Tag Archives: Special libraries

We are committed to the Mansfield Rule

[Library of Congress. Charge desk (Librarian Ainsworth Rand Spofford’s table)] LOC.gov

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Special Library

Title: Manager, Information Resource Center

Titles hired include: Research specialist, assistant

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ Library Administration 

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

√ Online application 

√ Resume 

√ References 

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ No 

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

Hiring goes through HR, but they essentially send me all applicants to review. While I make all decisions, HR is also involved in the interviewing process, and handles things like background checks and references. The interviewing process is generally 1.5 hours, with the first half being myself and HR, and the second half being peers of the interviewee.

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

They were impressive because they had a deep knowledge and interest in the field. It was clear they weren’t just applying for every job that they could, but only those that really met what they were looking for.

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

I have not yet had one.  

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ Only One!  

Resume: √  Two is ok, but no more  

CV: √ We don’t ask for this  

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

Not being prepared. Know the role you are interviewing for, and the organization. 

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

We have, but rarely.

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?

We often hire librarians like this, as our field (legal) is very small in our community. Make it clear that you have an actual interest in the area.

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

√ We only discuss after we’ve made an offer 

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

We are committed to the Mansfield Rule (guidelines for hiring in law firms), as well as posting jobs within various diversity groups within our region.

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Midwestern US 

What’s your region like?

√ Urban 

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Some of the time and/or in some positions 

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 201+ 

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Filed under 1 A Return to Hiring Librarians Survey, 200+ staff members, Midwestern US, Special, Urban area

As of April 2022, it’s part of the job ad

[Librarian Putnam at Sesquicentennial reception, 4/24/1950] LOC.gov

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Special Library

Title: Vice President

Titles hired include:Strategic Intelligence Analyst, Strategic Intelligence Data Analyst 

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ HR

√ The position’s supervisor 

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

√ Online application

√ Cover letter

√ Resume 

√ References 

√ Oral Exam/Structured interview 

√ More than one round of interviews 

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ Other: Don’t know

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

I am at a large corporation. Our department writes a job description and gives it to HR, who advertises for the position and screens applicants. The position’s supervisor interviews candidates, and if she likes them I interview them as head of the department. Once we decide who we want to hire, we let HR know and they make the job offer and handle the rest.

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

She came to the interview very prepared. She prepared a few PPT slides to share a project she had handled at a previous position, and spoke to how that would support our position.

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Imperiousness, indecisiveness 

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

How interested they are in the job; are they applying for lots of positions or were they selective about ours

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ Only One!  

Resume: √  Two is ok, but no more  

CV: √ We don’t ask for this 

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

Come unprepared 

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

Have your video camera on if possible 

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

 √ Other: As of April 2022, it’s part of the job ad 

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Midwestern US 

What’s your region like?

√ Urban 

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Some of the time and/or in some positions 

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, Special, Urban area

Their ability to perform searches rather than talk about searching

Photograph of the Librarian’s Conference, July 1, 1950. LOC.gov

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Special Library

Title: Librarian

Titles hired include: Librarians (research), Library Technicians

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ Library Administration 

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

√ Online application

√ Resume 

√ References 

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ No 

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

Develop position description for approval by senior company officer and by HR; ad posted; HR screens out resumes; library reviews remaining resumes; HR screens selected candidates; library interviews those who pass screening and makes selection; HR checks references for selected candidate; HR extends offer

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

Skill set; ability/interest in various library services; thoughtful responses; could help library grow services

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Long, rambling answers; not responding to question asked; unable to offer examples of how they performed/handled work in past positions; critical of past work environment; critical of junior employees; no research into the organization before the interview

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

Their ability to perform searches rather than talk about searching

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ Only One!  

Resume: √ Two is ok, but no more 

CV: √ We don’t ask for this 

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

Focus on their past position rather than their fit for advertised position

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

Yes – treat as a regular in-person interview even though alone – there are others in the conversation.

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?

Demonstrate relevant experience such as present examples of transferable skills that illustrate they understand the position requirements

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

√ Other: Desired salary is a question in the HR screening interview and the HR rep can provide the salary range

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

Expands advertising sources to attract more diverse pool of applicants

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

What does success look like

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Other: Mid-Atlantic 

What’s your region like?

√ Other: small-medium city

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Other: hybrid

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 201+ 

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

To job hunters – explain skills and abilities with examples of actual work

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Filed under 1 A Return to Hiring Librarians Survey, 200+ staff members, Special

Find a way to connect with the panel even in this situation during informal chat before formal interview starts

Mill Creek, Knott County, Kentucky. This young mountain wife shortly is to become the mother of his first child. The Work Projects Administration’s (WPA) Pack Horse Librarian has for months furnished her with literature on hygiene and the care of infants. She will probably go through her confinement without the aid of expert medical attention, but she will receive the attention of the WPA’s housekeeping aid, if she so desires. National Archives.

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Special Library

Title: Director

Titles hired include: Bibliometrician, Bioinformatician, Data Scientist, Informationist, E-learning Librarian

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

√ References

√ Proof of degree

√ Supplemental Questions

√ 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:

HR screens for qualifications and fit with job announcement.  Hiring manager identifies candidates from HR list and forms an interview panel.  Candidates interview virtually and give a 10 minute presentation related to the area for which they are being hired.  Panel gives numeric rating for key competencies covered during interview.  Regardless of panel numbers, hiring manager makes the final decision.

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

Impressive candidates are highly qualified, confident, excellent communicators, and interested in the organization.

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Clear when the candidate hasn’t done any background on the organization or the position.

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

How the employee will fit with their colleagues.

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?

Talk too long and don’t read the room.

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

Yes.  Make sure technology is tested and set up for the virtual environment (sound, lighting, background, etc). Find a way to connect with the panel even in this situation during informal chat before formal interview starts.  Even remotely people want to get a sense of your personality.

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?

Make sure your resume demonstrates impact and success doing what is required for the job being advertised.

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?

HR has EEO rules in place.  Hiring panels are diverse.

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

Ask something that shows you know about the organization and demonstrates your interest in a particular position.  What does success look like in this position?  This gives you an idea of what the expectations and vision are for the group doing the hiring.

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Northeastern US 

What’s your region like?

√ Suburban 

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Some of the time and/or in some positions 

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 11-50 

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

More and more positions in libraries require specialized skills and there may be non-MLIS graduates filling these positions.  Certificates or continued education in specialized areas are increasingly being valued.

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

don’t look up stuff when answering

Elizabeth H. Bukowsky, a member of the National Archives’ Exhibits and Information staff, standing in front of a National Archives bulletin board exhibit prepared by EI [Exhibits and Information] and LI [Library] and displayed at the meeting of the Special Libraries Association at the Statler Hotel, Washington, DC, June 9-11, 1948. Photo by John Barnhill, NA photographer. National Archives.

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Special Library

Title: Manager, Facilities and Shared Services

Titles hired include: Senior Information Coordinator; Library Technician;

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ Library Administration 

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

√ Online application

√ Cover letter

√ Resume

√ References

√ Written Exam

√ More than one round of interviews

√ Other: Phone screen

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ Yes 

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

I decide someone is needed

I get approval from my manager

I contact HR

I fill out FORMS and FORMS and FORMS with justification

I fill out more FORMS to get job pay range set

HR posts position on job boards, and uses HR software to manage

Resumes are sorted by software and HR (I always ask to see ALL, not just the ones that they think are qualified)

I pick who I want to interview

HR sets up interviews

I fill out more forms to justify my pick

HR offers them the job

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

Understood questions quickly

Easy to speak with

Understood the technology

Second language

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

spelling errors in resume or cover letter

Lack of spoken English

lying

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ Only One!  

Resume: √ Two is ok, but no more  

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

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

not researching the company

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

be on time

don’t read a script

don’t look up stuff when answering

turn off your phone

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

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

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Canada 

What’s your region like?

√ Suburban 

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Some of the time and/or in some positions 

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 201+ 

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, 200+ staff members, Canada, Special, Suburban area

I’ve also received resumes that list a spouse and children as accomplishments, and the person’s ability to crack jokes in the office

11/30/44 Librarian – Elizabeth Edwards. doe-oakridge, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Special Library

Title: Senior Reference Librarian 

Titles hired include: Library Assistant, Visitor Services Assistant, Assistant Reference Librarian, Vice President of Development, Reproductions Coordinator 

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?

√ Cover letter

√ Resume

√ References

√ Oral Exam/Structured interview 

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ No 

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

Most hiring is done at the department level. In my department we typically circulate the job description internally, post externally on our website and relevant listservs and job aggregator sites, and accept applications by email/post. The hiring supervisor reviews the applications and shares a short list with the hiring committee. The hiring committee decides whom from that short list to invite for interviews. Interviews are typically about one hour and either happen in person or virtually (during the pandemic we switched to Zoom). Questions are offered in advance (in my department). We then follow up by calling references and finally selecting our top candidates to whom 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?

I always appreciate specificity and the ability of a candidate to narrate how their resume experiences brought them to this point in their career and how these experiences connect to the job description. I like evidence that the person has done some homework on our organization and thought about reasons it would be a good fit beyond wages (obviously important). 

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

If a person fails to write a substantive cover letter I am unlikely to move their candidacy forward. I also dislike overly personal details on a resume, for example I received a resume recently where the applicant included details about their exercise routines and health. I’ve also received resumes that list a spouse and children as accomplishments, and the person’s ability to crack jokes in the office. These feel like inappropriate content for a resume. 

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

Because I am personally interested in hiring candidates who come from varying backgrounds and minoritized communities I often want to know things about personal identity that are not generally safe for candidates to share (chronic illness, queerness, religious background, socioeconomic status for example). I absolutely understand why people choose not to share these details; what I do try to do is be a little vulnerable in interviews about my own identities (mentioning my wife; referring to a chronic health issue) to make it more possible people will share some of those aspects of their own lives. 

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?

Speaking in vague generalities instead of concrete, specific responses. I also dislike over-use of industry specific jargon which can be a cover for simplistic or rote answers that don’t help me understand the candidate’s thinking. 

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

We have since the pandemic began. I don’t find these very different from in person interviews (perhaps since so many of my work meetings happen virtually now too). Being calm in the face of tech glitches and patient with small delays is helpful and demonstrates that the applicant is willing to roll with unexpected changes. 

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 appreciate hearing from these candidates how they see this previous experience building toward what they hope to do in their library career and/or at our specific institution. Hearing them crosswalk their learning helps me understand how they reflect on their work and make decisions about their skills, workplace culture, etc. as they look for compatible work. On some level, we do have t go back to the job description and assess whether a candidate meets required/preferred criteria, but we do try to be flexible and reflect on a person’s full range of experience. 

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

√ Other: Our department lists the salaries in the job ad. It is inconsistent across the institution. 

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

In our department we try to be transparent and consistent in the hiring process (not ghosting candidates) and we avoid doing outside research beyond the application (e.g. LinkedIn, Google search, etc.) We assess applicants based on their submitted materials in the first round. As we move through the hiring process the committee has active discussions about how to weigh various kinds of diversity of experience in our hiring, understanding how cultural “fit” can shape our priorities in unhelpful ways. 

We are a majority-white, majority straight, majority-abled, professional class staff and in the midst of reckoning with the way our institutional culture is not necessarily equitable or inclusive. We shouldn’t (in my opinion) hire candidates we cannot enable to thrive once in the door. A lot of our current work in this area has to do with making our workplace inclusive for existing as well as future staff. It is slow going. 

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

I am always happy to hear questions from candidates about labor conditions and workplace climate. 

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Northeastern US 

What’s your region like?

√ Urban 

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Some of the time and/or in some positions 

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 51-100 

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, Northeastern US, Special, Urban area

Doesn’t the MLS itself promote bias as a gatekeeping mechanism?

Charles Benjamin Norton, publisher and bookseller; Seth Hastings Grant, librarian at the New York Mercantile Library; and Daniel Coit Gilman, assistant librarian at Yale at the first annual meeting of American librarians, From the Library of Congress

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Special Library

Title: Program Manager

Titles hired include: Electronic Resources Librarian, Acquisitions Librarian, Reference Librarian

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ HR

√ Library Administration

√ The position’s supervisor

√ A Committee or panel

√ 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

√ Resume

√ References

√ Proof of degree

√ Supplemental Questions

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ Yes

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

Applications are submitted to USAJobs and reviewed by HR. HR creates one or more cert lists and highlights candidates who have preference (veterans, etc). Resumes and cover letters are included with the cert list(s), though sometimes we can tell that we are missing paperwork (i.e. a cover letter doesn’t come attached but is referenced in a resume, etc). Resumes are evaluated against a matrix and assigned points. The candidates with the highest number of points are given short-notice to attend an interview the next week. They participate in one 1-hour interview, and each candidate is asked the exact same questions by the exact same panel members. Panelists rank the responses against another written matrix and compare scores only after all interviews are complete. The panel then provides a recommendation and a back-up recommendation to the hiring manager, who will then start contacting references and evaluate. 

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

They were obviously so skilled, but also so polite and lively

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Attitude and tone, though it’s not a problem for others. I’m trying to heal my organization’s culture.

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

What did they think of us? Would they be happy here?

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ We don’t ask for this  

Resume: √ As many as it takes, I love reading

CV: √ We don’t ask for this  

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

Losing track of time – you have to answer all questions within the same 60 minutes assigned to all candidates – if you skip or miss a question, I have to give you a score of 0 on it, and no matter how great your other answers were, this will drive down your score.

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

Yes. Great question! BE EARLY, at least 5 minutes early. Make sure your microphone and headset is working. It’s hard to keep animals and kids quiet, but at least keep other adults out of the room. It’s hard not to talk over people, so it’s okay to say “over” when your answer is complete. 

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?

Use the STAR method whenever answering questions and please tell stories that help me understand

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?

Another great question – doesn’t the MLS itself promote bias as a gatekeeping mechanism?

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

Ask about culture, fit, and what a typical day might look like

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Southeastern US

What’s your region like?

√ Urban

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Some of the time and/or in some positions

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 11-50

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

Note – our resumes HAVE to be long (federal gov). I have had to throw away WONDERFUL resumes that are too short to make it past the first round of scoring. I have a matrix that I HAVE to follow and if your resume doesn’t address every little thing, it’s not going to make it or score high enough. I can’t stand letting go of great candidates just because they have a one or two page resume, it makes me so sad. I can’t reach out to them to ask them to send a resubmission. Plus the first person to look at your resume is NOT a librarian – help them understand why you’re qualified by using every single keyword you can think of. 

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, Southwestern US, Special, Urban area

If They Are Going to Weed Out Potential Employees by Their Resumes Anyway, Don’t Expect Every Applicant to Write a Paper or Essay

Rabbit hunting on the Otago Central Railway, ca 1900This 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 More than 18 months. This person is looking in Academic libraries, Public libraries, and School libraries at the following levels: Requiring at least two years of experience. S/he is in a city/town in the Southern US and is not willing to move.

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

Location
Hours
Opportunity for growth

Where do you look for open positions?

Local sites
LinkedIn
INALJ

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?

4 hours

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

How do you prefer to communicate with potential employers?

√ Email

Which events during the interview/visit are most important to your assessment of the position (i.e. deciding if you want the job)?

√ Meeting department members/potential co-workers

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

If they are going to weed out potential employees by their resumes anyway, don’t expect every applicant to write a paper or essay if you are not going to use them. It really wastes a lot of time for applicants. Please ask for those additional items only from people who make it past the first cut.

What do you think is the secret to getting hired?

Knowing someone

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, Southern US, Special