Tag Archives: American Library Association

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 City/town, 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

Preparation, Research and Enthusiasm

This interview originally appeared on February 4th, 2013.  I am reposting in light of her follow-up interview, which will run in just a few moments.
Lauren Bourdages

This interview is with Lauren Bourdages, who will be graduating from the Library and Information Technician (LIT)**, and Records and Information Management programs at Conestoga College in Kitchener ON in the spring of 2013. Ms. Bourdages was hired into her first “real” job in the industry in June of this year, as the (part-time) Advancement Assistant, Gift Processing and Records Management for St. Jerome’s University.She has been job hunting for a year to 18 months, in Academic libraries, with library vendors/service providers, public libraries, school libraries, special libraries, companies with info management needs, and anywhere with a fundraising department, for entry-level and positions requiring two years of experience. On internships/volunteering, Ms. Bourdages has this to say:

I am a new grad from a Canadian Library Technician program; for this program I completed 2 internships. For the first I was the sole Library Technician under a Research Librarian in a small special library (we were the only two staff) for a world renowned global policy think tank. For my second internship I focussed on information architecture and management as a SharePoint Development Intern with the Office of Advancement at a local University. During the first year of my two year diploma program I also volunteered weekly as a Book Reserves Assistant at the local Public Library.

She lives in a city/town in Canada, and is not willing to move.  She has two upcoming projects, writing a book blog called Novel Concepts, and heading up the soon-to-launch INALJ Ontario.

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

Flexible hours

Variety in tasks

Mainly working on a computer

Where do you look for open positions?

Specific library and company websites, eluta.ca, The University of Western Ontario FIMS job board, The University of Toronto iSchool job board

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?

Customising resume and cover letter to reflect the job posting and organisation’s needs/how I fulfill them. Takes me about 2 hours.

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?

Create extremely thorough job description postings that always include the salary range. Ensure their postings appear on relevant industry job boards such as UWO FIMS and UofT iSchool. Advertise their organisations through industry professional association publications.

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

Open the lines of communication as much as possible to keep all applicants in the loop.

What do you think is the secret to getting hired?

Preparation, research and enthusiasm.

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

I think a question about previous related work not involving internships would be a good question.

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

**Lauren also says:

LIT programs are governed and accredited by the Canadian Library Association in the same way that MLS/MLIS/MSLS programs are governed and accredited by the American Library Association. Here in Canada you can and will find Technicians and Librarians working side by side at every level in the Library and Information Industry, in both the traditional and non-traditional settings.

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Oh, You Are Just Not the Right Applicant, Blah, Blah, Blah.

Woman with Rifle and DogThis anonymous interview is with a job hunter who is currently employed (even if part-time or in an unrelated field), has been hired within the last two months, and has been looking for a new position for six months to a year. This person is looking in  Special libraries, at the following levels: Senior Librarian and Branch Manager. This job hunter is in a rural area  in the   Midwestern US, and is willing to move anywhere.

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

1. Great co-workers
2. A sense of action–the library is progressive and moving forward through programming, community involvement, technology.
3. Good salary – a librarian has to live.

Where do you look for open positions?

INALJ
ALA Joblist

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?

It depends upon the level of position I am applying for. It also depends upon whether I am filling out an application on paper or online. Overall it can be from 20 to 40 hours.

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

√ No

When would you like employers to contact you?

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

How do you prefer to communicate with potential employers?

√ Email

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

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

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

Hire people that have the best skill matches. Also hire those that are friendly and willing to learn if they don’t know how to do something.

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

Acknowledge the applicant through at least a couple of stages of the process. Let them know if they are moving on in the process or if they have been eliminated. But also, give them some clue as to what might have put them out of the running other than “oh, you are just not the right applicant, blah, blah, blah.”

What do you think is the secret to getting hired?

A great in-person interview as well as good supporting materials ( resume, cover letter, and skills to match the job getting done).

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, Rural area, Special

I am a Terrible Liar, So I Avoid it Like the Plague

Man on Snowshoes Carrying RifleThis anonymous interview is with a job hunter who is currently employed (even if part-time or in an unrelated field), and has been looking for a new position for more than 18 months. This person is looking in Academic libraries, Archives, and Museum / special collections, at the following levels: Supervisory, Department Head, Senior Librarian, and Director/Dean. This job hunter is in an urban area, in the Northeastern US.

Where do you look for open positions?

ALA joblist, CT library jobs, Educause, Highered jobs, Indeed, Libgig, LISjobs, MBCL job listings, Metro.org, NYline, Simply hired, SLA-ny, USAjobs.

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?

Between one and five hours, over a span of days.

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

√ Other: I am a terrible liar, so I avoid it like the plague. But I have sometimes wondered after the fact whether my answers were full enough.

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
√ Other: To let me know that my references will be contacted.

How do you prefer to communicate with potential employers?

√ Phone for good news, email for bad news

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

√ Tour of facility
√ Meeting department members/potential co-workers
√ Meeting with HR to talk about benefits/salary
√ Being able to present
√ Other: One-on-one meeting with potential supervisor.

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

Advertise widely and keep positions open until filled.

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

Provide written interview agendas ahead of time, along with the names of those on the committee, and/or those with whom the candidate will be meeting.

What do you think is the secret to getting hired?

Competence, confidence, and a clear recognition of what your weaknesses as a candidate are.

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

It would be good to know how many applications (on average) candidates are submitting prior to getting an interview and/or being hired.

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

Don’t Leave People Hanging

Interior of the Drawing Room, Mar LodgeThis anonymous interview is with a job hunter who is currently employed (even if part-time or in an unrelated field) and has been hired within the last two months. This person looked for a new position for six months to a year,  in Academic libraries, Archives,  Public libraries,  and Special libraries, at the following levels:Requiring at least two years of experience and Supervisory. This job hunter is in a city/town in the Southern US, and is willing to move anywhere.

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

The ability to move up
Innovation in technology and collections development
Autonomy and flexibility within job title/description

Where do you look for open positions?

ALA Joblist, Twitter, FB, listservs, friends

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

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

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

Anywhere from a couple of hours to a couple of weeks, depending on the deadline.

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

√ Yes

When would you like employers to contact you?

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

How do you prefer to communicate with potential employers?

√ Phone for good news, email for bad news

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

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

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

Pay them what they are worth, no excuses. And allow them room in the schedule for professional development.

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

Communicate. Don’t leave people hanging.

What do you think is the secret to getting hired?

Knowing the right person.

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, City/town, Job hunter's survey, Public, Southern US, Special

I just want the job or to be let out the door so I can find my job

Mr. Leatherman, homesteader, shooting hawks which have been carrying away his chickens, Pie Town, New MexicoThis anonymous interview is with a job hunter who is currently employed (even if part-time or in an unrelated field), and has been hired within the last two months. This person had/has been looking for a new position for more than 18 months. This person is looking in Academic libraries, Archives, Library vendor/service providers, Public libraries, Special libraries, and Corporations, at the following levels: Entry level , Requiring at least two years of experience, Supervisory, Department Head, Senior Librarian, Branch Manager, Director/Dean,

(I have a lot of management experience so I really branch out a lot.)

Here is this person’s experience with internships/volunteering:

Recent grad. Volunteer at academic library’s digital initiatives. Internship at a public library’s reference department.

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

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

Enough pay to survive on… not get rich, just live comfortably.
Variety. I want a position that touches on multiple areas of the library, not just one little corner.
A position with promotion potential. Not that I wouldn’t be happy as a reference librarian my entire life, but I want to be able to move up and be a director too!

Where do you look for open positions?

INALJ. RAILS. ALA Joblist.

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?

Depends on the job. If they are specific and detailed in the items that they list I will spend days on it. If they are generic, so am I.

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

Yes

When would you like employers to contact you?

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

How do you prefer to communicate with potential employers?

√ Phone for good news, email for bad news

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

√ Other: Don’t waste my time or yours. If I’m not your guy, I don’t need or want to go through a process like this. I just want the job or to be let out the door so I can find my job. I have more important things to do than take a tour or meet people I’m not going to be co-workers of.

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

Be specific. How is your library different? I see hundreds of jobs every day… why is yours so special? What kind of personality are you looking for? What kind of experience will you accept? Don’t shoot for the stars if your pay is in the dirt.

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

Remove the fluff. Take out the tours, take out the meet/greet. Just focus on the skills and what you’re looking for. And try asking some legitimate questions. Don’t focus on the traditional cookie cutter questions, or your off the wall what would you read type of questions. Focus on the job and how best to get it done. Look for philosophical differences, etc. And give a candidate a chance to rebuttal the other candidates. You might not hire me over another person because of some stupid error… give me a chance to argue my point against theirs. In other words, maybe bring us back and clarify. Give me a chance to prove my point.

What do you think is the secret to getting hired?

You need to be a salesman. I’ll be blunt here. I’m a better worker than 3/4 of the people out there. I have great ideas, I’m dedicated, I’m will work faster and harder with more attention to detail than most out there… But I wont get hired because I’m not a salesman. I’ve lost out on three jobs because I couldn’t sell myself as well as the others, yet I could have done it better and for cheaper. As a hiring manager you need to look past the used car salesman and look at the credentials, the references, the history. Because I would be the best employee you’ve ever had but you wont ever give me a chance. I may not look or sound like a traditional library student but let me tell you… I am the future of this field and if you can’t adjust you’re going to end up being part of the problem instead of the solution.

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

The problem with the library process is really two things. First, they want way to much experience for positions that a new grad could realistically do…. and probably just as well if not better than its being done now and for less money. And Second, the amount of money that is being offered isn’t enough to pay for the schooling I just put a couple years into getting. And, when it is enough, its only part time. I understand the budget process but there comes a point when you need to stand up and say to the board, you can either have quality or quantity… you choose.

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, Midwestern US, Other Organization or Library Type, Public, Rural area, Special