Advice from Someone Who’s Been on Quite a Few Search Committees

In working at an academic library over the past couple of years, I found myself on a few search committees for librarian positions. Serving on search committees provides valuable insight into the job application process. You really learn a lot about what works, and what doesn’t work, when applying and interviewing for jobs. Below are a few tips I’ve taken away from my search committee service.

Rock Your Resume and Cover Letter

This seems pretty obvious but make sure you proofread and edit your resume and cover letter. While a few typos won’t doom you, they do stand out sometimes. Also, make sure you attach the right files when you’re applying for jobs online. I’ve seen a few cases where people have attached cover letters meant for other jobs. Whoops! Some were quite good but unfortunately didn’t apply to our open position. One really important thing to do, especially in your cover letter, is to address the job description. Link your experience and skills to what’s described in the job announcement. Doing this shows you’ve thought about the job and how you would be a great fit for it.

Don’t Ramble in Phone Interviews

 This could certainly apply to all interviews but it’s especially important in phone interviews. Phone interviews are usually designed to figure out which candidates to bring in for in-person interviews. So the best thing you can do is to wow them enough to want to talk to you more. One way not to do this is to ramble on and on. In person, it’s usually pretty easy to pick up on non-verbal cues as to when you should stop talking. Over the phone it’s difficult to know if you what you said is sufficient, so the impulse is to keep talking. Trust me, don’t. Prepare yourself with specific examples related to the qualifications listed in the job description. That’s usually what the questions will apply to. When answering questions, be concise and specific.

Ask Questions in Interviews

 This goes for phone and in-person interviews. Coming to interviews prepared with questions about the job and/or the organization shows you’ve done your homework regarding that job. It shows you’ve looked at the website and thought about the job and its role in the organization. Search committees are always impressed with good questions from candidates.

Send Thank You Email

 This might be pretty obvious, too, but it’s definitely worth pointing out. Sending a thank you is not only professional and courteous but allows you to mention anything you may have forgotten to say in the interview. Believe me, it stands out when people don’t send thank you’s. One kind email to the committee chair will you do you wonders.

I hope you find these tips helpful. All search committees and application processes are different, but I think these tips would be helpful in most situations. Past posts have also offered great advice on job searching and application process and on creating a job search battle plan. Check ’em out! Good luck with your job search!


Categories: Job Searching

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