Alchemical Thoughts

Some clippings on academic job hunting, in and out of librarianship

Posted on: June 19, 2009

Lately, I have seen a few pieces dealing with job hunting for academics. Also, I am making these notes because I have been involved in some phone interviews, this time as an interviewer, and I have seen the effects up close of not being well prepared. Those effects are not pretty. So in the interest of sharing for anyone who may find them useful, I am collecting some good links I have looked over.

  • From Inside Higher Ed, Christine Kelly has two pieces. First, she writes about "Preparing for the Non-Academic Interview." This is important in this economy where you have to go where the jobs go. A doctorate gives you a lot of skills you can bring to a workplace, but you have to sell yourself. Kelly gives you some advice on how to handle some common questions you may be asked such as why you are applying for a job outside of academia. These are questions to think about ahead of time before you go to the interview. Second, looks further at "Non-Academic Interviews" telling you how to prepare for the interview once you have one. Kelly points out how the interview is a lot like acting. It is a performance. The common theme? As G.I. Joe would say, ". . .and knowledge is half the battle." Do note that some of this can apply to librarians seeking work as well if they choose to seek work outside of librarianship.
  • You may find yourself using social networking sites to help you network. I find Facebook has been pretty good in terms of gradually building a professional network. I have tried Linked In, but I have not used it as much. I may need to review it. Just in case, here is a small article about "LinkedIn Profiles: Avoid the Six Most Common Mistakes." This is in addition to the usual advice about using privacy settings effectively and avoiding content postings that could be embarassing to you somehow. By the way, the title on that says "six," but there are only five items. Maybe the sixth mistake is make sure you know how to count. The advice is still good enough to have a look. 
  • Now many doctoral graduates may end up working in a community college. Actually, that may be a good thing given that in this economy, community colleges are the fastest growing institutions of higher education due to their affordability for one. But those graduates need to keep in mind that the mission of a CC is different than the average four year school, and it is definitely worlds away from a big research university. These are teaching institutions. David Lydic, at Inside Higher Ed,  has some advice for those choosing this route. First, he tells us how about "Interviews at Community Colleges" and gives advice on how to prepare for the interview. Second, he gets down to more specifics when he tells us exactly "What You'll Be Asked." This article has very good sample questions from various CC's to candidates for jobs. If you are considering a job teaching at a CC, this is a must read. Personally, I would be willing to teach at a CC, or at least work at one of their libraries, precisely because of the teaching mission and student diversity.
  • Carole Martin, at CEO Consultant, writes out "10 Killer Job Interview Questions and Answers." This is a more general list, but it tells you how to answer them, with even small comments about what an employer may be concerned about when asking the questions. I think this is important, being able to see things from the employer's view in terms of why they may be asking a particular question. Some of these questions are applicable to librarians seeking jobs. If the link is problematic, this site also picks up the article.

Update Note (6/22/09): Here are two  items on interview questions that I would add to this list. They specially tell you what to say as well as what not to say when answering interview questions. These two lists are great tools to help anyone prepare for a job interview.

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