I never like to see a staff member resign. But when they do, it’s usually to take the next step in their marketing career, and that’s something to be proud of.
However, I suffer through several days of worry after I receive a resignation letter. Will I find a good person to fill this role? How long will it take? How hard will it be to orient them to the bureaucratic workings of my library?
In truth, despite the worry, I love to hire new people. A new employee can bring new ideas and energy to your library. Staff recruitment and nurturing is one of my favorite parts of the job. It’s also one of the hardest things to do. Hiring a manageable, long-term, qualified candidate who meshes well with your current team is crucial to the success of your library. The wrong hire can cause issues for you for a long time. So it’s important to get it right.
A job in library marketing is fun. It isn’t glamorous but it’s fulfilling. It’s also a popular field. For my last open position, I received more than 130 resumes in seven days. And many of those resumes were from candidates with the right degree and experience. But many of my candidates neglected to do some simple things that could have helped them land my open job.
I want to share some of the things I look for in a good library marketing candidate. These aren’t the things you’re told are important when you’re taking that college job placement class. Confession: I do want my candidates to have a degree but I don’t care where it’s from. These are the things that really, truly improve your chances of landing a job in library marketing.
And, if you hire library marketing candidates or hire for positions in your library in which marketing is part of the job description, look for candidates who have these qualifications.
A complete LinkedIn account. Your LinkedIn profile should include an updated photo of a professional nature. List your school and work experiences. Make sure you mention any professional organizations to which you belong. If you have writing or artistic samples, post them on your profile or include a link to your online portfolio or blog.
Most importantly, ask relevant professional peers to write recommendations of your work before you start applying for jobs. The candidates who got past my first round of resume culling where those who had at least one professional recommendation on their LinkedIn profile. And the more positive recommendations they had, the more likely I was to consider their resume.
A completed automatic application form. My library’s application asks questions that are usually answered in a candidates’ resume. Many of my candidates skipped the application step. I assume it’s because they felt it was redundant. However, it’s important to fill out the application for two reasons.
Many libraries use software to comb the online application for certain keywords to identify qualified candidates. They can’t do that search on a resume. If you don’t fill out the application, you’re automatically disqualified. Filling out the application form also shows you can follow directions.
A cover letter, particularly if the job you’re applying for involves writing. This is your chance to shine. Avoid using clichés such as “I’m a great fit for this position.” Write in your own voice. Be creative and personal.
The person I hired for my last open position began her cover letter by telling me the story of the library in her childhood–how her mother used to bring her to the library every night for activities and homework help because she was such an active and energetic child. That story stuck in my mind and demonstrated her writing skills. She wrote conversationally yet was professional in her tone. And it worked… she got the job!
Spelling and grammar are accurate on EVERYTHING, especially if your new job involves writing. This demonstrates professionalism and attention to detail. I eliminated some qualified candidates because they misspelled words or made grammar errors in their resume, application, or cover letter.
Writing samples. Generally, I would have two or three samples linked to your resume, and two or three more in your back pocket to send in if the recruiter needs them to help winnow down the pool of candidates. Prove you can write a variety of content including blog posts, press releases, emails, and long-form articles.
Social media accounts. If you’ve worked on a social media account for another brand, nonprofit, or volunteer organization, include a link to those accounts in your resume. If you don’t have professional experience, you should have personal accounts and you need to be active on them. This demonstrates you have knowledge of how social media works. If you aren’t actively on social media, the recruiter will assume you don’t have a complete understanding of how the social landscape works.
Video examples. In TV news, we used to call this the “demo reel.” Make two or three videos to show your shooting style, and to show you know how to edit and upload videos. Put them on YouTube or your personal blog, and link to them in your resume.
Research the heck out of the library you want to work for. The more you know about the library, the better your chances will be of landing the job. Look at the library’s social media accounts, website, and mobile app, then visit a branch. Pick up some print marketing materials and pay attention to displays, signage, and customer service. This prepares you for the classic questions “What are we doing well and what would you like to improve on, if you were hired for this position?” The inability to answer that question is an automatic disqualifier for me.
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