Tag Archives: archives

It can be easily faked in an interview

Archivist Awards. National Archives

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Academic Library

√ Archives

Title: Librarian, Outreach & Instruction

Titles hired include: Instruction librarian, archivist, library specialist, circulation 

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ HR

√ 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

√ References

√ Proof of degree 

√ 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:

Hiring manager or committee member on hiring committee 

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

Hit all points in the ad, articulate and evidence of helping students 

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Incorrect cover letter and resume- for the wrong job

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

Self starter that wants to learn. It can be easily faked in an interview 

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?

Not researching the library 

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

Yes, if possible, no distractions such as barking dogs or other loud noises 

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?

If looking for a job that has a large part of desk duty, customer service experience is valuable 

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?

Diverse hiring committee. 

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

In-person hours for all positions. Evenings and weekends for most

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Southeastern US 

What’s your region like?

√ Urban 

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Never or not anymore

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 11-50 

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

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

We don’t expect people to be able to isolate themselves at home for a Zoom call depending on their personal situation so we are prepared to be flexible

Archivist Sara Jackson. National Archives

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Archives

√ Public Library 

Title: library trustee and retired special librarian

Titles hired include: YA, PT and FT Children’s, Tech Services, Adult Services, Admin

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ HR

√ Library Administration

√ Employees at the position’s same level (on a panel or otherwise) 

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

√ Cover letter

√ Resume

√ References

√ Oral Exam/Structured interview

√ 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 description (usually Union affiliated) must be approved by City as well as Union, job is advertised locally and on regional boards, resumes are reviewed by Lib Director and Head of HR to decide on interviews; interviews take place with Director, and relevant team members, sometimes reviewed by Trustees depending on level

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

Articulate, asked good questions, expressed genuine interest in position and also in growth in the organization, good skill set beyond just MLS skills

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Either on Zoom or in person, shows up in unprofessional dress, difficult expressing themselves when asked questions (not including nervousness), stumped to describe strengths and weaknesses or an important accomplishment or learning experience at previous job

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

Are they actually a good teammate; are they a responsible/reliable individual

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ Only One!  

Resume: √ Two is ok, but no more  

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

Showing up without having done basic homework about the organization

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

Yes, same reasons as in question 8 (Think about the last candidate who really wowed you, on paper, in an interview, or otherwise. Why were they so impressive?) and question 9 (What are your instant dealbreakers?). We don’t expect people to be able to isolate themselves at home for a Zoom call depending on their personal situation so we are prepared to be flexible.  

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?

There are lots of relevant skills learned in non-library related jobs so it is important for a candidate to describe these and do their best to relate them to the job on offer.  Often parapro or pre-pro experience is like an entry level professional so I don’t look down on people who don’t have the degree.  An expressed desire to get a credential is important though it depends on the job.

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

√ It’s part of the information provided at the interview 

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

As a govt. organization and personally we are committed to a diverse workforce that mirrors the demographics of our city and we value the differing points of view that employees can bring to the table.  Given the lack of diversity in many MLS programs and libraries of all types, there is still a lot of discrimination in hiring, conscious or otherwise.

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

Questions about expectations not explicit in job description; also probing about how team dynamics work, any political or other issues that are involved that could impact the library, opportunities for growth if contribution is proven so how regular are performance reviews and who does them. Perhaps even typical frustrations experienced on the job.

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Northeastern US 

What’s your region like?

√ Urban 

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, Archives, Northeastern US, Public, Urban area

I love the question “how would you measure success in this job”

Archives of Appalachia in the old Sherrod Library, presently called Nicks Hall on ETSU campus. From Wikimedia Commons.

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Archives

Title: Archivist

Titles hired include: Collections department interns and archivist interns/assistants 

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ The position’s supervisor

√ A Committee or panel 

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

√ Cover letter

√ Resume

√ References

√ 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:

It begins with me looking over resumes and cover letters. Once those have been combed through, a telephone interview takes place with me. For the video or in person interview it includes other department members. Typically after that a decision is made

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

They took initiative in their writing and application as well as their interview. Their creative approach to their work made me take notice! 

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Rudeness, difficult personality, and no experience

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

How they truly work collaboratively 

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ Only One!  

Resume: √ Only One!  

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

They stumble through their words when not prepared for the interview questions 

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

Yes sometimes when necessary— primarily just be yourself and know your own experience as well as what our application requires 

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?

Talk about creative problem solving and organization. These skills are more difficult to teach and can come from various lines of work 

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

√ It’s part of the job ad

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

The initial resumes and cover letters can have no personal info beyond name. Then it really comes down to the way they interview and if their experience aligns with the needs

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

I love the question “how would you measure success in this job” and they should know our mission, some of the contemporary struggles or obstacles we might face

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Northeastern 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?

√ 11-50

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Filed under 1 A Return to Hiring Librarians Survey, 10-50 staff members, Archives, Northeastern US, Urban area

For Public Review: Unnamed Professional 1

Welcome to crowd-sourced resume review for LIS job hunters!

Please help the job hunter below by using the comment button to offer constructive criticism on her resume. Some guidelines for constructive feedback are here, and the ALA NMRT has brief tips for reviewing resumes here.

This two page resume was submitted by a job hunter who says,

I use this resume mainly for entry level archival/archivist positions and entry level special library positions. I tweak my resume for each job I apply for but this is the basic resume I work with and depending on the job description I highlight important duties and responsibilities for each application.

Hiring Lib Resume 1 page 1

hiring lib 1 page 2

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Filed under Archives, For Public Review, Resume Review

Personality and fit. You can always learn the position but you can’t learn to be a better fit for a position or team.

January 30, 1907This anonymous interview is with a job hunter who is currently not employed, 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, Archives, at the following levels: Entry level, Requiring at least two years of experience, Supervisory, Department Head, Senior Librarian, Branch Manager, and Director/Dean. This job hunter is in a rural area in the Northeastern US and is willing to move anywhere.

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

Fit, satisfaction, money. I would really like to pay off my student loans before I die.

Where do you look for open positions?

Highered.com, ala job list, inalj.com, chronicle but they seem to be a bit snooty

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?

Research, research, research. Get your ducks in a row and remind your referees that they are listed as a referral. Have someone read what your writing.

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 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

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

Give them an idea of the salary and cut the bs language. Tell them what they are going to be doing and stick with it.

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

For the all day on sight interview, give the candidate some time to reflect before, during and after running the gambit.

What do you think is the secret to getting hired?

Personality and fit. You can always learn the position but you can’t learn to be a better fit for a position or team. Personalities make a big difference.

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

Honesty, more than ever I would like to see honesty in job ads and in interviews!

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, Rural area

Job Hunter’s Web Guide: Archives Gig

This week we’re showcasing a resource for the archivists out there.  I don’t know much about archives and archivists, so I’m glad to be able to learn more with Meredith Lowe, and her awesome resource: Archives Gig.

Archives Gig

What is it?  Please give us your elevator speech!

I curate postings of careers, jobs, and internships in the world of archives & records management, and post them to Archives Gig.

When was it started?  Why was it started?

Archives Gig was created on February 5, 2010.  As part of my job, I was contributing to the student job listserv at the University of Wisconsin – Madison SLIS.  I thought that I could benefit a broader group of people by making a public website, so that’s what drove the creation of the site.  I really enjoy looking at all of the opportunities out there, too, so running AG is a fun hobby.

Who runs it?

Just me!  I have a MA in Library and Information Studies, with a concentration in archives, from the University of Wisconsin – Madison.  My training largely informs my decisions about which jobs I post.  I currently work in Continuing Education Services at UW-Madison SLIS, so I coordinate continuing education and training for librarians and information professionals.  Check out our offerings at http://www.slis.wisc.edu/continueed.htm.

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

I’m not a “career expert.”  I just post jobs that fall within the purview of the site.

Who is your target audience?

Archivists, records managers, and students.  I post jobs at all levels, from internships to directors.  Anyone who is interested in the current archives/RM career landscape would certainly find a lot of information here.

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 generally post daily on weekdays, and I exclusively post job announcements.  It’s in a blog format, so the most recent post goes up top. If you’re actively job hunting, check in at least weekly (or set yourself up to receive Twitter or Facebook alerts).  If you’re just casually interested in what’s out there right now, consult AG at your leisure.

Each job posting gets tagged with keywords that you can use to narrow your search. If you look at the main page (http://archivesgig.livejournal.com), the tags are listed down the left side of the screen.  The quick and dirty trick to searching: I always tag the state/geographical region of every job’s location, whether it’s permanent or temporary, and what kind of institution it’s in. For example, if I tag something as “status: internship”, and if you click that tag in the list, every entry that received that tag will come up (the most recent will be at the top of the page). If you’re looking for all jobs in a certain state (let’s say Iowa), go to the tag list on the left side of the page and look for “State: Iowa.” One caveat: the “skills” tags are NOT comprehensive. I often get a little more detailed with the tags, and specify particular skill sets that a job demands – but that’s basically if I have time to do so!

Does your site provide:

√  Job Listings

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

√  Twitter: @archivesgig
√  Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/archivesgig
√  Other:  RSS feed: http://archivesgig.livejournal.com/data/rss

Do you charge for anything on your site?

Free! It’s completely free for anyone to search.  If someone wants me to post a job, that’s also free.

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

I’m always thrilled to hear from someone who found their job through Archives Gig.  It’s my mission to make job hunting in this tight market just a little easier.  I have heard from several archivists who found their jobs through AG, which makes my day every time.

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

This is especially directed toward the newly graduated job seekers: Be Flexible.  If you can’t find your dream job in your ideal location, try and look for other positions (or other places) that you’re qualified to do, and that will give you some professional experience.  You’ll certainly learn something new, and you may find a job in a different area of the profession is a great fit.

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Filed under Archives, Job Hunters Web Guide

Researcher’s Corner: Education, Training and Recruitment of Special Collections Librarians

This post presents research by Kelli Hansen. As in Eamon Tewell’s research on jobs for Academic librarians, you’ll see that she finds that entry-level positions are scarce.  However, she also identifies characteristics and skills that candidates can cultivate to improve their chances, and I’m intrigued by her findings about the increasingly multi-disciplinary nature of these jobs.  I hope you enjoy this post, because I’m very proud to be able to share it with you.


This project started as a student paper in Michael Laird’s class on Rare Books and Special Collections at the University of Texas at Austin in spring 2009.  Some of our readings raised questions about employers’ expectations of new special collections librarians.  I was preparing to start my job search at the time, and I wondered whether some of the answers could be found in position advertisements.  Here’s what I found out.

Methodology

For the purposes of this study, I was only interested in job ads for entry-level special collections librarians.  It was difficult to define entry-level because very few job advertisements suitable for recent graduates openly represent themselves as such.  Unexpectedly, it was also difficult to define special collections and even librarian.

In the end, my criteria for including advertisements were as follows:

  1. One year of experience or less; or, length of experience not specified; and
  2. No supervisory duties over other professionals; and
  3. Position assigned to special collections or rare books (with at least 50% of job duties in one of those areas); and
  4. Title and requirements that reflect training in librarianship (as opposed to training in archives, conservation, museum studies, or digitization).

I did not keep track of a total population of job advertisements because I did not intend to estimate the percentage of jobs available to new graduates.  I only wanted a snapshot of the skills and experience employers were looking for in entry-level applicants, and the responsibilities and environments recent graduates could expect in their first positions.

I had a hard time locating advertisements, primarily because of the ephemeral nature of online postings. Eighty-eight position announcements, culled from various print and electronic sources from 2004 to 2009, fit my criteria and were included in the study.

Findings

After I collected all of the advertisements, I broke down statistics for features like salary, professional status, geographic location, and institution type.  I found that the largest number of positions was in the Northeast.  The median salary was $40,000, and academic or research environments made up the overwhelming majority.  Over 75 percent required a single master’s degree – either the MLS or a master’s degree in a subject area.  About 30 percent of the advertisements specified that another advanced degree, in addition to the library degree, was preferred.  Almost half of the advertisements required the candidate to have some experience (of an unspecified amount), and over seventy percent of the advertisements stated that experience of some sort was preferred.

In order to measure more subjective requirements, I also did some basic text analysis on the qualifications sections for common keywords, which I classified into broad categories based on the white paper Competencies for Special Collections Professionals.   In the qualifications, keywords varied widely.  The most common single keywords were history, cataloging, and technology.  The competencies with the highest frequencies were Teaching and Research and Public Service, followed closely by Cataloging and Processing and Information Technology.

When I analyzed the duties sections of the advertisements in the same way, there was much less variation.  The most frequent single keywords for duties were reference and research.  The category with the highest frequency was Teaching and Research, appearing in 73 percent of advertisements.  However, the following categories all appeared in 72 percent of the advertisements: Management and Administration, Promotion and Outreach, and Public Service.  Cataloging and Processing was represented in 70 percent of advertisements.

Conclusions

To summarize very briefly, I reached some of the following conclusions:

  1.  Entry-level positions in special collections are scarce, and they aren’t so entry-level.  Like many library jobs, there’s an overwhelming preference for candidates with some prior experience.  Nearly a third of hiring institutions also prefer candidates with additional graduate education.  These facts indicate a very competitive job market.
  2. The job advertisements reflect overlap among libraries, archives, and museums.  There has been much talk about library-archive-museum convergence over the past decade, and the job announcements confirm that idea.  It may be useful for job seekers to cultivate skills and experience in all three areas.
  3. Institutions seem to be looking for candidates who are both generalists and specialists.  Most of the skills mentioned in the advertisements – reference, research support, instruction, cataloging – apply to librarians of all stripes.  However, the position responsibilities and requirements suggest that aspiring special collections librarians need to combine comprehensive library skills with specialized knowledge of subject areas and materials.

The Future

The full version of this research was published in RBM: A Journal of Rare Books, Manuscripts, and Cultural Heritage in September 2011.  I only touched on the surface with this article, and there’s still a lot to find out about hiring and training librarians in this field.  Feel free to contact me with any comments or questions.


Kelli Bruce Hansen earned her MSIS from the University of Texas at Austin in December 2010, and her MA in art history from the University of Missouri in 2003. Currently, she’s a librarian in the department of Special Collections and Rare Books at the University of Missouri Libraries, where she focuses on instruction, outreach, and reference. She can be contacted at hansenkb@missouri.edu.

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Filed under Archives, Northeastern US, Researcher's Corner

We Are Looking for People with Electronic Records Management Experience So We Can Continue to Bury Our Heads in the Sand about It

Archival Trainees and Orientation Group, 1968This anonymous interview is with someone who has been a hiring manager and a member of hiring committees at an Academic library with 50-100 staff members. One of the questions on the survey is “Are you a librarian?” We all know this can be a bit of a loaded question. Many people feel strongly that only someone those with MLS/MLIS degrees can be librarians, even though someone might have decades of experience working in a library and performing librarian duties. Conversely, people with MLIS/MLS degrees may work in positions outside a library or without “librarian” in the title. So I have provided the answer choices: “yes,” “no,” and “it’s complicated” (thanks, Facebook). That’s the long way of explaining that this is our first “it’s complicated” respondent! This person ultimately reveals that s/he is an archivist.

What are the top three things you look for in a candidate?

Required skills,
smart,
good personality

…(in that order)

Do you have any instant dealbreakers, either in the application packet or the interview process?

A poorly written cover letter or if the person strikes me as a wallflower.

What are you tired of seeing on resumes/in cover letters?

Non-relevant work experience–i.e. barista at Starbuck’s; non-relevant interests.

Is there anything that people don’t put on their resumes that you wish they did?

Technical skills (though lots do put this, but not everyone).

How many pages should a cover letter be?

√ Other: One for entry-level; one to two for anything else.

How many pages should a resume/CV be?

√ As many as it takes, but keep it short and sweet

Do you have a preferred format for application documents?

√ .pdf

Should a resume/CV have an Objective statement?

√ I don’t care

If applications are emailed, how should the cover letter be submitted?

√ Other: Submit cover letter and resume as one PDF, as an application packet.

What’s the best way to win you over in an interview?

Smart, sense of humor, confident, and humble.

What are some of the most common mistakes people make in an interview?

They get very nervous during their presentation, which makes us nervous.

Has hiring changed at your organization since you’ve been in on the process?

No.

Anything else you’d like to let job-seekers know?

I am an archivist.  We are looking for people with electronic records management experience so we can continue to bury our heads in the sand about it.

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Filed under 50-100 staff members, Academic, Archives, Original Survey