Tag Archives: Business

Further Questions: Does Personal Branding Help?

Each month the ALA New Members Round Table launches a discussion on the NMRT-L listserv.  Discussions have been on topics such as interview preparation, getting published, and now this month, branding.  Inspired by that discussion, this week I asked people who hire librarians:
Personal branding has become one of the tools recommended by those dispensing job hunting advice.  
Have you ever hired a librarian who uses this strategy – developing and managing a personal brand in order to shape the image he or she presents on the job hunt and professionally? Do you have any thoughts about this trend?
(If you want to read more about branding before answering this question, there’s a recent-ish American Libraries article here.)

Marge Loch-WoutersI have not really had anyone come in with a particular personal brand for jobs we have hired for. I will say a lot of people develop brands as they go along in the job or their career.  When I am teaching MLIS students or mentoring younger librarians, I encourage them to develop areas of expertise and then blog, use tumblr or engage on social networks promoting their chops. I think social media makes it easier to put your message out there consistently. While you can’t always control your “brand’ you can show people the skills you have, how you approach a problem or other areas of mightiness by being out there and upfront!

– Marge Loch-Wouters, Youth Services Coordinator, La Crosse (WI) Public Library

Gina MillsapHere’s my take on personal branding.  It’s a balancing act.  What I’m looking for is a librarian who first and foremost wants to work at not just any library, but the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library.  She has done her homework and can make the case that she is the perfect fit for us because of her education, skill set, expertise, interests and drive. And we’re the perfect fit for her because we are strategic, innovative and driven to serve our local community, making it a better place to live, work and learn, and oh, yeah, be the best damn library in the country!  If the brand helps her establish her identity as that, great.  There’s potentially an opportunity to see what that person can do vs relying on traditional resumes and other information that in the final analysis may raise more questions than deliver knowledge about a candidate.

Here’s a cautionary note.  If the personal branding process is focused on establishing her professional reputation regardless of where she works, rather than what it can do to enhance the library’s brand, I’ll think twice before considering her as a candidate.  We’ve developed a bit of a cult of personality or celebrity in the library world.  While it can clearly build the reputation of and professional opportunities for the individual, I’m not sure it always serves the interests of libraries. And not everyone who writes knowledgeably about topics actually has solid experience in the field.

Business guru Tom Peters, author of In Search of Excellence, coined the phrase “personal brand” in 1997.  I remembered reading an article he wrote called The Brand Called You.   I went back and read it again. I don’t agree with everything he says.  But what jumps out at me is  that essentially, if you’re branding you, it should be to reveal your character, your values and your value to the organization.  Here’s what he says, “No matter what you’re doing today, there are four things you’ve got to measure yourself against. First, you’ve got to be a great teammate and a supportive colleague. Second, you’ve got to be an exceptional expert at something that has real value. Third, you’ve got to be a broad-gauged visionary — a leader, a teacher, a farsighted “imagineer.” Fourth, you’ve got to be a businessperson — you’ve got to be obsessed with pragmatic outcomes.” I’d hire that person.

So, that’s my two cents.  There’s nothing wrong with developing a personal brand, but it needs to be done right and for the right reasons.

Please note:  I used the pronoun “she” because I get tired of writing s/he, but no gender-bias intended!  🙂

– Gina Millsap, Chief Executive Officer, Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library

Emilie SmartIf I have hired a librarian who is personally branded, I’m not aware of it.  I’ve never interviewed anyone who had a personal logo (other than a photograph of themselves) nor has anyone in an interview presented or mentioned anything pertaining to a personal brand.  Perhaps I just missed it?  I polled a couple of my freshly minted librarians asking if they had a personal “brand” and they looked at me with confusement  (yes, I know it’s confusion but I like “confusement” — it’s amusing.).
The trend of “personal branding” as described in the article sounds like a rehashing of common sense approaches to professionalism.  I guess professionalism has achieved brand status!  Whatever it takes…
– Emilie Smart, Division Coordinator of Reference Services & Computer Services at East Baton Rouge Parish Library
Thanks, as always, to the people who hire librarians for their time and insight.
What do you think about branding?  If you’ve got opinions, you’re welcome to share them below, but I also encourage you to join the NMRT listserv (I think you may do so without being a NMRT member) and participate in the discussion there.

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Filed under Further Questions, Public

Make Me Believe You Will Keep That Enthusiasm for at Least a Few Years

Cornelia Maria Clapp (1849-1934)

 

 

This anonymous interview is with a librarian who has been a hiring manager and a member of a hiring committee. This person works at an academic library with 10-50 staff members. 
What are the top three things you look for in a candidate?

Enthusiasm
Positive personality
Profesionalism

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

Sloppy application
Cockiness
Lethargy

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

…references available upon request…
…unique combination of my education and work experience…

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

Yes, the reason why they want the job they are applying for.

How many pages should a cover letter be?

√ As many as it takes, but shorter is better

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?

√ No preference, as long as I can open it

Should a resume/CV have an Objective statement?

√ No

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

√ I don’t care

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

Show me that you really want this job and make me believe you will keep that enthusiasm for at least a few years.

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Filed under 10-50 staff members, Academic, Original Survey

The Bigger Problem is Too Much on the Resume That’s Unrelated to the Position

Main_Reading_Room,_State_Library_of_NSW,_Sydney_(NSW)_(7173836598)

 

This anonymous interview is with a librarian who has been a member of a hiring committee. This person works at an academic library with 10-50 staff members.

 

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

Intelligence
Enthusiasm
Sincerity

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

Poor grammar is always a deal breaker for me followed closely by short and uninformative cover letters.

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

Objectives are a waste of time. I know your objective is to get whatever job your taking the time to apply to. It’s just wasted space.

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

I don’t see this as too much of a problem, the bigger problem is too much on the resume that’s unrelated to the position.

How many pages should a cover letter be?

√ Two is ok, but no more

How many pages should a resume/CV be?

√ As many as it takes, I want to look at every accomplishment

Do you have a preferred format for application documents?

√ No preference, as long as I can open it

Should a resume/CV have an Objective statement?

√ No

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

√ I don’t care

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

Be genuine, have a sense of humor, and show that you’ve done a little research about our organization. If you’ve explored our website at all you should be in good shape.

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

Yes, a day long interview is stressful but remember that you weren’t brought in unless we felt pretty confident that you could do the job. At this point it’s more about whether people can work with you. I’ve seen (more than once) where the candidate who was hired was not necessarily the strongest librarian of the group but was the most likeable and easygoing.

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

The only real change I’ve noticed is that postings close more quickly, particularly entry level positions. We just get so many applicants that we have to cut if off quickly or we’ll be overwhelmed.

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

READ the job description. I cannot emphasize this enough. Competition is fierce so you need to address every single part of the job description in your cover letter/CV to realistically land an interview. If something is listed as a requirement and you don’t have that skill/knowledge/certification/ don’t bother applying. You don’t need to have every preferred qualification but the more of them you can fulfill, the more likely you are to land an interview. There are just too many applicants who will meet all or most of the standards, you’re just wasting your time (and mine) if you don’t have a strong case.

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Filed under 10-50 staff members, Academic, Original Survey

Someone Who is Not Crazy

Librarian working at the Pointe Coupee Parish Parish library in New Roads Louisiana in 1936This anonymous interview is with a person who has been a hiring manager and a member of a hiring committee. This person hires at a

business that hires archivists/librarians

with 0-10 staff members. When asked “Are you a librarian?” this person chose the “it’s complicated” option.
What are the top three things you look for in a candidate?

1)The ability to perform essential functions outlined in the job posting
2)An independent thinker
3)Someone who is not crazy

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

The only instant deal breaker I have is the interviewee with a bad attitude. In this economy, you may wind up interviewing for jobs that you are over qualified for. This doesn’t mean you will automatically be hired; if you act like the position is beneath you, there is no chance we will hire you.

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

Typos. Please read things before you submit them. It looks like you didn’t learn anything in grad school if you still don’t know the difference between “two” and “too”

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

I wish people would elaborate on their relevant volunteer experience. I know, it wasn’t paid, but it is usually relevant experience that can make a candidate seem much more qualified.

How many pages should a cover letter be?

√ Only one!

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?

√ No preference, as long as I can open it

Should a resume/CV have an Objective statement?

√ I don’t care

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

√ I don’t care

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

Show the interviewers that you are capable of doing the job. Remember to bring your best self to the interview.

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

Not asking questions. I am aware that you did research ahead of time, but there is no possible way that you could know everything about a position ahead of time. I don’t ask the typical “so tell me what you know about our organization” questions because I know you visited our website and social media before the interview. But I do ask if you have any questions because I know that we don’t post everything.

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

We have become more selective.

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

1)Don’t ask for a significantly higher salary in the interview
2)Be aware of what type of position you are applying for. If it is entry level, don’t come in expecting to be running the organization in six months
3)Don’t insult and interviewer. If you don’t like something they have produced, the interview isn’t the time to have a debate. Don’t tell them they have done anything wrong until after you have been hired.

As crazy as it sounds, we’ve had all three of the above happen.

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Filed under 0-10 staff members, Original Survey, Other Organization or Library Type

Look Me in the Eye, Smile, and Tell Me Why this Job/Organization is Right for You

Library Staff, c1990s, LSE LibraryThis anonymous interview is with someone who has been a hiring manager and a member of a hiring committee.  This person works at a government agency with 50-100 staff members.  When asked, “Are you a librarian?”, this person chose the option “it’s complicated.”

Special Note: In another three weeks or so, this blog will be one year old.  And this is the last response to the original survey!  This is number 162!  Unless, of course, there are any more people who hire librarians who decide to take it. I will continue posting the many, many responses to the What Should Candidates Wear? and Job Hunter’s surveys, as well as the various other features and posts you’re used to seeing.  And I’m thinking of what the next survey should be – maybe something about networking?  Anyway, enjoy! and thank you for reading!

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

Appropriate skill set and ability to communicate
Compatibility with job/office
Chemistry

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

failure to follow directions
bad cover letter
missing information
poor hygiene
lack of eye contact
demonstration of poor judgment (in-person, on paper, or online)
referencing the wrong job

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

Grammar and spelling mistakes
“canned” statements (of any kind)
Generic statements of interest that could be about any job

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

Tell me why you are good for the job *and* why the job is good for you.

Also, if there is a hole in your resume (i.e., a time where you were unemployed) explain the gap, if you can. Otherwise I’m going to guess and that isn’t going to be good for either of us. I’m perfectly willing to hiring someone that took time off to have kids, take care of a spouse, take a mental vacation, whatever, but *very briefly* explain yourself

How many pages should a cover letter be?

√ Other: depends on the rest of the application packets; but concise is always better

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?

√ Other: follow directions!

Should a resume/CV have an Objective statement?

√ No

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

√ Other: follow directions or as an attachment

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

Be…
Genuinely enthusiastic about the job
Knowledgeable about the organization and the position you applied for
Articulate representing yourself and your skills,
and, ask insightful questions about the job and the organization

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

Unprepared—they know nothing about the organization or the people that work there and they don’t know why they want to work there

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

We’ve tried to make it a more pleasant process for everyone involved. My goal is to find the right person for the right job.

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

Look me in the eye, smile, and tell me why this job/organization is right for you and why you’ll enjoy working here.

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Filed under 50-100 staff members, Original Survey, Other Organization or Library Type

Don’t Try to be Funny

National Archives Staff, 1984

This anonymous interview is with someone from an Academic library who has been a hiring manager and a member of a hiring committee.  This person’s library has 100-200 staff members.  When asked “Are you a librarian?”, this person left the answer blank.

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

They are specifically interested in and qualified for the job
They are able to make a case for their specific experience qualifying them for the job
They have demonstrated initiative in their previous work or academic experience

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

Not making it clear they are interested in THIS JOB as opposed to any job; not having done much (or any) research about my library before coming to interview. Well, and not having whatever experience we’ve indicated is required.

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

Humor. Don’t try to be funny. Don’t try to be clever. No pictures!

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

Occasionally people fail to explain what they did in a given position, at least insofar as it relates the job they are applying for. Also, please tell me if the job was full or part time.

How many pages should a cover letter be?

√ Other: One for an entry-level position, more as the position goes up the ladder.

How many pages should a resume/CV be?

√ Other: As many as it takes, but enough is enough. It doesn’t have to be short and sweet, but I don’t need to know minor committees you were on.

Do you have a preferred format for application documents?

√ .pdf

Should a resume/CV have an Objective statement?

√ No

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

√ As an attachment only

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

Answer my questions (it’s okay to have to ask me to repeat a multi-part question). Don’t just use buzz words or jargon: convince me you know what it means by also using normal language. Give me solid examples that illustrate what you are talking about.

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

Trying to be someone they aren’t (which includes asking what my ideal candidate would be like). Not having good questions for me.

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

We used to call references before we did on campus interviews (weird, I know); now we do phone interviews with short-list candidates instead. We stopped requiring transcripts as part of the application process.

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Filed under 100-200 staff members, Academic, Original Survey

Stats and Graphs: 103 Job Hunters

Hey have you seen the new survey?

http://tinyurl.com/hiringlibJOBHUNTERsurvey

Co-written by Naomi House from I Need A Library Job, this is designed to open up employer/job hunter communication in the other direction. We’re hoping for honesty tempered with civility, but it’s hard not to call it “Job Hunter’s Revenge.”

Anyway, 103 people have responded already!  The first anonymized response will go up in about five minutes, but to launch the presentation of this new survey, here are these initial:

Results!

(Please again forgive the cut off labels on the charts – this is how Google forms deals with verbosity)

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

01_Salary

Yes, and it’s a red flag when it’s not    48    47%
Only for certain kinds of employers     8     8%
No (even if I might think it *should* be)    32    31%
Other    15    15%

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

02_Lying

Yes        16      16%
No        77      75%
Other        10      10%

When would you like employers to contact you?

03_Timing

To acknowledge my application   70   68%
To tell me if I have or have not been selected tomove on to the interview stage   92   89%
To follow-up after an interview   73   71%
Once the position has been filled, even if it’s not me   95   92%
Other    9    9%
People may select more than one checkbox, so percentages may add up to more than 100%.

How do you prefer to communicate with potential employers?

04_Method
Phone      6    6%
Email    47   46%
Mail      0    0%
Phone for good news, email for bad news    41   40%
Other      9    9%

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

05_Interview

Tour of facility   67   68%
Being taken out to meal    2     2%
Meeting department members/potential co-workers   89   90%
Meeting with HR to talk about benefits/salary   32   32%
Being able to present   15   15%
Other   29   29%
People may select more than one checkbox, so percentages may add up to more than 100%.

Demographics

 

Are you currently employed, even if part time or in an unrelated field?

06_currently employed

Yes         80     78%
No         21     20%

Have you been hired in the last two months, even if part time or in an unrelated field?

07_recently hired

Yes      26     25%
No      76     74%

How long have you been job hunting (or if recently hired, how long did you look before that)?

08_Time looking

Less than six months     26    25%
Six months to a year     29    28%
A year to 18 months     19    18%
More than 18 months     28    27%

What type(s) of organization are you looking in?

09_type

Academic library    86   84%
Archives    47   46%
Library vendor/service provider    29   28%
Public library    77   75%
School library    23   23%
Special library    63   62%
Other    26   25%
People may select more than one checkbox, so percentages may add up to more than 100%.

What position level are you looking for?

10_level

Entry level   79   77%
Requiring at least two years of experience   64   63%
Supervisory   23   23%
Department Head   12   12%
Senior Librarian   17   17%
Branch Manager   13   13%
Director/Dean    8    8%
Other    9    9%
People may select more than one checkbox, so percentages may add up to more than 100%.

Where are you?

11_country

Australia/New Zealand       0     0%
Canada       2     2%
Midwestern US     26    25%
Northeastern US     28    27%
Southern US     27    26%
UK       0     0%
Western US     18    17%
Other       2     2%

Where are you?

12_region

Urban area     38    37%
City/Town     32    31%
Suburban area     21    20%
Rural area     12    12%
Other       0      0%

Are you willing/able to move for employment?

13_Move

No    31      30%
Yes, anywhere    43     42%
Other    29     28%

Would you like to include a short bio with your answers?

14_Bio

No     73     71%
Yes     27     26%
Other      3       3%

Number of daily responses

15_Responses

 

So that’s the wrap up of statistics so far!  We’ve got some great open-answer questions too:

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

Where do you look for open positions?

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

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

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

What do you think is the secret to getting hired?

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

If you’re looking, and haven’t taken the survey yet, please do!  If you’ve got friends, please share the link:

http://tinyurl.com/hiringlibJOBHUNTERsurvey

Finally, if you have questions, comments or concerns, we’d love to hear them.

You can either comment below, or email hiringlibrariansATgmail.

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Filed under Job hunter's survey, Stats and Graphs