Tag Archives: Employment

Security, Wage, Satisfaction

Sylvia BlySylvia Bly graduated from Wayne State University in 2012 with a MLIS and a Certificate in Records Information Management. She is currently employed by Deloitte LP as an intern in their Records Information Management area.  She says:

The internship has been a wonderful experience. I have learned a great deal of information relating to the records environment, and am eager to continue in my career.

She has been job hunting for more than 18 months, at Library vendors/service providers, Public and Special libraries, and in Records, for positions at the level of requiring at least two years of experience. Ms. Bly is in a city/town in the Midwestern US, and is willing to move anywhere. She belongs to ALA and SLA as well as ARMA.  You can contact her via LinkedIn.

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

Security
Wage
Satisfaction

Where do you look for open positions?

Careerbuilder
Monster
ALA Joblist
various listservs
LinkedIn
Indeed.com

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

√ No (even if I might think it *should* be)

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

Depends on what the job position is asking for.  Anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes.

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

√ No

When would you like employers to contact you?

√ To acknowledge my application
√ To tell me if I have or have not been selected to move on to the interview stage
√ To follow-up after an interview
√ Once the position has been filled, even if it’s not me

How do you prefer to communicate with potential employers?

√ Phone

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

√ Tour of facility
√ Meeting with HR to talk about benefits/salary

This survey was co-authored by Naomi House from I Need A Library Job – Do you need one?  Check it out!

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Filed under Job hunter's survey, Midwestern US

Being a New Grad I Feel Better Applying to Jobs That Indicate They are a Place to Grow and Learn

This post originally appeared on March 10, 2013. Her year two follow up will post in just a few moments.
Neyda GilmanNeyda Gilman has a VERY recent MLIS, as her degree was conferred February 1st! Librarianship will be a second career, after working as a medical technologist for five years. She is a graduate reference assistant at the University at Buffalo’s Health Sciences Library  Ms. Gilman has been looking for less than six months, in academic libraries, archives, and special libraries, at the entry level. Here is how she describes her internship/volunteering experience:

I currently work part time at a library on campus. I have also done practicums at a public library, hospital library, and in a special collection. When my part time work ends soon I plan on continuing to volunteer there until I can find a job.

She is in a city/town, in the Northeastern US, and is willing to move anywhere, although

location is important so if I don’t think I could be happy living there I probably won’t take the job.

Ms. Gilman is a 2011 ALA Spectrum Scholar (MLA/NLM Scholar). You can learn more about her by visiting her e-portfolio or LinkedIn profile.

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

Type of library – I am interested in Academic (especially health sciences) or hospital

Location – I am looking nationwide (and Canada), but only apply to places in locations I think I would enjoy living

Mentorship/guidance – this is not necessary, but being a new grad I feel better applying to jobs that indicate they are a place to grow and learn

Where do you look for open positions?

Mostly indeed.com and ALA joblist. I also check MLA jobs and am on numerous listservs.

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?

One application will take at least a day, usually more, depending on what they want. I start with my resume or CV (whichever one they specify) since that is the easiest – I use a similar resume/CV for most applications and it doesn’t usually take long to customize it for the specific job. Next I work on my cover letter and this is that part that takes the longest. Last is compiling my list of references – I have a list of about ten people who have all agreed to be references and I choose from that list depending on the job. The exception to this is if the job wants an actual letter or form filled out; in these cases the first thing I do is contact my references.

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

√ No

 When would you like employers to contact you?

√ To acknowledge my application
√ To tell me if I have or have not been selected to move on to the interview stage
√ To follow-up after an interview
√ Once the position has been filled, even if it’s not me

 How do you prefer to communicate with potential employers?

√ Email

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

√ Tour of facility
√ Meeting department members/potential co-workers

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

Put the posting out in as many areas as possible. Don’t have too strict of requirements. Having a lot of preferred qualifications is good, but I get really discouraged when I don’t meet one qualification out of a long list of required qualifications. There have been jobs that I know I would be good at and would love doing, but didn’t apply because there was one or two qualifications that I didn’t fully meet.

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

Keep the lines of communication open. If I am not a top choice, fine but let me know. Even if I am still being considered but not in the first batch of interviewees I want to know where I stand.

What do you think is the secret to getting hired?

I’ll let you know when I get a job. 🙂

This survey was co-authored by Naomi House from I Need A Library Job – Do you need one?  Check it out!

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Filed under Job hunter's survey, Northeastern US

Preparation, Research and Enthusiasm

This interview originally appeared on February 4th, 2013.  I am reposting in light of her follow-up interview, which will run in just a few moments.
Lauren Bourdages

This interview is with Lauren Bourdages, who will be graduating from the Library and Information Technician (LIT)**, and Records and Information Management programs at Conestoga College in Kitchener ON in the spring of 2013. Ms. Bourdages was hired into her first “real” job in the industry in June of this year, as the (part-time) Advancement Assistant, Gift Processing and Records Management for St. Jerome’s University.She has been job hunting for a year to 18 months, in Academic libraries, with library vendors/service providers, public libraries, school libraries, special libraries, companies with info management needs, and anywhere with a fundraising department, for entry-level and positions requiring two years of experience. On internships/volunteering, Ms. Bourdages has this to say:

I am a new grad from a Canadian Library Technician program; for this program I completed 2 internships. For the first I was the sole Library Technician under a Research Librarian in a small special library (we were the only two staff) for a world renowned global policy think tank. For my second internship I focussed on information architecture and management as a SharePoint Development Intern with the Office of Advancement at a local University. During the first year of my two year diploma program I also volunteered weekly as a Book Reserves Assistant at the local Public Library.

She lives in a city/town in Canada, and is not willing to move.  She has two upcoming projects, writing a book blog called Novel Concepts, and heading up the soon-to-launch INALJ Ontario.

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

Flexible hours

Variety in tasks

Mainly working on a computer

Where do you look for open positions?

Specific library and company websites, eluta.ca, The University of Western Ontario FIMS job board, The University of Toronto iSchool job board

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?

Customising resume and cover letter to reflect the job posting and organisation’s needs/how I fulfill them. Takes me about 2 hours.

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

√ No

When would you like employers to contact you?

√ To acknowledge my application

√ To tell me if I have or have not been selected to move on to the interview stage

√ To follow-up after an interview

√ Once the position has been filled, even if it’s not me


How do you prefer to communicate with potential employers?

√ Email

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

√ Tour of facility

√ Meeting department members/potential co-workers

√ Meeting with HR to talk about benefits/salary

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

Create extremely thorough job description postings that always include the salary range. Ensure their postings appear on relevant industry job boards such as UWO FIMS and UofT iSchool. Advertise their organisations through industry professional association publications.

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

Open the lines of communication as much as possible to keep all applicants in the loop.

What do you think is the secret to getting hired?

Preparation, research and enthusiasm.

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

I think a question about previous related work not involving internships would be a good question.

This survey was co-authored by Naomi House from I Need A Library Job – Do you need one?  Check it out!

**Lauren also says:

LIT programs are governed and accredited by the Canadian Library Association in the same way that MLS/MLIS/MSLS programs are governed and accredited by the American Library Association. Here in Canada you can and will find Technicians and Librarians working side by side at every level in the Library and Information Industry, in both the traditional and non-traditional settings.

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Hired Librarians: I Could Picture our Clients Relating to Her Very Well

In this feature, Hired Librarians, I interview a recent successful job hunter and the person that hired her.  This week I’m interviewing Mira Geffner, Program Assistant, and the person that hired here, Erika Bell, Manager of Medical Information Services. 

library 2

They work at Breast Cancer Connections, providing medical information services in the San Francisco Bay Area.  Here is how the library is staffed:

We are each here half-time, that’s it for the paid library staff. Other BCC staff and volunteers also help clients in the library when we are not available, and volunteers help with clerical work and special projects.


The Successful Candidate: Mira Geffner

Mira and Erika all dressed up2
Where are you in your career? When did you graduate, and how many years of experience do you have?

I am a career changer and a current MLIS student at San Jose State University. I expect to graduate in December 2014.

Why did this job pique your interest?

It sounded perfect! My professional background is in patient education and advocacy. When I started library school, I was really hoping that I’d be able to continue working directly with the public, but as a librarian instead of an educator or advocate. The BCC Program Assistant job description said they wanted someone who could do research for BCC clients, contribute to the BCC blog, maintain the library collection of books/pamphlets/media, and attend weekly Q&A sessions with area physicians and patients. I had started a blog in my Medical Librarianship class, and I had experience coordinating Q&A conference calls with physicians and patients as part of my previous job. Of course as an LIS student, I do database searching every day, and had gained experience with patient-oriented and academic medical databases through my SLIS courses and an internship at a health library. Other aspects of the job appealed to me too, especially the fact that I would be embedded in a thriving non-profit organization with deep roots in the community. To be honest, the job sounded almost too good to be true.

How many pages was your resume? Cover letter?

My resume was long, nearly 2 pages. I included current academic work and pre-SLIS professional experience. My cover letter was ¾ page.

What research did you do before submitting your application?

I learned about the job from a friend who had interviewed at BCC before I did, so she was able to tell me a lot about BCC’s “personality” in terms of her interview process and the nature of her interview there. After speaking with her, I read as much as I could of BCC’s website. I wanted to familiarize myself with the organization’s programs and services, and understand its mission and history. I also read posts from the BCC blog, to get an idea of how I could contribute to it.

What did you wear?

Black slacks and a colorful top. Black flats. (I had heard from my friend that the place is pretty casual, so didn’t want to overdo it. I was aiming for dressed-for-work rather than dressed-up-for-interview.)

Can you describe your process in preparing for the interview?

I heard about the job at the end of the semester, so I was finishing up classes and an internship, and was getting ready to leave town for a week. In other words, I had less time to prepare for this interview than I would have liked. At least my resume was pretty close to being up to date, since I had applied for internships in other health libraries five months earlier. To prepare, I updated my resume with a few relevant projects I had done in the past few months, updated my cover letter to draw out the connections between my resume and the job description, and rehearsed some standard interview questions. Jill Klees, the SLIS liaison in the SJSU Career Center, was very helpful, both with shortening my resume and practicing interview skills. I also reviewed the databases from my medical librarianship class, and materials from that class’s consumer health unit. I went back to the health/medical research units from my Introduction to Reference class, to make sure I wasn’t forgetting about any important sources there, and reviewed my health literacy outreach blog and other health-related projects I had done at SLIS to refresh my memory about things that might be relevant to the BCC job. And then I spent some time thinking about how my earlier work with rare disease patients might translate to work with breast cancer patients. Finally, I did what I could to learn about breast cancer. At a friend’s suggestion, I reviewed all the terms relating to breast cancer in the National Cancer Institute’s online dictionary of cancer terms. I also read NCI’s basic introduction to breast cancer, because knowledge of breast cancer or other cancers was listed as a job qualification.

What questions did you ask?

I was interviewed by a three-person panel, and I asked them to each tell me what they love about working here. I don’t remember all of their answers, but I remember them all smiling at each other when I asked and Erika kind of laughing and saying it was really hard to know where to start because the list of things she loves about the place is so long. Erika’s boss was on the panel as well, and she told me she had been with BCC for more than 10 years, and that she really enjoys having a chance to work with and mentor people who are newer to the organization. They all said they love the women they work with. I can’t remember exactly how I asked, but I’m pretty sure I asked Erika something about how much patient education she does vs. research/providing information. I didn’t have a “right” answer in mind, I just wanted to understand something about where BCC’s Medical Information Services model fits in the world of consumer health librarianship. And I asked something about the typical resources she consults to handle client requests, because I wanted to understand if I would need to be able to search PubMed like a wizard or if she uses lay sources more of the time.

Why do you think you were hired? What set you apart from other candidates?

Well, that’s a hard one to answer. How do we ever know how the world sees us? I felt like the job – which combines library skills with an ability to assimilate and communicate medical information and interact with clients in a non-threatening way – was a great match for my past experience and my coursework at SJSU. And although I did not have the knowledge of breast cancer or another type of cancer the job description called for, my comprehensive knowledge of another disease from my previous job showed that I could learn about breast cancer and would be motivated to do so. I also think my experience providing support and information services to patients at another non-profit showed that I was a good match for the position. Even though I would need to start with the basics in learning about breast cancer, I tried to demonstrate that my perspective working in other non-profits and with other types of patients would make it possible for me to begin contributing quickly at BCC. Throughout the interview, I tried to convey that the job they were offering was exactly the job I wanted. When they asked where I see myself in five years, I said “with a Master’s degree in Library & Information Sciences, working in a consumer health library.” That was actually one of the questions I hadn’t prepared for, but I think it was the answer I gave most quickly and directly. A job like this one in a place like BCC is what I’ve wanted since before I started the program at SLIS. So the job just felt to me like a great fit, and I tried to convey that to the panel.

Is there anything else you want to tell my readers about why you were chosen? Or any general job hunting advice you want to dispense?

These are things your readers probably know, but I’m going to write them anyway: there is soooo much serendipity in the process, so don’t take things that happen in the job search too personally. Do reflect on how you conduct yourself in interviews, and think about things you would like to do differently, but try not to turn things that happen in the job hunt into a judgment of you as a person. I also can’t say enough about the importance of building and tending your networks. I attend local networking/social events when I can and go to conferences. I participate in LIS student and professional groups on Facebook and on LinkedIn, and read the CALIX and CAPHIS mailing lists (and participate very occasionally in both). I also keep in touch with internship supervisors, some faculty, and students I’ve worked with on class projects or otherwise gotten to know. I would never have known about this job but for a phone call from a SLIS friend, and I believe her recommendation influenced BCC’s decision to interview me.

The Hiring Manager: Erika Bell

Library table

What stood out in this applicant’s cover letter?

Mira’s cover letter was very well written and contained specific, concrete examples that demonstrated her professional experience and qualifications.  Her passion for working as a consumer health librarian was evident in the letter.  Mira was honest about her lack of experience in the cancer field, but displayed confidence in her ability to acquire those skills on the job.

Did she meet all of the required qualifications listed in the job ad? How many of the desired qualifications did she meet?

Mira met all but one of the qualifications listed in the job ad.  The job ad listed “knowledge of breast cancer or other cancers” as a qualification, and Mira did not have this specific experience, but she did have professional experience working in other health-related fields.

In comparison to the rest of the pool, did the applicant have more, less, or about the same years of experience?  What about for the other people you interviewed?

Mira had more experience than many of the applicants in the pool and less experience than some others.  A few applicants were actually overqualified, and for that reason the job didn’t seem like a good fit for them.

What was the interview process like?

I first screened resumes and cover letters and selected a dozen or so that I felt were well qualified.  These applicants were phone screened by our human resources volunteer.  Based on feedback from the phone screen, we then invited a subset of the phone-screened applicants to come in to the center for an in-person interview.  We conducted the interview as a team of three which included myself (BCC’s Manger of Medical Information Services), BCC’s Director of Programs and Services and BCC’s Program Associate.  Candidates were asked a series of pre-scripted questions and then given an opportunity to ask questions of us.  A tour was conducted upon the candidate’s request.

After our first of round of in-person interviews, we selected a candidate, who declined the position due to another job offer.  That applicant happened to be a colleague of Mira’s and recommended her for the position.  Because Mira was referred by this person, we did not conduct the initial phone screen in her case, and instead brought her in immediately for an in-person interview.

What stood out in Mira’s interview?

BCC’s mission is to provide services to women touched by breast and ovarian cancer in an atmosphere of warmth and compassion.  Mira’s warm and compassionate demeanor stood out in the interview.  She was down-to-earth and easy to talk to, and I could picture our clients relating to her very well.  I could tell during the interview that her personality would be a good fit for the organization, and that we would work well together to accomplish the department’s goals.  I was also impressed by the research Mira had done prior to the interview.  She was familiar with BCC’s history, our programs and services, and our mission, and she expressed a clear and genuine interest in contributing to that mission.  After the interview Mira followed-up with a hand-written thank you note, which was a nice touch.

Were there any flags or questions you had about this person’s abilities, and how did they resolve them?

Perhaps the only concern I had about Mira was the fact that she is currently a graduate student, and I wondered if she would be able to successfully juggle school and work. To address this concern, Mira and I discussed a potential work schedule and I gave her the option to reduce her hours when school is in session, if necessary.  We agreed upon a minimum number of hours that would be essential for her to work to get the job done.

Is there anything else you want to tell my readers about why this candidate was chosen? Or any general job hunting advice you want to dispense?

Mira’s skill set and experience got her the interview, but it was really her personality that won her the job.  We interviewed several other candidates with similar or more experience, who definitely could have done the job, but we did not select them because they didn’t connect with us in a way that Mira did.  We really got the sense during Mira’s interview that she would be able to set clients at ease, listen to their needs and concerns, and then be able to find them relevant information to address those needs


If you’re part of a recent hiree/hiring manager pair who’d be willing to be interviewed for this feature, please contact me.  Or please pass along this request!

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Filed under 0-10 staff members, Hired Librarians, Special, Western US

Everyone Loves a Bargain, But You Often Get What You Pay For

New Yorkers now at liberty to shoot wild fowl in their own state (LOC)This anonymous interview is with a job hunter who is not currently employed has not been hired within the last two months, and has been looking for a new position for Six months to a year. This person is looking in Academic libraries, Archives, Public libraries, and Special libraries, at the entry level. Here is this person’s experience with internships/volunteering:

For my internship, I assisted with cataloging in a Special Collections department.

This job hunter is in a suburban area in the Southern US, and is willing to move anywhere.

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

decent salary
fair management
good location

Where do you look for open positions?

Indeed
INALJ
Simply Hired
HigherEdJobs
The Chronicle of Higher Education
LibGig

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

√ No (even if I might think it *should* be)

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

It depends on the requirements of the employer. If it is a form application then it could take approximately an hour and a half, but just a cover letter and resume may only take 30-45 minutes to tweak for an individual organization. I normally match the requirements of the position against my individual experience and education, then try to think from the employer’s perspective and change my cover letter and resume accordingly. This is usually my routine, but it has yet to work for me.

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

√ No

When would you like employers to contact you?

√ To tell me if I have or have not been selected to move on to the interview stage
√ Once the position has been filled, even if it’s not me

How do you prefer to communicate with potential employers?

√ Phone for good news, email for bad news

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

√ Other: Being treated with courtesy and respect during the interview process.

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

The quality of candidates is related to the salary and benefits being offered. Everyone loves a bargain, but you often get what you pay for.

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

The whole hiring process could be a lot less painful if it were not so lengthy and if employers would communicate more with candidates.

What do you think is the secret to getting hired?

If I knew the secret then I would have gotten hired, but I often think that luck and networking plays a large part in getting hired in this economy. Times are difficult for everyone, including libraries.

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

What a great idea!! Thanks!

This survey was co-authored by Naomi House from I Need A Library Job – Do you need one? Check it out!

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Filed under Academic, Archives, Job hunter's survey, Public, Southern US, Special, Suburban area

Job Hunter’s Web Guide Guide

We’ve been featuring different websites for LIS job hunters for a while now, and here is our list.  You can always access the full feed of profiles by going to the Archives page and choosing the category Job Hunter’s Web Guide (or just click that link).  While you’re on the Archives page, you may want to take a look at the other categories, which include things like library type or feature title.

So, in alphabetical order, here are the websites we’ve featured since starting with INALJ on December 6, 2012.  The links go to the full profile, which will link you to the website (just click on the screenshot).

Academic Library Jobs:  Job posting website, targeted on Academic libraries

ACRL Residency Interest Group: Job listings and information for people interested in getting a residency position, and for those offering them.  Excellent opportunity for networking and information straight from the source.

Archives Gig: Job postings for archivists.

Career Q & A with the Library Career People: Submit your questions about careers and job hunting, and read answers to what others have asked.

Careers in Federal Libraries: Your guide to being the POTUS’ Librarian.  And other Federal library positions.

Careers in Law Librarianship: Everything you ever wanted to know about being a law librarian, from the American Association of Law Librarians

I Need a Library Job: Comprehensive job postings for all kinds of LIS careers.  Also blogs by over 50 different editors on different aspects of library job hunting and careers.

Infonista: Information about non-traditional LIS careers (and traditional ones too).

Librarian Hire Fashion: Crowdsourcing advice on what to wear to library interviews, by posing questions and curating submissions from users of their interview outfits.

Library Association of Ireland’s Career Development Group: Career links, research, and events from the LAI.

The Library Career Centre: Career coaching from recruiter Nicola Franklin

LibraryJobline: The Colorado Library Association posts jobs and resources, and collects statistics about library jobs, making the data freely available.

Library Job Postings on the Internet: Index of library employment sites – over 400,  from all around the world.

Library Jobs.ie: Want to work in Ireland?  Irish library job postings, as well as LIS-related job opportunities.

LisList: US lis jobs, in one big list.

METRO Jobbank/Career Resources: From the Metropolitan New York Library Council (managed by the extraordinary Ellen Mehling), job listings and articles on library careers.  METRO also hosts workshops for job hunters.

MLA Deal:  The Maryland Library Association’s website for new professionals and library students.

Open Cover Letters: Real cover letters that got people library jobs

What are we missing?  Tell us about your favorite library job site in the comments!

Guides Alma Wegen and Fairman B. Lee with a climbing party on Nisqually Glacier, Mount Rainier National Park

Finally, it’s time for your monthly reminder about the Interview Questions Repository.  Follow this link to submit questions you were asked in your recent library interview, or follow this one to prep for your upcoming interview by taking a look at what others have added.  These links are always available in the sidebar to your right.  Top tip: use the List View feature to limit to just the answer categories you are interested in. As of 07/11/2013, there are 156 lines of submitted questions.

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Filed under Job Hunters Web Guide, News and Administration

I am Looking at Entry-level Assistant Jobs in Order to Gain Experience

Duck shooting at Jungara, on Freshwater Creek, Cairns, ca. 1907This anonymous interview is with a job hunter who is currently employed and has been hired within the last two months. This person has been job hunting for less than six months and is looking in Academic libraries, Public libraries, and School libraries, at the following levels: Entry level, Requiring at least two years of experience. S/he is planning for library school, but has not yet started:

I don’t have a master’s degree, but I am looking at entry-level assistant jobs in order to gain experience before investing in graduate school. I volunteer at my local library in the audio-visual department. For the most part, I shelve materials after they are returned, but I sometimes sort materials. I have also helped one of the librarians in the department prepare the cd shelves for recarpeting.

This job hunter is in a city/town in the Southern US, and says:

I prefer to stay where I am, but I am currently considering moving somethere within the state

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

A job with steady hours and very little overtime (unless stated in the job description); that is not highly stressful, and that offers opportunities to advance

Where do you look for open positions?

county library websites, college websites, Linkedin, indeed.com, simplyhired.com, and on occasion, state workforce websites.

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

√ Only for certain kinds of employers

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

My application packet includes a custom-tailored résumé, cover letter, and the application form (if applicable). I usually provide a list of references or reference letters if the job description states those items are needed.

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

√ No

When would you like employers to contact you?

√ To tell me if I have or have not been selected to move on to the interview stage
√ Once the position has been filled, even if it’s not me

How do you prefer to communicate with potential employers?

Phone

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
√ Meeting with HR to talk about benefits/salary

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

Look at transferable skills in addition to the skills those candidates already have and also consider a candidate’s willingness and initiative, which can better serve an organization rather than someone who has all the qualifications but is not willing to learn or is somewhat inflexible in regards to duties.

This survey was co-authored by Naomi House from I Need A Library Job – Do you need one? Check it out!

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Filed under Academic, Job hunter's survey, Public, School, Southern US

It’s being a young, recent MLS grad who is willing to take a smallish salary

Seminole woman and children gigging frogs near the Tamiami TrailThis anonymous interview is with a job hunter who is currently employed (even if part-time or in an unrelated field), has not been hired within the last two months, and has been looking for a new position for more than 18 months. This person is looking in Academic libraries, Archives, and Special libraries, at the following levels: Entry level, Requiring at least two years of experience, Senior Librarian.
This job hunter is in a suburban area in the Northeastern US, and is not willing to move.

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

It’s difficult to narrow it to 3, but I guess the first thing I look for is whether it is in the type of library where I’d like to work. Is the salary fair? What are the hours like? How close is it to home?

Where do you look for open positions?

INALJ, Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance Job Bank, professional association listservs, LinkedIn, other websites

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 spend at least an hour to 90 minutes per packet, and I have to admit, I don’t rewrite everything. If I did that, it would probably take me closer to 4 hours per packet.

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

Yes

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?

√ Email

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?

Offer fair salaries to attract the appropriate person for the job, not just someone they can pay the least.

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

Universities could have more user-friendly job application interfaces. Goldey-Beacom College actually has a good one, but most others are sooo painful!

What do you think is the secret to getting hired?

I wish I knew. I’m probably a little bitter, but I think it’s being a young, recent MLS grad who is willing to take a smallish salary because it’s his or her 1st or 2nd job out of grad school.

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

Thank you for this opportunity! I hope it helps librarians’ job prospects! Happy New Year!

This survey was co-authored by Naomi House from I Need A Library Job – Do you need one? Check it out!

2 Comments

Filed under Academic, Archives, Job hunter's survey, Northeastern US, Special, Suburban area

Further Questions: Does Library Support Staff Certification Give Candidates an Edge?

This week someone on Twitter inspired me to want to know more about a new-ish program from the ALA-APA.  This week I asked people who hire librarians library support staff:

What value do you see in the Library Support Staff Certification (LSSC) program? Would it give an edge to candidates? Have you ever hired someone with this certification?

Marleah AugustineI’ve never had any experience with the certification program, but I have read a bit about it. I do think it would give candidates an edge, because it would show that this isn’t “just another part-time job” and would show the candidate’s level of commitment. That being said, I wouldn’t NOT hire someone just because they didn’t have the certification. It would simply be one more piece that would help me make a hiring decision.

– Marleah Augustine, Adult Department Librarian at Hays Public Library

I have not seen the Library Support Staff Certification on any resume that I have personally reviewed and I do not know anyone who has one so I do not know that I can speak to the benefit of the certificate or if it would give a candidate an edge overall.

There really is no substitute for on the job experience and that is what I am looking for when I hire support staff; however, if I was looking at external candidates, and both candidates had the same level of minimum and preferred qualifications that I listed on the job description and the same amount of time working in libraries, this certificate would give them an edge over another candidate.

– Julie Leuzinger, Department Head, Eagle Commons Library, University of North Texas Libraries

Alison M. Armstrong Collection Development & Cataloging Specialist McConnell Library Photo by Lora Gordon/Radford UniversityWhen I was a paraprofessional, I took several of the ALCTS courses both before and after I got my MLIS and I see them as very beneficial. I haven’t taken any of the other courses. I don’t necessarily see the need for the certificate for a lot of staff positions, particularly in this economy, because the paraprofessionals out there are generally overqualified for the positions they are in and funding for training is limited.  It certainly would make a paraprofessional more marketable though and, personally, if a candidate had an LSSC, they would definitely be moved up in my pile of applicants. If I had not been hired in my current position after getting my MLIS, I would have strongly considered working toward the LSSC to try to set myself apart.

I currently supervise my former position and encourage my staff person to take the courses. In my opinion, they offer some supplemental information to what is learned in school. For people who have an MLIS but didn’t focus in this particular area, it is good training for them.  The ALCTS courses are nice in that there is a discussion forum which brings in diverse levels of experiences, knowledge and perspectives. I don’t think we have had applicants who have an LSSC but, my experience has been limited.  As someone who plans to be an instructor of one of the ALCTS courses, I am a huge cheerleader of them.

– Alison M. Armstrong, Collection Management Librarian, McConnell Library, Radford University

I actually have never had an applicant who claimed to have this certification. I have had employees who have taken some of the classes, specifically those from DACC in NM when I worked there. It would give an edge if all other factors were equal. However, having some real library experience would be preferable to the qualification for me. I also emphasize hiring for talent rather than skills. People can always learn new skills, but they must have enthusiasm, initiative, and the capability to learn. We can always encourage them to take classes later. Depending on the hiring system involved, applicants might get an edge for having these college credits, but it probably wouldn’t matter that they are in library-specific classes. I don’t think there is a critical mass of people out there with the certification at this point.

– Anonymous

Jonathan Harwell

I’m interested in the ALA-APA’s certification.  I’ve worked with ALA-APA for years, and would definitely see this qualification as an asset for a staff candidate.  I have at least one current staff member who’s interested in doing this certification, and that would be one factor that would help me to advocate for higher merit increases for those individuals.  I have yet to meet anyone who has this certification, however.

– Jonathan H. Harwell, Head of Collections & Systems, Olin Library, Rollins College

Sherle Abramson-BluhmI think that there is always value in gaining knowledge and this is one way to do that. I believe it might be a way for someone interested in the field to get a bit of formal education before investing in the full Masters Degree. I hire staff in print acquisitions (ordering, serials and monograph receiving, cat-on receipt) and have no positions which require a degree.  I have not hired someone with the certification. I think it would be a factor in considering a candidate, but would not weigh more than experience.  My biggest concern is that with the entry level pay that these positions are compensated, I am not sure it would be worth the expense to the individual.

– Sherle Abramson-Bluhm, Head, Print Acquisitions, University of Michigan

I haven’t had any applications from candidates with the certification.   However, if I saw it on a resume it would definitely move that candidate to the top of the pile.  To me, it signifies a person who is interested in libraries as a long-term career (good for reducing staff turnover) and who has gained insight into the operation of libraries beyond the routine duties that many staff members are limited to.  It indicates potential for growth and promotion.

– Anonymous

I think the value of the LSSC program works in two directions – value to the candidates and value to libraries.
I think value to the candidates is derived from multiple aspects: from the content of the work they do to either in courses or through self-study and preparing a portfolio, from the experience of going through the certification process and identifying and reflecting on their learning, and then from the credentialing that certification represents.   I don’t know if it is the case or not because I have not had the opportunity to speak with any candidates who have completed certification, but would hope that the accomplishment provides personal satisfaction as well as contributing to the candidate’s sense of professional identity, and affirming their feeling valued by the rest of the profession.

The value to libraries is similarly derived from multiple aspects:  from the content of the training and self-study that support staff receive and undertake and then take back to their libraries, from the boost that having employees taking on professional development brings to the organization, and from having the competencies themselves articulated and then certified.  I think having a pathway that explicitly recognizes and certifies the knowledge and abilities that support staff contribute is important for the profession.

It could give an edge to candidates if all else were equal, but opportunities to participate vary so widely that it wouldn’t necessarily.  We have not hired anyone with this certification at our library, nor do I recall ever seeing an applicant who had it, but we have a very small staff and very few support staff openings.  It may also be more typically held by applicants to school or public libraries.

If the question is about whether it is “worth it” to pursue LSSC certification, I would encourage candidates to do so if they have the intrinsic motivation to seek such a credential, and if it will be meaningful to them irrespective of whether it will provide any hiring edge or salary benefit.  At least in academic libraries I think those benefits cannot be relied on or maybe even considered as possibilities, so it has to be worth it to the candidate just because they want to do it for their own learning and satisfaction.

– Ann Glannon, Associate Director, Wheelock College Library, Boston, MA

I have never hired someone who has been through the certification program, but I have hired people with a library technician AA degree, and all three were rather a disaster. At the time of hiring, I thought the degree would give the person an edge, but it did not.  These experiences come from two previous libraries, not my current institution.  In one case the person didn’t seem to know more than someone would have who had had library experience, and I was disappointed in what I might call library service values. Things like getting cards filed quickly (this was back in the days of card catalogs) so users could find the books I cataloged or responding to users as invitingly as I would have wished.  In two other cases, the library assistants seemed to have the knowledge from the classes they took, but the work just didn’t get done as efficiently as we needed to be successful. It wasn’t just our expectations, as the replacements were extremely successful. These were people without the library technician degree but had library experience (in one case circulation, particularly ILL and the other was cataloging). Maybe it’s just bad luck, but it’s three out of three.

Who goes for the certification?  If they have good experience and good references, I would go with them and probably wouldn’t give the certification any boost. I have been extremely lucky hiring fabulous library assistants, so I think experience, interview, and references tell me more than certification.

– Anonymous

bonnie smithTo my knowledge we have never had anyone apply for a position with this certification yet. But the certification is well regarded and would definitely be noticed and considered a plus. We are always looking for staff who can fit right in and get started on the job at hand. This certification means that less time is spent on training during the first phases of employment. With a better understanding of how libraries function, from a broad perspective, individuals in this program can better serve patrons and feel more confident about their service.

– Bonnie Smith, Assistant Program Director for Human Resources, University of Florida, George A. Smathers Libraries

 

I think the library support staff certificate has it’s value but how valuable would come out in an interview.   Probably a reason to interview someone.

– Jan Wilbur, Library Director, Mondor/Eagen Library/Information Commons, Anna Maria College

Thank you as always to our contributors for their time and insight. If you’re someone who hires librarians and are interested in participating in this feature, please email me at hiringlibrariansATgmail.

Thank YOU for reading! When you’re not strong/I’ll be your friend/I’ll help you comment.

*edited 8/10/2013 to add Jan Wilbur’s response

6 Comments

Filed under Academic, Further Questions, Public

I am a Terrible Liar, So I Avoid it Like the Plague

Man on Snowshoes Carrying RifleThis anonymous interview is with a job hunter who is currently employed (even if part-time or in an unrelated field), and has been looking for a new position for more than 18 months. This person is looking in Academic libraries, Archives, and Museum / special collections, at the following levels: Supervisory, Department Head, Senior Librarian, and Director/Dean. This job hunter is in an urban area, in the Northeastern US.

Where do you look for open positions?

ALA joblist, CT library jobs, Educause, Highered jobs, Indeed, Libgig, LISjobs, MBCL job listings, Metro.org, NYline, Simply hired, SLA-ny, USAjobs.

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

√ Only for certain kinds of employers

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

Between one and five hours, over a span of days.

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

√ Other: I am a terrible liar, so I avoid it like the plague. But I have sometimes wondered after the fact whether my answers were full enough.

When would you like employers to contact you?

√ To tell me if I have or have not been selected to move on to the interview stage
√ Other: To let me know that my references will be contacted.

How do you prefer to communicate with potential employers?

√ Phone for good news, email for bad news

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

√ Tour of facility
√ Meeting department members/potential co-workers
√ Meeting with HR to talk about benefits/salary
√ Being able to present
√ Other: One-on-one meeting with potential supervisor.

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

Advertise widely and keep positions open until filled.

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

Provide written interview agendas ahead of time, along with the names of those on the committee, and/or those with whom the candidate will be meeting.

What do you think is the secret to getting hired?

Competence, confidence, and a clear recognition of what your weaknesses as a candidate are.

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

It would be good to know how many applications (on average) candidates are submitting prior to getting an interview and/or being hired.

This survey was co-authored by Naomi House from I Need A Library Job – Do you need one?  Check it out!

2 Comments

Filed under Academic, Archives, Job hunter's survey, Northeastern US, Urban area