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Author Topic: Job opening with very few applicants  (Read 69805 times)
miss_jane_marple
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« on: March 05, 2012, 7:07:59 PM »

The library here (hot-summer-fly-over-land) has been advertising an opening for an experienced reference librarian in a biological/health sciences-oriented unit. To date, they have received very few applications. Is the job market that good? Are people unable to relocate because of the housing market? Do folks see where this opening is and go "Hail nooooo!" What's the deal? The salary and benefits look good compared to other job announcements I've seen. On the other hand, it's not tenure track (librarians here aren't eligible for tenure).

The job has, as I understand it, been posted to several listservs and web sites that librarians who seek employment would be likely to read. What gives?
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yemaya
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« Reply #1 on: March 06, 2012, 5:22:58 AM »

It's hard to say.  The job market in the library field is not great, but people who are willing to move can usually find employment.  Certainly, a TT library job in the humanities will receive more applicants than a job posting like the one you describe, simply because there are far more qualified people for those jobs.  If the position calls for both library degree and graduate work in a bio/health field, for instance, that combo of qualifications much less common.  In general, it's a bit of a "seller's market" for librarians with IT backgrounds, or with additional graduate work in the sciences.  Universities are also more likely to have to compete with corporate employers, who often pay more.

The amount of experience the job is asking for matters too - does it want a year or two of pre/para-professional work, which is what most new library school graduates might actually have?  Or, is it looking for someone with 1-3 years of professional experience?  And does that experience have to be in a bio sciences library?  That's going to narrow the applicant pool even further.

"Hot flyover locale" aside, if the housing market has a rep for being expensive or tight in your area, that might well be putting some candidates off.  There are some parts of the country that I won't look either for a TT job or a library position because even if it's advertised with a good/fair salary and good benefits, I still have no hope of living on it.
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libwitch
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« Reply #2 on: March 09, 2012, 1:47:49 PM »

Its hard to say without seeing the job ad.  And I know I have seen some that I read and mentally fill in "...and walk on water....," which if I am thinking that I would advise anyone one of my friends who is job hunting, no matter how desperate, not to apply.

It could be, as the other poster mentioned, the combination of requirements you want - if you are asking for both experience and a required subject masters in the sciences or health sciences?   Those are not that many, and in high demand (I know, we have a preferred science masters position open right now) - especially if you are not posting faculty/TT position.

People are willing to move generally, so unless what you are offering the job at is out of line for the cost of living in your area (regardless of it comparable to other positions), that may not be a problem. 

The only other reasons I can think of is institutional rep - and again, without knowing,  I can't say either way.  But if you have had either many postings lately, or many restructurings, or the job has been re-posted often in the last few years, that scare people off from applying no matter how job-hungry they are.  Sadly, that is something that you can't fix.

What I would recommend is search for the opening in various ways and make sure it is easy to find as you hope it is.  Make sure it has been picked up on national listservs too, and you might have to join some subject specific listservs out there to get some feet under it.

Good luck.
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miss_jane_marple
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« Reply #3 on: March 09, 2012, 2:51:43 PM »

Thanks, yemaya and libwitch, for your thoughtful responses. The ad doesn't ask for an advanced subject degree, just that some science or health profession course work is preferred. The ad was posted to 4 or 5 web sites or listservs that target people with exactly the background and experience being sought, as well as a few regional notification systems. I don't think the problem is that the people seeing the ad were not the correct target. I also don't think (but can't be sure, of course) that the institution's reputation is the problem. In fact, compared to some other, similar, institutions in neighboring states, this one is in rather good financial and "image" shape.

I suspect the major problem is that it is a mid-level position: the preferred minimum years of experience is 4. Evidently folks who have that qualification want to stay put. What puzzles me is that there is a sub-set of health science librarians that are being laid off due to library closures in record numbers. Many of them would be qualified for this position, but none have applied. That's the mystery that is tickling Miss Marple's neurons these days.
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kaysixteen
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« Reply #4 on: March 09, 2012, 3:23:02 PM »

Random thoughts:

1) Even if no additional health-sci related degree is needed, applicants may worry that they would not know enough to do the job competently, if they do not have a health-sci degree.

2) The pay relative to the amount of experience required may not be good enough to justify moving, for those with all that experience who are currently employed.  Esp since tenure is not an option.

3)Can you forward the ad here, obviously with institutional name omitted?
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punchnpie
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« Reply #5 on: March 09, 2012, 4:33:56 PM »

OP, do you really need someone with 4 years experience - and are you willing to count part-time student jobs as experience?  We have a number of students who work in our health sciences library (Big Ten school, major health center). Some have science backgrounds, some just end up enjoying the field. They will have good experience when they graduate, but not 4 years worth.

Two thoughts:
1) Whatever you're paying isn't enough for folks outside of your region to move to what, for many on the coasts, is considered undesirable territory.

2) Rather than focus on years of experience, how about request that the person has certain skills or has done certain tasks (such as bibliographic instruction for new medical students)?  Maybe that will widen your applicant pool.

I'm thinking that after 4 years somewhere, if I like it the job and location, I probably wouldn't see the need to pack up everything and move to a new job unless the salary increase was going to be significant or I was trying to move closer to family.
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hmaria1609
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« Reply #6 on: March 10, 2012, 3:51:26 PM »

Surely an undergrad degree related to that field would help--recruiting someone with a MLS degree with a hard sciences background aren't readily found.
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punchnpie
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« Reply #7 on: March 10, 2012, 4:43:12 PM »

Surely an undergrad degree related to that field would help--recruiting someone with a MLS degree with a hard sciences background aren't readily found.

Not so, in my experience. I have several students each year who have bio, chem, computer science backgrounds. My own masters program in an information school was full of such people.
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miss_jane_marple
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« Reply #8 on: March 11, 2012, 11:08:52 AM »

Thanks punchnpie, hmaria1609, and kaysixteen for your responses.

The announcement asks for years of experience because the library needs to hire a mid-career person with well-developed skills to fill the slot left when the former person was promoted to head of the department. They are now tossing around the idea of advertising a one-year full-time internship opportunity, in the hope that a new grad with some science or health professions background would be interested enough to apply and learn the skills needed to perform the work well.

No-can-do on the posting a name-removed version of the ad; the duties and skills listed are worded specifically enough and the announcement has appeared in so many online resources that it would only take 10 seconds on Google to find the actual ad.

The question still remains -- there are people out there who are not currently employed who do have the background and experience asked for in the ad. One source of evidence for that is a discussion list hosted by a professional organization that contains frequent messages about [a certain specific kind of] libraries being closed and the (experienced, highly skilled) librarians being kicked to the curb. The online resources where the ad is displayed are free on the internet and folks in that situation would be checking those resources regularly if they were looking for work. And yet, none of them has applied. That's the mystery. I hope it means that they are being snapped up by academic or industry libraries in their current location, and have no need to look elsewhere.
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kaysixteen
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« Reply #9 on: March 12, 2012, 3:03:27 PM »

Another thing-- where are you, and would you pay relocation expenses to your hire?  Are you in somewhere where people might want to relocate to?  How hard do your academic depts. find recruitment of teaching faculty?  How hard would a hire's non-academic spouse find it to locate professional work there?
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miss_jane_marple
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« Reply #10 on: March 12, 2012, 3:29:47 PM »

<Looks down at shoes, feels face turn red> There is no question this is a geographically unpopular location, we here understand that. Also, the career mobility issue is a major barrier for many experienced workers in a highly feminized profession.

<Steps quietly toward the door, reaches for the handle> The question was about why people who are fully qualified for the position, who have been laid off for budgetary reasons (and we know there are dozens of them out there) have not applied for it. Not one of them.

Believe me, if we could have moved this institution to a more attractive location, we would have.

<Not-completely-repressed sob>
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kaysixteen
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« Reply #11 on: March 12, 2012, 3:32:35 PM »

I see your point.  I am looking for another job now myself, but I have very little $$, and if the new job would be a significant distance away, and relocation expenses are not paid, I would have to seriously consider whether I could afford the move.
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yemaya
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« Reply #12 on: March 12, 2012, 4:00:15 PM »

Unless it's a really attractive job and/or in a popular location, or there are clear opportunities for advancement, I think you're going to have a hard time recruiting.  There may be some folks who are unhappy with their current work situations who are looking around, but outside of that, mid-career-level people usually need some sort of obvious incentive to change jobs in an iffy market.  A lateral move may just not be attractive enough for folks with these sorts of credentials.   If sweetening the pot isn't possible for budgetary or policy reasons (i.e. relocation expenses, the possibility of tenure, etc), the Dept might want consider a less senior person, if at all possible.
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kaysixteen
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« Reply #13 on: March 12, 2012, 4:43:30 PM »

What yemaya said.  It is especially unfortunate for you that tenure is not an option.  Who would, for instance, in today's university reality, abandon tenure for a job where tenure was impossible to get?  Why even abandon it for a potential to get it later elsewhere?
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miss_jane_marple
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« Reply #14 on: March 12, 2012, 5:27:49 PM »

I see your point.  I am looking for another job now myself, but I have very little $$, and if the new job would be a significant distance away, and relocation expenses are not paid, I would have to seriously consider whether I could afford the move.

Are you a librarian? Have you ever taken a science course? Do you enjoy feeling as if your head will melt down the front of your shirt from June through September? If yes to all three, do I have a job for you!

Actually, maybe that's how the ad should have been worded <sickly smile>
« Last Edit: March 12, 2012, 5:29:51 PM by miss_jane_marple » Logged

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