Book Review: What Do Employers Want?: A Guide for Library Science Students
What Do Employers Want?: A Guide for Library Science Students by Priscilla K. Shontz and Richard A. Murray
Reviewed by Megan Hodge
Written by the two editors of the venerable (founded in 2001) library career guidance web site LIScareer, What Do Employers Want?: A Guide for Library Science Students should be considered an obligatory purchase by all first-semester library school students. Actually, it should be an obligatory purchase for all library school students and new graduates trying to find their first professional job, but readers will get more use out of the book by reading it earlier in their library careers. This is because the book is divided into two parts: professional development activities one should undertake while still in school in order to strengthen one's resume and chances at obtaining a professional job after graduation and the job search process (resumes, cover letters, and interviews).
The book is strengthened by the addition of anecdotes from many librarians who have experience as hiring managers and are therefore reliable sources for advising library school students and new graduates about what hiring committees want. While similar (and, more importantly, similarly up-to-date) information on the hiring process can be found at Hiring Librarians and in this writer's co-authored article with Nicole Spoor "Congratulations! You've Landed an Interview: What Do Hiring Committees Really Want?", this book is an invaluable resource, particularly the information in the first part of the book which is not duplicated (other than informally on blogs and the like) anywhere else. This part of the book is especially important for library school students, as "getting your MLS degree does not guarantee you a job; it's simply the minimum requirement for most positions. You'll often compete with hundreds of other applicants for the same jobs, so you need to improve your odds. Do more while you're in school so that you'll stand out from the crowd of other new graduates and experienced professionals" (6-7). Many library school students and new graduates do not realize this until they are applying for jobs and competing for the same entry-level positions as experienced librarians.
Some of the recommendations are of the most useful kind: many of the book's contributors describe how to stand out from the crowd. While general advice of the type found in any job-search manual is included (e.g., dress conservatively for your interview, double-check your application for spelling mistakes), there are many gems that it took this reviewer, for example, many months to learn from a variety of sources, all in one place. These include such advice as: "look into regular columns that publish works from guest contributors" (38), "Include your name at the top of every page [of your resume and cover letter]; sometimes pages get separated when an employer makes multiple copies for search committee members," (74) and "your response to 'Do you have any questions for us?' should never be 'No'" (90).
As mentioned before, this book will have the most impact on library school students who've just started school (or even before they start school), but it has enough useful information to be required reading for anyone looking for an entry-level librarian job. The sections devoted to the hiring process in school and special libraries, which is less commonly found information, are especially helpful, as are the list of additional resources at the end.
Hodge, Megan and Nicole Spoor. "Congratulations! You've Landed an Interview: What Do Hiring Committees Really Want?" New Library World 113.3/4 (2012) : 139-161. Online.