Tag Archives: Special Libraries Association

Showing That You are a Team Player on Paper and in Person.

Ruth OwensRuth Owens received her MLIS from Syracuse University in 2010 and holds a BS in Zoology from Colorado State University. She is currently the Instructional Technologies Librarian at Cayuga Community College. She has been looking for a new position for six months to a year. Ms. Owens is looking in Academic, Public, and Special libraries, at the entry level and for positions requiring at least two years of experience. She lives in a city/town in the Northeastern US,  and is not willing to move. Ms. Owens is treasurer for the Upstate New York chapter of the Special Libraries Association.

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

1. A place I can use my skills

2. A place I can be a part of a team

3. A place I can grow and advance

Where do you look for open positions?

LAC Group Jobs, LibGig Library Jobs, local library councils, professional listservs

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

√ No (even if I might think it *should* be)

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

-Update and polish resume for the position

-Write a draft cover letter, review it many times, have someone else review it, save the final copy

-Fill out online application if required (sometimes this takes hours and hours of entering information right from my resume which is also always attached)

-Double and triple checking everything for grammar and accuracy

-I usually spend two or three evenings or even a week making sure my application is complete

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

√ No

When would you like employers to contact you?

√ To acknowledge my application

√ To tell me if I have or have not been selected to move on to the interview stage

√ To follow-up after an interview

√ Once the position has been filled, even if it’s not me

How do you prefer to communicate with potential employers?

√ Phone

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?

Make sure the position duties are accurate and clearly stated. Describe what kind of candidate is desired.

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

-Either ask for a resume or fill in an application – not both

-Keep candidates updated (especially the ones who are immediately weeded out – it’s so annoying to apply to a job and finally hear a peep after three months that you were not selected for anything)

What do you think is the secret to getting hired?

Tailoring your experience to the position requirements (without stretching the truth) and showing that you are a team player on paper and in person.

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

Great survey! I was actually hired at my current position three months ago and it’s temporary, so I’m still looking for more permanent work.

This survey was co-authored by Naomi House from I Need A Library Job – Do you need one?  Check it out!

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Filed under Academic, Job hunter's survey, Northeastern US, Public, Special

Author’s Corner: The Information and Knowledge Professional’s Career Handbook

This week, Ulla de Stricker and Jill Hurst-Wahl have been kind enough to tell us the story of how they wrote their book, and to detail  what’s inside the covers.  

Picture two members of Special Libraries Association having a chat in a coffee shop during the annual SLA conference.  The two colleagues go back a long way and enjoy meeting each other when professional events make it possible.  This time, they get on the topic of how, throughout their careers, they have acted as mentors to colleagues at all stages of their careers and to students just starting out.  As the conversation went on, they verbally compile a long list of the career challenges prompting those colleagues and students to seek advice … and jointly reached the conclusion “why don’t we just write it all down!”. Information and Knowledge Professional's Career Handbook: Define and Create Your Success

Thus, The Information and Knowledge Professional’s Career Handbook:  Define and Create Your Success was conceived.  Here’s how we articulated its purpose:

Information Professionals and Knowledge Managers deal with significant career challenges for a number of reasons associated (for example) with common misperceptions of their expertise and roles. In environments where they must often justify their work and value over and over, those already in the profession and those just entering need to prepare for a reality that may differ from expectations.  Based on the authors’ own extensive experience, the book is intended to give readers a set of tools and techniques with which to secure a strong career, build an effective brand, and succeed as professionals.

Here’s how we went about organizing the messages we wanted to share:

We discuss how the information profession involves an enduring need to others why it is worthwhile investing in its practitioners.

We outline the need to know one’s own “work personality” and show how insight into it could be crucial in helping to deal with the inevitable challenges in the workplace.

For those who may have had a previous career, we talk about how to translate earlier expertise into a new professional role.

We address head-on the need to develop a professional brand and to market oneself the way any product or service is promoted.  In particular, we stress on the power of professional associations as career builders.

We get practical with a look at job hunting, the strategies for applying for jobs, handling the job interview, and succeeding in the critical first few weeks on a new job.

The notion that “career planning” may be a contradiction in terms is next: “Give chance a chance”.

We take a look at the reality of organizational life:  Technical proficiency does not guarantee success! Political savvy is paramount for navigating organizational culture.

The essential skill of constructing compelling proposals and business cases is the focus of attention as we stress how advocacy and getting support for change and investment requires compelling arguments – regarding of the sector or industry.

Our readers do not have to make the mistakes we did!  We share candidly the lessons from our own careers and show how important emotional resilience and strength are. Work occupies a huge role in our lives, and it would be unrealistic to expect a clinical, detached attitude toward it.  We focus on strategies for coping … and on knowing when to quit.

Of course, money must be discussed.  We look at salary and other aspects of compensation and suggest resources to prepare for negotiation.

Finally, we advocate for a life long mentoring orientation in encouraging our colleagues to take advantage of the wisdom of more experienced colleagues and pay it back. 

We hope the book will be a constant companion for our colleagues.  At different career stages, different chapters will be relevant.  More than anything else, we hope our colleagues will join us in our never ending efforts to support our fellow professionals.

Availability and Reviews:

Publisher:  Woodhead (Chandos) Publishing

To rent the book online at a much lower cost than the list price, go to http://bit.ly/Iv0Fkz; click on the PDF link below the image of the book.  Under “Offerings”, click the desired “Add to Basket” option (72 hours or 14 days). Click “Purchase” and then at the Log In page, register under the Individual Registration option in order to complete the transaction.

Amazon / Neal-Schuman / In Canada

Reviews:  Kim Dority  / Robyn Stockand / Carol Stahlberg, SLA /

Interviews: Dennie Heye, SLA Europe (one more here ) / Henrik de Gyor  / Neal-Schuman

And you can join the conversation, or get in touch, via Facebook 

Jill Hurst-Wahl



Jill Hurst-Wahl, MLS, is a digitization consultant and owner of Hurst Associates, Ltd. She also an Associate Professor of Practice in Syracuse University’s School of Information Studies and the director of the iSchool’s Library and Information Science Program.  Jill’s interests include digitization, digital libraries, copyright, web 2.0 and social media.

Ulla de StrickerUlla de Stricker is a knowledge management consultant whose practice (www.destricker.com) focuses on addressing a wide range of challenges and opportunities in the area of information management including strategies for information support to knowledge workers.  She has been an active contributor to the library profession and a mentor to colleagues since the late 1970s and is a familiar figure at information related conferences.

Ulla and Jill currently serve on the Board of Directors of SLA.


Filed under Author's Corner

If an Agency Sends You a Role You Aren’t Interested in It is Better to Reply and Explain the Reasons Why Not, So the Agency Can Get a Closer Match Next Time

This interview is with independent recruiter Nicola Franklin. Her firm, The Library Career Centre, provides recruitment services for employers as well as for-pay candidate services such as CV / resume writing and interview coaching. Ms. Franklin has been in the library recruitment field for 20 years.  Prior to striking out on her own, she worked with Manpower pls, Sue Hill Recruitment, and then the international firm, Fabric.  She is a fellow of the Recruitment & Employment Confederation and member of the Special Libraries Association.

Questions about Recruitment:

Can you give us a brief run-down of how a recruitment firm works? 

When you send your CV or resume to register with a recruitment firm, they will generally invite you for an interview (phone/skype or in person depending on distance, etc) and your CV/resume will be added to a database.  Your file on the database will usually also have notes of your interview and some codes or classification tags added, covering basic categories such as locations, salary bands, qualifications, industry sectors and skills.

When a recruiter gets a new vacancy from a client, they will use the codes to search the database, to gather a ‘long list’ of potential candidates.  In most library firms, the consultant will then look through the resumes and interview notes for each of those candidates, matching more closely between the job requirements and each candidate’s’ skills and requirements.

This weeding process will create a slightly shorter long-list, and it is those people who will be contacted  (either by a mail-merge email or on the phone, depending on how many potentially suitable people make the list).  Some of those contacted will either not reply at all, or will decline to apply for the role, leaving a short-list.  It is important for candidates to realise that their response (or non response) will be recorded; if an agency sends you a role you aren’t interested in it is better to reply and explain the reasons why not, so the agency can get a closer match next time, rather than to ignore it.  On the one hand, the agency will be no wiser as to what would interest you, and on the other (after several tries at contacting you) the agency may assume you’re no longer looking and archive your file.

In some cases all of those on the short-list will be submitted to the client, in other cases the consultant will sift the list further to reduce the numbers – a consultant would generally want to send between 3 and 10 resumes to their client, depending on what’s been agreed.  In most cases, the consultant will either also submit a report on each candidate, explaining why they’re a good fit for the role, or call or visit the client to present each candidate verbally.  This is really where the value of having a recruiter work for you shows through, as you have someone rooting for you and trying to persuade the hirer to interview you!

What types of vacancies are you most frequently placing candidates in?  In what types of organizations?

I cover all part of the wider information industry, including traditional library roles in public or academic settings, information or knowledge management in government and the private sector, and records management across  all kinds of organisations.

Increasingly there has been a merger of these different disciplines, especially at more senior levels.  In the UK there has been a marked decrease in roles in the public sector over the past two or three years, while the private sector declined earlier than that and has since been recovering (albeit slowly).

The main problem caused by the recession has been a dearth of mid-level roles. There have been some entry-level roles still being recruited, and organisations have generally replaced senior or very specialist  roles, but they often seem to feel they can ‘make do’ with fewer Assistant Librarians or Information Officers.  This has made career development very difficult for many people, especially as this situation has persisted since 2008.

What should candidates do differently when applying to a recruitment firm?  Is there anything they should be sure to include with you that they wouldn’t tell a direct-hire job, etc.?

A resume or CV for a recruitment firm should be slightly longer and more detailed than when sending it direct to a hirer.  In the latter case you are tailoring it specifically for that role, while for an agency there may be several types of role you’d like to be considered for and so your resume needs to reflect a broader range of your skills and experiences.  Also remember that some agency databases can search CVs for keywords, so make sure the ‘jargon’ keywords or acronyms are included (something I’d be advising against for a CV to be sent directly to a hirer).

At the interview stage with an agency, be sure to tell your recruiter honestly about any gaps or any issues you have had (eg a personality clash with a colleague or manager).  They will be able to advise you on how to best present things at an employer interview.

Are there particular qualities or experiences that will give a candidate an edge in being considered for positions you are trying to fill?

The main quality to display is enthusiasm.  Librarianship isn’t a role most people get into for the monetary rewards, and hirers expect candidates to be passionate about what they’re doing.  Coming across as fed up, bored or even worse hostile, is a sure way to make a consultant think twice when deciding whether to put you forward to their client.  You need to make sure they will feel confident representing you.

Secondly, candidates who have a realistic appreciation of their skills and aptitudes, and clear career goals, are easier for both recruiters and hirers to assess and fit into their open vacancies.  Spending time doing an audit of your skills and reflecting on what you have to offer, and also where you want your career to go, will pay off dividends later.

Once an initial placement has been made, what should a candidate do to keep on good terms with your agency (in order to ensure future placements)?

It’s good to keep in touch with your recruitment agency, from an initial call or email to let them know how you’re settling into your new role to an update later on.  You never know when you might need their services again!  I attend many library and information sector specialist group’s networking events and seminars, and it’s always nice when candidates come up and say hi.  Recruiters are used to being discrete, so don’t be afraid one will say ‘are you looking again’ or anything embarrassing while your boss is nearby!

Is there anything else you’d like my readers to know about recruitment agencies or the Library Career Centre?

I set up The Library Career Centre so that I could offer services over and above the standard recruitment process described above.  During my 20 years in the library recruitment sector, I had noticed that candidates often needed guidance on improving their resume, or their interview technique could do with some tweaking, or they simply had difficulty articulating what skills they had to offer or what their career goals were.

During a recruitment agency registration interview there is only about half an hour to gather all the information the consultant needs on career history and future goals – which doesn’t leave much time to give advice.  The Library Career Centre therefore offers support and advice directly to candidates on all these areas, in a more relaxed atmosphere where we can take time to explore issues more carefully.  This support is offered via 1-1 coaching as well as workshops and seminars.   The 1-1 services are designed on a modular basis, so a job seeker can pick and chose to get help on just those areas they are struggling with, or can put together a programme of support to suit their own needs.

I also use social media a great deal to keep up to date with issues and in touch with people – @NicolaFranklin on Twitter or http://uk.linkedin.com/in/nicolafranklin on LinkedIn, and I make regular posts on my blog.

Questions from the survey:

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

Relevant experience and skills for the role in question

Open minded and keen to continue learning

Enthusiasm and energy

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

Body language or answers which contradict claims made on the resume/application form, eg; ‘great interpersonal sills’ on the resume coupled with awkward/introverted body language, or ‘excellent ICT skills’ on the resume coupled with obvious inability to use tabs or other formatting tools in Word.  Quite apart from the skills that were claimed which may be lacking, the mere fact of making exaggerated or untrue claims show either (at best) poor self awareness or (at worst) dishonesty.

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

Profile statements which are clearly regurgitated cliches, and don’t show any correlation between the applicants touted attributes and those required for the job.

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

Achievements – most resumes recount experiences or duties, some add in skills or attributes, very few include achievements (ie, how did the organisation benefit from having hired the applicant).

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?

√ Yes

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

√ I don’t care

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

Be engaged with the role and organisation; demonstrate that you’ve done (good quality) research about the organisation, understand the role requirements and have put some thought into how your skills match up to the tasks in the job.

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

Not having done enough preparation, even for obvious questions like ‘why would you be good for this role’ or ‘where do you want your career to be in 5 years’.

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

Over the past 20 years library recruitment has shifted emphasis away from a need to have used all the specific databases/cataloguing standards/etc of the hiring organisation, and towards more generic aptitude and ability to learn packages and systems.

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

Make sure you have plenty of questions to ask the interviewer too!  An interview should be a two way communication, as you need to know whether you’d like to work in this place, if you are fortunate to receive an offer.  Also, having no questions to ask when invited to do so is a sure way of saying ‘I’m not really interested in this job’ to the interviewer.

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Filed under Original Survey, Other Organization or Library Type, Recruiter Spotlight, Special

Understand the Value of All the Positions in the Library

Jaye Lapachet is a law librarian who has worked for Coblentz, Patch, Duffy & Bass LLP since 2001, spending the last five as the Manager of Library Services with a staff of 0-10 employees.  She has been active in the San Francisco Bay Region Chapter of the Special Libraries Association, and received their 2009 Professional Achievement Award. Ms. Lapachet has also worked in Information systems design at Content Innovations. You can see her quiltwork on Artquiltmaker.com.  She has been a hiring manager and a member of hiring committees.

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


Understands the job and is not taking the job in hopes of getting something better

Not annoying

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

Tells me they want my job

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

That people know Word and how to use the Internet.

Don’t include references, especially not stacks of glowing reference letters.

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

How they are involved in the Library community.

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?

√ I don’t care

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

√ Other: Both should be attachments

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


Answer the questions.

Make sure you understand what the job is before you walk in the door.

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

Come on too strong.

Ask if the person in the Library Assistant position will be doing reference.

Not understanding the value of all the positions in the Library (everyone has a valuable role)

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

Exhausted us.

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

Dress up. Don’t wear perfume or stinky soap.


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