Tag Archives: Job description

Stop Wasting Applicants’ Time

Cathy ParhamCathy Parham earned her MLIS in 1998 from University of Alabama (ROLL TIDE)!! Most of her career has been spent in school libraries. She has experience in elementary, middle and high schools and three months experience in a public library as a Children’s Librarian.  She is currently the Senior Librarian at Sheik Zayed Private Academy in Abu Dhabi, UAE. She has been job hunting for more than 18 months, in Academic libraries, Archives, Library vendors/service providers, Public libraries, Special libraries, radio, television, and theater, at the following levels: Supervisory, Department Head, and Senior Librarian. Ms. Parham is in a city/town in the UAE, and is willing to move anywhere. 

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

1. Salary

2. Benefits

3. Compatability

 Where do you look for open positions?

I Need a Library Job

USA Jobs

Gems Schools

Department of Education

ALA Joblist

Random online sites

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 look at the requirements and if I meet the requirements I try to align my resume to the requirements. I have already uploaded my documents on most sites I apply for jobs so I resubmit them (required documents) if it is required. It may take several days to submit the actual application/resume. I don’t spend more than an hour at a time on an application. It gets too intense if I spend more than an hour doing an application.

 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?

1. Don’t make the job description off putting. I am confident I can perform the tasks set forth for ANY librarian, however, when I read a job description I am often put off by the wording of the details and requirements. Why make it so wordy and complex? I am a school librarian and I perform EVERY duty required of any librarian from budgeting, management, teaching, cataloging, etc. However, when job searching, the descriptions don’t use simple terms, they use terms to put off job hunters. They describe the same jobs duties I perform but they put it in more technical terms.

2. Be honest about the availability of the job opening; if the job is already promised to your sister’s cousin’s husband’s friend just tell me. Stop wasting my time, especially if I never had a chance in the beginning.

3. Be fair in your salary offer. I DESERVE to be paid just like you.

4. Would it be too difficult to tell me why I didn’t get the job other than the standard “you were not qualified”, especially when I am qualified?

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

Stop hiring people they know and actually hire someone who is qualified for the job. Stop wasting applicant’s time. If you have someone in mind why lead us on? Why even post the announcement? If you have to post the announcement by law, shouldn’t you have to hire the right applicant by law? Instead of someone you know or someone who knows someone?

What do you think is the secret to getting hired?

Knowing someone who can put in a good word for you. It’s not what you know, it’s who you know. Unfortunately.

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

I would like to know how to write my resume to reflect my experience. I desperately want to move into another area of this field, but can’t seem to get out of the ‘black hole’ of education. Could someone provide some type of example of a resume when moving from one area to another? Has anyone else moved from schools to special/public libraries?

I think the questions on the survey are very well thought out and to the point.

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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Be Realistic about How Many Applications Job Seekers are Forced to Put Out

Sofia Becerra

This interview is with Sofía Becerra-Licha, the archivist at Berklee College of Music, a new position charged with formalizing the archives under a grant from the NHPRC. Ms. Becerra-Licha  earned her MSLS with a concentration in Archives & Records Management from UNC-CH (August ’12), where she was a Spectrum Scholar (2010-2011), a Carolina Academic Library Associate  (2010-2012), and was heavily involved as a student leader. She also holds a master’s degree in ethnomusicology and double-majored in music and Spanish as an undergraduate. Ms. Becerra-Licha was hired within the last two months, but prior to that was looking for a new position for six months to a year, in Academic libraries and Archives, for Entry level positions. This new grad describes her  internship/volunteering experience as:

2 years as a graduate assistant in public services at a small branch library. 1 year in a copy cataloging graduate assistantship for a large audiovisual archives. Two semester-long internships/volunteer positions: archival processing (papers) and original cataloging (music). Two months as a volunteer, cataloging videos. All of these positions were part-time and in academic libraries/archives.

She is in an urban area in the Northeastern US and was willing to move anywhere. Ms. Becerra-Licha is a member of the American Library Association (ALA), Society of American Archivists (SAA), and Music Library Association (MLA). She is currently documenting her first year on the job as a contributor to the SAA’s Students and New Archives Professionals (SNAP) roundtable blog series “A Year in the Life.”

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

Interesting work and/or responsibilities

Congenial colleagues

Salary proportionate to local cost of living

Where do you look for open positions?

Professional listservs and 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?

First, I reread the job description carefully and decide whether I meet the minimum requirements, as well as whether it sees like a genuinely good fit for my interests and skills. Next, I add the position as a possibility on my job applications spreadsheet, which includes fields for deadlines, number of references, and any special instructions. Based on the ad, I decide which references make the most sense for this type of position and contact them, including a few sentences about how my qualifications match up against the requirements and anything else particularly distinctive about the opportunity or my experience in relation to it. (And of course, I always include the caveat that they’re welcome to refuse if they have any reservations whatsoever, no questions asked!)

Simultaneously, I briefly research the institution and area to confirm this would be a liveable option, and to get ideas for connections I might mine for the cover letter. Assuming I don’t need to update my résumé, I draft the cover letter, potentially borrowing phrases from previous letters if I have applied for similar positions, but otherwise spending 30 minutes to an hour on the letter alone.

Overall, I would say an average application packet takes a couple of hours, but the length will depend on the demands of the process. I mostly applied to academic library positions, so another 30 minutes to an hour could go towards having to fill in a lot of the same information again on a general HR site, sometimes requiring the creation of an online account with that system. It’s hard for me to gauge because I rarely worked on a single application exclusively. I imagine I’m not the only one who tended to chip away at tasks in between other responsibilities, as I was taking classes full-time and working part-time.

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?

√ Other: Email to acknowledge application and any status updates; phone to follow up after an in-person interview. If I interviewed in person, then ideally phone notification once the position has been filled (but an email is definitely better than nothing!).

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

√ Other: Information on the area, touring the surrounding area, housing information, etc.

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

Think critically about the job description, particularly the required skillset, rather than recycling from old job descriptions or throwing together a massive wishlist. Be clear about the application process, requirements, and timeline. Avoid requesting an excessive amount of supplemental documents upfront.

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

Be realistic (or at least understanding) about how many applications job seekers are forced to put out and take this into consideration when asking for additional materials, particularly from references. If at all possible, avoid collecting redundant information in time-consuming ways (such as requiring registering for a website or having to enter every single job, when such information is part of the required resume). Above all, communication is greatly appreciated. I understand the back-end is complicated, inevitable hold-ups abound, and there are valid reasons why many details cannot be disclosed. But whenever possible, even something like a generic update on a website saying, “we are now at the phone interview stage” is more charitable than silence. Please follow up in some manner with anyone you interview, whether in person or on the phone, via skype, etc. Professionalism goes both ways.

What do you think is the secret to getting hired?

Being persistent, remaining connected and productive, applying selectively, and honestly, having a bit of luck.

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, Northeastern US, Urban area

Don’t Make Applicants Guess

Portrait of Henry Morton Stanley (1841-1904), Explorer

 

This 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 six months to a year. This person is looking in Special libraries at the following levels: Requiring at least two years of experience, Supervisory, Department Head, Senior Librarian, Branch Manager, and Director/Dean. The job hunter is in an urban area of the Southern US, and is not willing to move.

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

Interesting environment with smart people asking tough questions
Management that sees the Library as a tool for user excellence and not just a cost
A place that is not an information vacuum, where you are suposed to pick things up by osmosis, apparently

Where do you look for open positions?

AALL, SLA, professional listservs

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

√ Yes, and it’s a red flag when it’s not

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 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

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

Write good job descriptions and note the requirements that are desired and not just those that are required. Also, write the description in such a way that it is clear what qualifications will be necessary, not just the ones that go into every description. I would also like to know how flexible the requirements and qualifications are.

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

Provide feedback. While no might not be the answer you want, it is an answer and provides closure to the process. Don’t make applicants guess.

What do you think is the secret to getting hired?

Presenting yourself well and truly knowing what the job requires and what you can offer to improve the way the library works.

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, Southern US, Urban area

Never Order Salad or Noodles at a Meal

Librarians, State Library of New South Wales, 1952

 

 

This anonymous interview is with an academic librarian. This person has been a hiring manager and a member of a hiring committee, and works at a library with 50-100 staff members.

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

Brains
a good liberal arts education
intellectual curiosity
ability to work with others

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

Inability to think of any mistakes the applicant has made (this means, among other things, that everyone else has made the mistakes)
Grudges towards a former employer (the person needs to work through them and gain perspective before being hireable)
Demeaning attitude towards others
Constant complaining in the interview
Indications that the applicant has not even bothered to look at our organization’s website
Applications on colored paper with dolphins or some other non-abstract design

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

Typographical and grammatical errors
Applications from individuals who have not read the job description closely
I don’t care about people’s extracurricular activities; the applicant is entitled to privacy.

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

Research interests

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?

√ As an attachment only

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

Show an awareness of the current broad issues in the field
Ask questions about the job and the location
Moderate but not excessive self-confidence

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

Timidity
Lack of curiosity, not asking questions about the job or location
Reading the PowerPoint slides (lethal)
Running out of time when giving the presentation

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

The process is more electronic for the candidate and search the committee. More presentations are made using PowerPoint.
We have more and better training of committees so that fewer mistakes are made.
HR is even more bureaucratic.

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

Never order salad or noodles at a meal. You either don’t eat the salad or, worse, don’t talk. Noodles come with sauce which is asking for spillage.
Bring an extra shirt or blouse in case of accidents.

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Filed under 50-100 staff members, Academic, Original Survey

Please Don’t Lowball Yourselves on Salary Requirements.

N.Y. Botanic Garden, Bronx Park, 'Books Wanted: Give All You Can from Your Bookcase for Our Soldiers and Sailors. Leave at Any Public Library.'

This anonymous interview is with an archivist who works at an archives with 0-10 staff members, who has been a hiring manager.  This person commented, in response to the choices for the question “Are you a librarian?” (yes/no/it’s complicated):

I have an MLS, but my job title is archivist. It’s really not complicated.

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

It depends which position I’m hiring for, but here are 3 essentials:
1. An engaging personality
2. At least some experience working in an archives (i.e. no recent graduates who haven’t even interned or volunteered)
3. Demonstrated knowledge of the basics of archival theory, either through coursework or experience

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

In the application packet: bad grammar, typos, misspellings

In the interview process: talking down to members of the hiring committee

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

I’m tired of badly organized resumes and I despise objective statements.

How many pages should a cover letter be?

√ Only one!

How many pages should a resume/CV be?

√ Two is ok, but no more

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?

√ As an attachment only

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

Please show me that you have some social skills.

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

Not being upfront and honest about everything. I don’t want to find out after I’ve hired you for a September start date that you can’t start until October, for example. If you aren’t sharing things for fear that you won’t be hired, please reconsider this tactic. In general, managers here are pretty accepting if they know things ahead of time.

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

Unfortunately, no. It remains a very bureaucratic, lengthy process (much to my chagrin).

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

Please don’t lowball yourselves on salary requirements. Ask for what you’re worth! As long as we continue to ask for less, it will keep the salaries of the profession as a whole much lower than what we deserve.


Thanks to our veterans for their service, and I hope that you are never called again.  

Today is not just Veterans Day, it’s Armistice Day, the day the GreatWar ended.  I hope that the rest of them will be over soon.  

Call for book donations for ALA army libraries, New York Public Library, 1919.

Photo: Call for book donations for ALA army libraries, New York Public Library, 1919. Folder “WWI, 1914-1918– ALA Activities.” Box 12, Theodore W. Koch papers. Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan.

 

 

 

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Filed under 0-10 staff members, Archives, Original Survey

You May Want to Make Sure You Clean up Your Facebook Page

Huntington Free Library and Reading Room, ca 1920-1929This anonymous interview is with an Academic Librarian who has been a hiring manager and a member of a hiring committee at a library with 50-100 staff members.

 

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

attitude, fit with the culture, attitude

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

Poor grammar,misspellings, addressing your letter to the wrong insitution, not linking your letter to the actual job description.
During the interview: Not asking thoughtful questions, not responding to a question when asked, being rude to staff and students.

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

Padding!

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

This is not on your resume, but you may want to make sure you clean up your facebook page. It is something that may be looked at.

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?

√ Other: Depends on the position you are applying for

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?

 Be genuine and show interest not just in the job but in what is going on at the library and institution. A good sense of humor.

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

Talking too much when answering a question.  Not actually answering the question. It is also okay to say “I don’t know”.  Don’t lie.

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

Very selective, it is not uncommon to have over 100 applicants. So, we can afford to be very picky about who we talk to on the phone.

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

Relax and remember you are interviewing us as much as we are interviewing you. You need to remember you have to feel like you will like the institution, the people and your boss.  If you don’t feel that connection or there is something off, then figure out if it is a deal breaker.
Remember you can say no if offered a job! Saying yes when you have major doubts will  lead to unhappiness on both sides and possible termination/resignation a short time after starting.

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Filed under 50-100 staff members, Academic, Original Survey

Always Have Someone Else Proof the Materials Submitted as Part of the Application Process

Soldiers browsing the shelves of the Army Education Service's Mobile Library, Brisbane, 1944This anonymous interview is with an Academic Librarian who has been a hiring manager and a member of a hiring committee at a library with 10-50 staff members.



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

Professional qualifications and competency
Good people skills (this includes the communications aspects)
Adaptability to new and changing professional innovation

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

Nothing specific that would be a dealbreaker

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?

√ 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?

Demonstrate the ability to engage with another person and showcase his/her superior qualities while refraining from coming across as a know-it-all.

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

It’s a delicate balance but the truly good interviewee will ensure that he/she answers questions thoughtfully and fully but does not just grab the reins and run the interview.  Conversely, just answering the questions asked without adding something extra to the exchange of information is not desirable.

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

We have become less interested in experience and more interested in the basic qualifications and the potential the person exhibits for the position.

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

Always have someone else proof the materials submitted as part of the application process. When applying for multiple jobs, make an effort to tailor your application materials to address the specifics of each job and be sure you reference the correct job title!

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