Tag Archives: archivists

About a Decade Later: Former (and current) Job Hunter Anonymous 4

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. 

This is another anonymous follow-up. This job hunter first filled out the survey in 2012 as a recent graduate, and her answers appeared as I Make Sure That I Qualify, First and Foremost. We followed up with her in November 2014 and found she had a part-time internship. Then in December 2015, we found out she’d landed a full time job in an archive. She’s still there, but looking again. 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’m still at my current position in the Midwest. The work situation has been both good and bad and it’s heading in the right direction but without more funding, I can’t really stay (hence the reason I’m looking). 

Were any parts of your journey completely unexpected?

How long things take. Also that people are willing to help with things.

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

Nothing really has changed, except maybe the idea of posting salaries. That has definitely changed, and especially that some states are even requiring it.

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

Not me per se, but I’ve been in on the process of helping to hire student workers. It is definitely interesting being on the other side of things.

Do you have any advice for job hunters?

Have help going over your cover letter from someone in the same field. I had that and it’s helped tremendously! My cover letters before were okay but after this person helped, I saw an almost 90% return on getting interviews. Also, I know it’s hard but be willing to move. I’m open to moving for a full time position but only that. If you can swing to move for contract positions go for it.

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

Post the salary, and if not the salary, at least a range so people aren’t blindsided when they get an interview.

Anything else you’d like to tell us? 

Nope.

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Filed under Job Hunter Follow Up

For us, it’s not showing ambition

Paul Brockett, Librarian, Smithsonian Nat’l Academy of Science, 7/19. Loc.gov

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Archives 

Title: Archives assistant 

Titles hired include: Graduate research assistants and interns, but we did just hire a third full time person

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ The position’s supervisor

√ Other: Director

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

√ Online application

√ Cover letter

√ Resume

√ References 

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ No 

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

They apply and we go through the resumes, once we go through the resumes the director will call them in for an interview and we interview them

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

They had a lot of good experience and a great personality 

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

The biggest thing for us is qualifications and personality. They have to be able to work with the public as well as being able to work on collections

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 us, it’s not showing ambition  

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

We have not 

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

√ It’s part of the job ad  

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Southeastern US 

What’s your region like?

√ Suburban 

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Never or not anymore 

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 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, Southeastern US, Suburban area

Whether or not they are prone to gossiping or lying

Sixth Archivist of the United States Robert Warner Standing in Front of the American Flag and the Cake While Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the National Archives, 1984. National Archives.

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Archives

√ Public Library 

Title: Archives Unit Manager

Titles hired include: Senior Librarian-Digital Archivist; Senior Librarian-Archivist; 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

√ Proof of degree

√ Demonstration (teaching, storytime, etc)

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ Yes

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

Job is posted on city jobs website, with a closing date. Applications are accepted up to the closing date. Algorithms sort applicants by qualified/unqualified. City HR selects candidates they think best meet the criteria and send those to the hiring manager. Hiring manager reviews applications and selects candidates for interviews—usually 3-6, depending on the number of qualified applicants. All Interviews are scheduled on one day. Hiring panel conducts interviews, then meets to discuss candidates and compile scores. Hiring manager notifies their supervisor and HR of the decision, checks references. Approval to make an offer is given. Offer is made, the candidate either accepts, declines, or makes a counter-offer. 

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

Good experience, independent thinker, self-starter. 

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Attitude (especially negativity), telling stories about themselves and previous behavior that indicate a lack of compassion, lack of comprehension of the small community we are in, lack of respect for others

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

Whether or not they are prone to gossiping or lying. The real reason they are seeking the job. 

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: √ We don’t ask for this 

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

Not researching the hiring organization prior to the interview. 

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

Lighting, quiet environment without distractions, use a virtual background or pick a clean, uncluttered space. 

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?

Illustrate competencies that apply to both professions. 

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?

Selection of a diverse panel (racial, gender, and job classification)

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

Who our customers are, level of business, “other duties” examples. What their day might look like. What is the culture at the organization? 

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Southwestern US 

What’s your region like?

√ Urban

√ Suburban 

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Other: Rarely. Requires case-by-case approval from my supervisor for my direct reports to work from home. Only in unusual circumstances. 

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 200+ staff members, Archives, Public, Southwestern US, Suburban area, Urban area

How many hours a day they spend on social media or on the telephone with friends instead of doing the work.

Annual Archivist Awards. Sam Anthony (left). National Archives.

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Academic Library

√ Archives 

Title: Archivist

Titles hired include: Archives technician, Librarians

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ HR

√ Library Administration

√ A Committee or panel 

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

√ Online application

√ Cover letter

√ Resume

√ CV

√ References

√ Proof of degree

√ Oral Exam/Structured interview

√ Demonstration (teaching, storytime, etc)

√ More than one round of interviews

√ A whole day of interviews

√ A meal with hiring personnel

√ Other: Zoom Interview

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ No 

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

For archives positions I write the job description. I am lead on interviewing. I can choose the best candidate but must make a good case.

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

They were articulate

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Not having the skills asked for in the job description. Talking about how the job would benefit them, not what skills they would bring to help the institution.

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

How many hours a day they spend on social media or on the telephone with friends instead of doing the work.

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ Two is ok, but no more

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

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

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

It varies

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

Being comfortable on camera is hard.

Be sure to pick your background appropriately. Sound matters.

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?

From para to professional is hard. Moving institutions is probably the only way to do it. Former co-workers may never accept the change.

All experience is relevant. But there are so many candidates so employers can be picky.

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?

Very little is done to reduce bias. I would suggest training.

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

I think trying to understand the personalities of the people the candidate would work with, and making sure they would like to work with those people. Anything can be done for a year, but long term is hard.

Look at the culture of the organization.

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Southeastern US

What’s your region like?

√ Other: Small town in rural area but less than 45 minutes to a city

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, Academic, Archives, Rural area, Southeastern US

Job Hunter’s Web Guide SAA Career Service Commons

I’m really pleased to highlight the Career Services Commons provided by the Society of American Archivists (SAA), offered by the Membership Committee’s Career Development Subcommittee. They provide high-quality help for anyone in the archives field including students, as is evidenced by the stories of success they share below. Please keep reading to learn more about the Career Services Commons.

What is it?  Please give us your elevator speech!

The Career Services Commons is a permanent online space for members of the Society of American Archivists (SAA) to access and offer career advising sessions, resume review services, and mock interviews. SAA Career Counselors offer guidance and support to emerging and developing professionals and offer flexible monthly schedules. Sessions are one-on-one and last between thirty minutes and one hour.

When was it started?  Why was it started?

It started in response to the continued success of the Career Center at the SAA Annual Meeting in 2020. Members of SAA requested ongoing help relating to career counseling and the Career Commons was the solution.

Who runs it?

The Career Development Subcommittee of the SAA Membership Committee consists of three professional archivists. In addition, 10 archivists volunteer as career counselors. 

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

Our Career Counselors are the experts. Many of them have been in the archives field for years and have moved between jobs in various areas – academic, public, governmental, corporate, etc.

Who is your target audience?

The Commons is a space for students, early-career archivists, and others to connect with experienced archives professionals. 

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?

Anyone is welcome to review the webpage and see our counselors and their qualifications. To make an appointment, you must be a member of SAA. 

Do your counselors provide:

√ Interviews

√ Coaching

√ The opportunity for interaction

Advice on:

√ Cover Letters

√ Resumes

√ Interviewing

√ Networking 

Should readers also look for you on social media? Or is your content available in other formats? Please include links, subscription information, or other details if pertinent

√ Twitter: @CareerCommons

√ Magazine or other periodical: Archival Outlook 

√ Other: Society of American Archivists website

Do you charge for anything on your site?

There is no charge for the site, but to make an appointment, you must be a member of SAA.

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

After a frustrating job search in which the applicant had applied for more than a hundred positions, one of our career counselors helped the applicant to narrow down the search to more relevant positions. The applicant was excited to share that they just made it to the second round of interviews for the first time ever. 

One of our counselors shared that one of the people with whom she was working just contacted her to let her know that they got the job. The candidate signed up for a resume review and mock interview and then went on to successfully land the job at a state archives.

A student landed her first archives internship after meeting with one of our counselors for a career counseling session. The counselor encouraged her to apply for an internship and to practice for the interview. 

Another counselor shared that she was able to connect with one of her job seekers at a recent in-person conference for further networking. 

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

We encourage people to use this service! It’s a great opportunity to have an impartial person review your resume, as well as to practice your interview skills. Career advising offers an opportunity for students and new professionals to gain advice from more experienced professionals. Members may sign up for up to 2 appointments per month.

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Filed under Job Hunters Web Guide

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.

2 Comments

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

I want to hear criticality from candidates, it’s a form of problem solving, but I do not want constant, unproductive negativity.

This former salesgirl, librarian, and sixth-grade school teacher has been repairing and servicing cars which used to be only open jobs for men. National Archives

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Academic Library

√ Archives

Title: Curator of Special Collections and Archives

Titles hired: Processing Archivist, Dance Archivist

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

√ CV

√ References

√ Oral Exam/Structured interview

√ Demonstration (teaching, storytime, etc)

√ More than one round of interviews

√ A whole day of interviews

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ No

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

For staff, there is a posting that is reviewed prior to posting by supervisor and HR director, then posted to a variety of library and state job boards. The committee reviews all applicants for qualifications (req or preferred) and decides on a pool to interview virtually. The committee does virtual interviews with candidates, and decides on the candidate they would like to make an offer to, after checking references of the top candidate/s. They make a verbal offer contingent on a background check. The candidate, supervisor, and hr director discuss salary and a pay rate in the posted range is decided upon and if the candidate accepts, a formal offer letter with a start date is created and signed. The faculty process is similar but far more involved, and has 2 rounds of final interviews, one that is short, and a final that is the equivalent of half a day (and still virtual). The committee brings the final candidates to campus after the offer has been made, and the candidate decides after the visit.

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

Framing challenges positively, actually speaking to the position in the application materials.

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Indicators that someone is overly critical in unproductive ways. I want to hear criticality from candidates, it’s a form of problem solving, but I do not want constant, unproductive negativity.

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

How they treat people who are more vulnerable than they are.

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ Two is ok, but no more

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

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

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

Not speaking to the position announcement, being too general.

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

The usual. Make sure we can hear you.

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?

All leadership in all roles is relevant. A LOT of people who have never directly supervised people have leadership experience, from school, from life. Writing documentation, training, being a ‘team lead.’ Use it. Play it up.

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

√ It’s part of the job ad

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

We don’t de-identify application materials, and should.

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

What kind of support they can/should expect.

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Southwestern 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, Academic, Archives, Southwestern US, 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