Tag Archives: Resumes and Portfolios

Further Questions: Do employers even look at portfolios?

This week we asked people who hire librarians

What is your perspective on portfolios, especially if they are mostly comprised of class projects? Some library schools build them into coursework as a graduation requirement. Are they useful or influential in the hiring process? Do employers even look at them? If so, does format (electronic vs. print) matter?

Christine Hage - Dark backgroundNot really interested in portfolios.  Sometimes the web pages are interesting, but I haven’t seen anything super impressive.
I’m much more interested in personality.  What kind of work ethic does the person have?  What kind of customer service skills?  Do they have any library experience?  Have they worked anywhere as a volunteer?
– Christine Hage, Director, Rochester Hills Public Library

I’ve never been given a portfolio as part of an application. Resumes, yes, but portfolios, no. I’m not sure when it might be useful, unless I was advertising for a very specific job and the portfolio showcased skills needed for that position. But for the kinds positions I’ve hired-general reference or public service librarians, I can’t really think of how a portfolio could be any more helpful than a well-crafted resume and/or solid work experience.

– Margaret M. Neill, Regional Library Branch Manager, Main Library, El Paso Public Library

Julie TodaraI like it when applicants send or bring portfolios to the interview. While it is not practical to think that employers would look at it during the interview, it is great to have someone provide something to review post-interview. Also, it is my opinion that employers understand that recent grads have content from their coursework. With that in mind; however, it is important that people choose class projects that relate to the jobs they want…so if you are applying for work with me at the college and it’s for reference, a portfolio of technical services projects (or visa versa) – while helpful by design and delivery – is less helpful than a reference class project. If that’s all you have for us though…connect the dots for me…that is, indicate what about it contributed to or formed your skill sets…. the instructional design, the webpage success illustrated by metrics, etc.
I also love to get podcasts, streaming video, a CD/DVD of a body of work OR a webpage designed by the applicant. That being said, you need to have been responsible for all of it…so a LibGuide or SubjectsPlus or a teaching or IL presentation should be content ONLY from you.
So they ARE helpful or useful and can be influential (especially when the content relates to the institution you are interviewing with)…YES, we look at them and while the general format answer is “it depends” in today’s market you can prepare something in print but I would have a e-component to it.
– Julie Todaro, Dean, Library Services, Austin Community College

I have found portfolios to be very helpful, especially when hiring librarians for children’s work. And for a position in Graphics, it was essential.

– Kaye Grabb, Lake Forest Library

Thank you as always to our contributors for their time and insight.  If you’re someone who hires librarians and are interested in participating in this feature, please email us at hiringlibrariansquestionsATgmail.com.

Thank YOU for reading!  If you liked reading, you’re going to really love COMMENTING.

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Filed under Further Questions

Don’t Try to be Funny

National Archives Staff, 1984

This anonymous interview is with someone from an Academic library who has been a hiring manager and a member of a hiring committee.  This person’s library has 100-200 staff members.  When asked “Are you a librarian?”, this person left the answer blank.

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

They are specifically interested in and qualified for the job
They are able to make a case for their specific experience qualifying them for the job
They have demonstrated initiative in their previous work or academic experience

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

Not making it clear they are interested in THIS JOB as opposed to any job; not having done much (or any) research about my library before coming to interview. Well, and not having whatever experience we’ve indicated is required.

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

Humor. Don’t try to be funny. Don’t try to be clever. No pictures!

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

Occasionally people fail to explain what they did in a given position, at least insofar as it relates the job they are applying for. Also, please tell me if the job was full or part time.

How many pages should a cover letter be?

√ Other: One for an entry-level position, more as the position goes up the ladder.

How many pages should a resume/CV be?

√ Other: As many as it takes, but enough is enough. It doesn’t have to be short and sweet, but I don’t need to know minor committees you were on.

Do you have a preferred format for application documents?

√ .pdf

Should a resume/CV have an Objective statement?

√ No

If applications are emailed, how should the cover letter be submitted?

√ As an attachment only

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

Answer my questions (it’s okay to have to ask me to repeat a multi-part question). Don’t just use buzz words or jargon: convince me you know what it means by also using normal language. Give me solid examples that illustrate what you are talking about.

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

Trying to be someone they aren’t (which includes asking what my ideal candidate would be like). Not having good questions for me.

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

We used to call references before we did on campus interviews (weird, I know); now we do phone interviews with short-list candidates instead. We stopped requiring transcripts as part of the application process.

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Filed under 100-200 staff members, Academic, Original Survey

Put in Some Effort!

John Russell Young, 7th Librarian of Congress, ca. 1897

 

 

This anonymous interview is with a public librarian who has been a member of a hiring committee. This librarian works at a library with 10-50 staff members.

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

Enthusiasm, Intelligence, Desire

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

No, except the obvious: appearance, lack of insight.

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

why the job would be good for you.

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

I wish they all would understand that they need to submit a resume and cover letter, not just the application provided.

How many pages should a cover letter be?

√ Only one!

How many pages should a resume/CV be?

√ Two is ok, but no more

Do you have a preferred format for application documents?

√ .pdf

Should a resume/CV have an Objective statement?

√ I don’t care

If applications are emailed, how should the cover letter be submitted?

√ As an attachment only

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

Humor, poise, professional.

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

not understanding the position they are applying for. Underselling themselves.

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

More organized and equal. Also put in a 1-5 scale for rating answers.

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

put in some effort!

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

We Have Very Little Turnover with Full-Time Staff

A librarian and a teacher, New Ulm Minnesota, 1974

 

This anonymous interview is with a public librarian who has been a hiring manager.  This librarian works at a library with 10-50 staff members.

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

Cheerful attitude, enthusiasm for librarianship, stellar customer service skills

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

Failure to follow directions

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

“would like to work in a quiet atmosphere like the library” !!!

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

Why they got into librarianship in the first place

How many pages should a cover letter be?

√ Only one!

How many pages should a resume/CV be?

√ As many as it takes, but keep it short and sweet

Do you have a preferred format for application documents?

√ No preference, as long as I can open it

Should a resume/CV have an Objective statement?

√ No

If applications are emailed, how should the cover letter be submitted?

√ I don’t care

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

to smile and be enthusiastic

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

not asking questions
assuming libraries are quiet places
assuming that because they were teachers, they would be a good fit in a library

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

We have very little turnover with full-time staff and lots of turnover with part-time staff. We also have a lot of full-time staff facing retirement in the next 5-10 years.

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

Enthusiasm matters more than library experience. And customer service anywhere is important.

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

Thoroughly and Thoughtfully Answer Questions

John Cotton Dana, ca. 1910-1915

This anonymous interview is with a public librarian who has been a hiring manager and a member of a hiring committee.  This librarian works at a library with 10-50 staff members.

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

Education level. Demonstrated ability to be a self-starter. Library experience.

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

Misspelling; poor grammar. Candidate qualifications obviously don’t match stated requirements. Unexplained gaps in employment record, unexplained short job durations. Unkempt appearance.

How many pages should a cover letter be?

√ Only one!

How many pages should a resume/CV be?

√ Two is ok, but no more

Do you have a preferred format for application documents?

√ No preference, as long as I can open it

Should a resume/CV have an Objective statement?

√ I don’t care

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

Thoroughly and thoughtfully answer questions.

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

Don’t leave obvious questions I’ll draw from anomalies (unexplained gaps in work record, why candidate is applying for a job for which they are obviously under/overqualified) in their resume.

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

I don’t Think Objectives are Necessary or Useful

Brian Hunter, 1984, Asst Librarian, Slavonic Collections, London School of Economics

This anonymous interview is with a public librarian who has been a member of a hiring committee.  This librarian works at a library with 10-50 staff members.

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

Enthusiasm, Creativity and good skills set

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

Someone with no library experience who doesn’t indicate why they want to switch paths or why the position is something I should consider them for. I just recently received an application packet for a youth services position from a person who just graduated with a degree in engineering. There was no cover letter & no indication in their email as to why they were applying or why I should consider them. I feel like this kind of application get rejected because it seems this is someone just applying for any job and that they are not necessarily interested in the job I am offering.

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

I don’t think objectives are necessary or useful. Job histories that go back too far and include non-relevant jobs.

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

Professional activity & volunteer positions.

How many pages should a cover letter be?

√ Only one!

How many pages should a resume/CV be?

√ Two is ok, but no more

Do you have a preferred format for application documents?

√ No preference, as long as I can open it

Should a resume/CV have an Objective statement?

√ I don’t care

If applications are emailed, how should the cover letter be submitted?

√ I don’t care

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

Show me that you are enthusiastic about the job I am offering and that you really want to work for MY library. Excitement and enthusiasm for the position really go a long way.

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

Not making eye contact, being unprepared, not being enthusiastic.

 

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

A LinkedIn Profile Can be a Nice Adjunct to the Resume

City, Public Library, 1956

 

This anonymous interview is with an Academic Librarian who has been a hiring manager and works at a library with 10-50 staff members.

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

I look for:
1. how well-prepared the candidate is
2. an introspective candidate. One who is aware of strengths/weaknesses is much more desirable than a candidate who’s overly confident
3. someone eager and willing to work hard and contribute to the team

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

Not selling how they will be the best candidate for the job. Also, someone who’s clearly unqualified with the job’s duties, but has applied because they need a job.

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

Typos.

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

Most people don’t put website URL’s, I’d love to see that if they have one. Also, a LinkedIn profile can be a nice adjunct to the resume.

How many pages should a cover letter be?

√ Only one!

How many pages should a resume/CV be?

√ As many as it takes, but keep it short and sweet

Do you have a preferred format for application documents?

√ No preference, as long as I can open it

Should a resume/CV have an Objective statement?

√ No

If applications are emailed, how should the cover letter be submitted?

√ As an attachment only

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

Understand completely what the job entails. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about the job’s main responsibilities, and bring ideas about how you could make things better.

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

Not having questions about both the job duties and the environment itself. A job interview is a two-way street – they’re interviewing me as much as I’m interviewing them. Ask what it’s like to work here, the environment, the culture of the library.

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