relevant to them, of course); all interviewers attend anti-bias classes before hiring begins. The training is only as good as the intentions of those doing the hiring, and HR doesn’t really monitor the actual hiring process or ask candidates for feedback on the process, which I think would be helpful.

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

What’s the day-to-day job like? Is there an onboarding and training plan in place? What are your favorite and least favorite parts of the job and the organization? are the ones that I think will give candidates insight on what it’s really like to work here.  The most important thing for them to know is that working for a for-profit company is going to sometimes be at odds with the ideals of librarianship, mostly in small ways but some big ones.  We try to stress that in interviews with candidates, but culture shock still hits hard whenever we hire anyone new. Candidates should definitely try to get a feel for the organization so they can make a choice that feels good for them.

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Northeastern US 

What’s your region like?

√ Suburban 

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Some of the time and/or in some positions (our team is all remote)

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 201+  

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, 200+ staff members, Northeastern US, Other Organization or Library Type, Suburban area

Job Hunter’s Web Guide: Infonista

Tired of getting kicked around by libraries? Are you intrigued by the myriad of possibilities for using your degree? Want an alternative LIS career?  Today we are featuring the site for you!  Kim Dority was kind enough to talk to us about her blog, Infonista.


What is it? Please give us your elevator speech!

Infonista is a blog that focuses on all the different ways LIS professionals can deploy their information skills, in both traditional and nontraditional environments. In addition, I try to bring in information from outside the profession that may be relevant to building a resilient LIS career.

When was it started? Why was it started?

It was started in June 2010 as a way to extend the reach of a course I’d been teaching in the University of Denver MLIS program – I wanted more students (and LIS practitioners) to understand how incredibly valuable their skill sets could be if they took a broader approach to information work.

Who runs it?

I (Kim Dority) run it, but I have to admit (with embarrassment) that I’ve been somewhat neglectful of my blog recently due to other commitments, e.g., creating and managing the LinkedIn LIS Career Options group and finishing off a recently published book, LIS Career Sourcebook: Managing and Maximizing Every Step of Your Career (Libraries Unlimited, 2013). My goal for this year is to be a much more diligent blogger!

Are you a “career expert”? What are your qualifications?

I don’t necessarily consider myself a “career expert,” but more of someone who’s done nearly every type of LIS work in her career and who has researched and taught courses, webinars, and workshops on this topic for 13 years. During that time I’ve had the extreme good fortune to learn from hundreds of colleagues, students, friends, and even mentors, so I consider myself more of a conduit for and aggregator of all the stuff we’re learning from each other.

Who is your target audience?

LIS students and professionals, especially those trying to explore or navigate into broader career opportunities that will use their information skills.

What’s the best way to use your site? Should users consult it daily? Or as needed? Should they already know what they need help with, or can they just noodle around?

I’d say noodle around. All of the posts are tagged by a specific category, so if users are interested in a specific topic, they should be able find all the posts on that topic. My goal is to post weekly, although as I mentioned, that’s currently aspirational rather than reality!

Does your site provide:

Interviews   Answers to reader questions
Articles/literature    Links
Research   Coaching
The opportunity for interaction

Advice on:

Other: emerging types of LIS career paths and how to explore/position for them

Should readers also look for you on social media? Or is your content available in other formats?

Book(s): Rethinking Information Work (Libraries Unlimited, 2006), LIS Career Sourcebook (Libraries Unlimited, 2012)
 Other: LIS career webinars and workshops for MLIS programs and LIS associations, divisions, and chapters

Do you charge for anything on your site?


Can you share any stories about job hunters that found positions after using your site?

I’ve actually never tracked this information so have no idea!

meredith loweAnything else you’d like to share with my readers about your site in particular, or about library hiring/job hunting in general?

Hmmm…. I think I’d encourage your readers to think as broadly and creatively about the application of their LIS skills as possible in order to find jobs, and then continue to keep an eye out for “alternative uses” even after landing those jobs. Given this economy, I believe it’s really important to operate as if we’re all self-employed, regardless of where we happen to be working at any given point in our careers. My goal is to help LIS students and professional create resilient careers, which often means rethinking what we do, how we do it, and who we do it for.


Filed under Job Hunters Web Guide, Other Organization or Library Type