Tag Archives: library career

Don’t plan to only hire MLIS students for shelving positions and leave no intermediate positions for students

HM Queen Mother at the formal opening of the new library in the Lionel Robbins Building, 10th July 1979This anonymous interview is with a job hunter who is currently employed (even if part-time or in an unrelated field), has been hired within the last two months, and has been looking for a new position for Less than six months. This person is looking in Library vendors/service providers, Public libraries and Special libraries, at the following levels: Entry level, Requiring at least two years of experience. This new grad/entry level applicant has internship/volunteering experience:

2.5 years experience in ILL in an academic library; 1.5 years in circulation in a public library

This job hunter is in an urban area, in the  Western US, and is willing to move anywhere.

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

1. A place to grow with my career.
2. A salary I can support myself on.
3. Location

Where do you look for open positions?

Library Jobline, INALJ, specific library websites (e.g. Denver Public Library)

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

√ Other: Almost always yes, but I will still apply to a job if it’s not.

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

I have a standard cover letter that I adapt based on the job, occasionally re-writing it completely. I don’t spend more than an hour on most applications, mainly because many government and/or library application systems are shared and remember my information so I don’t have to reenter.

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

√ Meeting with HR to talk about benefits/salary

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

Be honest about the job opening and search for employers who fit the actual job. (Don’t plan to only hire MLIS students for shelving positions and leave no intermediate positions for students)

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

Be more timely, i.e. not take 3-4 weeks just to get back to me with a “no”

What do you think is the secret to getting hired?

be awesome and honest and find the right fit.

For some context, take a look at the most recently published summary of responses.

Are you hunting for a new LIS job? Take the survey! http://tinyurl.com/hiringlibJOBHUNTERsurvey

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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Job Hunter Follow Up: Kari Bhagat

Kari Bhagat took the Job Hunter’s survey on June 18, 2014. Her responses appeared as They weren’t honest in telling me that they wanted someone with more experience.

Your Background

How long has it been since you got your library degree?

I actually don’t have my degree yet. I’m finishing my last class this semester, so I’ll finish around the time I start my new job.

How many years of library work experience do you have?

About 3.5 years

How many years of work experience outside of libraries do you have?

I have about 2.5 years of non-library experience

How old are you? 

I’m almost 24!

Your Job Hunt

How long did it take you before you found your job?

Six months- but I started really early

How many positions did you apply to?

I don’t know the actual number but my guess is that it’s somewhere around 20-30

How many interviews did you go on?

I interviewed for six different positions, but some of those had multiple rounds of interviewing

What was your work situation while you were job hunting?

I was in school, working full time

Were you volunteering anywhere?

No

Did you travel for interviews? If so, who paid?

I did travel for one interview- I paid for it initially, and they paid me back when they didn’t offer me the job

Did you decline any offers?

No, but there were definitely a few that I would have

Your Job

What’s your new job?

Information Architecture Librarian with a contractor for the EPA

Is your job full or part time? Permanent or temporary?

Permanent full time job

Did you relocate? If so, who paid?

I did relocate. I paid for the relocation, but they bumped my salary a bit in consideration of this, since their company policy is to no offer relocation assistance.

How did you find the listing for your job?

I found it on the Special Libraries Association Careers site

Did you meet all of the required qualifications? How many of the desired qualifications?

I met all but two of the required qualifications

What was the application process like? How many interviews did you do?

The application process becomes pretty streamlined once you get into a rhythm, especially when you’re applying to similar jobs. All in all, I was on 11 interviews, I think.

How did you prepare for the interview(s)?

I would always look over the job description and my cover letter and resumes, and try to think of any questions they might ask me, and how I might respond.

Did you know anyone in the organization that hired you? If so, how?

I did not.

Is your job commensurate with your skills, experience and expectations?

Yes

Is the pay scale higher or lower than you were looking for?

It was higher, but part of that is the relocation bump that they added into my salary.

What do you think was the biggest obstacle in your job hunt? How did you overcome it?

For me it was not having my degree yet. I just did my best to sell myself in the cover letter as being the best candidate for the job, and luckily a few people were willing to consider someone with one semester left of school.

What set you apart from the other applicants? Why did they hire you?

I think I had a lot of the experience they were looking for

State of the Job Market

What’s the most ridiculous thing you’ve seen on a job announcement?

I’ve seen jobs that said: Second masters required, doctoral degree preferred.

What was your favorite interview question? What was the worst?

I don’t know if I have a favorite interview question. My least favorite questions are the vague questions, like “ Someone is being disruptive in the library- what do you do?” For me, the answer to that question depends on how they’re being disruptive; I need more details.

Any good horror stories for us?

No real horror stories, but during one video interview I had with several different offices at once, the manager told me to leave the interview mid-interview to go get water, it was super awkward.

Has job hunting been a positive or negative experience, for the most part?

I’d say negative overall, because aside from actually getting a new job, you have months of not hearing anything, and reading job descriptions that want you to have the expertise to do everything. And even when you apply for those jobs, knowing no one can do everything, knowing you weren’t even selected, because as unique and wonderful as you think you are, there clearly is someone out there with better experience on their resume/cover letter they they decided to interview over you.

Would you change your answer to “what’s the secret to getting hired”?

It’s certainly a tough market out there. Get as much experience pre-graduation as you can. I think that’s one of the things that helped with me. Also, make the most out of every job. the job might not be doing much, but then offer to take on a new and exciting project in something that interests you, and make that your experience in that area. Use what may seem like a boring, dull, job (or maybe not so boring) at first, into an exciting job that’s now a jumping off point for something you care a lot about and want to continue to do after school.

Anything else you want to tell us?

Not really. Networking is always great, but I never end up getting my jobs that way.

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Job Hunter Follow Up: Cristy Moran

This post originally appeared on December 9, 2013. This year’s follow up with Ms. Moran will post shortly.
Cristy MoranCristy Moran took the Job Hunter’s survey on January 4, 2013.  Her responses appeared as There is a “Black Hole” of Information After One Drops a Resume.

Your Background

How long has it been since you got your library degree?

I received my MLIS in August 2012.

How many years of library work experience do you have?

Not counting my fieldwork semester, just over a year.

How many years of work experience outside of libraries do you have?

I worked full-time as a full-time student since my freshman year of college. What I consider my professional career – in education programming and management, and since – I’ve been working in since 2005.

How old are you?

32!

Your Job Hunt

How long did it take you before you found your job?

I was asked to apply to my current job and I did. The hiring process was purposely short and between applying and starting my position under a month had passed.

How many positions did you apply to?

I had searched sporadically for a library job while I had been securely employed and seeking my MLIS. However, when I got laid off from a job as Director of Education at a national tutoring company in February 2012, I applied to every possible job for which I was qualified. I had to file for unemployment and kept a spreadsheet of applications. I applied to over 200 library and non-library jobs combined between February 2012 and May 2013.

How many interviews did you go on?

I had several phone interviews but only went on five on-site interviews. All on-site interviews were in the South Florida area (where I live).

What was your work situation while you were job hunting?

Since February 2012, I was job hunting while unemployed. I completed two semesters in that time – during one of those semesters I did a fieldwork internship at Florida International University Library. One of the connections I made there suggested me for a Temporary Reference Librarian position (part-time) at Nova Southeastern University which I began in November 2012. I continued to search for permanent and full-time placement until I was hired as Part-time Information Literacy Instructor at Miami Dade College in May 2013.

Were you volunteering anywhere?

No.

Did you travel for interviews?

No.

Did you decline any offers?

Yes. I declined three offers.

Your Job

What’s your new job?

I am the Associate Instructor at Miami Dade College’s Medical Campus Learning Resources.

Is your job full or part time? Permanent or temporary?

My position is full-time, permanent staff.

Did you relocate?

No.

How did you find the listing for your job?

I was working at a PT librarian at a different campus. My director informed me of the opening and encouraged me to apply.

Did you meet all of the required qualifications? How many of the desired qualifications?

I met all the required qualifications. Though an MLIS isn’t required, it was highly recommended.

What was the application process like? How many interviews did you do?

Application was online. I was called for a panel interview during which I had to deliver a mock library instruction. A couple of weeks later, I was called for a second interview during which the directors of the various campus Learning Resources each asked a question. A week or so later, I was called by the College-Wide Director to congratulate me in getting the job.

How did you prepare for the interview(s)?

I was fortunate in that I had already delivered library instruction for the college so all I really had to do was modify existing Powerpoints. I reviewed the job descriptions as I usually do and identified the key components of the job that I would likely be asked about. I usually practice answering questions aloud beforehand, too.

Did you know anyone in the organization that hired you? If so, how?

I only knew my own campus library director. She was one of several on the panel.

Is your job commensurate with your skills, experience and expectations?

My job has exceeded my expectations. I think I bring a lot of additional skills to the table that have brought value to my library and I know there are a lot of things I’ve never considered learning about that I am finding myself engaged in and loving.

Is the pay scale higher or lower than you were looking for?

It’s what I was expecting but I was hoping for more.

What do you think was the biggest obstacle in your job hunt? How did you overcome it?

I think the lack of “2 or more years library experience” has been the biggest obstacle. Requisite skills? Check. Requisite education? Check. Glowing recommendations? Check. Experience outside of libraries? Check. Experience in libraries? Not so much. There’s really no overcoming it. There’s just accepting that – at least for two years – you’ll be working at a different position than you might otherwise have liked.

What set you apart from the other applicants? Why did they hire you?

I don’t know what set me apart on paper. I do know that, during interviews, I’m confident about what skills I have and what challenges I face, and I share them openly.

State of the Job Market

What’s the most ridiculous thing you’ve seen on a job announcement?

I can’t think of anything so outlandish.

What was your favorite interview question? What was the worst?

I like being asked scenario questions. As much as I appreciate the need to standardize interviews and ask the same questions to all candidates, I loathe being asked a question that I’ve already answered in response to another question.

Any good horror stories for us?

One of the jobs I turned down was at a really small private college (max 100 students total) where I would be the only person working at the library. The pay offered was $30,000/ year non-negotiable. This was for over 40 hours per week and six days a week. The schedule would require me to be there for morning sessions, then take a break of 2-3 hours so that I could come back for evening sessions that ended well into the night. I’d also be coming into a library with no existing librarian to pass the torch or mentor me or even tell me what needed to be done. This was prior to me having any library experience other than my three-month fieldwork.

Has job hunting been a positive or negative experience, for the most part?

For me, it was a really hard time – not just because of the difficulty in getting a library job, but because I was unemployed for a large part of it and had no job security for the time I was temping. Even finding work outside of libraries felt impossible.

Would you change your answer to “what’s the secret to getting hired”?

I had said the secret what being at the right place at the right time and knowing the right people…I think my experience in libraries continues to prove this true to me: I got a temp position because a librarian I worked with during my fieldwork internship passed along my name to a librarian at a different library. I got a second temp gig because the library director where I was doing my first temp gig thought I could help out at one of her other campuses. I got a job offer (I later turned it down) for a position that I had interviewed only after I was asked to apply. I was asked to apply because I had come highly recommended to the library director by my graduate advisor. Even my current placement was gained by right place/right time/ right connection: II knew about my current position’s opening because my library director told me about it. She knew my work and thought I could do well in this position.

…of course, you could be in the right place at the right time and know the right people and it still wouldn’t make you any more likely to land a job if you didn’t assert your value every day. People have to want to recommend you. They have to know that you’re capable and that you’d be an asset to someone else’s team.

Anything else you want to tell us?

My experiences and struggles looking for work introduced me to the concept of career literacy. Maybe it’s me looking at the glass half-full, but I’d like to think that going through everything from filing for unemployment to creating resumes to choosing outfits for interviews to really wondering whether or not I would be able to afford groceries on $16/ month of food stamps has helped me be a better librarian. I became career literate by necessity and learned, from experience, what college students looking for professional work will have to face in their near futures. It’s knowledge that can’t be gained through any amount of study and it makes me passionate about providing the best information, digital, and career literacy instruction I can.

If you took the Job Hunter’s Survey some time in the last year and are interested in doing a follow-up, even anonymously, please contact me at hiringlibrarians AT gmail.

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Further Questions: Would a candidate’s travel plans be a dealbreaker?

Here’s another question inspired by a reader. I asked people who hire librarians:

Would a candidate’s travel plans be a dealbreaker?  For example, a reader has a seventeen day trip planned in three months.  Would this be a negative factor in your decision? Would you prefer to learn about it during the interview, or is it ok if the candidate waits to reveal until a job offer has been made?

I had a one-week trip prebooked when I was hired at my current library, so no, it’s not a dealbreaker for us!

One of our standard interview questions is whether the candidate could start right away, so that would be an appropriate time for them to bring it up. If there isn’t a question like that, I’d at least ask about how soon they need that space filled (is the previous person still there for a bit?), what sort of training schedule there is, etc. It would probably not be appreciated to spring it on them post-offer.

Of course, the hiring process is so stretched out for so many libraries, and so many new hires need time to relocate from other states, that three months out may not even turn into an issue.

– Kristen Northrup, Head, Technical Services & State Document Depository, North Dakota State Library

 

Cathi AllowayTravel plans are not a dealbreaker.  

A 17-day trip should be brought up if and when the start date or schedule comes up in the interview.  It is more critical to bring it up sooner if the library has a notable staff shortage, if the trip comes during their busy time (i.e. start of the semester) or is a sub job (i.e. temporary to replace someone on medical leave).  Otherwise if it’s a 2-week or less trip, it can come up during negotiations. 

– Catherine Alloway, Director, Schlow Centre Region Library

 

Marleah AugustineNo, it would not be a dealbreaker.

I’d prefer to hear about it in the interview so I truly know what their availability is. Now, if I knew that the applicant’s travel plans were going to occur during an inconvenient time for the organization, it may give me pause; however, the potential for that employee goes beyond what their next three months’ plans entail. If I’m confident that they will do everything they can to get up to speed prior to their outside obligations and continue on in that fashion afterward, then the goods outweigh the potential negative of just being gone for a few days. All in all, knowing sooner is much better than later, and if you’re a candidate who will fit well with the organization, then it shouldn’t be an issue.

– Marleah Augustine, Adult Department Librarian at Hays Public Library

 

Laurie PhillipsWe would try to work it out. Obviously, it’s not ideal, but we’re not hiring someone for what happens in three months and it wouldn’t prejudice us in the hiring process. We’re hiring tenure-track faculty who will progress through the ranks and succeed here. Depending on how the trip fell and when in the fiscal year the person was hired, the person might have to take some of the days unpaid. If someone is hired mid-year, we generally pro-rate the annual vacation (20 days). If the trip fell in September, there might be issues just with workload and coverage. None of us would ever take a vacation during that time under normal circumstances. But if it were a one-time thing that were already planned, we’d deal with it. And if I were a candidate, I wouldn’t mention it until negotiations. Or perhaps with the potential supervisor during the on-campus interview. Before that, it wouldn’t be relevant.

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

 

Marge Loch WoutersI prefer to know within the interview process. Would it be a deal-breaker? No, not if we are very interested in the professional skills and mightiness the candidate would bring to the position. Often, the hiring department has been working short-staffed so the prospect of another short-staffing situation may be acceptable. However, the institution may also have its hands tied in terms of benefits and cannot offer paid time for something occurring before a probationary period is up (3-12 months).

Still and all, the more information at the interview stage the better.  If this came up in the negotiation, I would definitely have a “bait-and-switch” feeling unless it was clear that this situation had come up since the interview. While we always expect some negotiation, when both parties come to the table aware of extenuating circumstances, results can often be better.

Remember, as much time as a candidate is putting into the application process, the hiring manager/committee/institution is also pouring into the process of hiring – multiplied by the number of viable candidates. No one wants their time wasted. Be kind, be honest, be professional.

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

 

You should assume that the person you are hiring has a life-and perhaps travel or vacation plans. It should not be a deal breaker if this is the person you want for a professional job. It would be ok if the person revealed it after the offer-since it should not affect your decision. My experience is that candidates tend to mention this during the interview process however.

– Kaye Grabbe, Director, Lake Forest (Public) Library, Lake Forest, IL

 

A candidate’s travel plans should not factor in to the decision to hire at all. That being said, you do not need to tell them anything personal at all until after an offer is made (travel plans, family concerns, upcoming surgery, etc.) In academic libraries, it is not uncommon for an employer to wait a few months for a candidate to start so you could suggest your start date after your trip. At that point they may tell you they need you to start sooner and would rather you just take the time off. If you do have that long of a trip planned though, you likely will not have enough vacation time and will probably have to go without pay so I would also mention that you understand that you would likely have to lose pay during that time.

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

 

Terry Ann Lawler

 

It wouldn’t be an issue for me, but I would want to know about it ASAP.

My first librarian job happened to be offered to me the same time that I was getting married. I stated that I would be in Jamaica for 14 days during my interview process. If it had been a deal breaker, I don’t know if I would have wanted to work there.

– Terry Lawler, Assistant Manager and Children’s Librarian, Palo Verde Branch, Phoenix Public Library

 

Colleen HarrisPre-planned travel wouldn’t be a negative factor in the decision, but I would not bring it up during the interview. If you get an offer, that’s when you negotiate everything, including letting the hiring official know that you had plans for that travel; that way they can have the heads-up and plan around you, but it doesn’t impact their hiring decision at all. It wouldn’t be a negative factor for me in the decision-making were I on the committee (I understand people have lives and may have carry-over commitments), but to make it easy on the applicant and avoid anyone on the committee dinging you for it, leave it until the job offer.

On a personal note with this topic – I was offered a new position while I was in the middle of a low-residency MFA that required I attend a residency for 10-days out of state each fall and spring (during highly inconvenient times for academic library folk – before Thanksgiving and before Memorial Day). During the offer I made it clear that I would have to be away those days; the director and my boss-to-be acknowledged it and said it wouldn’t be a problem.
-Colleen Harris-Keith, Head of Access Services & Assistant Professor at University of Tennessee Chattanooga’s Lupton Library
Randall SchroederActually, I have had that situation with a candidate wishing to attend her sister’s wedding in France shortly after the start date. Other than an understandable jealousy about wanting a nice trip to France myself, I had no problem with it. It was also helpful that it was during the summer when things tend to be slower here. Regardless of timing, however, that is the kind of thing I would like to work out if possible.
The candidate did let me know early in the interview process that this was coming up, and I appreciated her being forthright with the information. It had absolutely no effect on her candidacy one way or the other.

– Randall Schroeder, Director of Libraries, Archives and Media at St. Catherine University in St. Paul, Minnesota

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!  You see this kind of chick in every town, Whenever there’s a scene she’s always commentin’ around

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Job Hunter Follow-Up: Sarah Deringer

Sarah Deringer took the Job Hunter’s survey on 12/29/2012. Her responses appeared as Make Sure That the Candidate Knows That You Really Want Them to Apply.

Background and Situation

How long has it been since you got your library degree?

I will receive my library degree on December 20, 2013. I have been looking at library jobs while also earning my degree.

How many years of library work experience do you have?

I have been working at a small public library since 2009. For the first two years (2009 and 2010), I just had summer internships during June and July. But after I graduated with my Bachelor’s degree and moved back home in summer 2011, I started working part-time. Right now I’m a substitute aide for the library, and I have been since December 2012.

How many years of work experience outside of libraries do you have?

None. I went straight for the library because I knew it’s what I wanted to do in life.

How old are you?

25 years old

What’s your current work situation?

Part-time work. Looking for a job. Almost graduated from library school. 🙂

Are you volunteering anywhere?

I volunteer at my church with a children’s bible school class.

Your Job Hunt

How long have you been job hunting at this point?

I have been actively searching since January 2013.

What kinds of jobs are you currently applying for?

Public, academic, and school libraries
Librarian, social media specialist, Teen and / or youth librarian, User Experience Librarian, Web Resources Coordinator, Marketing Assistant, Small public library director
Also, outside of libraries where the jobs are similar in nature and internships that would expand my skills.

Approximately how many positions have you applied to?

25 jobs. I knew that I didn’t have to apply to as many until I graduate.

Approximately how many interviews have you gone on?

2 interviews. I also had an interview scheduled for a paid internship, but they suspended the position.

How do you prepare for interviews?

I look at often asked questions during job interviews. I think of ways to describe myself and how I would best fit the job.

Have you traveled for interviews? If so, who paid?

I have traveled up to an hour and a half. I paid for the gas.

Have you declined any offers?

No.

What do you think is the biggest obstacle in your job hunt? How are you working to overcome it?

So far, the biggest obstacle has been that I don’t have my library degree. To combat that, I am honing my skills and branding myself to fit the job I’m looking for.

Have there been any major changes in your job hunting strategy? Are you doing anything differently than from when we last heard from you?

There’s not much that has changed, but I’m getting more and more serious about my job hunt.

State of the Job Market

What’s the most ridiculous thing you’ve seen on a job announcement?

I saw listed under the benefits a part-time job: “great parking space.” It made me giggle. 🙂


What was your favorite interview question? What was the worst?

Fave interview question: We’re looking to remodel the children’s and teen’s areas. What would you like to see included in the plans?
Worst interview question: So if this full-time library director job were offered to you, what would you do for health insurance since that’s not part of the benefits?

Any good horror stories for us?

The “worst interview question” made it feel like they were taunting me with the fact that they weren’t offering health insurance. The position was for a library director at a small public library. I knew that the board of directors were probably trying to be funny, but with today’s economy, it’s not funny.

Has job hunting been a positive or negative experience, for the most part?

For the most part, it’s been a positive experience. I’ve learned a lot from just the two interviews I’ve had, and I know I’ll learn a lot more as I have more interviews.

Would you change your answer to “what’s the secret to getting hired”?

I think it’s still having passion and enthusiasm for the career, but I also feel it’s about endurance. Don’t give up on your job hunt. There will be times when you feel like you’re not good enough, but the right job will come along if only you will keep looking, applying, and learning.

Anything else you want to tell us?

As always, feel free to connect with me on Twitter, LinkedIn, or even my blog. 🙂

If you took the Job Hunter’s Survey some time in the last year and are interested in doing a follow-up, even anonymously, please contact me at hiringlibrarians AT gmail.

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Job Hunter Follow Up: Cristy Moran

Cristy MoranCristy Moran took the Job Hunter’s survey on January 4, 2013.  Her responses appeared as There is a “Black Hole” of Information After One Drops a Resume.

Your Background

How long has it been since you got your library degree?

I received my MLIS in August 2012.

How many years of library work experience do you have?

Not counting my fieldwork semester, just over a year.

How many years of work experience outside of libraries do you have?

I worked full-time as a full-time student since my freshman year of college. What I consider my professional career – in education programming and management, and since – I’ve been working in since 2005.

How old are you?

32!

Your Job Hunt

How long did it take you before you found your job?

I was asked to apply to my current job and I did. The hiring process was purposely short and between applying and starting my position under a month had passed.

How many positions did you apply to?

I had searched sporadically for a library job while I had been securely employed and seeking my MLIS. However, when I got laid off from a job as Director of Education at a national tutoring company in February 2012, I applied to every possible job for which I was qualified. I had to file for unemployment and kept a spreadsheet of applications. I applied to over 200 library and non-library jobs combined between February 2012 and May 2013.

How many interviews did you go on?

I had several phone interviews but only went on five on-site interviews. All on-site interviews were in the South Florida area (where I live).

What was your work situation while you were job hunting?

Since February 2012, I was job hunting while unemployed. I completed two semesters in that time – during one of those semesters I did a fieldwork internship at Florida International University Library. One of the connections I made there suggested me for a Temporary Reference Librarian position (part-time) at Nova Southeastern University which I began in November 2012. I continued to search for permanent and full-time placement until I was hired as Part-time Information Literacy Instructor at Miami Dade College in May 2013.

Were you volunteering anywhere?

No.

Did you travel for interviews?

No.

Did you decline any offers?

Yes. I declined three offers.

Your Job

What’s your new job?

I am the Associate Instructor at Miami Dade College’s Medical Campus Learning Resources.

Is your job full or part time? Permanent or temporary?

My position is full-time, permanent staff.

Did you relocate?

No.

How did you find the listing for your job?

I was working at a PT librarian at a different campus. My director informed me of the opening and encouraged me to apply.

Did you meet all of the required qualifications? How many of the desired qualifications?

I met all the required qualifications. Though an MLIS isn’t required, it was highly recommended.

What was the application process like? How many interviews did you do?

Application was online. I was called for a panel interview during which I had to deliver a mock library instruction. A couple of weeks later, I was called for a second interview during which the directors of the various campus Learning Resources each asked a question. A week or so later, I was called by the College-Wide Director to congratulate me in getting the job.

How did you prepare for the interview(s)?

I was fortunate in that I had already delivered library instruction for the college so all I really had to do was modify existing Powerpoints. I reviewed the job descriptions as I usually do and identified the key components of the job that I would likely be asked about. I usually practice answering questions aloud beforehand, too.

Did you know anyone in the organization that hired you? If so, how?

I only knew my own campus library director. She was one of several on the panel.

Is your job commensurate with your skills, experience and expectations?

My job has exceeded my expectations. I think I bring a lot of additional skills to the table that have brought value to my library and I know there are a lot of things I’ve never considered learning about that I am finding myself engaged in and loving.

Is the pay scale higher or lower than you were looking for?

It’s what I was expecting but I was hoping for more.

What do you think was the biggest obstacle in your job hunt? How did you overcome it?

I think the lack of “2 or more years library experience” has been the biggest obstacle. Requisite skills? Check. Requisite education? Check. Glowing recommendations? Check. Experience outside of libraries? Check. Experience in libraries? Not so much. There’s really no overcoming it. There’s just accepting that – at least for two years – you’ll be working at a different position than you might otherwise have liked.

What set you apart from the other applicants? Why did they hire you?

I don’t know what set me apart on paper. I do know that, during interviews, I’m confident about what skills I have and what challenges I face, and I share them openly.

State of the Job Market

What’s the most ridiculous thing you’ve seen on a job announcement?

I can’t think of anything so outlandish.

What was your favorite interview question? What was the worst?

I like being asked scenario questions. As much as I appreciate the need to standardize interviews and ask the same questions to all candidates, I loathe being asked a question that I’ve already answered in response to another question.

Any good horror stories for us?

One of the jobs I turned down was at a really small private college (max 100 students total) where I would be the only person working at the library. The pay offered was $30,000/ year non-negotiable. This was for over 40 hours per week and six days a week. The schedule would require me to be there for morning sessions, then take a break of 2-3 hours so that I could come back for evening sessions that ended well into the night. I’d also be coming into a library with no existing librarian to pass the torch or mentor me or even tell me what needed to be done. This was prior to me having any library experience other than my three-month fieldwork.

Has job hunting been a positive or negative experience, for the most part?

For me, it was a really hard time – not just because of the difficulty in getting a library job, but because I was unemployed for a large part of it and had no job security for the time I was temping. Even finding work outside of libraries felt impossible.

Would you change your answer to “what’s the secret to getting hired”?

I had said the secret what being at the right place at the right time and knowing the right people…I think my experience in libraries continues to prove this true to me: I got a temp position because a librarian I worked with during my fieldwork internship passed along my name to a librarian at a different library. I got a second temp gig because the library director where I was doing my first temp gig thought I could help out at one of her other campuses. I got a job offer (I later turned it down) for a position that I had interviewed only after I was asked to apply. I was asked to apply because I had come highly recommended to the library director by my graduate advisor. Even my current placement was gained by right place/right time/ right connection: II knew about my current position’s opening because my library director told me about it. She knew my work and thought I could do well in this position.

…of course, you could be in the right place at the right time and know the right people and it still wouldn’t make you any more likely to land a job if you didn’t assert your value every day. People have to want to recommend you. They have to know that you’re capable and that you’d be an asset to someone else’s team.

Anything else you want to tell us?

My experiences and struggles looking for work introduced me to the concept of career literacy. Maybe it’s me looking at the glass half-full, but I’d like to think that going through everything from filing for unemployment to creating resumes to choosing outfits for interviews to really wondering whether or not I would be able to afford groceries on $16/ month of food stamps has helped me be a better librarian. I became career literate by necessity and learned, from experience, what college students looking for professional work will have to face in their near futures. It’s knowledge that can’t be gained through any amount of study and it makes me passionate about providing the best information, digital, and career literacy instruction I can.

If you took the Job Hunter’s Survey some time in the last year and are interested in doing a follow-up, even anonymously, please contact me at hiringlibrarians AT gmail.

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Job Hunter’s Web Guide: Career Q & A with the Library Career People

This was originally posted on January 17th, 2013.  I’m reposting now because they’ve moved to a new site, which looks fantastic!  The new URL is http://librarycareerpeople.com/  You can also follow on Twitter: @LibCareerPeople

Have you ever wished that someone would just answer all your career questions? Today’s post gives you the answer to that wish!  I’m happy to showcase Career Q & A with the Library Career People, who have been playing Dear Abby and Anne Landers to the LIS career world for nearly ten years. Please read on for more of their well thought-out, well-written advice.

Career QandA with the Library Career People

What is it? Please give us your elevator speech!

“Career Q&A with the Library Career People” is an online advice column for anyone working in, or interested in, libraries. We provide answers to actual questions from our readers.

When was it started? Why was it started?

“Career Q&A with the Library Career People” began in May of 2003 as a regular advice column in the Info Career Trends Newsletter (LISjobs.com’s career development newsletter). In 2007 we moved the column to a WordPress site in order to facilitate more communication between the writers and the readers and to provide more timely answers to the questions we receive.

Who runs it?

Tiffany Allen, Director of Library Human Resources at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Susanne Markgren, Digital Services Librarian at Purchase College, SUNY, have been the “Library Career People” since 2003, and they currently run the site.

Are you “career experts”? What are your qualifications?

We are working librarians with more than thirty years combined experience. We have worked in a variety of roles in different types of libraries in different parts of the country. We have chaired, and served on, hiring committees. We are members of library committees and associations. We are mentors. We have written and presented and taught classes on different aspects of career management. We have worked as career consultants. And most importantly, we truly enjoy helping others and serving as a resource for our colleagues and for those new to (or interested in) the profession.

Who is your target audience?

Our target audience is anyone who may have a career-related question about our profession. This includes librarians working in all types of libraries (at all different stages of their careers), library school students, recent graduates who are looking for work, and those thinking about entering the profession. We’ve answered questions from all of the above and we are incredibly thankful for our diverse readership. They keep the site relevant and interesting!

What’s the best way to use your site? Should users consult it daily? Or as needed? Should they already know what they need help with, or can they just noodle around?

Our site contains Q&As from the past ten years. They are archived and organized into categories and tagged with keywords. Users can search for specific things, or browse categories such as: Job Seeking, Getting Started, Library School, Career Change, or Setting Goals. It isn’t meant to be used on a daily basis, since it isn’t updated daily. We try to answer at least a few questions per month, depending on how many questions we receive and how much time we have to answer them. We attempt to write fairly in-depth responses to the questions, and to provide our readers with links to other resources. Readers can subscribe by email, so they will be alerted when there is new content.

Does your site provide:

√  Answers to reader questions    √  Articles/literature    √  Links

√  The opportunity for interaction

Advice on:

√  Cover Letters    √  Resumes

√  Interviewing    √  Networking

√  Other : We also offer advice on career change, job satisfaction and what to do during library school.

Should readers also look for you on social media? Or is your content available in other formats? Please include links, subscription information, or other details if pertinent

√  Book(s): coming soon!

We do not have a social media presence, perhaps because social media sites/tools didn’t exist when Career Q&A began, but we’ve had some discussions about it and it may happen one of these days. However, we each promote it on our own personal social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn) and we are happy to connect with our readers from those places as well.

And, we have written a book (which we are very excited about!) that will be coming out this year. The title of the book is: Career Q&A: A Librarian’s Real-Life Practical Guide to Managing a Successful Career. We will post more information about the book, and how to get it when it comes out, on our web site.

The purpose of the book is to take a broad look at librarianship by dissecting it into different stages and answering specific questions about the various stages, events, transitions, struggles and advances that encompass and define a librarian’s career.

Do you charge for anything on your site?

No, we do not charge for anything.

Can you share any stories about job hunters that found positions after using your site?

It’s funny, we hear so much from people looking for jobs right out of library school, or trying to change jobs at some point during their career, but we don’t often hear back from folks once they’ve landed the job. It’s like calling your doctor when you’re sick, but never calling them back to say that you’re well. We do get a lot of thanks, however, and a lot of the questions we receive begin with something like “I’m so glad I found you!”

Anything else you’d like to share with my readers about your site in particular, or about library hiring/job hunting in general?

We have been asked so many questions over the years, and the one that we get asked the most is some variation of “how do I get a job?” (or, “why can’t I get a job?”). We’ve answered this question many times and in a variety of ways, but our answers usually include the following things:

  • Libraries like to hire the best qualified candidate for the position (and that may not be you).
  • You need to have all the requirements for the position. Period.
  • You need to have impeccable, and personable, application materials.
  • In your application materials for a specific job (cover letter, resume, etc.) you need to accentuate your interest in the position — not a position, the position.
  • When applying for positions, you need to (or really, really should have) library experience, even for entry-level positions. If you do not have it, get it!
  • A good personality, the ability to adapt to different situations and environments, and an affinity for learning can go a long way.
  • You should have a professional online presence.
  • When you do not get a job you want, don’t beat yourself up about it. Learn from it, appreciate the experience, and move on. There are many behind-the-scenes aspects of a job search that candidates don’t see and have no control over.

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