Tag Archives: library school

Speaking about past experience is important, but it’s even more important to address the job you’re applying for.

Photograph of James B. Rhoads and Pavel Podlesnyy, USSR (The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) Embassy Librarian Presenting Vol. 15 USSR Foreign Policy to NARS, 7/31/1970. National Archives

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Academic Library 

Title: University Archivist

Titles hired include: Librarian, Library clerk, student employee

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ The position’s supervisor

√ A Committee or panel 

Which of the following does your organization regularly require of candidates?

√ Online application

√ Resume

√ CV

√ References

√ Demonstration (teaching, storytime, etc)

√ More than one round of interviews

√ A meal with hiring personnel

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ Yes 

Briefly describe the hiring process at your organization and your role in it:

For open librarian positions the position information is sent to Academic Affairs and then approved by the Board of Governors to be filled. Then a hiring committee of two librarians and an outside faculty member is formed. This hiring committee reviews applicants and selects at least two to interview. Initial interviews are completed online. Second/third interviews are usually conducted over a full day, with separate interviews with the hiring committee, HR, Academic Affairs and potential colleagues in the library. This process includes a meal with the hiring committee and a tour of the library and parts of campus. The hiring committee then reviews the applicants with recommendations from HR and Academic Affairs. An applicant is selected and an offer is made.

Think about the last candidate who really wowed you, on paper, in an interview, or otherwise. Why were they so impressive?

They studied the library and our unique needs in advance! They also explained their job in their current library very well, so that the non-library faculty member understood by the end.

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Not addressing the activities of the job they applied for with any competence. 

What do you wish you could know about candidates that isn’t generally revealed in the hiring process?

How knowledgeable they are about the job they applied for.

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ Two is ok, but no more  

Resume: √ As many as it takes, but keep it reasonable and relevant  

CV: √ As many as it takes, but keep it reasonable and relevant  

What is the most common mistake that people make in an interview?

They forget to ask questions about the job or about the people interviewing them.

Do you conduct virtual interviews? What do job hunters need to know about shining in this setting?

Yes, I’ve done a few. Be sure you’re in a quiet location with a good background. Be passionate about the job you’re applying for.

How can candidates looking to transition from paraprofessional work, from non-library work, or between library types convince you that their experience is relevant? Or do you have other advice for folks in this kind of situation?

Research well in advance of your interview so that you are able to competently explain what you bring to the job you’re applying for. Speaking about past experience is important, but it’s even more important to address the job you’re applying for. With public academic libraries applicants can often get an idea of what salaries are like through the state. Researching the organization you’re applying for, is important, as is researching the library/library job you’re applying for.

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

√ It’s part of the information provided at the interview 

What does your organization do to reduce bias in hiring? What are the contexts in which discrimination still exists in this process?

Only the names of applicants are known until they are called for interviews. This doesn’t help with possible name discrimination, or work history discrimination.

What questions should candidates ask you? What is important for them to know about your organization and the position you are hiring for?

What are you looking for most in an applicant for this job? How does the work in the library overlap? 

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Midwestern US 

What’s your region like?

√ Suburban

√ Rural 

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Never or not anymore 

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 11-50 

Author’s note: Hey, thanks for reading! If you like reading, why not try commenting or sharing? Or are you somebody who hires Library, Archives or other LIS workers? Please consider giving your own opinion by filling out the survey here.

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Filed under 1 A Return to Hiring Librarians Survey, 10-50 staff members, Academic, Midwestern US, Rural area, Suburban area

Have a glass of temperate beverage nearby for when you inevitably have a coughing fit.

American Library Association – Library Personnel – Miss Anne Mulhern, Librarian, Base Hospital, Camp Cody, N.M., National Archives

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Academic Library 

Title: Associate Professor & Other Really Identifiable Stuff

Titles hired include: Liaison Librarian, Resident Librarian, Department Head, Associate Dean (Different academic levels from Instructor to Professor)

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ Library Administration

√ The position’s supervisor 

Which of the following does your organization regularly require of candidates?

√ Cover letter

√ CV

√ References

√ Proof of degree

√ Oral Exam/Structured interview

√ Demonstration (teaching, storytime, etc)

√ More than one round of interviews

√ A whole day of interviews 

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ No 

Briefly describe the hiring process at your organization and your role in it:

Job ad is usually developed by hiring dept. Admin forms a committee, I’ve served on committees and chaired them. We do phone interviews and then a full day interview for faculty lines that usually includes a teaching presentation.  Everyone who participates in the interview gives de-identified feedback

Think about the last candidate who really wowed you, on paper, in an interview, or otherwise. Why were they so impressive?

They were *prepared* for the interview. Had looked at us and demonstrated interest in what our library was doing (went beyond giant campus initiatives). Had thoughtful questions for the people they met with. Actually responded to the questions we asked and the presentation prompt. Had actually considered what research would look like (part of our responsibilities) . 

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Entitlement / I’m just using this job to something better / you “owe” me this job ; PhDs condescending to work in the library as a backup “because it’s easy”;   Complete disinterest in doing research on a tenure-track line; Shows complete lack of curiosity about the people they would be working with; Openly sexist or racist statements ; 

What do you wish you could know about candidates that isn’t generally revealed in the hiring process?

Who is going to turn out to be incredibly lazy or a raging asshole. For anyone in management: who is going to gaslight me 

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ Two is ok, but no more 

Resume: √ We don’t ask for this  

CV: √ As many as it takes, but keep it reasonable and relevant 

What is the most common mistake that people make in an interview?

They haven’t prepared questions they can ask all day.  General questions (what do you enjoy, what would you like to change, goals for next six months, how do you celebrate successes?) show interest in *us* and something more than the job responsibilities. If you’ve reached the in person interview I want to know that you’re at least interested in working *with me*

Do you conduct virtual interviews? What do job hunters need to know about shining in this setting?

Yes — though I anticipate we’ll go back to in-person for full day interviews in the future.  *please* put your camera at a flattering angle so we aren’t looking at your forehead or up your nose.  Have a glass of temperate beverage nearby for when you inevitably have a coughing fit.  

How can candidates looking to transition from paraprofessional work, from non-library work, or between library types convince you that their experience is relevant? Or do you have other advice for folks in this kind of situation?

Give clear and specific correlative examples using library language.  You want to join this field, learn some of the jargon and translate it for us.  We’re tired and busy and don’t want to guess if you’ve had experience.  It’s the same for any profession — show us that you want to be engaged in our work — not some mythical idea of what a library is or what academic librarians do. 

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

√ It’s part of the job ad 

What does your organization do to reduce bias in hiring? What are the contexts in which discrimination still exists in this process?

We have training for the search committee. We have rubrics to evaluate the candidates.  We try to broadly recruit. I don’t have a problem with us requiring the MLS but I know it’s seen as exclusionary (too often when it’s not the MLS it’s A PhD and that’s not inclusive). Adding minimum salary in job ads has helped a lot too.  What ranks people get hired at and a weird preference for extremely underwhelming white guys still tends to be common 

What questions should candidates ask you? What is important for them to know about your organization and the position you are hiring for?

How would you like to see the organization grow in the next five years? How might you and I collaborate? What’s something you’re proud of?  — they need to be aware that we are an under-resourced minority serving institution and we’re extremely proud of our students.  We want you to truly want to work with them and also to care about us as colleagues. If the only thing you can come up with “oh you’re in geographic location” or “Oh you’re a Size of College” (both of which I’ve heard for leadership roles)…. nah 

Additional Demographics

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Some of the time and/or in some positions  

Is there anything else you’d like to say, either to job hunters or to me, the survey author? 

I didn’t give you all of the demographic information because there’s really only a few institutions that meet all of those and you’ve not been clear how you’ll de-identify responses.  

Job hunting is awful right now but also exciting. I’ve just talked two different people through negotiating for higher pay as they accepted new offers and it’s exciting.  

Author’s note: Hey, thanks for reading! If you like reading, why not try commenting or sharing? Or are you somebody who hires Library, Archives or other LIS workers? Please consider giving your own opinion by filling out the survey here.

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Filed under 1 A Return to Hiring Librarians Survey, Academic

Further Questions: Should people who don’t meet all the job qualifications still apply?

Each week (or thereabouts) I ask a question to a group of people who hire library and LIS workers. If you have a question to ask or if you’d like to be part of the group that answers, shoot me an email at hiringlibrariansATgmail.

There is a statistic from a 2014 Hewlett Packard internal report, quoted in the book Lean In and many other places, that says women don’t apply to jobs unless they meet 100% of the criteria, whereas men will apply if they meet about 60%. This week’s question is:

Should people who don’t meet all the job qualifications still apply? What is your advice for a hypothetical job seeker, looking at one of your organization’s job listings, on parsing the listed requirements? Are any safe to ignore, or to think of in “creative” ways? Bonus question: any stories about people getting jobs when they did not meet all the qualifications?


Ellen Mehling, Job Search Advisor/Instructor and Brooklyn Public Library’s Job Information Resource Librarian: First I would pay attention to the job requirements vs. the preferences in the job posting. Don’t think that every job description is just the “wish list” you want it to be – the employer may be 100% serious that each of the requirements is, you know, required. If you meet most (like 80-90% or more) of the requirements, I would go for it. You might not get an interview if the missing requirement(s) are crucial to the position, and it may be a harder sell if you do get an interview. Emphasize what you do have to offer, based on the job posting, and include any additional skills you have that are relevant to the job; they may help you to get an interview. If you are a quick learner and enjoy acquiring new skills I would include that info too.

What you definitely should not do is lie and say, or imply, that you meet all the requirements if you don’t. Employers don’t want employees they can’t trust.


Angelynn King, Head Librarian, Delaware Technical Community College: I wouldn’t recommend applying for any job for which you don’t have the required qualifications. It just wastes everyone’s time. 

Desired qualifications are a different matter. You can be hired without any of them, although you are less likely to make it to the interview stage in a strong pool of candidates. Be aware that if the employer puts them in the ad, they’re part of the job, and you should be prepared to address how you would gain those skills.  

It’s been my impression that men do tend to overmatch while woman undermatch, although it’s by no means universal. I don’t know if it’s socialization, economics, or something else. For my part, I value job security very highly and wouldn’t take the risk of moving my family for a job I wasn’t confident I could do well.  


Kathryn Levenson, Librarian, Piedmont High School: If you think there is a chance you might get the job, why not try?

I cannot even count how many resumes I have put out into the world over the years. I tailor each resume to the job. I look for keywords in the announcement and use those in the application or resume.

I have a document I can cut and paste my skills from into the application or resume.

List all your skills: sales, logistics, accounting with examples of what you did, what kinds of software you can use, language skills, etc. But, only pick the skills relevant to the job listing to add there. If you are applying to be a library assistant, any jobs where you worked with children would be relevant. If you speak Spanish or other languages, that would be helpful in school settings. 

Learn something about restorative justice and conflict resolution, even if it is reading some articles on these subjects.


Amy Tureen (she/her/hers), Head, Library Liaison Program, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas: Absolutely! In a perfect world, organizations would be intentional and honest about the true “requirements” for a position. These are things the selected candidate must have, day one, to be successful in the role and do not include skill sets that can be learned on the job without causing harm to the organization. For example, in my department (subject liaisons), we have reduced our required qualifications to two in almost every case: 1) an earned Master’s Degree in library or information science from an American Library Association accredited program by the date of appointment and 2) competence and sensitivity in working with individuals who are highly diverse regarding many facets of identity, including but not limited to gender, ethnicity, nationality, sexual orientation, ability, income, level of educational attainment, and religion. Anything else we can teach you. Sadly, we have yet to achieve universal perfection, so ads are often rife with “requirements” that are really preferences. As such, candidates should never view requirement lists as truly black and white.


Hilary Kraus, Research Services Librarian, UConn Library: Speaking from my experience in academic libraries, rules about required qualifications can be strict. This is especially true at public institutions. Hiring committees frequently use a matrix of the required and preferred qualifications from the job ad, confirming which of these each candidate meets based on their application materials. In these circumstances, required qualifications are typically deal-breakers. Anyone who doesn’t meet those cannot be interviewed.

The matrix is a great tool for reducing bias and encouraging objectivity in the search process. That said, it lacks flexibility. As a candidate, it’s your responsibility to find a way to demonstrate that you meet, in some capacity, all the required qualifications. In your cover letter and resume/CV, make this as clear as possible so it’s easy for the hiring committee to check those boxes. If your experience is more adjacent than exact, explain why what you know or have done is a sufficient match to that item in the job ad. And of course, you should also try to include how you meet as many of the preferred qualifications as possible, to stand out amongst other candidates.


Gemma Doyle, Collection Development Manager, EBSCO: Whether or not an employer is going to demand all of the job ad qualifications be met is something no job candidate can tell from the outside, so they definitely shouldn’t limit themselves to job where they met 100% of the qualifications.  Aim high!  You never know who else is in the candidate pool, and your experience may be more relevant and helpful than you might think from the outside.  However, and there is a however – some people might tell you that if a job interests you, you should apply, no matter what qualifications you’re missing, because the most they can do is not interview you; there’s no harm done.  I caution against that a little.  There is a point at which the gulf between an applicant’s experience and the required qualifications is just too large, and applying is going to make an applicant look like they don’t understand what the job is. If they’re applying for a higher-level job and have no experience at all, it pulls their judgment into question in a way employers are going to remember. 

It’s hard to pin down a percentage of job posting qualifications you need to hit that makes sense.  It really depends on the job, your experience and the qualifications you don’t have.  I think about it in terms of skills vs. experience.  If most of what you lack are things that can be learned on the job – the specific ILS, software, etc., then that’s one thing, and you can talk about the software skills you do have as a way of showing that you are able to pick up new skills.  But if you’re missing key experience, if the job is asking for 5 or more years of supervisory experience, and you have one or two (or none!) that can be a hard thing to overcome. 

If you think that might be the case for you, one thing you can do is reach out to the hiring manager – after the job is closed, so there’s no question that you’re trying to get a backdoor interview – and ask for an informational interview about what the role and what kinds of things they’re really looking for (beyond what’s in the job posting) and what kinds of things you can do to get that experience.  A lot of hiring managers are more than happy to talk about these things, and are thrilled people are interested in their jobs, even if they aren’t ready to apply to them yet. After we did our last hire at the beginning of the summer, I did a series of informational interviews with people who were interested in joining our team or a similar role someplace else someday, and I think they were helpful for everyone, including me. 


Julie Todaro, Dean, Library Services, Austin Community College: The shorter answers are: It depends, be careful, and be very careful about “getting creative.” The longer answers begin with Barbra Streisand (Fanny) in Funny Girl or Matt LeBlanc (Joey) on Friends where Fanny responds to Follies open audition requests by assuring casting staff that she can “roller skate” and Joey shows up to a commercial audition with his “twin” and swears at a movie audition that he does NOT have a certain physical “situation.” And all of these lies or “getting creative” with their truth are designed to get the job. So while it ends up going relatively well for Barbra, it does not end well for Joey, so for us – the answers lie somewhere in between.

Should people who don’t meet all the job qualifications still apply?

If the qualifications are identified as “required” and specific, my answer is no, they shouldn’t spend valuable job search time on an application that may not even make it out of an HR or Library vetting practice. I have this opinion for a number of reasons but – frankly – in many areas of the profession there are standards above the institution governing levels of achievement in general or to gain a specific salary and those requirements may well be in place because of accreditation requirements; state, regional or national standards; and, possibly workforce or municipality or governing board standards.

A general statement is – if the job description has both a required and preferred section, then when should one – reading a required section – ask questions?

  • If the education is both specific and vague such as “A master’s degree is required.” might yield the questions -Which master’s degree? What type of accreditation must accompany that master’s degree?
  • If the educational statement says or implies that years of experience might substitute for education one can consider an application. I have seen this approach come and go over the years, but it has now landed back on the acceptable list and many organizations are being more specific and saying – for example – two years of experience can substitute or count for one year of college education.
  • If the required years are a range such as 5 to 7 years, this might beg the question “Is this time counted in months?” or “I have 4.5 years – will that suffice?”
  • If the application timing is an issue, one should ask “I am finishing my master’s in May ’22, but it is now March ’22. Can I still apply with the expectation I would not start until my master’s is completed?”

The preferred section of the job description lists just that – what is preferred and I wholeheartedly say people should apply if they have all (obviously), some, some similar, or none of those elements preferred. In addition if the job description lists education, experience, competencies, expectations, etc. but there are no labels of preferred or required – interested applicants can either apply anyway or check with institutions first to ask if any of the listed areas ARE required or preferred. (One can always also ask, are these description areas prioritized?)

As to “getting creative” I say no….if you don’t have anything like it then don’t – again – spend valuable job search time on the application. BUT if titles mentioned are similar – if educational requirements aren’t clear or if job description terms simply don’t match the institution you came from or the educational program you attended, you can either call to clarify or apply and provide an honest crosswalk between what you have and what they have identified on the job description.

I do not have any stories of people who got jobs where they didn’t meet the qualifications. I do have more stories of people who embellish their self-assessment and identify themselves as “tech savvy” when they simply aren’t. And – although most organizations don’t “test” or assess before hiring to see if – in fact – you ARE tech savvy, most organizations have reinstituted the probationary period and also build into training some pre-assessment to determine where the new employee (still in the probationary period) might “be” in the skills and abilities and knowledge spectrum.

What I also think is perfectly acceptable – if you find you don’t have the preferred qualifications or the competencies or attributes listed on the job application – is to identify – for example – a tech level where you currently are – then your willingness to learn, the identification of a (possibly) self-training plan you feel could bring you up to the level or credential needed and – for example – a statement on how you learn and the speed with which you learn. Applicants might also provide examples of what they have done and – to provide validity to that – match up who in your references might know that information about you first hand. Then invite the potential manager with an invitation to contact the reference and ask about something specific to the skills and abilities or knowledge area to assure a potential supervisor that you are part of but not all of the way there, but you can “get there from here.”


Celia Rabinowitz, Dean of Mason Library, Keene State College: The answer to this week’s question is “it depends”. I think, more and more, many of us work in organizations where the application process is more automated and often managed by a Human Resources department that belongs to the institution (in my case, a college) and not directly to the library. When we identify required qualifications for a position we are required to verify that all candidates meet them in order to move forward in the search process. At the same time, many job ads indicate that “an acceptable combination of education and experience” may meet the requirements. So this is the opportunity for a candidate who does not meet the specific requirements to make their case.
Online application forms make it very difficult to ignore required or preferred elements of an ad. But here is one reason I like to see a submitted CV or resume as well as the online form (question from a few weeks ago). Use the resume to provide enough detail on experience or education that you want to create a compelling argument for your candidacy. And make good use of your cover letter to tell the search committee why the job interests you and what you would bring to the position. Give clear evidence of how you meet the qualifications – projects you have worked on or managed, skills you have, etc. Remember, when we say 2-4 years prior experience or doing a specific job like supervising, we really to mean 2-4 years. If you are close to the two years you meet the requirement. Don’t assume the hiring committee will privilege the candidates with 4 years’ experience. We are looking for a collection of experiences, education, and ideas from candidates. If we are working together thoughtfully we should look carefully at how each candidate presents themself.
My advice is not to apply for a job that you are clearly not qualified for. Your application may not advance past an initial review by staff other than in the library. If it does, it probably won’t advance once the search committee sees it, which is not a good use of anyone’s time. If you are interested in a job and think you are qualified, take the time to make that argument. Read the job description and show the search committee how your education and experience make you a qualified candidate.


We’d love to hear your thoughts here in the comments, on Twitter @HiringLib, or in whale song. If you have a question to ask people who hire library workers, or if you’d like to be part of the group that answers them, shoot me an email at hiringlibrariansATgmail.

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Filed under Further Questions

We clearly invite all qualified candidates to bring their entire self to the process

Marilyn Carbonell is leading the project Nathan Lang, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Public Library

Title: Head of children’s services.

Titles hired: Librarian, clerk, substitute, associate.

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ HR

√ Library Administration

√ The position’s supervisor

√ Employees at the position’s same level (on a panel or otherwise)

Which of the following does your organization regularly require of candidates?

√ Online application

√ Cover letter

√ Resume

√ References

√ Proof of degree

√ Demonstration (teaching, storytime, etc)

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ No

Briefly describe the hiring process at your organization and your role in it:

Post job, accept applications, decide on candidates to interview, conduct interviews, rate candidates, hire.

Think about the last candidate who really wowed you, on paper, in an interview, or otherwise. Why were they so impressive?

They had written plans for what they would ideally do in the position.

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

No

What do you wish you could know about candidates that isn’t generally revealed in the hiring process?

How they will connect with coworkers.

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ Only One!

Resume: √ Only One!

CV: √ We don’t ask for this

What is the most common mistake that people make in an interview?

Not taking a moment to collect thoughts and blurting out a negative answer.

Do you conduct virtual interviews? What do job hunters need to know about shining in this setting?

No

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

√ It’s part of the job ad

What does your organization do to reduce bias in hiring? What are the contexts in which discrimination still exists in this process?

We clearly invite all qualified candidates to bring their entire self to the process.

What questions should candidates ask you? What is important for them to know about your organization and the position you are hiring for?

We want to share our passion for literacy and serving our patrons.

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Midwestern US

What’s your region like?

√ Suburban

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Never or not anymore

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 11-50

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Filed under 1 A Return to Hiring Librarians Survey, 10-50 staff members, Midwestern US, Public, Suburban area

We’d rather wait a few seconds and get a well-thought out answer!

Headshot of Alan Smith. He wears glasses, a white shirt and tie.

Alan Smith is Director of the Florence County, SC Library System and holds a Master of Library and Information Science degree from the University of South Carolina. 

Over the past 20 years he has worked in rural, urban, and suburban public libraries, in a wide variety of roles.

Briefly describe the hiring process at your organization and your role in it:

I send all applications to the position’s direct supervisor and let them choose who to interview (I will sometimes add in a name too). We interview with a 3-person panel consisting of me, the position’s direct supervisor, and another manager. We rotate other managers in and out and always keep the panel as diverse as possible. After interviewing we score individually and discuss. I defer to the direct supervisor if our opinions differ.

After all this they go through our county’s background check and drug test.  

Titles hired include: Everything! From Branch Library Managers, Information Services Manager, Youth Services Coordinator, Training and Outreach Coordinator, to Pages, Library Assistants, Custodian, Maintenance, Courier…

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ Library Administration

√ The position’s supervisor

√ A Committee or panel 

Which of the following does your organization regularly require of candidates?

√ Online application

√ References

√ Proof of degree

√ Oral Exam/Structured interview

√ Demonstration (teaching, storytime, etc)

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ No 

Think about the last candidate who really wowed you, on paper, in an interview, or otherwise. Why were they so impressive?

She had a wide variety of experience, none of it in libraries, but really convincingly demonstrated how those skills and experiences would translate to our mission and values. 

Interviews are limited in what they can tell you — and I’ve hired folks with great interviews who turned out not to be great employees — but someone who gives a pleasant interview with thoughtful answers is at least demonstrating that they can do well in a stressful personal interaction, which is a pretty good indicator of customer service skills.

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Sounds obvious, but people who don’t show up for an interview and don’t call. We’ve had people do a complete no-show and then continue applying for other positions?! 

What do you wish you could know about candidates that isn’t generally revealed in the hiring process?

What kind of coworker are they? Will they help resolve conflicts among other employees or will they just enjoy watching drama unfold? Will they add to or strain social cohesion on the team?

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ Only One! 

Resume: √ As many as it takes, but keep it reasonable and relevant 

 CV: √ We don’t ask for this  

What is the most common mistake that people make in an interview?

Feeling like they have to answer immediately and not giving themselves a second to think about their answers. We’d rather wait a few seconds and get a well-thought out answer! And, people who are clearly reluctant to talk about their own accomplishments and virtues. This is where you toot your own horn! 

Do you conduct virtual interviews? What do job hunters need to know about shining in this setting?

Occasionally. Number one is site preparation – interview from a quiet, distraction free environment (as much as is within your control). 

How can candidates looking to transition from paraprofessional work, from non-library work, or between library types convince you that their experience is relevant? Or do you have other advice for folks in this kind of situation?

I’m more concerned whether candidates have done work aligned around a mission or set of values, and whether they have experience building good community relationships and/or working with customers, than whether they have done those things in a library setting. 

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

√ It’s part of the job ad 

What does your organization do to reduce bias in hiring? What are the contexts in which discrimination still exists in this process?

We always use a 3-person panel with members of different races and genders. That doesn’t eliminate individual unconscious bias, of course, but we try to acknowledge it in our discussions about candidates. I do worry about discrimination baked into the process itself, i.e., which candidates’ applications do we never even receive because we didn’t advertise where they would see it, didn’t convince them we were the type of place they would be welcome, etc. 

What questions should candidates ask you? What is important for them to know about your organization and the position you are hiring for?

Asking any kind of questions shows a level of interest and critical thinking that we’re really looking for. I like to hear questions about culture and environment (“What’s a typical day like here?” “What do you like most or least about the job?”), and questions about the overall organization’s direction (“What are the library’s top priorities?” “What would a successful person in this position be doing a year from now?”)

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Southeastern US 

What’s your region like?

√ Urban

√ Suburban

√ Rural 

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Other: Very limited remote options during early phases of COVID; our County required all-onsite after May 2020.

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 51-100

Is there anything else you’d like to say, either to job hunters or to me, the survey author? 

I’m always interested in hearing feedback on specific interview questions — questions that are especially illuminating, or well-known questions that are useless. Maybe beyond the scope of this survey though.

Author’s note: Hey, thanks for reading! If you like reading, why not try commenting or sharing? Or are you somebody who hires Library, Archives or other LIS workers? Please consider giving your own opinion by filling out the survey here.

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Filed under 1 A Return to Hiring Librarians Survey, 50-100 staff members, Public, Rural area, Southeastern US, Suburban area, Urban area

You need the hands on practical experience to compliment your studies, it makes your education that much more meaningful and solidifies what you are learning.

Civic library, Newcastle, 1957, Hood collectionThis anonymous interview is with an academic librarian who has been a hiring manager (you are hiring people that you will directly or indirectly supervise).  This person hires the following types of LIS professionals:

Interns, secondary school librarians and librarian assistants, teacher librarians, catalogers

This librarian works at a School Library with 0-10 staff members in an Urban area in Asia.

Do library schools teach candidates the job skills you are looking for in potential hires?

√ Depends on the school/Depends on the candidate

Should library students focus on learning theory or gaining practical skills? (Where 1 means Theory, 5 means practice, and 3 means both equally)

3

What coursework do you think all (or most) MLS/MLIS holders should take, regardless of focus?

√ Cataloging

√ Budgeting/Accounting

√ Grant Writing
√ Project Management
√ Collection Management
√ Web Design/Usability
√ Research Methods
√ Readers’ Advisory
√ Marketing
√ Soft Skills (e.g. Communication, Interpersonal Relations)

Do you find that there are skills that are commonly lacking in MLS/MLIS holders? If so, which ones?

Policy writing and the legal aspects of careers in libraries. It’s so important to protect yourself, your staff and patrons from legal situations that can be prevented with proper policies being written up.

When deciding who to hire out of a pool of candidates, do you value skills gained through coursework and skills gained through practice differently?

√ Yes–I value skills gained through a student job more highly

Which skills (or types of skills) do you expect a new hire to learn on the job (as opposed to at library school)?

Practical skills related to tasks can be learned on the job, such as book repair, book processing (i.e. new books, donations), office and desk organization and management (essential when working with a team), specific software skills (there are so many new types of software coming out it is not reasonable to expect this to be taught in library school).

Which of the following experiences should library students have upon graduating?

√ Library work experience

√ Professional organization involvement

√ Teaching assistant/Other instructional experience

Which library schools give candidates an edge (you prefer candidates from these schools)?

ALA accredited institutions, they have high standards. Library Schools from Europe, North America, or Australia. I would have to research certificates or degrees coming from lesser known institutions in Asia, Africa or South America.

Are there any library schools whose alumni you would be reluctant to hire?

Chinese institutions – Sadly, I have a hard time trusting that the standards of skills are a good fit for what I want candidates to be able to do in a North American style library. Many of the websites are in Chinese with no English option so I cannot verify what skills candidates have been taught, nor can I guarantee that the certificate is genuine.

What advice do you have for students who want to make the most of their time in library school?

Work or volunteer in a library at the same time! If you can’t get a library job, at least volunteer in one. You need the hands on practical experience to compliment your studies, it makes your education that much more meaningful and solidifies what you are learning.

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Filed under 0-10 staff members, School, Urban area, What Should Potential Hires Learn in Library School

our communities might not fully understand what we do

Nevins Memorial Library First Librarians c. 1900This anonymous interview is with a academic librarian who has been aA member of a hiring or search committee. This person hires the following types of LIS professionals:

Both librarians and staff

This librarian works at a library with 10-50 staff members in an urban area in the Western US.

Approximately how many people applied for the last librarian (or other professional level) job at your workplace?

√25-75

Approximately what percentage of those would you say were hirable?

√ 25% or less

And how would you define “hirable”?

Skills and experience were clearly defined and highlighted in the cover letter and CV to demonstrate the candidate was a good match for the needs of the position, whether through formal or informal experience.

How are applications evaluated, and by whom?

Applications used to be first screened by HR but now each search committee has access to all applications and does the first weeding of applications. There is a rubric and the search committee then ranks applicants to determine who will be invited to each stage of the interview process.

What is the most common reason for disqualifying an applicant without an interview?

They are not qualified for the position, which can be determined through enough information provided pointing to this, or by omission of information. When candidates don’t develop their application materials for the specific job they’re applying for, they can appear as not as qualified as others if they leave information out that the specific job posting asks for.Do you (or does your library) give candidates feedback about applications or interview performance?

Do you (or does your library) give candidates feedback about applications or interview performance?

√ Yes, if the candidate requests it

What is the most important thing for a job hunter to do in order to improve his/her/their hirability?

Be honest and thoughtful. Don’t try to hide information or puff up skills more than they are, the search committee will see through this. Candidates have scored extra points with me when they’ve honestly addressed gaps in employment, lack of experience in a certain area, or were straightforward about something they need to work on. The problem isn’t that someone is human, search committees realize things happen or maybe someone got more experience in one area than another–it’s when a candidate is insincere, and that sends a red flag.

I want to hire someone who is

open-minded

How many staff members are at your library/organization?

√ 100-200

How many permanent, full time librarian (or other professional level) jobs has your workplace posted in the last year?

√ 3-4

How many permanent, full time para-professional (or other non-professional level) jobs has your workplace posted in the last year?

√ 3-4

Can you tell us how the number of permanent, full-time librarian positions at your workplace has changed over the past decade?

√ There are fewer positions

Have any full-time librarian positions been replaced with part-time or hourly workers over the past decade?

√ No

Have any full-time librarian positions been replaced with para-professional workers over the past decade?

√ Other: The work defining a librarian position has changed over the years, so yes and no

Does your workplace require experience for entry-level professional positions? If so, is it an official requirement or just what happens in practice?

No, we truly consider candidates with no experience when we say something is entry-level.

Is librarianship a dying profession?

√ No

Why or why not?

Librarianship is a changing field and we are just as important as ever to our communities. The problem is not that we have “no identity” or are “replaceable” (according to a previous interviewee on this site), it’s that our communities might not fully understand what we do. There is so much information in the world that our students need to navigate, and that our faculty need for research. Our expertise is essential to organize this information, teach how to navigate this information, and connect our communities with the information they need.

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Filed under Academic, State of the Job Market 2015, Urban area, Western US

I’m often unsure as to how much professional experience employers will see me as having

Woman with gun and hunting dogs Tallahassee, Florida by State Archive of Florida via Flickr CommonsThis 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 Six months to a year. This person is looking in Academic library, Public library at the following levels: 

I apply for anything I think I have a shot

at–I only recently got my MLIS, but have worked in libraries for 10+ years, so I’m often unsure as to how much professional experience employers will see me as having.

This job hunter is in a urban area in the Southern US and is willing to move: I have certain areas I’m more willing to move to, but for the right job, I’m not ruling any location out.

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

An emphasis on user services, a comfortable salary range, and location that appeals to me.

Where do you look for open positions?

The big ones are ALA joblist, INALJ, and a weekly joblist email run by the program I graduated from. There are others I check periodically, but those are the big three.

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?

A few hours to a few days, depending on the job. I’ll usually look over the job posting a few times and look up the institution if I’m not already familiar with it, and I have a couple of form cover letters I’ll tailor to the job posting.

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

√ Other: I’ve exaggerated, but never outright lied.

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 clear in the posting about what the job entails and what the salary/benefits are, try to communicate with job seekers clearly and promptly.What should employers do to make the hiring process less painful?

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

Be sympathetic to the strain that jobhunting in earnest can put on a candidate. We’re constantly asked to demonstrate our enthusiasm for the job and sell ourselves as the best candidate, while at the same time knowing it might be weeks, months, or never before we hear anything back. It’s exhausting, and anything employers can do to make that easier is appreciated, even if it’s just touching base to let us know we’re still in consideration for the job.

What do you think is the secret to getting hired?

Honestly, I think it has a lot to do with luck. Judging from the number of library people I know who are currently jobhunting right now, there seem to be no shortage of qualified candidates for jobs, so I think there’s probably an element of being the one who says/does the right thing at the right time to catch and hold the employer’s interest.

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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Filed under Job hunter's survey, Midwestern US, Urban area

try volunteer work to pad your resume and show you’re serious

Astor Market - Demonstrating CoffeeThis anonymous interview is with a public librarian who has been a hiring manager and a member of a hiring or search committee. This person hires the following types of LIS professionals:

Reference and public service librarians, branch managers, technical service and collection development librarians, archivists

This librarian works at a library with 10-50 staff members in an urban area in the Western US.

Approximately how many people applied for the last librarian (or other professional level) job at your workplace?

√ 25 or fewer

Approximately what percentage of those would you say were hirable?

√ 26-50 %

And how would you define “hirable”?

Has that difficult to describe mix of experience, knowledge, personality and practicality.

How are applications evaluated, and by whom?

HR weeds out people who don’t meet the minimum criteria. Once those applicants are pulled, the hiring committee gets the applications and resumes and each person chooses 5 candidates. Then we all get together, see who we chose (usually it’s a mix of the same people) and choose 5 final candidates to interview.

What is the most common reason for disqualifying an applicant without an interview?

Lack of relevant experience.

Do you (or does your library) give candidates feedback about applications or interview performance?

√ Other: Upon request

What is the most important thing for a job hunter to do in order to improve his/her/their hirability?

Apply for jobs you are qualified for. If you don’t have experience in an area, then try volunteer work to pad your resume and show you’re serious. I have hired people who didn’t have paid work experience, but had volunteer experience, so it does work.

I want to hire someone who is

adaptable

How many staff members are at your library/organization?

√ 10-50

How many permanent, full time librarian (or other professional level) jobs has your workplace posted in the last year?

√ 2

How many permanent, full time para-professional (or other non-professional level) jobs has your workplace posted in the last year?

√ 2

Can you tell us how the number of permanent, full-time librarian positions at your workplace has changed over the past decade?

√ There are fewer positions

Have any full-time librarian positions been replaced with part-time or hourly workers over the past decade?

√ No

Have any full-time librarian positions been replaced with para-professional workers over the past decade?

√ Yes

Does your workplace require experience for entry-level professional positions? If so, is it an official requirement or just what happens in practice?

No, just an MLS, although when we look at resumes, we do tend to interview people who have had some experience in public libraries-even if it’s volunteer.

Is librarianship a dying profession?

√ No

Why or why not?

It’s changing, not dying.

 

Do you hire librarians?  Take this survey: http://tinyurl.com/hiringlibjobmarketsurvey or take other Hiring Librarians surveys.

For some context, look at the most recent summary of responses.

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Filed under 10-50 staff members, Public, State of the Job Market 2015, Urban area, Western US

Creative, easy to work with, a self-starter/proactive, and tech savvy.

Market scene in Paramaribo This anonymous interview is with an academic librarian who has been a member of a hiring or search committee. This person hires the following types of LIS professionals:

Reference Librarians

This librarian works at a library with 10-50 staff members in an urban area in the Midwestern US.

Approximately how many people applied for the last librarian (or other professional level) job at your workplace?

√ 75-100

How are applications evaluated, and by whom?

Applications are screened by the interview committee which consists of librarians, staff, an equity officer and administrators.

What is the most common reason for disqualifying an applicant without an interview?

Lack of appropriate experience.

Do you (or does your library) give candidates feedback about applications or interview performance?

√ No

What is the most important thing for a job hunter to do in order to improve his/her/their hirability?

Get relevant experience.

I want to hire someone who is

Creative, easy to work with, a self-starter/proactive, and tech savvy.

How many staff members are at your library/organization?

√ 10-50

How many permanent, full time librarian (or other professional level) jobs has your workplace posted in the last year?

√ 1

How many permanent, full time para-professional (or other non-professional level) jobs has your workplace posted in the last year?

√ 3-4

Can you tell us how the number of permanent, full-time librarian positions at your workplace has changed over the past decade?

√ There are the same number of positions

Have any full-time librarian positions been replaced with part-time or hourly workers over the past decade?

√ No

Have any full-time librarian positions been replaced with para-professional workers over the past decade?

√ No

Is librarianship a dying profession?

√ No

Why or why not?

Libraries are changing, but they are still relevant.

Do you hire librarians?  Take this survey: http://tinyurl.com/hiringlibjobmarketsurvey or take other Hiring Librarians surveys.

For some context, look at the most recent summary of responses.

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Filed under 10-50 staff members, Academic, Midwestern US, State of the Job Market 2015, Urban area