Laurie Borchard graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in Spring of 2012. She has recently been hired as the Digital Learning Initiatives Librarian at California State University Northridge, where she creates digital learning objects, develops online learning initiatives for undergraduate students, teaches course-integrated information literacy skills, and provides in-person and virtual reference services. She is particularly proud of being the co-creator of the video series Research Therapy, with a blog coming soon! Prior to being hired, she had been job hunting for six months to a year in academic libraries, for positions at the entry level and requiring at least two years of experience. Here is how she describes her internship/volunteering experience:
As an undergrad I worked in ILL for a year and half, I had 2 years combined experience working reference, instruction and collection development.
Prior to being hired, she was in an urban area of the Midwestern US, and was willing to move anywhere. She says:
believe it or not I wrote so many cover letters that I actually started to enjoy doing it!
Where do you look for open positions?
Do you expect to see salary range listed in a job ad?
√ Yes, and it’s a red flag when it’s not
What’s your routine for preparing an application packet? How much time do you spend on it?
I usually spent 2-3 hours on the application. I began by taking a look at the job description and highlighting things like the minimum/ preferred qualifications. On top of that I made note of the language they used, for instance “information literacy” or “information competency,” then when writing the cover letter I would use the same words. I would then take a look at the library/university so I could get a better understanding of what they’re mission statements were, who the library community was, etc. Then began the writing the process for the cover letter, which is what took me the longest. The first couple of applications I did, I had a seasoned librarian who had served on a search committee recently take a look at it.
Have you ever stretched the truth, exaggerated, or lied on your resume, or at some other point during the hiring process?
√ Other: I wouldn’t call it exaggerating but I would take my current work experience and relate it to the position I was applying for
When would you like employers to contact you?
√ To acknowledge my application
√ To tell me if I have or have not been selected to move on to the interview stage
√ To follow-up after an interview
√ Once the position has been filled, even if it’s not me
How do you prefer to communicate with potential employers?
Which events during the interview/visit are most important to your assessment of the position (i.e. deciding if you want the job)?
√ Meeting department members/potential co-workers
What do you think employers should do to get the best candidates to apply?
Have more minimum requirements
What should employers do to make the hiring process less painful?
Communicate with applicants so we’re not left wondering if our application was even received or read. Also, please don’t make me fill out an online application where I have to put all my past work experience in despite the fact that it’s all on my resume. Also, please make sure the software for the online application works. I once wasted hours on an application that was never received because it wouldn’t save any of my data.
What do you think is the secret to getting hired?
It’s all in how you spin it. We’re trained to be librarians and I think most of us really believe that we could do any library job. You have to take the experience you have whether it’s a lot or a little, public or academic and make it relevant to the job you’re applying for. The cover letter is VERY important, you have to make yourself stand out. I got a tenure-track faculty librarian position right out of library school at a large academic library in Southern California. I thought this was unheard of!! I hate to say that I’m “lucky” because I feel like it negates all my hard work over the last several years. However, there are days I wake up and pinch myself I can’t believe I got this amazing job.
Do you have any comments, or are there any other questions you think we should add to this survey?
I think it would be interesting to know how many jobs people have applied to, plus how many interviews they got as well as job offers.
This survey was co-authored by Naomi House from I Need A Library Job – Do you need one? Check it out!