Tag Archives: Library

Job Hunter Follow Up: Cher Armstrong

 

We last heard from Cher Armstrong on January 5, 2015.  Her post appeared as Positive environment for patrons and library employees.

Where are you now? What’s your work situation like, and what path did you take this last year?

I am the a full-time librarian in the Reference department at a library serving a diverse population of approximately 30,000 people. My official job title is the New Adult/Digital Services Librarian. My town has a very large senior population due to the many 55+ communities. We also have many special-needs patrons such as those who were recently incarcerated and the homeless population. I was part-time at the beginning of the year but got promoted to full-time in July.

Looking at last year’s answers, have any of your attitudes changed?

My attitude has translated from idealistic to far more realistic in relation to working at a library. I have discovered that while I have a plethora of ideas, librarians have to cope with and adapt to factors such as budget, understaffing and the culture of the individual library. What works for one library might not work or might even be infeasible in another library.

What’s your best advice for job hunters?

I would look for ways to get experience related to the library job you want in any way you can. Aspiring public librarians, for example, need to be able to show they will be able to interact with a wide population and help them procure what they need. Customer service skills are very useful; skills from fields such as retail can easily translate over to library service. If you have no library experience, be ready to showcase how the skillsets you’ve acquired in other places can be beneficial to a library.

Questions for Cher?  She is willing to answer them, just post in the comments.

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Job Hunter Follow Up: Elise Lafosse

 

elise lafosseWe last heard from Elise Lafosse on September 10, 2014 in the post: I have the skills to learn a new ILS very quickly.  

Where are you now? What’s your work situation like, and what path did you take this last year?

I am at Otis Library in Norwich, CT which is about an hour commute each way from my home. I only work 12 hours a week. Sometimes I step in to help a few extra hours if needed. I still keep looking for other positions as a librarian in a public library or a cataloger. So far I have not had any luck. So my current situation is not ideal. I am still looking for a position closer to home.

Looking at last year’s answers, have any of your attitudes changed?

I still love working in public libraries and still am committed to finding a position in a public library with more hours and closer to home. However it has been very discouraging recently. I applied to about three positions in the past month, none of which called me for an interview. I wonder if it is because of my age which is 54 years old.

What’s your best advice for job hunters?

Be persistent. Volunteer your skills as well as this can help you get in the door. I think I may have gotten a cataloging contract over the summer partly because I volunteer as a cataloger at the library for the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art where I also give tours.

Anything else you want to share with us?

Well currently I feel quite discouraged based on the results of my job search last month. So right now I am taking a break. Perhaps things will begin to look up in the new year.

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Job Hunter Follow Up: Amber Hawkins

Amber Hawkins took the original survey in January 2013. Her responses appeared as Be more forthcoming about requirements. We followed up with her on December 17, 2013 and again on December 11, 2014.

Your Job

What’s your current work situation? 

Full-time as a library assistant in a large law firm.

Is this job the same as you had when we followed up with you last year? If not, please describe briefly how you got this new job.

It is not. I got laid off from my previous job and one of my coworkers at that place happened to mention me to the director of research services. I went through a recruiter, but eventually got hired.

Is your job commensurate with your skills and experience?

I don’t have any legal experience, but it’s definitely allowing me to use my foundationary library skills. Though, I am learning quite a lot.

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

Lower.

How your job different from what you thought you might do, when you first embarked on your job hunt?

For starters, I’m working in the legal field. I had really only been applying with public and state libraries. Also, the turnaround time is a lot quicker than I was used to.

Have you had a chance to participate in hiring any LIS workers? Any lessons or observations from the experience?

I recently sat in on some informal interviews to see how well candidates would fit in with the team we have in place. That was a really interesting experience. I think it helped when the interviewee had questions for us about our job. It made me think they were interested in the position they were applying for.

Have you had a chance to negotiate a raise and/or title change? What was that like?

No, I have not.

What’s the next step for your career?

I’m hoping that I will become a research librarian here at the law firm.

Your Perspectives

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

Mostly negative as I received a lot of rejections until this position came along.

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

A little. Being in the area for which you are applying really helps, but I’d also add knowing someone who works there and can put in a good word for you.

Do you have any advice for job hunters and/or library school students?

We actually have a few library school students on our team. I would say to apply for positions even if you don’t have your degree. You never know what might happen.

Do you have any advice for hiring managers?

If you tell the interviewee that you’ll let them know within a week whether or not they have the job, stick to that time frame. Waiting a month before sending a rejection letter is unprofessional.

What’s your ideal work situation? (hours, location, library type, etc.)

A normal day shift (8-5 or 9-6), environment with a good team atmosphere, public or (now) legal library, some autonomy to do projects and be innovative.

Anything else you want to tell us?

I really enjoy my job now even though it’s not at all what I was looking for.

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Job Hunter Follow Up: Marcus Walker

Marcus WalkerMarcus Walker took the Job Hunter’s survey on May 28 2014. His responses appeared as Many of them also have library staff experience, and if there is anyone who should know how valuable that can be, it’s librarians.

Your Background

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

It’s been a little more than a year since I completed the actual work that went into the degree.

How many years of library work experience do you have?

Including my time as an undergraduate library assistant, I have over nine years of experience. Without it, seven.

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

About three and a half.

How old are you? 

I’m in my mid-30s.

Your Job Hunt

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

It took about six months.

How many positions did you apply to?

Five.

How many interviews did you go on?

One.

What was your work situation while you were job hunting?

I was still employed full-time where I was before.

Were you volunteering anywhere?

No, I wasn’t.

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

I didn’t have to travel for any interviews.

Did you decline any offers?

No.

Your Job

What’s your new job?

I’m the Digital Collections Librarian at the University of Louisville Law Library.

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

Full-time.

Did you relocate? If so, who paid?

Sure. My desk moved from the middle of the floor to the back.

How did you find the listing for your job?

I was told about the position being created, and I was encouraged to apply for it once it was.

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

It did meet the qualifications.

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

It was rather humorous, frankly. Since I was applying for a position at the same place I worked, I couldn’t use the references at the library, nor could I be there when the other applicants were.

How did you prepare for the interview(s)?

I looked at the digital collections at the main campus library and at other libraries, and I went over the accomplishments I made, just as I would if it were a job somewhere else. (Want to know something odd? I felt more stressed during that interview than the one I had to get the library assistant position, despite knowing exactly what they were expecting, as it was a position they had wanted to create before I started the first time.)

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

Yes. It’s the same library. 🙂

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

The job is appropriate for my skill set and experience. (It would have been without the degree, too.) And so far, it exceeds my expectations.

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

You know how you were told as a child that patience is a virtue? Well, so is prudence. 😉

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

I cringe at this, because I know what so many of my fellow new grads and colleagues are going through, but the biggest obstacle was waiting for the position I have to be approved. I applied to other jobs in the meantime, and while I thought my colleagues did like me enough to keep me around, not knowing when the position was coming made me feel just as stressed as if there was no position crawling through university bureaucracy.

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

Frankly, they knew me and my work. I was somewhat familiar with one of the applicants from school (as familiar as you can be with someone you take online courses with), and she was brilliant enough to make me worry.

State of the Job Market

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

Can I change that a bit? I have seen two part-time job announcements that clearly are the same position advertised as different positions in order to keep from paying full-time benefits. Close are the part-time positions that are scheduled an hour (or even a half-hour) short of paying partial benefits. I get it, but, wow.

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

I’m sure you figured this out already, but this job hunt was about as positive of an experience as it could have been. And I still wouldn’t want to go through it again.

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

I wouldn’t change it, necessarily, but I would add a suggestion. While I consider myself incredibly fortunate to have had a position created in the same library I worked, if I were someone that did not do good work and they did not want around, they could have just as easily given the position to someone else or not have bothered with the position at all. So my suggestion to anyone going to library school or going through library school is, if at all possible, find yourself a job in a library and let your work make a positive impression.

Anything else you want to tell us?

I was on the committee to hire my replacement for the library assistant position. There are a few things I can say, but one stands out, since it was one of my peeves as an applicant: The cover letter does make a difference. Let the committee know why your work experience fits the position, and you will likely outshine three-quarters of the applicants by doing that alone.

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Job Hunter Follow Up: Michael Grutchfield

Michael Grutchfield

Michael Grutchfield took the Job Hunter’s survey on January 7, 2013.

His responses appeared earlier today as I Want to Put My Training to Use.

Your Background

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

2 and a half years

How many years of library work experience do you have?

about four years

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

Well, my first job was 24 years ago, though to be honest, I’ve been in and out of school and unemployment, so it’s somewhat less than that

How old are you? 

44

Your Job Hunt

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

Two years

How many positions did you apply to?

104

How many interviews did you go on?

Six

What was your work situation while you were job hunting?

Mixed. I started while still in school, was employed part time part of the time, and self-employed part of the time.

Were you volunteering anywhere?

Yes.

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

I did travel, and in all cases I paid for it.

Did you decline any offers?

No.

Your Job

What’s your new job?

I have two now: the first is Reference Librarian for Rogue Community College and the second is Collection Development Librarian for Josephine Community Libraries

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

RCC is part time and temporary. JCLI is part time (expanding to full time some of the time) and permanent.

Did you relocate? If so, who paid?

I did, and I paid.

How did you find the listing for your job?

RCC was I think through the Pacific Northwest Library Assc. They were the ones who told me about Josephine.

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

Almost certainly yes to the first question. I don’t recall now, but I’d say at least half of the desired qualifications.

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

RCC: the application was the usual HR online form, followed by a single telephone interview. JCLI had a Word document I had to fill out and print to sign, then scan and send back to them. I had a screening interview with an HR contractor via Skype. Then they set aside a day for interviews in person. I think there were three distinct interviews that day: one by the current collection development librarian (that was more like an informal conversation about collection development and the reality of working here), one by several members of the staff, and one by a couple of members of the board.

How did you prepare for the interview(s)?

I seem to recall that the RCC interview happened within 24 hours of their first contact with me, so there wasn’t much time to prepare! I took some time to look at their website and resources, and to familiarize myself with the school’s website. For Josephine, I had more time, so I looked at their business plan and spent some time going through their catalog to get an idea what they had and where I might find “holes” in the collection.

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

No.

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

For RCC: yes. For Josephine, I’d be inclined to to say that I came in with less experience than would be preferable, but the opportunity for experience was too good to pass up.

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

RCC is higher than I expected per hour, but of course it’s only part time. Josephine is much lower than I’d have taken without the second job.

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

Probably living in an area with a LOT of unemployed/semi-employed librarians, and also a library school putting new people into the market each year

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

Well, apart from being personable and brilliant, I bring a certain amount of life-experience as an older candidate, which gives me a broader set of skills than many recent library school graduates.

State of the Job Market

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

I think I used it in the initial interview.

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

Ugh. Actually, I like the part where they ask if there’s anything I’d like to tell them about myself. Also, what’s my favorite book (my new manager admitted that my answer to this question sealed the deal for me). I hate the one about my biggest weakness, but it’s always going to be there.

Any good horror stories for us?

There’s one issue that’s bothered me for some time, which is the way HR depts at academic libraries are dismissing ALA accreditation. Because I went to school outside the country (Canada), I had to pay an independent company $200 to “evaluate” my degree in order to apply to most schools in California, and even some in Oregon. I think that’s a ridiculous requirement – the ALA has already “evaluated” my school, and they have far more qualification to do so than any contractor or HR dept does. I think ALA should issue a statement on this

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

Job hunting is not positive, but the interviews are usually enjoyable opportunities to meet other librarians.

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

I said “persistence” and I’d stand by that. Maybe I’d add “luck” and “flexibility.”

Anything else you want to tell us?

Nope, that’s it for now! Thanks.

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Job Hunter Follow Up Year Two: Sarah Brown

sarah brown job hunterSarah Brown took the Job Hunter’s survey on January 4, 2013.

Her responses appeared as as If you let us know up front, you’ll get quality applicants that you can afford.

We last followed up with her on January 8, 2014.

Your Job

What’s your current work situation?

Employed full time AND part-time

Is this job the same as you had when we followed up with you last year? If not, please describe briefly how you got this new job.

Yes to the FT position. The PT is new. PT position was strictly word of mouth – someone who knows my boss was looking for a evening/weekend librarian. My boss knows I have an interest in academic libraries, and passed the info along. One short phone conversation and an email with my resume later, I was hired. This survey will focus on the FT position.

Is your job commensurate with your skills and experience?

For the most part. I feel it is a good fit with my skill level in every aspect of the job but instruction – this is something I was doing quite a bit at my first job, and something I would like to do again in the future. Unfortunately, I’m not currently gaining much experience with it. Last year I also lamented the lack of supervisor experience in this position, but I was “promoted” to the Page Supervisor eight months into the position, so I’m gaining that experience again.

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

Pay scale is what I would expect (lower than what I ideally think the position should command, but not outrageously so). The problem is the freeze on performance-based raises.

How is your job different from what you thought you might do, when you first embarked on your job hunt?

When I first started looking, I was only looking at museum libraries, since I focused on that type in grad school, and did my internship at a museum library. I was convinced that my strengths lay in reference, instruction and outreach to a museum community. My current job’s main duties revolve around around many of these same things – being a supervisor to paraprofessionals, reference, outreach, and creating library instruction sessions for volunteers to teach – but for the public community.

Have you had a chance to participate in hiring any LIS workers? Any lessons or observations from the experience?

I have been on the hiring committee for two paraprofessional employees. Through this, I’ve learned that competition for these positions is fierce, and that it is important to hire the person, not their experience. Personality goes a long way towards a fulfilling employer/employee relationship. Also, I more fully understand what a great cover letter can do for increasing the chances you’ll at least get an interview.

Have you had a chance to negotiate a raise and/or title change? What was that like?

Unfortunately, no. I’m in a public library, which is part of county administration where I am. There has been a freeze on performance-based raises since for several years (since 2008 I believe). I have taken on more responsibility since I’ve been here – I’ve been “promoted” to a supervisor and have the responsibility that entails (hiring, firing, in charge of building when branch manager is absent, etc), but it is not within the county’s pay structure to give me a new title or move up the pay scale.

What’s the next step for your career?

My career path is not straight. Hopefully my venture into public librarianship will not derail me, and I’ll be able to either get back into academic libraries or get my foot in the door at a museum library soon-ish. My new part-time position is at an academic library, so hopefully that experience will help me make the leap to full time in the future. I’m growing a lot and have gained more experience than I would have thought possible at this public library in the past 1 ½ years. However, I am ready to get into a position where my efforts are geared towards the needs of a more research-based community. I said last year that I planned to stay here for five years, but due to several factors that’s been shortened to three (so another year and a half from now). I plan to spend the next year or two continuing to grow where I am, including completing a state-wide library leadership institute and doing more outreach and program-building for my library system. Then, I’ll start my more focused, less frenetic job search.

Your Perspectives

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

There were certainly positive aspects to the experience, but the overall was negative. So many hours spent on cover letters, resumes, and applications that disappeared into a HR black hole. It was really mentally rough to not only not get these jobs, or even interviews for these job, but to not even know what I was doing wrong so that I could take steps to fix it.

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

I originally said you needed to be genuine and slightly aggressive. I still think that’s true, but I’ll add to it. Now that I’m not a complete “entry-level” candidate, I’m starting to realize the importance that “knowing someone” and having a good reputation will be in my next search.

Do you have any advice for job hunters and/or library school students?

Don’t block yourself in to one type of librarianship – be open to different types of positions and organizations. Remember that hardly anyone gets their dream job right away – its more important in the long run to start getting professional experience than hold out for the perfect position. That being said, its also important that you interview your interviewers and make sure you think you’ll be at least moderately happy in the position before you accept.

Do you have any advice for hiring managers?

Remember that you can train someone new skills, software, etc. You cannot teach someone to get along with their co-workers, have drive and dedication to the field, etc. Be willing to be a little flexible on that required two years (or more) experience in x type of library. When writing the job announcement, try to really describe the position – some ads have lists of skills a mile long, with no information on how often or in what type of environment those skills will be used. Finally, remember that all your applicants are people that worked hard on their application – at least let them know where they stand when HR says you can.

What’s your ideal work situation?

Ideally, I’d like to work at either a research university or large museum (Smithsonian, National Gallery, Boston MFA, etc). I am pretty flexible with hours, but would really prefer to work evenings or weekends only if there is an event going on – being there just to be there is frustrating for me. Really, my ideal would be a flex schedule, where I could work 9 hour days and have three day weekends every other week, but that’s a long shot. I want to work as a part of a team, and would love to continue doing outreach. I’d like to live and work in a more urban environment – where I can either walk, bike or take public transit for most things. I’m looking at a few ideal cities that meet these requirements – hopefully some positions will become available when I’m ready to get serious about renewing the search.

Anything else you want to tell us?

Can’t think of anything. Thanks for doing this!

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Job Hunter Follow Up: Sarah Brown

This post originally appeared on January 8, 2014. A year two follow up will post shortly.
sarah brown job hunterSarah Brown completed the original survey on January 4, 2013. Her responses appeared earlier today as If you let us know up front, you’ll get quality applicants that you can afford.

Your Background

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

It will be 2 years as of December 17, 2013

How many years of library work experience do you have?

FT professional: 1 year, 8 months. If you include my internship and volunteer experience (some which was part time) I’ve been working in libraries for 2 years, 10 months.

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

8 ½. I got my first job at 16 and have been working ever since.

How old are you?

28

Your Job Hunt

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

I looked pretty continually for about 1 ½ years.

How many positions did you apply to?

I’m unsure. I would estimate in the 80-100 range.

How many interviews did you go on?

5 phone, 2 Skpye, 6 in-person (for 7 positions)

What was your work situation while you were job hunting?

In the 1 ½ years it took me to find this position, I was many of these at some point. I started the job search 2 months before I graduated. After I graduated, I was working part-time. I found full-time employment (that I knew wasn’t right for me, but I was broke) and continued the search.

Were you volunteering anywhere?

During the first 6 months, yes. After I started working FT, no.

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

Yes. I did for 2 in-state positions. They did for 1 out-of-state position.

Did you decline any offers?

Yes.

Your Job

What’s your new job?

Reference and Adult Programming Librarian

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

FT, permanent

Did you relocate? If so, who paid?

Yes. I did.

How did you find the listing for your job?

GovernmentJobs.com

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

Yes. Only 1 desired qualification – I did not meet it.

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

Because it is a county position, there were many forms to fill out. I did two interviews – 1 phone, 1 in-person.

How did you prepare for the interview(s)?

Read over job description and my application I submitted. Researched library system and county on web.

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

The library system I work for is a department of the county. I did not know anyone in the library system, but I have two in-laws in other departments. Their departments are in no way related to the library and they were not involved in the hiring process. I did have to disclose that I was related to them during the initial application.

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

The job is commensurate with my years of experience and what I expected of this position. It unfortunately does not give me a chance to utilize and grow my instruction and supervisory skills, of which I have 1 ½ years of experience in a library setting.

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

It is at the low end of what I could accept.

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

Myself and my unrealistic expectations. Coming to grips with the fact that my dream jobs and dream employers had A LOT of applicants for open positions was hard. As someone just starting my career, I could not compete with more established librarians for these coveted positions. I had to realize that if my second job out of grad school isn’t my dream job in my choice location, that’s ok. I decided to apply to some organizations that are large enough to give me an opportunity have mentors and (hopefully) earn a promotion or two in the next 5ish years. Then I plan to revisit my dream jobs as a more qualified applicant.

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

I actually have no idea. My 6 month review is coming up though, so I’ll ask.

State of the Job Market

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

I saw a full time professional position in Manhattan (NYC, not Kansas) with a $30k salary listed about a year ago. This equates to less than $15/hr – what NYC fast food workers say they need as a minimum wage.

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

Favorite: a very blunt, “Why should I hire you?”
Worst: “If I asked your last supervisor, what would s/he say you need to improve?” (I hate this one because you either have to sound conceited and say “nothing to improve”, or try to be self-depreciating and find a flaw that’s not a flaw to expound upon.)

Any good horror stories for us?

I received a form email from a government agency informing me I was disqualified for a position I had applied to because I didn’t have the required degree (MLS/ MLIS). I did have the degree. When I emailed to find out if this email was sent mistakenly, as my unofficial graduate transcript showing MLIS and date awarded was submitted with the application, they said HR couldn’t find the statement of degree awarded on it. Even though I walked HR through and showed them exactly where it did indeed give them that information, I was not able to be moved to the eligible pool of applicants, as no one had the authority to reverse the original disqualification. Ah, bureaucracy….

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

Negative.

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

No.

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: R.C. Miessler

RC MiesslerR.C. Miessler took the Job Hunter’s survey on January 13, 2013.

His responses appeared as Check Out the Library/Institution (and the City) on Wikipedia.

Your Background

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

I graduated in December 2012, so 2 years.

How many years of library work experience do you have?

Less than 2, I didn’t start working in a library until my last year of school.

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

14

How old are you? 

35

Your Job Hunt

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

I applying for librarian jobs in April 2012, so pretty much 2 years on the nose.

How many positions did you apply to?

Over 100.

How many interviews did you go on?

14 first round, 8 second round.

What was your work situation while you were job hunting?

In school for 6 months of the job hunt, and also working 60 hours a week between 2 jobs.

Were you volunteering anywhere?

Yes, in an academic library where I got my first master’s degree. That led to a part-time position there. I also volunteered for INALJ.

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

Yes. When I had to stay overnight, my rooms were taken care of by each institution, but only two institutions reimbursed me for travel expenses (and for one of those institutions, I had 3 on-site interviews for 2 different positions and only got reimbursed for 1 trip, so go figure).

Did you decline any offers?

I declined one part-time position as it wasn’t a good fit and didn’t pay enough.

Your Job

What’s your new job?

Systems Librarian at Gettysburg College.

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

Full time, permanent.

Did you relocate? If so, who paid?

Yes, from Indiana to Pennsylvania. The college reimbursed me for most of my expenses.

How did you find the listing for your job?

I’m pretty sure I found it via a listserv posting, it might have been on my radar via the ALA JobLIST as well. I wasn’t looking to relocate to PA so I wasn’t actively looking on PA job sites.

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

All of the required, 3 of the desired.

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

It was an online application system, which I normally despise, but it was better than most of them. I had one phone interview, one on-campus interview.

How did you prepare for the interview(s)?

I studied the library’s strategic plan, as well as the college’s curriculum, and spent a lot of time reading up on digital humanities. I also read Engard & Gordon’s The Accidental Systems Librarian (2nd ed.) and Krug’s Don’t Make Me Think (Revisited), and reread The Killer Angels since I was getting the chance to visit Gettysburg.

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

No.

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

I believe so. What I don’t know, I’ve been willing and able to learn. It’s been a great fit for me.

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

A little higher than I expected, and very thankful for that.

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

Relocating was one of the bigger obstacles. I didn’t really want to relocate, and if I did, it had to be somewhere that I really wanted to be and vice versa. The lousy job market didn’t help either.

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

I think my strong general background in technology, IT support and intellectual curiosity were big factors. As much as I hated doing retail and call center work at times, I did get a lot of useful experience. I would say they had pity on me … but I think overall they hired me because I was a good fit for the position, library and college.

State of the Job Market

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

Any announcement that asks for letters of reference up front is ridiculous. There were a couple of jobs I didn’t apply for because of that requirement, not because I couldn’t get them, but it puts a burden on my references to have to create a generic letter and send it out, when an email or phone call after the fact is more effective and tailored towards a candidate. Overall, I think that most job announcements are too jargon-y and full of buzzwords, and need to be written like a human is reading them.

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

Nothing stands out as a favorite, but I enjoy questions that let me tell a story why I am passionate about doing something and invite follow-up from the interviewers. I think a conversation works a lot better than a canned list of questions, and I was able to have real conversations in some cases (including the interviews for my current job). As for worst, super-generic questions that get asked at most interviews are awful. I think this post from The Oatmeal sums up my feelings: http://theoatmeal.com/comics/interview_questions

Any good horror stories for us?

One on-site interview involved several group interviews throughout the day, I think I met about 100 people and it was incredibly overwhelming. After my presentation one of the faculty at the presentation was very aggressive in their questioning and I kind of just deflated, and they weren’t involved with the hiring committee in any way, so it was kind of pointless to be putting me through the wringer like that. Another on-site interview tried to keep me away from the person I would have been replacing, but they found me anyway, and it was a rather odd and uncomfortable moment of my day.

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

I was fortunate enough to have jobs during my job hunt, and managers who knew my career path and were willing to let me take time off for interviews and even serve as a reference. There were a few hiring committee chairs who also took some time to talk to me about the interview, after I didn’t get the job, to encourage me to keep looking and to not settle for anything less than a professional librarian position. But it’s an incredibly discouraging process overall.

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

I really think it’s right place, right time, along with hundreds of other intangibles that can’t be quantified, so I guess the secret is, there is no one secret to getting hired, and if there were, it would constantly change. Ask 10 employed librarians how to get a librarian job, you get 20 answers, and none of them are right for everyone. They might have worked for them, but like all job seeking advice, take it with a grain of salt. You get lucky with the right opportunity, right hiring managers, and how you present yourself. As I found, even knowing the people involved in the hiring process doesn’t guarantee anything. I really hate to say that willingness to relocate is important, since not everyone can for various reasons, but it does open up options. Casting a wider net just helps statistically, it doesn’t say anything about your work ethic or personality. It’s really easy to get discouraged, angry, cynical, etc. about finding a job as a librarian, and that’s ok. Persistence, a sense of humor, and a good support group are vital.

Anything else you want to tell us?

If you work for a non-profit and have federal student loans, see if you qualify for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program.

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Job Hunter Follow Up: Raymond Wang

This post originally appeared on December 18, 2013. A year two follow up with Mr. Wang will post shortly.
raymond wangRaymond Wang took the Job Hunter’s survey on February 27, 2013. His responses appeared as This Should Be a Profession That Cares and Has Empathy, Not a Profession That Reinforces a “Dog Eat Dog World.”

Your Background and Situation

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

3 years

How many years of library work experience do you have?

2 years part time off and on

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

2 years as a middle school math teacher

How old are you?

33

What’s your current work situation?

driving for a private car service ( Uber) and freelance tutor

Are you volunteering anywhere?

Not right now, I have in the past.

Your Job Hunt

How long have you been job hunting at this point?

over 2 + years

What kinds of jobs are you currently applying for?

entry level librarian position

Approximately how many positions have you applied to?

50 +

Approximately how many interviews have you gone on?

10+

How do you prepare for interviews?

look over the job description, pull some sample interview questions from a website or commonly asked interview questions for librarians. Write the responses out and rehearse them with a friend or mentor.

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

Yes, I have paid all expenses

Have you declined any offers?

Yes I have declined interview offers, not job offers.

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

The interview process, getting the interview, and then delivering your responses perfectly. Some of the interviewers are stone faced and almost robotic. It makes you feel even more anxious, so you have to just smile and keep smiling even if they don’t smile back.

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

I got a mentor to look over my application before I submit, resume, cover letter, and answers to supplemental responses Also, I try to do a mock interview practice before the real thing.

State of the Job Market

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

pretty negative because I was never prepared to deal with such a competitive job market

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

networking, timing, and answering the same old interview questions that make you stand out from the rest.

Anything else you want to tell us?

Thank you for letting us participate and I hope this will be useful to everyone in the library profession including (library employers)

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 Year Two: Raymond Wang

Raymond Wang took the Job Hunter’s survey on February 27, 2013. His responses appeared as This Should Be a Profession That Cares and Has Empathy, Not a Profession That Reinforces a Dog Eat Dog World. We followed up with him last year on December 18, 2013.

Your Job

What’s your current work situation? 

I work as a full-time community services librarian at Millbrae Library. I finally get full time benefits that include retirement and health insurance.

Did you relocate for your job? If so, who paid?

I did relocate for my job and I paid for all of it.

How did you find the listing for your job?

I found it on the CALIX list serv, BayNet list-serv and APALA list-ser

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

I did meet all the required qualifications. I also met all the desired qualifications

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

The application process was very long. Prior to the in-person interview, I had to submit a two-three minute video presentation of myself reading a children’s story. I also did a in-person panel interview and a follow-up telephone interview with a Chinese mandarin speaker.

How did you prepare for the interview(s)?

I studied up on all the required job qualifications, read the job announcement many times, checked the library’s websites, and looked over my cover letter and resume that I submitted. I also looked at sample interview questions from multiple library blogs including Hiring Librarians.

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

Yes, I knew two people on the panel interview. One person was in my professional library organization and the other one was in a non-profit library fundraiser organization.

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

I would say that my job does commensurate with my skills and experience. I did not really know what to expect with my until I met with my manager and staff.

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

The pay scale was just about right for a librarian job anywhere else in the country, but due to the ever so increasingly high cost of living in the Bay Area it should be a little more.

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

I would say getting the interview and beating the application pool.

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

I think having knowledge of a foreign language really helped me and knowing people that are on the panel interview definitely did not hurt.

Your Job Hunt

How long did it take to find your job?

I finished library school in December 2010 so I would say almost 4 years

How many positions did you apply to?

I would say at least over 100.

How many interviews did you go on?

I would say I went to about 10-15 interviews

What was your work situation while you were job hunting?

I was unemployed, volunteering, and freelancing as a tutor

Were you volunteering anywhere?

Yes, I volunteered at KPFK in Los Angeles and East Los Angeles Community College Library

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

Yes I traveled quite a bit and I was not paid.

Did you decline any offers?

No I did not

State of the Job Market

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

I don’t remember because it was so ridiculous I must have blocked it out of my most recent memory.

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

Why should we hire you? Why did you leave your last position?

Any good horror stories for us?

Nope

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

It has been a very difficult experience for the most part that allowed me to learn a lot of life’s many challenges.

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

No

What’s your ideal work situation? (hours, location, library type, etc.)

I did want to work in an academic library with more intellectually stimulated reference questions or in a historical archive, however without much experience coming out of library school I would say I am very satisfied with my current work situation.

Anything else you want to tell us?

Thank you for keeping this website up! It has been so helpful for me and I strongly believe your questions and my answers can definitely help the new library graduates as well

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