Tag Archives: experience

Further Questions: How do you count part time work?

This week I have a Twitter question.  I asked people who hire librarians:
How is part time work counted, when looking to see if a candidate meets a requirement for a certain number of years of experience?  For example, if a position requires two years of experience as an adult services librarian, and the librarian has worked 20 hours a week as an adult services librarian for two years, should she go ahead and apply?  What about if she had worked even fewer hours?  Any insight is appreciated!

Marge Loch-WoutersWe count years worked in a library – whether full or part-time – in exactly the same way.  It is immaterial whether you worked 5 or 40 hours a week in terms of longevity. In our opinion, you experienced/observed and immersed yourself in the library for every day you worked, no matter how many hours you put in.

– Marge Loch-Wouters, Youth Services Coordinator, La Crosse (WI) Public Library
We do count part time work at my academic library. One year for every part time year worked (both for professional and non-professional positions). I know it is different at all institutions, but our online applications do not ask how many hours a candidate worked part time. So in the case of the Twitter question, four years of part time work would equal 2 years of full time work, no matter the hours so you could apply.
– Julie Leuzinger, Department Head, Eagle Commons Library, University of North Texas Libraries
In house–part time work is almost always pro-rated  (20/h/wk–22 yrs–11years exp).  However, I look at the whole candidate, and work experience is work experience–the only time it seems to be counted differently is management–and even then, every little bit counts, even life experience.  Its really how you package your time working outside of a field.   If you feel like you can do the job, and sell yourself through your resume and cover letter to get an interview, than YES!  definitely apply.  That leap of faith might be the best thing for you and the workplace.
– Virginia Roberts, Director, Chippewa Falls Public Library
Marleah AugustineIf I were that applicant, I would go ahead and apply. The burden of deciding whether the experience is enough lies with the interviewer, I think. I’d rather see someone who has worked part-time for that amount of time who has great potential and ideas rather than someone who has worked full-time for that amount of time and doesn’t have those other things. If the rest of your application speaks to the quality of your work and the potential that you have, I wouldn’t worry so much about the exact number of hours and if it qualifies you. Fewer hours than 20 can get iffy, but again, I think that lies with the interviewer and whether the rest of the application is enough to bring the applicant in for an interview.
– Marleah Augustine, Adult Department Librarian at Hays Public Library

Cathi AllowayI would not mind hearing from someone who had been part-time for 2 years, IF they can make a convincing case for having experience.  The applicant should specify that a job is part-time or x hours in the week in the resume.  In the cover letter, the applicant should explain how their part-time status still makes them meet the basic job requirement of 2 years experience.  This could include:

  • part-time work included a wide range of experiences, major responsibilities, or major projects making the candidate viable.
  • part-time work included a lot of overtime hours.
  • other valuable experiences outside of library work such as other relevant non-library jobs, volunteer experience, workshops, formal education that supplement the part-time work.  For example, if an applicant had 2 years of part-time retail work and 2 years of post MLS part-time library work, I’d see that as equal to 2 full-time years; retail or hotel/restaurant work is a good customer service training field.
 Overall – if you are really interested in a job, but lack the basic posted qualifications, PLEASE explain why you think you meet the qualifications or deserve consideration in the cover letter!  To blatantly disregard basic requirements without a “pitch” as to why you should be considered makes the employer think you are careless, lack attention to details, or spray-painting your vita everywhere and not motivated for that particular job.
– Catherine Alloway, Director, Schlow Centre Region Library
angelynn king
In response to this question, part-time work has indeed counted at every place I have worked, but it is calculated as a full-time equivalency. In other words, if your hypothetical half-time librarian had worked for FOUR years, she would be qualified for the job with the two-year experience requirement.
-Angelynn King, Head Librarian, Delaware Technical Community College, Owens Campus
Jacob Berg
When we ask for years of experience, we’re looking for a period of time as opposed to something more like credit hours. If you work part-time for two years, I see nothing wrong with that being two years of experience. It may be a naive assumption on our part, but we assume that you do take at least some of the job home with you, that though you may work twenty hours per week, you are spending more than that amount of time thinking about the job. These candidates can and should apply.
– Jacob Berg, Director of Library Services,  Trinity Washington University

1) Apply anyway.

2) If we do calculate tightly, and in the public sector we often have to, we allow for “time served” at time of possible appointment, not as of the date of the application, which can be months before the appointment.

3) Other types of “experience” can count toward the minimum, e.g. volunteer or work experience in a closely related field, enrollment in a job-related course that has a substantial hands-on, practicum, internship, or similar component, lots of library professional association activities, etc.

4) Think about the reasons for that 2 year requirement: commitment to the profession, exposure to and experience with a wide variety library-workplace tasks, familiarity with the cycle of librarianship (budgets, grants, programs), which can be different in different types of libraries, special, federal, public (local), academic, etc., bibliographic skill development, etc.

– Laura J. Orr, Law Librarian, Washington County Law Library

bonnie smithWhen we indicate that a position requires a minimum of 2 years of experience we mean full-time experience, it definitely matters. We don’t consider applicants who don’t meet the minimum requirements. If you worked part-time you should indicate that in your resume and enter the full-time equivalence (FTE) for these positions. If you have unusual experience that doesn’t follow the expected path for the position you have applied for, that you think should be considered but might not be obvious to the committee, make your case in your cover letter.

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

Sarah MorrisonGreat question!  At our library, there are a couple different things that happen.  First, all our applications are first reviewed by City HR.  HR interprets all “part-time” work as 20-hrs per week, and so they would disqualify anyone in the example you had given.  If the job description lists as a requirement 2 years and the candidate has only part-time experience, s/he would need 4 or more years.  Even if the candidate worked part-time at 30-hours per week, it would be safest to have double the experience.

If the candidate makes it through City HR, perhaps because of strengths in other areas/requirements, I do try to account accurately for work experience (15 hours/week vs. 35, etc.) whenever possible.

I think it’s always worth it to apply, especially if the candidate meets or exceeds requirements in other areas.  If nothing else, it’s good practice at writing a cover letter, and you never know.  I was encouraged in grad school to apply for jobs if I had at least half the requirements; in both of my full-time library jobs, I haven’t met 100% of the listed criteria (I had 2 yrs exp. but part time, good collection development exp. but no management exp., etc.).  The important thing would be to be able to show that those duties or tasks are attainable for you, not necessarily that you’ve done every single one.

– Sarah Morrison, Adult Services Librarian, Neill Public Library, Pullman, Washington

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.com.

Thank YOU for reading! If you like reading, you might also like commenting.  You’re very welcome to try it out here.

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Filed under Academic, Adult Services, Cataloging/Technical Services, Further Questions, Law Library, Public, Public Services/Reference, Special, Youth Services

Further Questions: What does “or equivalent” mean?

This week’s question is again inspired  by a reader.  Thanks to this and all of the rest of you readers for being inspiring!

I asked people who hire librarians:

Broadly,what does “or equivalent” really mean in a job announcement?  And more specifically, could a paraprofessional position ever stand in for librarian experience, if it included some librarian duties such as staffing the reference desk?  Can you describe any instances where someone with “equivalent” experience was hired at your organization?

Laurie PhillipsI don’t know that we have ever used “or equivalent” in a job announcement. I can’t think where I would use that. That said, yes, pre-professional experience can absolutely stand in for professional experience. If we are hiring for what is essentially an entry-level tenure-track library faculty position, we do not expect a person to come in with professional experience. In our most recent ad, we asked for “a minimum of one year of experience with acquisitions, collection development, or publishing.” Here we’re looking for someone to show that they’re interested enough in this portion of our field to have worked in it and gained some knowledge, but not necessarily as a librarian. In fact, we interviewed a few people who had years of experience in the field as professional, but they were not otherwise a good fit.

– Laurie Phillips, Associate Dean for Technical Services, J. Edgar & Louise S. Monroe Library, Loyola University New Orleans

 

Petra MauerhoffI don’t have a concrete definition of what equivalent experience means, but yes, I have internally promoted and would consider hiring candidates even without ANY library related education. In one situation, the person had been working in the field for over 20 years and in other situations, based on the extremely rural location, we had little or no chance of finding a candidate with library related education.
And yes, I believe that in many situations a candidate with a library tech degree could be as suitable for a position as a librarian.
In my current situation, our bibliographic services department has several library technicians, but also staff without formal library education.
Any type of education, whether at the paraprofessional or the post secondary level will only take you so far. In the end it comes down to your attitude and your adaptability, and whether or not I feel that you will be able to grow with us. I would always hire for “fit” over education. We can teach you what you need to know, for the most part.
– Petra Mauerhoff, CEO, Shortgrass Library System
In job announcements in the UK, the phrase ‘or equivalent’ is most often used when specifying educational qualifications, for example if the advert calls for “a Masters in Librarianship or equivalent”.  In this context, ‘or equivalent’ can be taken to mean an equivalent qualification (eg Masters in Information Science, Archives Management or Records Management) or sometimes to mean someone with one or two year’s work experience in place of a formal qualification.
Paraprofessional experience, for example as a Library or Information Assistant, is quite often acceptable as library experience, and has become more so as the numbers of library staff has tended to fall in many organisations and so paraprofessional team members have tended to be engaged in more duties that were formerly restricted to qualified librarians.
As a recruiter I have sometimes put forward candidates who had good quality experience but not a qualification that was being called for – some organisations have been open to this while others have been more rigid and insisted upon the qualification itself.  In my view it is always worth making an application if you can meet most of the other criteria for the post and can demonstrate how your experience is applicable to the requirements of the job.
– Nicola Franklin, Director, The Library Career Centre Ltd.

Marge Loch-WoutersWhen we say “or equivalent” when we are actively searching, we would certainly entertain applications from paraprofessionals as well as professionals in completely different professions (teachers; recreation directors; social workers, etc). A candidate can never assume what the pool of candidates might be for a position they are interested in. Sometimes, non-MLIS candidates with strong resumes and cover letters rise to the top in the process; sometimes the pool is small and we are more willing to look at non-MLIS candidates and sometimes a candidate has an outstanding reputation and we know they could make a great addition to the staff.

We have hired adult and children’s reference librarians and a circulation manager over the years who have had outstanding strengths.  My favorite part is that many have gone on to get their degree and now work far and wide. The strength of one’s experience, commitment to the profession, understanding of the larger vision and picture of librarianship can make a difference. And finally, even with a very tight job market,  you never know until you have tried.

– Marge Loch-Wouters, Youth Services Coordinator, La Crosse (WI) Public Library
I am accustomed to “equivalent” be used in relation to training, e.g., British library training plus a university degree being accepted in lieu of an ALA accredited degree.  I would accept paraprofessional experience incataloguing.
– J. McRee (Mac) Elrod, Special Libraries Catalouging

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.com.

Thank YOU for reading! If you like reading, you might also like commenting.  You’re very welcome to try it out here.

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Filed under Academic, Adult Services, Cataloging/Technical Services, Circulation, Further Questions, Paraprofessional, Public, Public Services/Reference, Special, Youth Services