Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Why I would hire you...

Here is some parting advice on getting hired for a library job based on my [limited] experience, assuming you have applied for a job to work with me:

You will have no fucking idea what I really want when it comes time for the interview.
That job description was written 6 months to 2 years ago by someone who is either not going to be asking the questions or by someone [my supervisor] who has changed her mind about what she's looking for in a new employee. So be prepared for anything. I don't write my own questions so much as I use questions that others have used before me. But since they are really generic, I just change what answers I'd like to hear.

So when I ask you why you applied for this position, the answer I want to hear in 2010 is something like, "I love research. I love to help people and I want to learn all the ways I can do that. And I can work pretty much anywhere because I lost my sense of smell when I hit my head on the side of the hot tub in Hef's lagoon when I was a Playboy Playmate. Miss August, 2005. What? Yes, I can start today."
Those questions I will ask you are mostly bullshit, but they matter.
At my first interview after getting my library degree, I was asked which area of the collection I would build up in a library with a large senior population. I didn't expect to be asked that, and I didn't have an answer ready, so I said "travel." Which is the wrong answer.
I know now that it's WW2 Erotica where all the books are about Lily from the French Underground who mends the young American soldier's wounds and together they share a chocolate bar then hump furiously before plotting to kill Hitler.
But for today's seniors, change the war to Vietnam, Lily to Mai, and then kill Ho Chi Minh.
Don't talk so much.
There is nothing worse than saying too much. Unless you openly drink alcohol during your interview. Which I almost did once. I interviewed for a job where I was taken to lunch and asked if I wanted a beer. Wisely, I declined since I knew that anything you do before or after the interview is still part of the interview. That's why it's best to avoid that trick many interviewers spring on you when they offer you alcohol at lunch. Besides, any booze would just mess with the 20 mg. of Valium you should take before the interview anyway. But really, just answer the questions and then shut up.
Don't tell me about your blog or twitter account.
Don't tell me about your awesome blog or whatever if I can find it online and check it out. Especially if it's MagicBookFairyUnicornSanctuary.wordpress.com.
Because I already have the job of library Book Fairy and there's not enough room for the both of us. And I will kill you.
Know what the fuck you are talking about.
Make a list. Memorize it. If you have a job now, write down all the shit you use and keep it for your next job. Don't bullshit because I will google your ass and find out that you're lying. Because I might ask what version of a software program you used, so don't say "the latest" or "the one with the thing." Details are important. Open every computer program you use now and click Help and About and write down what it says. Write down the model of the copier, the digital camera, the projector, the car, the laptop. Sure, none of this may ever come up, but it takes 10 minutes to do, so do it. Now. Before your library cuts your job and tells you they are so sorry, and security walks your ass out the back door with your cardboard box full of Funko "Lord Of The Rings" bobble heads.

I'm really bad at this stuff. I can't remember anything. But I have a digital camera that holds 4,000 pictures, so I take photos of everything. I also save PDFs of everything. So if you're using Windows, click on the Start menu and All Programs and take a screen shot or picture of all that shit you installed on your computer. You never know what might be important. When asked about computers, begin with the usual, "I use Microsoft Office" the move to "I've played with Drupal" then to "One of my Flickr photos is banned in Dubai."

How are you going to know what to say and what not to say? I don't know. I just know you should be prepared to say it, or not say it, depending on the situation.
Be flexible. Be a a monkey balancing on a log flowing down a river.
Good luck.

But check out Bobbi Newman's guide, So You Want to be a Librarian? Unlike this post here, those tips might actually help you get a job out there in the real world. Because the bad news is, my library ain't hiring.