Tag Archives: archives careers

Please read the Required section of the job ad. Take it seriously.

Archivist with Damaged Negative of Abraham Lincoln. National Archives

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Academic Library

√ Archives 

Title: Assoc director 

Titles hired include: Librarian, processing archivist, reference assistance, archivist 

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?

√ Cover letter

√ CV

√ 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?

Skill, willing to adapt to organizational needs and culture

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Lack of knowledge about field

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

How well organized they are. 

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ Two is ok, but no more

Resume: √ We don’t ask for this 

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

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

Yes, make sure you aren’t interrupted during the interview. Keep your dog in another room. 

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?

They can show extra training or reading they’ve done to understand professional work

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?

Training

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

Work culture 

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

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 51-100 

Is there anything else you’d like to say, either to job hunters or to me, the survey author? 

Please read the Required section of the job ad. Take it seriously. Respond to each requirement in your cover letter. Don’t make the selection committee guess whether you meet them.  Make sure claims in your cover letter are backed up in your resume. 

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, Northeastern US, Suburban area

Nothing is more frustrating than finding an amazing candidate, and then they realize moving is not feasible once we’ve made the offer.

Archivist Joseph B. Howerton. National Archives

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Archives

√ Public Library 

Title: Executive Director

Titles hired include: Assistant Director, Archives Librarian, Cultural Engagement Coordinator, Library Assistant, Programming & Outreach Librarian

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

√ Resume

√ References

√ Oral Exam/Structured interview 

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ No 

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

Applications are submitted via online application, with resume’s and cover letters being emailed to myself, Executive Director.  Hiring panel comprised of myself, positions supervisors, and sometimes peers review and rate applicants.  Hiring Panel conducts interviews, often via zoom.  Top candidates have references checked, before offer is made.  

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

Excellent hiring packet, including application, cover letter and resume.  Good communication throughout process, but not overburdening.

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

incomplete application, too informal cover letter (like less than a paragraph total), with no greeting or closing.

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

why they want to move to our community, we usually ask, but few if any have an answer. The ones that do stand out.

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?

not knowing anything about the community they applied to work in.  

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

We do almost all supervisory level via virtual platform.  Have a non-distracting background, and expect a few hiccups, despite good internet connections, sometimes we miss things and may ask you to repeat, it’s ok to ask us to repeat as well.

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 transferrable skills, if you are good at working with people, in a variety of settings, tell us!  We need people who are adaptable and willing to learn!

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

√ It’s part of the job ad

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

I like it when they ask questions related to research they’ve done about our organization, or what the immediate need it for the position.  Those come off better than immediately asking about benefits, which are listed in the job ad.

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?

√ 11-50 

Is there anything else you’d like to say, either to job hunters or to me, the survey author? 

Please consider whether you are willing/able to move before you apply.  Nothing is more frustrating than finding an amazing candidate, and then they realize moving is not feasible once we’ve made the offer.

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, Archives, Midwestern US, Public, Rural area

Job postings and position descriptions are a major problem

[Librarian Belle da Costa Greene, three-quarter length portrait, standing, facing slightly left] LOC.gov

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Academic Library

√ Archives

√ Special Library 

Title: Archivist

Titles hired include: Archivist, project archivist

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?

√ Online application

√ Cover letter

√ Resume

√ CV

√ References

√ 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? 

√ Yes 

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

Online applications go to HR who conduct an initial screening, they send applications onto the hiring committee which is almost always chaired by the supervisor for the open position.  The hiring committee always includes multiple staff from across departments with some knowledge of the work the incumbent will be performing (supervisor, curator, someone in a parallel or very similar position within the unit, someone with a tangentially related job in another unit). The committee goes through bias awareness training with HR.  The committee reviews all the applications and discusses them. In the searches I’ve been involved with, we go around the table and discuss each candidate and generally rate them as a yes, maybe, or no, though there is no formal rubric for this.  We go through the yes’s and maybe’s and narrow down to a few people we want to bring for a phone screening.  After the phone screening we narrow the finalists who will be invited for a full day interview.  The full day interview includes interviews and lunches/events with various configurations of staff from various units.  The committee collects feedback from staff on the candidate.  The committee meets to make a decision.  It’s generally after the full-day interview when we check references for the candidate we want to make the offer to.  HR reaches out to make the offer and handles the salary negotiations, sharing info about benefits, etc. 

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

Their cover letter was exceptionally well-written and told a compelling story about their career and why they were a great fit for the position.  It was truly impeccably written and the entire application package included a good mix of quantitative info (# of collections worked on, quantifying budget and workflow efficiencies) and more qualitative information about what they enjoyed about the work, their working style, and what it’s like to have them as a colleague.  One thing that really impressed me was that the cover letter included tidbits of how their colleagues would describe them and their accomplishments.  “I’m well-known within the department for my XYZ skills.  My colleagues have asked me to review documentation because of my expertise, and I am frequently asked to liaise with XYZ committees and units.  One colleague described me as “our resident XYZ expert.”  That kind of thing. 

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

If it’s clear from the CV and/or cover letter that they do not understand the job they’re applying for.  Something like applying for a cataloging position and spending the entire cover letter talking about how much they want to focus on exhibits and instruction. 

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

Honest assessment of their working style – not in terms of productivity but things like preference for oral vs. written communication, their preferred management style, the type of training they need and how they would like it delivered.  In my experience people are so eager to please that you can’t get a good sense of this from the questions we ask.  There are lots of vague answers which makes it difficult to gauge the type of training and onboarding they would actually need and whether it’s realistic for us to provide that in the way that would make them most likely to succeed. 

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?

Not doing enough research about basic subject knowledge and core competencies for the position.  Not anticipating or being prepared for behavioral type questions “tell us about a time when…” “Tell us how you would hypothetically handle this situation…” 

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

Yes, we do Zoom interviews.  It can be hard to get the same degree of connection, so it can feel a little awkward.  Not much specific advice but don’t be afraid to ask for questions or clarifications.  

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?

This is one of my biggest pet peeves.  I honestly don’t have much advice for paraprofessionals or folks in this situation because I think the problem is absolutely on employers and hiring managers, not on the applicants themselves.  If you’re switching between library types you can definitely emphasize the functions which are the same and the skills that are transferrable.  If you’re a paraprofessional you can emphasize the degree to which you worked independently, and perhaps any areas where you have leadership or were asked to consult or offer your advice on workflows, documentation, etc.  Those are both indications of professional growth and expertise and ability to move into a professional 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?

HR does a training about this but in my opinion it is inadequate. 

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 when candidates have done a bit of research and ask about specific initiatives going on at the library, if they have a sense of recent projects we’ve done or know what our standards and workflows are, at least at a very surface level.  I also like questions about training and onboarding and the possibilities for cross-training and professional development.  It’s good when someone shows initiative and interest in a particular area, a willingness to be more involved professionally, or even offers feedback or suggestions if we’ve mentioned a particular challenge or ongoing issue.  

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Northeastern 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?

√ 101-200 

Is there anything else you’d like to say, either to job hunters or to me, the survey author? 

Job postings and position descriptions are a major problem.  They need to be clearer, more specific, and more transparent about a lot of things. I’ve personally applied for jobs where the job description listed every possible archives/library function under the sun, it seemed like a generalist job with “additional duties as assigned” thrown in for good measure, only to get to the interview and realize that the employer had a very specific focus for the job (95% one function or task) and they use a boilerplate job desc or just include all those other things so you can’t make the case that you’re being given tasks outside your scope.  Also, be transparent about salary, benefits, hours, and onsite vs remote work time from the get go.  

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, 100-200 staff members, Academic, Archives, Northeastern US, Special, Suburban area, Urban area

Benefits. They vary a lot and may not be a good fit for you

Photograph of Dr. Wayne C. Grover, Archivist of the United States, and Dr. Luther Evans, Librarian of Congress, Unveiling the Shrine. National Archives

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ (Corporate) Archives

Title: Archivist

Titles hired include: Associate archivist, information architect

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 

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

After applying online, candidates are narrowed down by recruitment and the supervisor of the role. Depending on the role, there’s the recruitment interview, supervisor interview, and the team interview. A selection is made and the offer stands for a few weeks

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

They had a detailed plan, as if they already had the job.

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Rudeness or disrespectful of team mates 

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

How they will communicate when stressful personal matters are affecting their work and how we can support them

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ Only One!  

Resume: √ Two is ok, but no more  

CV: √ We don’t ask for this 

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

Not preparing their own questions

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

Yes, to not stress out about your background environment if you couldn’t find a peaceful place. Sometimes, homes are chaotic

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?

Apply it to the role. There’s always transferable skills

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

√ Other: Only brought up when there’s an offer or is asked during the interview.  

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

Recruitment goes through training and we’re audited by a 3rd party

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

Benefits. They vary a lot and may not be a good fit for you

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Western 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?

√ 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, Archives, Urban area, Western US

Confident, energetic, focused, poised

Photograph of Dr. Hermann Robinton, Assistant to the State Librarian, Albany, New York, Turning over to Dr. Wayne C. Grover, Archivist of the United States, Some of New York’s Most Treasured Documents to be Preserved and Rehabilitated for Display on New York’s Freedom Train. National Archives.

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Archives

√ Public Library

Title: Head of Special Collections

Titles hired include: Archivist (I-III), Lead Archivist, Librarian (I-IV), Senior Library Specialist

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 

√ References

√ Proof of degree

√ Supplemental Questions 

√ 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:

Referred applications from (non-library) HR sent to hiring manager. Revise/update job posting and interview questions. Select applicants for interview. Interview with a panel. Score and select candidates for either an offer or second round interviews (dependent on position). Reference check, including request for copies of transcripts. HR completes background check and offer.

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

Confident, energetic, focused, poised, had clearly done their research about the organization and the position.

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

Workplace preferences and current work/professional priorities

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ Only One!  

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 organization, not being  familiar with the job posting

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

Yes. Test out your setup ahead of time. Just like with in-person presentations, have a back up plan.

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?

Involvement in the library professional associations, volunteer work in the areas of interest, educational training and development (from full degree program to one-time workshops)

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?

Required training and completion of acknowledgment form before joining a hiring panel

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

What is a typical workday for this position? 

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Southwestern US 

What’s your region like?

√ Urban 

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Never or not anymore  

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, Archives, Public, Southwestern US, Urban area

Job Hunter’s Web Guide: Archives Gig (Revisited)

Meredith Lowe started Archives Gig in 2010 and has been posting jobs for Archivists, records managers, and students ever since. We profiled the site back in 2013 and wanted to provide a quick update.

The site has a new URL (no more LiveJournal) and has continued to grow and evolve. 

I caught up with Meredith with a few questions:

What has changed with Archives Gig?

One thing that has been really interesting is the research and tools that have cited AG as a resource! A couple of recent favorites are:

It’s incredibly rewarding that AG has been helpful to these important contributions!

How is archives job hunting different now versus ten years ago?

This field has been steadily moving toward seeking those with skills in digital curation, projects, and collections, and those who are looking to work in the GLAM fields would be well-served to pick up skills in those areas. With the pandemic, there has been a big shift to remote work in all sectors, and that includes the archives field. Although most positions are still in-person, there are a lot more remote-only positions as well as hybrid schedule options – and I think with digital projects that hybrid/remote work is even more achievable.  

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Not thinking about EDI even though it is in the job description

men move crates of records
Unloading War Department Records at the National Archivee. From the National Archives Catalog.

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Archives

Title: Processing Archivist

Titles hired include: Distinctive Collections Head, Archivist for Collections, Metadata Operations Engineer, [Project] Archivist, Metadata Librarian

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

√ Oral Exam/Structured interview

√ More than one round of interviews

√ A whole day of interviews

√ Other: Presentation, some positions may be a half day of interviews

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

Applications get narrowed by HR, hiring committee decides who gets phone interviews and conducts these interviews, committee decides who comes for in person (or virtual) final round interviews, candidates meet with committee, stakeholders, peers and/or reportees, higher library admins, and may give presentation to the entire libraries. A casual lunch is usually part of the interview day, but feedback isn’t given for that session. Assessment forms go to anyone that participated in the interview or viewed presentation. Committee assesses feedback and makes recommendation. Ultimately committee chair makes the decision on who to recommend (committee chair tends to be the person that will be reported to) which has to get approved by the library director. I have served as a hiring committee member or stakeholder in searches.

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

They had been actively involved with professional development through volunteering on committees, despite being relatively new to the field.

How many pages should each of these documents be?

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 thinking about EDI even though it is in the job description. (Or having too narrow a view of diversity)

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

Yes. When giving a presentation, be aware of how you look when delivering it. (Please don’t be obviously reading from the screen, when it is easy to do it surreptitiously.) Understand the platform, test it out beforehand if possible.

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 think by tailoring how you describe these positions to play up the relevant experience. If you understand what is relevant and show it, it helps.

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?

Generally we try to have feedback forms that quantify how well a candidate does as compared with the job requirements. We also are encouraged to read an article on bias before starting reviews. We also try to give every candidate the same experience, from questions to schedules. Some decisions are very much up to the opinions of a small few. Phone screens are subject to the greatest bias.

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

Questions that show interest in the position or are aimed at better understanding expectations. 

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?

√ 101-200

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Filed under 1 A Return to Hiring Librarians Survey, 100-200 staff members, Archives, Northeastern US, Urban area