short answer Sunday: 7 short answers to 7 short questions

It’s short answer Sunday — seven short answers to seven short questions. Here we go…

1. Are employee feedback surveys worth filling out honestly?

Curious what your thoughts are about employee feedback surveys. I work for a huge multi-national media company and for the second year in a row, they’re “encouraging” us to complete a survey. It’s administered by a third party and supposedly some of our comments (which are in addition to all the check box responses) are anonymized and read by various upper management.

Last year I was pretty straightforward — harsh at times. (I got a decent review and a bonus a few weeks ago, so nothing obviously negative came back from it, but I do wonder if they’re starting a COINTELPRO-type file on me). Predictably, nothing really changed in the workplace, so it feels like they’re just paying us lip-service. Should I give them an unabashed assessment of their clueless middle-management (some of the worst I’ve ever dealt with in my career) or should I just approach this whole situation with “Meh, the checks still cash” and deliver blandly robotic answers? It doesn’t feel like there’s a win in either situation.

Take your cues from them. If your employer has shown that they’re genuinely interested in honest feedback and have made it safe for it to be offered, then offer it. If both those conditions aren’t present, then it’s often not worth taking the risk.

(In your case, in fairness, your employer might be very interested in feedback but simply disagreed with your assessment or didn’t consider the areas you raised priorities for them. And that might be perfectly legitimate, but that can often make employees feel like the whole thing is a farce, which is why employers need to do a better job of communicating when they do feedback surveys. Too often, people are left feeling like you feel, when better communication might fix that.)

2. Managing coworkers-turned-friends-turned-coworkers

You write often about the pitfalls of managing friends. But what about working with old coworkers again? Everyone hears about the importance of getting jobs through your network — but what about when a coworker moves on, and the boundaries for colleagues no longer apply?

Many of my best friends are former coworkers. Obviously, the BFF part comes after they quit and we don’t have to maintain those boundaries. But what about when there’s an opening at your current workplace that would be perfect for them, particularly one that reports to you? Does the fact that your working relationship is a known quantity neutralize any of the problems with managing your friends? What if you work in a specialized or otherwise small field (for example, I imagine this is pretty common in academia)? Is setting boundaries for the work relationship, cooling off the friendship, and being on with the possibility of losing the friendship enough, or is this just one of those rules where the risks always outweigh the potential awesomeness?

Well, they might have started out as coworkers, but they’ve now morphed into friends, so that rules for managing friends are what apply here. Of course, as with any friendship, if you’re willing to cool off (and maybe lose) the friendship, then feel free to proceed! The issue is really only when people think they can preserve the friendship relatively unchanged that the problems come into play.

3. Junior employee is inappropriately bossy

I recently started a new job at a small advertising agency. Several departments (account, strategy, project management, and creative) work on one client. I am the director of one of these departments, and have one junior staff member working underneath me.

The issue I’m having is with another team member in a different department — she’s below the level of my junior staff member (she’s a few years out of college), but she’s very opinionated and bossy when it comes to her role. She tells me that she’s adopting certain policies, what I should be doing, and takes a tone of voice that is very off-putting to me. I honestly believe that every team member brings something to the table, no matter how junior, but the tone of voice she uses to direct me and her outspoken demeanor makes me wary of what she has to say every time she opens her mouth. What do you suggest I do to maintain a good relationship with her? Should I talk to her directly? Should I be discussing it with her boss (who is my counterpart in their department)? I’m at a loss for what to do, because I’ve never actually run into this issue before.

Just don’t take any crap from her. If she tells you what you should be doing, tell her dryly that you’ve got it under control. If she’s inappropriately bossy with you, either ignore her or tell her pointedly that it’s not her call. But a lot of what you’ve described here just sounds like she annoys you, not that she’s actually crossing any lines — I mean, is there anything wrong with her telling you that she’s adopting certain policies or that she’s outspoken? Assuming that she’s not stepping on your toes, why do you need to care? Assertively protect your turf from her when it involves your department (and yes, ask her manager to tell her to back off if she continues to over-step), but if/when it’s about stuff that’s not on your turf, just let it go.

4. Separating desired skills from required skills in job postings

This question is about using the phrase “helpful but not necessary” (or “desirable but not necessary”) in job postings. In my job postings, I say that experience with ArcMap, ArcInfo or other GIS applications is helpful but not necessary. I truly mean that such experience is a plus but not having it will not take someone out of the running. But after posting this, I started to wonder if a potential applicant lacking this experience would disregard the job announcement, thinking that someone who had the experience would surely prevail over them making “helpful but not necessary” really means “necessary.”

When I post a job announcement I try to segregate the essential qualifications from the desirable qualifications. Does it help to list the desirable qualifications or does this tend to limit your responses?

No, this is a good thing to do. Keep doing it.

5. I made a typo in my phone number when emailing about a job

I applied to an internship at my dream company, a rather large company that has several departments that people can intern in. I was contacted by human resources, double-checking which department I wanted to intern with and I was very excited. They contacted me back with an email address for the head of the department I want to work in and I was told to contact them about setting up an interview. I replied back with the fact that even though I was working near where the internship would be held, a phone interview would work best with my current schedule, and I included my phone number underneath my signature.

Later, I double-checked my spelling throughout the email and realized that left a digit out of my phone number. I did not realize it until a week later and I thought it was too late to email her correcting it. It has been a month since I reached out to her and my contact at the company says she is just slow to respond but I am afraid I blew my chances to intern with that department over that error. Am I worrying for nothing? I am afraid it will make me look flighty and like I do not pay attention to details.

Well, yeah, it’s a red flag about attention to detail, especially since you didn’t correct it. It might not be the kiss of death, but it’s not good. Also, they asked you to set up an in-person interview and you basically told them “no, we’ll do it by phone,” which isn’t really your call. Most places that prefer in-person interviews are committed to doing in-person interviews, especially with local candidates. So you’re not in a great spot with them, but I’d follow up, reiterating your interest, offering to meet in person, and correcting the phone number.

6. Aspiring librarian wondering about introversion

I’m a college student on the bottom rung in a field that I hope to stay in long term: I want to be a librarian. My major is directly related to this field, and the position I am in now is a great fit for me — I am currently a library page. However, the next step on the ladder, circulation desk assistance, is a very customer service oriented position. I am a strong introvert. I like people and am sociable and friendly, but only if I get some much needed solo time between social interactions. This next position would require me to constantly interact with people, and I think having to be socially “on” during the entire workday would prevent me from doing my best work. Because it is the next expected step, I don’t feel like I have any alternatives except to try my best in a job that I probably won’t excel at in hopes of moving past that point. I do think that I would perform very well at other positions above that level because these positions don’t require the same constant interaction with people. However, if my skill set doesn’t fit this next expected step, I’m afraid that I will not be a candidate for further promotions. There are no similar positions that I could use as a next step instead of this one. Can you offer me any advice, or am I doomed to fail in my chosen profession because there’s just one step on the ladder that is not a good fit for me?

I don’t know enough about library work to answer this question knowledgably, but we have a ton of librarian readers, so hopefully they’ll chime in. But my thought is that even the circulation desk at a library isn’t exactly Studio 54, and you will probably do just fine there unless you freak yourself out by agonizing about it. Librarians?

 7. Skills sections on resumes

I know how you feel about conventions in resume length and the dreaded Objective, but I’m not entirely clear on your stance on Skills sections of resumes. It seems to me that specific skills would be better marketed in a resume by weaving them into your work history with quantitative examples that show one’s proficiency with a particular tool or technique, but I can understand that not necessarily flowing well in a previous employment section. Do you think there’s much value add, from the perspective of a person job hunting, to list hard skills in a widespread section? I’m just wondering if it irking me is reflective of my personal hiring tastes in my specific industry, or more a widespread convention.

It really depends on the field. In many fields, there’s value in having a separate skills section so that an employer can see at a glance whether you have experience with, say, a certain software — especially since most resume-screeners skim resumes at first and aren’t always reading deeply enough to see that the skill was woven into an accomplishment. But that answer only applies to actual hard skills — software programs, languages, etc. It doesn’t apply to soft skills, like leadership, writing, or communication — if a candidate has those things, they should be proven through the accomplishments listed under specific jobs, not just claimed in a skills section, where most hiring managers will disregard (or scoff at) them.

{ 154 comments… read them below }

  1. Josh S*

    Re #1 on employee satisfaction surveys:

    I am of the opinion that most companies provide internal employee satisfaction surveys as an avenue for employees to decompress–as a release valve for their frustrations, if you will. It’s not that they don’t care about the feedback, but rather that the cultural changes or individual management/system issues that are usually offered as points of dissatisfaction are too big for the company to afford or too small to be worth addressing.

    So the whole thing becomes an exercise in giving employees a ‘safe’ outlet for venting their frustrations, after which it’s back to the status quo.

  2. A Library Manager*

    To the aspiring librarian. I’ve been a hiring manager in libraries for over a decade.
    Every position in a library is customer service oriented – anyone who tells you otherwise is a poor librarian. Be it external customers or internal customers – you have customers and you will have to interact with people. The reason why so many libraries are in dire straits – funding & hours being cut – horrible stereotypes – bad PR – is because people went in to the field because they loved the concept of book/reading more than interacting with people.
    Check out desks are the MAIN point of contact the majority of customers have with a library – even though most the staff who work them are not librarians (degreed professionals) – most customers think they are – and they will judge all future library experiences based on their interactions with the body behind that desk.
    If you truly care about the field/profession and spreading the joy of libraries and all they have to offer – learn the skills necessary to be a stellar people person now – do not wait and do not think you won’t have to learn it because you’ll just wait for a non-public service desk position to open. Go to Toast Masters, take a public speaking class, take a drama course, interact with a local theatre group — what ever it takes to learn how to be *on* for those 8-hours a day – no matter what position you fill in the library. It’s a small price to pay for a field you consider a passion/dream. You can be *off* the other 16 hours of the day.
    It will not only help the profession as a whole — but will also give you a massive career leg up over all the other masses of people who apply for jobs simply because they love books/reading more than proving a public good customer service.

    1. Person*

      This isn’t about learning the skills: its about being an introvert.
      Introverts *lose energy* from social interaction. I’ll bet you are an extrovert. When you go to parties with other people do you feel energetic or do you feel drained?

      The OP is rightfully concerned that interacting with people all day will make the OP perform less than stellar due to constantly being “on edge”

      1. fposte*

        And speaking as an introvert, I basically agree with the library manager above. Librarianship is a service job–you’re dealing with people. You need to be able to find a way to do that if that’s the field you’re pursuing. I think moving to the desk would be an excellent way of exploring whether this field is one you can make work for you.

        That doesn’t mean you have to leap into this blindly. If you’re working as a page and have a chance of moving up, you’re known to the staff there. Is there somebody you can talk to about your concerns and who can give you an idea of ways that might help you manage the experience and where it fits into your trajectory? Maybe you could even shadow somebody at the desk for a week or so to get an idea of how the rhythms go. You’re not the only librarian to have sorted through this problem, so why not learn from those who’ve been there?

        You also have the option of saying no now and then giving the experience a try later, in library school, say. But honestly, I think there’s a lot to be said for doing it early when people will be at their keenest to help and forgive you, and where you’re doing it in an academic library (I’m guessing) rather than having your first experience be in your practicum at a public library.

        P.S. to Alison–I think you’ve got a title typo, as this person apparently wants to be a librarian, not a library. Though I do like the idea of an “aspiring library.”

        1. Laura L*

          Definitely explore as much as you can now! It’s better to do it now than wait until you’re in library school. A master’s program is not a good time for exploring.

      2. A Library Manager*

        You would lose that bet Person. Every Myers-Brigg, what color is your blah blah, what animal are you test I’ve taken in college & during my years of management show I’m an introvert – more so than some catalogers I know (professional joke! haha).
        But I know to succeed professionally I cannot be one – so I’m one in my personal life – not my professional life.
        Every time I do a public or staff training I’m *on*, every time I speak to staff about planning or job coaching I’m *on*, every time I’m in front of a civic group I’m *on*. Why?
        Because I believe in my field and want to do what’s best to promote something I view as vitally important to our society – free library access to all.
        It doesn’t promote itself – it needs customer service minded people to provide that personal touch for customers (internal and external). To remind folks that it’s the brilliant individuals who care and make up the profession who keep their libraries open.

        1. Rebecca*

          Thank you “Library Manager”! I am also very much an introvert, as well as being the manager of the circulation department at my public library. I worked by way through every department, from tech services to children’s services and reference. I’ve been on every desk in the public library and still cover whenever there is a shortage. Being an introvert has never stopped me from having steller customer service skills (in fact I’ve worked customer service since I was 16).
          Anyone interested in working at a public library needs to be “on” while they are at work. It doesn’t mater how much desk time you put in there is always the expectation that you offer great & friendly service to patrons as well as coworkers at the drop of a hat. If this isn’t something you can do then I would think carefully about what profession I wanted to work in.

          Being an introvert is not a reason for offering subpar service. Most of my staff are introverts as well, but they have found ways to re-charge throughout the day, reading a book or taking a walk on break are favorites. Yes working with the public all day can be draining but any job can be a drain on your energy levels (that’s why its work).

          On more thing about the interactions with the public and being an introvert. I’ve found that one on one interactions are far less draining then being at a party and dealing with large groups. One of the biggest pros of working on the Circulation Desk and the Reference Desk is that these interactions are all very one on one. And the pace at the public library tends to be steady and friendly and not rushed (this isn’t walmart).

      3. Jamie*

        I agree with A Library Manager – even though I understand your point about the energy. As a card carrying introvert myself, I thought going into IT would be a way to escape all those pesky interactions with people that used to exhaust me so. Turns out that to fix the computers I love so much I needed to develop skills for dealing with the people who use those computers.

        It’s about knowing what you need and balance. I can say that being forced out of my comfort zone (which includes people, albeit via email only) has made it easier. I still have a very definite need to recharge so when a day has been particularly human intensive I’ll schedule some blocks of time to close my door and work on development – which is a solitary pursuit.

        Being able to deal with it more easily doesn’t make me any more extroverted. When I visit the land of extroversion it’s like being in a foreign country. I have learned enough of the language to get by and I do have an appreciation and sometimes admiration for the native extroverts…but it makes me really appreciate those moments where I can be myself – usually by myself.

        Bottom line is sometimes at work we won’t always be ideal and plenty of people go to jobs they hate every day. If you have a job you love and want to advance this is something worth working on.

    2. Anonymous*

      +1 for this comment. Librarianship is a service-oriented profession, and librarians who do not work with the general public are still responsible for providing good internal customer service. This is different than the type of service you provide while working on the public service floor, but it’s still a fundamental part of the job!

      As for the OP’s question: working with the general public is not for everyone, but I would encourage you to give it a try. The fact that you’re aware of your own strengths and weaknesses puts you at a huge advantage, since you already know what you’ll need to do to be successful in this position and keep yourself sane. If you do your very best work and it still ends up being a bad fit, then any manager worth her salt will be willing to work with you about transitioning to a library position where your talents can be better utilized.

      For what it’s worth, I’m an introvert by nature, and while I was working on my MLS, I swore that I would never go into public service. Fast forward 10 years, and I’m now happily working as an adult services librarian. I gave public service a chance, and although it was (and still is) stressful at times, I discovered that I was pretty good at it, and I started to enjoy it. I still need a lot of down time to recharge after a busy week, but it’s a fair trade-off for a satisfying career. Good luck to you!

      1. OP #6*

        I’m the OP for #6…thanks for all the great replies! I promise I’m not someone who wants to pursue a library job because I like to read – that seems like the equivalent of studying pyrology because you like to grill! I have worked in a public library for five years now: two years in high school and now on school breaks in the summer and during the holidays. When I’m away at school, I work in the academic library there. Although I’m sure this may be different in other libraries, in both of the libraries where I’ve worked, the librarians have much more solo/down time between customer interactions than the circulation staff.

        I feel like some people mistake being an introvert with being a misanthrope, which isn’t the case with me at all. In addition to working at the library, I held a PT retail job that was very customer service oriented – and I loved it! I got excellent reviews from my managers and enjoyed the work, but always felt very drained by the end of a shift.

        I will graduate (undergrad) this December, and hope to move back home to attend a library school that is only a few hours away. I plan to continue working in the public library then, but feel that once I am “officially” in library school, I should be making every attempt to apply for promotions and move up in the field. However, since my education will be a priority too, I want to make sure I have enough energy to do my job and still have some left for school. I’m ok with being drained sometimes if it means following my dream – just afraid that my natural temperament will cause me to royally mess up at one or the other in the process!

        1. A Library Manager*

          Messing up once in a while is human and natural (just like being *on* ;-) ). That’s how you learn. But do realize it will be a balance you have to create for yourself – no one else can do it for you. Balancing involves having clear priorities (which it reads as if you are still working out).
          Just make sure you choose a graduate program that will accommodate what you set your priorities aa (please don’t make geography your only choice in choosing a library school program).
          To help you manage the *on*/*off* of where ever your path takes you do look at taking a couple electives that can help you with those skills necessary to be *on* when the split second requires it. A duo-masters program in communication & libraries or HR & libraries could be an extremely valuable asset and would give you an out to step into a corporate world if you decide to go that way.
          Best of luck!

          1. OP #6*

            Thanks for the advice – it’s good to hear from a library manager on this one, as well as all the other library staff members and introverts that have chimed in. Balance is definitely a struggle for me, but I’m always working on it! A duo masters program is something I’ve considered before, more because of the current lack of employment opportunities in libraries than anything else though. HR or communication could be interesting choices…

        2. fposte*

          It also sounds like you’re pretty focused on that one public library as your end goal. Which is okay, but it’s worth considering the other possibilities library school might bring, including graduate assistantships that give you a taste of other types of librarianship–which it might be worth quitting your legacy position for. (I’m wondering if it’s operating as a bit of a safe berth amid change, too, and while that might be temperamentally useful, think seriously about what you might be missing if you prioritize safety.)

          1. OP #6*

            You’re totally right on this, and I’m looking forward to finding out what those possibilities will be! I’m not determined to stay at that library if there are better opportunities somewhere else. I do want to stay in the general area if at all possible, though. Although I know I may need to branch out geographically because of the job market, I’m close to my family and want to stay nearby if I can make it work.

          2. Catherine*

            I definitely agree with getting experience in other types of librarianship. I’m an introvert and a librarian, and I work in our IT department — I work with people half the time, and spend the other half of my day with my computer. There are also plenty of opportunities in technical services, special collections, etc., where you can still do great things but have less public interaction. The academic library where I work has student positions in just about every department, so I would encourage you to look into some other options, even if not as an alternative — the more library experience pre-MLS, the better!

    3. Anonymous*

      I totally agree with this. I’m very much an introvert, but customer service is a skill you can learn and do even if you don’t really enjoy it. Customer service interactions are very different from social interactions. Taking a public speaking class or something like that would be a great way to learn how to talk to people and become more comfortable.

      It’s essentially creating a script in your head, and following it. Most of your interactions will be the same, and some will be very different and very stressful, but the most important thing is to always be friendly, always be helpful, and know your job (knowing how to do everything dramatically increases your confidence and reduces the stress of “crisis” situations). Doing those things can be tiring for an introvert, but I don’t believe for a minute that there are people out there who CAN’T do that for a job.

      1. jennie*

        I completely agree as well. I’m a huge introvert and value and need time alone, but I’m excellent at customer service, listening to the needs of others and helping them solve problems. These superficial interactions are perfect for me. It’s small talk with coworkers that makes me cower in the corner.

    4. Another Emily*

      A Library Manager has given great advice here. I want to encourage you because I know that introverts can be great librarians. My Mom is an introvert and a reference librarian. She has had a great career as a librarian and absolutely loves it. While she is definitely not an extrovert in any way, she does find the diverse patrons interesting. An introverted person can find a rewarding career in a customer-oriented environment.
      One thing that probably helps is that the library is a quiet, peaceful place. Helping people with reference questions is not the same as going to a loud party with tonnes of people you don’t know.
      Another thing is you’re not going to be constantly bombarded by people. There are small moments in the day, as well as your breaks, where you can have some down time. And as others have said, you can have quiet/decompression/alone time after work.
      Don’t let introversion put you off being a librarian. You can succeed and it sounds like you’ll be a great librarian.

      1. Anonymous*

        Well, not every library is a quiet, peaceful place. The library I work at is a branch library that sees between 1,000-2,000 patrons today, and I am, in fact, bombarded with people the vast majority of the time. Yesterday, I was manning the reference desk alone with three calls on hold and three patrons in front of me needing to be helped.

        Finding a library that’s the right fit is definitely important! Public libraries range so much in their atmospheres. Customer service obviously matters at all of them (hopefully!), but there’s a big difference in pace and possibility for patron interaction burnout between them.

    5. Another Library Manager*

      I am also a manager at a public library, and this comment is spot-on. I personally am an introvert, but I am fiercely protective of high customer service standards at my library. You don’t need to be an extrovert, but in order to be truly successful in the field you have to be able to work with people. It’s what we are here for. Yes, you can get a job in a library that won’t require to you interact with people a lot. But to be SUCCESSFUL and have success for your library you need to be comfortable with working with and for people. Good luck!

  3. SCW*

    Re # 6
    Librarians are at heart focused on customer service, so while some types of librarians work with fewer members of the public or are more removed from the public it is all in how you interact with the people you serve. As a public librarian, I have talked to people who tell me they want to be a librarian because they love books and because it is so peaceful, but I think the number one key to success is in loving to help people find books and acknowledging that it isn’t very peaceful. Because of that it makes me wonder if this field is as good of a match as you think it is–if this is a public library and you are hoping to become a library assistant or a librarian you will need the same serving the public skills as a CSS. Even academic and special librarians serve customers, though not as many.

    Depending on what type of a library you work in there are sometimes libraries that have entry level non-professional staff working in Technical Services getting books ready to go to the public. This is less customer service focused, and if you are thinking of going into cataloging it could help.

    I would suggest you give the CSS position a try, it doesn’t require that you be extroverted. At my current library we have some of the most introverted CSS I’ve ever met! I think the important part is that you are competent on the computer/catalog, can multitask, and can be friendly under pressure. These are skills more tied to practice than to being extroverted/introverted. It is also a good test to see if the field of libraries is a good fit, because there aren’t many jobs and most of them will require customer service as a main component.

    1. Student*

      This is pretty spot on.

      Just to be contrarian, I’ll also mention a friend of mine who worked as a librarian at a very small local library in an area with a low population.

      Her main activity during the work day was playing a popular online game, World of Warcraft. Occasionally she’d get interrupted by a customer, about once a day or less. I’m sure that if she wanted to, she could’ve spent all day reading, or juggling, or practicing the samba.

      Those jobs are out there, but I think it would be a mistake to assume that this is how your career will work out. It’d also be a mistake to think that these gigs pay as well as a busy library.

      1. Long Time Admin*

        Jennifer Marlowe had so much free time on her job as a receptionist that she learned to speak French during work hours. And she was the highest paid person at WKRP in Cincinnati.

  4. SCW*

    I think we typed at the same time, and said similar things! I echo what Library Manager said!

  5. Melissa*

    Re: question 6: I am an introverted former librarian and the aspiring librarian sounds just like me! I found I could pull it together and be sociable at work but it was very draining and the longer I did it, the more unhappy I was. Ultimately, though, the areas of the profession where an introvert could be happy, like cataloging, are shrinking and being outsourced. The opportunities for professional librarians are largely in managing, teaching, and customer service positions where you’d probably be dealing with people most of the day. I think the question to be asking isn’t whether the aspiring librarian will be able to secure promotions, but whether there are positions beyond the next promotion that would be a good fit.

    1. Liz in a Library*

      Melissa, I’ve had the same experience you had. It’s not that some introverts can’t provide excellent customer service, it’s that the constant interaction can take a real toll.

      1. NicoleW*

        I’m not a librarian, but I totally agree. I am great with clients and customers, but then come home drained and just want to be alone! (Which isn’t possible with a spouse and a 5-year old)

        OP#6 – I think it’s great that you’re exploring this so early in your career. It took me until my late 20s to realize exactly how my introversion was affecting my work and personal life.

  6. A Library Manager*

    To add to what SCW said – I started out in academic libraries – was in special collections, access services, technical services and now work in technology — Each one of those areas have required me to have people skills and be *on* at any given second.
    The only opportunity I have not to be *on* nowadays is when I’m off work at home crocheting and my daughter is at the neighbor’s house. ;-)

    1. JT*

      I think we’re doing ourselves a disservice if we use the term “customer service” to mean any interaction with other people.

      Clearly in today’s world almost every job requires working with other people, but for the term “customer service” to be useful we have to define it as serving either external clients or, in some cases, internal clients that we have to keep happy. If we use it to mean other departments/staff we interact with, it’s meaningless.

  7. Lisa*

    Question 6: Not a librarian, but I’m an introvert who has worked customer service jobs (retail and bar work) and for me part of it was learning to just grit my teeth and slap a smile on my face even when I was stressed and really just wanted a bit of peace and quiet. The other thing I did was to look out for the tasks that would give me a brief respite from people, like restocking which gives you a bit of alone time fetching stock from the stores and is a legit excuse to avoid customer interaction for a few minutes while still working (appropriately, not ignoring a big queue of irate customers!) – you could look for these duties and work out how to get them into your workday at intervals (maybe reshelving is part of the job?) Also, sad as it is to say, a lot of the time my social life ended up taking the hit – after eight hours of customers I wanted to stay at home and decompress and recharge rather than be out with friends, so maybe think about how you can rearrange your time and social commitments so you have some alone time every day.

  8. Kelsey W.*

    Re: #6
    Echoing what many others have said about debunking the myth of librarians quietly reading books all day, and also pointing out this: your best work at a circulation desk will be solving problems and making patrons happy. That’s it. If you can competently work with the ILS and be a good representative of the library, then you’re doing your job. It will be really hard to get a professional librarian job if you don’t want to deal with people (it’s kind of what we do), and this position on your resume will be good evidence for your soft skills down the line. You may actually come to enjoy it!

  9. DanaD*

    Quick FYI: One of your questions is titled “Aspiring library…” I think you meant “Aspiring librarian.”

  10. Anonymous*

    4. Separating desired skills from required skills in job postings

    I admit to being the type of applicant who passes on job ads with a “desired but not necessary” skill that I don’t have for the reasons the OP stated. I’m curious as to how employers typically handle such instances. Do they offer to train or support outside training to fill the gap? (FTR, if asked, I would always state that I’d be willing to take courses to fill any gaps).

    6. Aspiring library wondering about introversion

    This is interesting because I was once considering a library degree; given my love of information, I figured I would be likely start in a customer-oriented role, such as reference librarian. However, my last job was in an Information & Referral role (which I consider to be similar to library work in that you’re providing information and resources to the public), and being “on” all day got very draining and downright frustrating at times. Thus, I too am interested to see the responses from the librarians on this question.

    1. ChristineH*

      Argh…that post was mine. I forgot that I’d cleared my cache yesterday (thank you, computer virus!)

    2. Anonymous*

      Oooh, please, applicants! If you have most or all the requireds, but none or almost none of the preferreds, please do apply! The two sections are a perfect example of employers being completely honest: there are things they *need* for the job, and things that would be awesome but aren’t necessary.

      If you are an exceptional candidate, in that you have the requisite basic skills, an exceptional cover letter, a flawless and well-organized resume, and don’t do weird things like put your picture in your materials, you’ll probably get interviewed over someone who has a couple of those preferreds but otherwise is not a stand-out candidate.

      Please apply! If you’re dramatically under-qualified, sure, that’s a waste of everyone’s time. But if you can make an argument, make it! Let the hiring manager decide if they’re convinced. :)

    3. Student*

      #4: There have been research studies on this. My statistical guess is that the OP and this responder are women. Men are much more likely to apply for jobs that they aren’t fully qualified for than women. It’s one of the classic ways we undermine our own careers.

    4. Alisha*

      Student, yes, right on! What prompted me to start applying for jobs I’m only 60-70% qualified for was reading a study about this exact thing, and learning how men make a case, quite successfully too, for landing jobs they’re not a 100% exact fit for.

      I now recommend emphasizing transferrable skills and, if applicable, making a case w/ examples from your work history for you being a motivated and efficient self-directed learner – which will show that you can cover those gaps within a few months of hire. Since OTJ training is a thing of the past in many cases, that’s a quality employers love to see.

      1. Jamie*

        Yes! Once upon a time I only applied to jobs where I met 100% of the requirements, and had no luck whatsoever.

        I read a study about how women tend to do this where as men tend to apply for jobs they have most of the requirements for, or think they could learn quickly enough. I changed my strategy and all of a sudden I was getting interviews and offers – including my current job.

    5. Jamie*

      “I’m curious as to how employers typically handle such instances. Do they offer to train or support outside training to fill the gap?”

      Personally for me the desired stuff is things you can be trained on relatively quickly anyway. I.e. “Experience with Super Special Snowflake ERP a plus.” That just means if all things are equal between one candidate and another (and they are never equal, but that’s another discussion) someone who was familiar with our ERP would save a little training on the front end. It would never prompt me to choose a lesser candidate just to save the training, but if the perfect candidate is out there my putting this in the ad could be the impetus for them to make sure they submit a resume.

  11. ITforMe*

    #3: I bet if the junior employee were a man, he’d be viewed as “assertive” and “a real go-getter” instead.

    1. Alisha*

      I think sometimes this is the case, so I’d have to agree with a conditional “sometimes, yeah.” In all fairness though, when people act like this, male, female, or Martian, often they are insecure, OP. They may be threatened by you being their boss. They may have been raised in an environment where they were told they were special and God’s Gift, and are having trouble adjusting to the fact that they’re a dime a dozen. (Contrary to popular myth, this ain’t just a young’un thing. Ever seen a grown-ass man of 40 cajole and whine like a wee tot, and manipulate with gifts and food? Not pretty.)

      The one thing you can do besides use strategic verbal judo is check your company’s discipline policies and know how they work. Some people who act like this will try to escalate it – so it helps to recognize what actual straight-up insubordination looks like and be prepared with a disciplinary plan, in case the behavior ever turns into insubordination, threatens the welfare of the business, or [insert other discipline-worthy offense here]. I worked with 2 gentlemen in my career so far who tried to be the bosses of others, and one was fired, the other demoted. As I predicted, nagging employees and interfering with their work wasn’t thrilling enough for them – they had to escalate it, and so they did, one over a couple of years, and the other over a course of mere months. Ugly, ugly scene both times.

      1. Alisha*

        Nevermind – I thought you were having issues with your direct report there. If this is someone from another department, you can’t do anything about it. Knowing that your company has a discipline plan is good for your peace of mind, but that’s as far as you could hope to go.

    2. Kimberlee*

      I don’t know about all this… I’ve known plenty of bossy, irritating young men… I am all about calling out sexism where it exists, but to needlessly insert it where it may not is really not helping anything.

    3. Alisha*

      (Goes without saying that you shouldn’t use discipline until/unless the behavior merits it, but I know that I feel better about working with people who act crappy when I’m aware that something can be done about them, should they start acting worse…a peace-of-mind kind of thing.)

    4. Student*

      My thoughts exactly. It’s fine not to like her, but the letter doesn’t really detail anything that appears to cross an actual boundary. He just doesn’t like her “tone.” Might as well complain about what color her shoes are.

      OP, either specify what the actual problem behavior is, and then try to work out a compromise with her, or accept that she’s not your direct report and only worry about her if a real department conflict comes up.

    5. OP #3*

      I’m the OP for question 3… Never realized how hard it is to write these things!

      I’m actually a female myself, so I know what it’s like to work my way up in this structure. I would feel the same about the behavior regardless of gender, although I do agree that males seem to have more leeway in the corporate world when it comes to being assertive.

      I didn’t state what was wrong, and I apologize for being vague about the actual circumstances. For instance, I was speaking with her the other day because I had a half day (telling the entire team that I was leaving early) and she was looking for a file. She ended up going to my computer to retrieve it, but bruskly told me over the phone that from now on, I should always put any document I’m working on the server because people like her need them from time to time. I have never worked in a place that asked that of me, nor is that our agency’s policy. We put final files on the server and what we send to the clients, but I work on a lot of long-term projects and to put every single draft there while it’s a work in progress is absurd to me. My boss deosn’t even touch the server. For the junior employee to suddenly enact this policy and berate me for not doing it initially seems out of line to me.

      1. OP #3*

        Oops, pressed send before I was done!

        So, what she’s telling me to do does affect my department and working structure, and it’s not something I can just ignore.

        1. Ariancita*

          Yep, totally not her call. She could ask you to do that or send you the file when she’s going to work on it–ask you in a polite way. But to demand you do things a new way altogether? No.

        2. KellyK*

          Wow, yeah, that’s definitely overstepping. I would tell her that you won’t be posting every draft on the off-chance that someone might need it and let her know how she can get documents you’re working on if you’re unavailable (e.g., ask you ahead of time when you tell everyone you’re working a half day, getting it off your computer, other places to find the same information, whatever you think makes sense).

          If you were managing her, it might be appropriate to remind her that her coworkers have priorities, both personal and professional, that go beyond “whatever she wants the minute she wants it” and that there will be times when she’s expected to be patient. If nothing bad would’ve happened if she’d had to wait until you came back to get the document, that may be a sign that she needs to chill a bit. Not that it’s your place to tell her that.

      2. Ariancita*

        I figured it was something like this: employee creating new work flow policies and then insisting everyone follows them, even people above her or outside her department. Perhaps she has had a convo with her boss who agreed to new procedures, but it’s not her place then to enforce them on people outside her department. She’s way overstepping here. I would follow AAM’s advice her and tell her it’s not her call.

      3. Alisha*

        Yes. Completely out of line. Of course, because she reports to another department head, your disciplining her will likely be interpreted as your stepping on another department head’s toes. (I fucked up with my last answer there – my pharmacist is out of office, and since only she can order my ADD meds, I’ve been forced to go w/ou; hence, my reading comprehension and impulse control on forums leave much to be desired, and I sincerely apologize for my fuck-ups.)

        At my last job, I ran a creative-y department at a company that did websites, apps, and cloud/SaaS software – so while my team was a lot larger and more techie in nature, we had some things in common with ad agencies. I had an issue twice with fellows in other departments bullying me and stepping on my toes/team’s toes. What helped me besides learning what insubordination and the company’s discipline policy looked like – if only for peace of mind – was: a) discuss concerns with my boss, framing them as an efficiency issue, which was key, since I couldn’t just complain that I didn’t like Joe or was irritated by Dave’s tone, b) “cock-block” the offending guy at meetings and 1-on-1 when he tried to dominate me by saying, “Thank you for the suggestion; however, I’m going to stick w/ doing things this way,” and calmly repeating that until he backed off. While I ultimately left that job because battling dysfunctional people got tiresome, those strategies did work well for the number of years I was there.

        Would those strategies work for you (with some tweaking to fit your situation), or are they not quite what you were looking for? I guess I’m also curious to know if she’s been affecting your work in other ways, or if your example is a typical snapshot of how she works.

              1. Alisha*

                Welp, looks like my internet SaaS-iness got the best of me…shazzbutt!

                Groans welcome. ; )

              2. Alisha*

                (And by “sass,” I mean my weekend posting hat. Business language only henceforth!)

  12. Steve G*

    #5 – Wow an internship applicant telling me he doesn’t want to interview, just wants to talk on the phone, even though he’s local? WTF? I see this not as proposing another interview method but as rejecting the interview entirely….

    #1 – Unlike other posters I don’t know why these survey are done, but I have experience calling out bad management without it being confrontational (perhpas I’ve been lucky never to have been fired because of it!). For example:

    A) There seems to be a disconnect between departments, where no one knows what the other is supposed to be doing
    B) Our department and management isn’t kept in the loop on alot of information we need to make decisions
    C) Our department and management doesn’t have permission to approve xxx decisions and the people that have permission to do those approvals don’t understand what we do….
    D) Our Dept Mgr doesn’t give us a clear vision as to what our long-term goals are. Every employee has defined these for himself…

    1. OP*

      I am the poster from question 5 and when I said I was “near” where the internship would be held I did not mean I was local I meant the internship would be held in New York and I am in Pennsylvania three hours away working at a camp, so getting there would be hard for me. The interviewers were glad to set up a phone interview.

      1. Steve G*

        sorry Iive in NYC and some of the young people here are very quirky so I was picturing someone saying that they couldn’t make it in person because they were cross-town:-)

    2. Diane*

      It sounds like we work at the same place.

      Did you see any changes after the survey, good or bad?

  13. Cassie*

    Re: # 6 – I am an introvert too, and I haven’t worked in a library before so my assumptions may be wrong but aren’t interactions with the customers (library patrons) typically short and (depending on how busy the library is) intermittent? Of course, you wouldn’t be able to just put on headphones and hunker down to recharge, but you would probably have a couple of minutes here and a couple of minutes there where you would essentially be alone in a crowd.

    I’m also a bit shy/awkward and I’m not great with small talk, but I don’t think I would mind a circulation desk job. Aside from the obvious tasks of checking out and checking in books, it’s about making patrons feel comfortable about coming back to the library each week.

    1. SCW*

      Working at a circ desk can be done with just answering direct questions and solving problems, but it isn’t ideal. Ideally they are talking to everyone who comes up, but mostly like “How’s it going?” “Let me know if I can help you with anything!” and generally ensuring things are running smoothly (with self check out this is especially important) In other cases small talk fills the gaps while you are trying to get stuff into the computer while a person is waiting.

      But you are right that most of the time staff don’t just work on the desk, we schedule shifts processing returns, holds, and delivery. So in a 4 hr shift half or less might be on the desk, and the other working in the back or on the floor. In a smaller library this is less strict, but typically you might also have less busy times.

  14. danr*

    #6… you can get the degree and then not work in a library. There are library vendors who provide the cataloging for libraries and do the indexing for the periodical databases. Those are the jobs where you sit quietly and read all day, with some time needed for entering the data.

  15. OP*

    I am the original poster to question number 5 and I should have added to the original question that it is a large company in New York and phone interviews to my knowledge are the norm for potential interns because most come from out of state, like me. In fact I just heard back from them and they were very happy to set up a phone interview with me on this coming Tuesday. I am not sure whether or not the typo has affected my chances, but I am sure I will find out this week.

  16. Monique C.*


    I’m an introverted librarian as well. Depending on your work environment, you may not be at the circulation desk all day. For example, at my library, we tend to work at the circulation and reference desk in one to two hour shifts (depending on the semester) and do other library activities throughout the day. If you find yourself working at circ, use the time you have off the desk to recharge.

    To expand on what danr said above, you don’t necessarily have to work in a library with a circulation desk or one that primarily serves external customers. You could work for special library that mainly focuses on internal customers (researchers and the like).

  17. Emily@HiringLibrarians*

    Re #6: I agree with what the librarians above have said. All library positions are customer service positions. Even catalogers – I visited a community college where the cataloging librarian also taught information literacy classes because positions which had face time with students were much less likely to be cut from the budget.

    You have a great opportunity to learn now if you can do it, and to gain the skills necessary to succeed. It sounds like you are doing your undergrad, so you still have a long road ahead of you – the place you work now is probably not where you will end up. Try the circ desk position – they say that college is the time to experiment, and that’s true for work and learning as well as the, erm, “other” activities. Figure out now if you actually want to do the work of being a librarian, or if you just like the *idea* of being a librarian. Otherwise it may cost you a lot of time, money, and heartache completing grad school for a profession which is already saturated with hopefuls.

    Also, in not totally shameless self-promotion, I have interviews with a lot of different library hiring managers up on my blog, and it may help to see what kind of things they look for:

  18. Vanessa*

    #6 It sounds as though you have never held a customer service position before. You might be pleasantly surprised to find you are good at it and/or that it’s not as bad as you are anticipating. Don’t write it off until you’ve given it a solid try.

    Additionally, I’ve worked a lot of customer service jobs and I would argue that it is not “social” contact with customers but rather professional contact. You’re not there to make friends with the customers but rather to provide effective, courteous service. If you think of it as completely separate from the social interactions that you’ve struggled with in the past it might help you overcome this.

    1. BlueGal*

      I’m very much an introvert and most of my jobs have been customer service oriented. While I’m not very good at small talk, I really enjoy interacting with people as it relates to helping them solve problems. I wasn’t very good at waitressing, but enjoyed working as a cashier in a department store and in a computer lab as a undergrad. All you can do is give it a try and learned from the experience.

  19. JfC*

    I use a skills section, because it works well for my particular circumstances. I am a new grad without a lot of work experience. Most of my skills were gained through coursework, and wouldn’t otherwise show up. Also I’m trilingual, through learning languages as a child.

  20. Student*

    #6 I worked at a library circulation desk for a while in high school. I assume you are at a very large library, because we certainly didn’t have pages. Our lowest position was book-shelving, and a circulation assistant wasn’t really a step up from the bottom, more of a step sideways.

    You should ask more about the job duties. Most of my work as a circulation assistant was not customer-facing. Most of my duties as a circulation assistant consisted of checking books for damage, checking in books, and sorting them. I also took over primary circulation desk duties when we were short-staffed or the main circulation workers were out to lunch or on break, but this was a decidedly secondary task. That consisted of checking out books, registering people for library cards, charging people for fines, answering phones, providing reserved books – the people-facing stuff. Sometimes I also assisted with our video checkout and audio book checkout. You should figure out if your primary responsibilities will be people-facing or back-room stuff.

    I was at a local library in a small city, but it was fairly busy as far as our standards go. At the same time, the overwhelming majority of people-interactions were short, businesslike, and straightforward. The circulation desk usually doesn’t sit there and help people with research questions, like a proper librarian. The only interactions I can think of that would really flummox an introvert are the wrangling over library rules – arguments about who damaged a book, who gets to borrow books, how much a fine costs, and that kind of thing. As an assistant, usually you can hand over really difficult customers to the primary circulation person, or you can fall back on “the rules” and say, “Sorry, I don’t set the policy, but I have to enforce it. You owe $45.95 to replace this book before you can check any more out.”

    Additionally, I suggest you look at this as a way to stretch yourself and develop your people-skills in a very easygoing environment. My biggest people-problems at the library were the other employees, not ever customers. If you have crippling introversion that you are afraid to take on a library job that would be good for your career, where people are largely quiet and peaceful by default, then you really need to work on that aspect of your life. You will not be able to handle full librarian duties if the people-interactions of the circulation desk freak you out; librarians deal with people in much more depth than the circulation desk.

    1. Kit M.*

      I think many libraries use “page” for the position your library called book-shelving.

  21. Laura L*

    I have a library degree and currently work as a database indexer. It rarely involves talking to people. Back of the book indexing is the same. In fact, a lot of indexers are freelancers and work from home. That might be something to consider, although I’m not sure how necessarily a library degree is to obtaining an indexing job. I kind of fell into it.

    1. Rana*

      I was just thinking this! (As I pause to take a break from a current indexing project, in fact. *laughs*) I’d say that almost every indexer I’ve met was an introvert, and well over half of them have some sort of library background. It’s a profession where being introverted is actually a *good* thing, because (as the American Society for Indexing puts it) “indexing is an unsocial profession” and if you can’t handle putting your life on hold for the duration of a project, it’s not for you.

      1. Laura L*

        Yes, this is true! I work for an organization and most of my coworkers are introverts. I’m more in the middle. I don’t think I could handle being a freelancer working from home all day!

  22. Kimberlee*

    I want to advocate for a “skills” section. Of course, if you know your industry DOESN’T use them, then don’t, but I’d say they should be there by default. Especially for, as Alison notes, hard skills like hardware, software, databases, etc. It’s also a great way to incorporate, as a couple people above mention, skills that you indeed have but haven’t gained in an employment setting, like languages and college coursework.

    It’s nice to have a quick reference to see hard skills. Note that I don’t scan this in lieu of reading the rest of the resume, it just gives context to what you’re capabilities are as a candidate, which helps frame the reading of the rest of the resume.

    1. Alisha*

      Kimberlee, I’m also in favor of a skills section. As was mentioned, it depends on the field, and my field is very technical, so the “tradition” for senior candidates is to do two separate sub-sections: one for software and one for hard skills, e.g. specific programming languages, types of technical writing, UX design strategies, etc.

      I call my hard-skills sub-section “Specialties”, and it’s been working out well. It lists a lot of skills I need to bring to the table at the jobs I’m in the running for, but which I cannot spell out in my resume’s work history, unless I want to convert that work history from a list of achievements and “wins” to a list of tasks. (Generally, that’s the worst mistake you can make with a resume!)

    2. Rana*

      Thank you for saying this. My frustration (as a career changer) is that if you’re applying for a job in another field, you can’t assume that your job titles (or even accomplishments) “mean” something to the hiring manager. Say I note that I’ve worked as an adjunct professor – a non-academic probably grasps that this involves teaching, and maybe reading and public speaking, but will they understand that this also means that I have a solid grasp of Excel, am familiar with multiple word-processing programs, can work with both Mac and PC platforms, etc.? (Especially since some professors are die-hard chalk-and-blackboard folks who fear change, while others are on the cutting edge of the digital humanities front, and doing things like coding their own databases from scratch.)

      1. Rana*

        Plus then there are things I learned as a hobbyist (like using Photoshop and digital SLRs) that would be completely invisible if I were to rely only on my paid positions to tell my story.

  23. Blinx*

    No. 1 – Surveys… Yes, answer them honestly, but in a professional manner. We had these once or twice a year, rating our satisfaction on various items from 1 to 5, with some opportunities to write in comments. The results are tabulated, and then used to rate company progress from year to year. Our company did take these to heart, and several policies were changed as a result.

    I’ve always had my doubts about the anonymity of these, particularly when you get email reminders that you haven’t filled yours out yet. But imagine my surprise when at an annual meeting, the VP was reading a quote from one of these surveys, and it sounded awfully familiar… I had written it! It was an honest acknowledgment of the upheavals of change the company was going through, yet looking forward to better times to come.

    P.S. One of those surveys came after my layoff notice but before my last day. Oh boy did I answer honestly on that one!

    1. A Teacher*

      I think that sometimes this is okay, but I also worked for a medium sized company in the physical therapy world that did the “anonymous” survey bit that would then send out an e-mail to those of us that hadn’t responded. If we still chose not to respond, we would get talked to by our direct supervisors about company morale and not participating. The reason I stopped answering the survey: the second year I was there morale had started to slip so on the survey many of us put down objective responses for what we felt had gone wrong.

      The CEO decided the problem wasn’t management structure (when 83% of the respondents thought it was) it was the fault of the employees. His response was to hold mandatory meetings with ALL employees where we got yelled at for over an hour about our “attitudes.” Some of the employees were singled out for what they put down and then subsequently marked down on quarterly evaluations.

      1. Anonymous*

        There was a Dilbert comic where the boss takes him aside and asks, “The anonymous survey says you don’t trust management. What’s up with that?”

        I don’t fill those things out. Ever.

    2. Julia*

      I worked in the Intranet team at one of my previous employers and we were asked to organize a staff satisfaction survey. We specified that the survey results would be anonymous, but after the results were in it turned out that the IT manager got a lot of criticism and we were asked to provide the names to go with the critical feedback. We kicked up a fuss and the request was withdrawn, but lesson learned – anonymity is tenuous. I wouldn’t say anything that I’d hesitate to say publicly.

  24. Anonymous*

    Another to #6: I work in the museum field in visitor’s services, and I am a similar type of introvert. I never wanted to work with the public until I had a public programming/visitor’s services internship at the Smithsonian (during the summer, too). It was exhausting, exhilarating, and educational. I then had a desk job in DC for a few months and absolutely hated it, which led me back to visitor’s services and museums/parks.

    Use this time to figure out if you’re suited to work with visitors. Volunteer in a variety of things related to your field. Since you have the time, use it.

  25. Anonymous*

    Re: #6. Aspiring librarian wondering about introversion

    I can certainly relate to you on being an introvert. I have no aspirations to be a librarian; however, when I was in school, guess what my part-time job was…. a front desk concierge, 8-12 hrs a day! I thought that this would be a bad idea, but I needed the money, and after working there for a few weeks, the interacting with people wasn’t even that bad at all. Actually, getting a job in customer service helped me with my intoversion. Before, I was afriad to pick-up the phone and use it (yea, my introversion was that bad) and now I have no problem doing it, and it’s actually my preferred method of contact… even years after leaving that job.

    It is possible to be an introvert in a public setting. You’ll just seem more reserved and laid back which there is nothing wrong about it.

  26. Anonymous*

    Oh I forgot to add from above, people approach you for your knowledge, and not whether you are an introvert or extrovert.

  27. Anonymous*

    I definitely pass on applying to a job if I’m missing the “desirable’ qualities. Because, come on now, no matter how lovely my cover letter is, it’s not going to make up for the fact that I don’t have that master’s degree that you’d like if 12 of the other candidates do. This blog really hammers home the fact that you can be a great candidate and still miss out on jobs — how can I see a job posting that would ideally like their candidates to have 2 years experience programming in C#, or a Class 5 driver’s license, and conclude anything other than the fact that I am obviously a sub-par candidate?

    1. Ariancita*

      Exactly how I feel. When at this time you can be the perfect candidate with all the desired experiences and still will not get the job because there were a dozen equally if not more qualified than you, why waste time on applying for jobs for which you aren’t truly competitive. It takes a lot of time and effort to apply for a job. How many of us have gone through all that and never received an interview or have gone through an arduous multiple interview/exam taking hiring process only to not get the job? Even when candidates are extremely strong, they miss out on offers all the time. So why put the time and energy into an application where you know you’re not the strongest candidate from the outset (unless it’s your dream job, of course)?

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Because sometimes you’re strong enough in Required Area A that they’re not going to care so much that you don’t have Optional Area B. Seriously — I’ve hired plenty of candidates where that was the case.

      2. Alisha*

        Ariancita, I hear you, and totally took this stance as well w/ my search until recently, because while I was able to land jobs I wasn’t 100% a fit for when the economy was strong, my track record with that took a nose-dive this year. However, after re-assessing my job application strategy, I realized that I could sell many of the skills I DO have as being transferrable to the position, and use examples from my career history to make a case for my being a fast self-directed learner.

        This has been working well; for example, last week, I interviewed for a position I was only 60% qualified for, but for which I could close my skill gaps very quickly if hired. I’m now waiting to hear when the VP wants to schedule the second round. It’s a strategy I’d recommend if you’re finding a lot of positions that interest you, but for which you feel you lack certain precise qualifications.

      3. Tamara*

        I would absolutely hired the person without the preferred degree over one who does, if they were the best candidate. A degree doesn’t automatically translate to professional, and there is a lot to be said for experience. If you have a strong resume with experience in what I’m looking for and you come across as professional, enthusiastic, and reliable during the interview, you will easily beat the person with a master’s degree who has poor presentation and a weak background. Those are 2 extremes, and every situation is unique, but you never know who you’re up against and you very well might be the best candidate, even without the desirable qualities.

        1. Alisha*

          It’s funny: Next week, I’m interviewing for a position that “strongly preferred” candidates with a master’s of HCI or UX. But I have tons of directly applicable OTJ experience and highly relevant work samples from blue-chip private and Fortune 500 clients – and my years of experience in this field exceeded what the position required – so I applied, thinking “What the hell…probably won’t get it, but why not try?” Now I’m on the short-list of candidates.

          I had the first interview (different company than the one I’m 60% qualified for) earlier last week, and Friday morning, they invited me back for the second round. In the end, I may not make the cut because someone w/ the master’s is who they want in the end, but it just goes to show that applying never hurts. What’s the worst that can happen? They turn you down, and you’re the same as you were before!

    2. Penzy*

      I recently applied for a job that stated that a master’s degree was strongly preferred. In my cover letter and on my interviews, I made a case for why my bachelor’s and experience in a similar position made me a great candidate, and I got the job. After I was hired, my boss told me that they passed on several candidates with all of the required and desired qualities, including the master’s degree. Bottom line is, you don’t know what weight they are giving to each criterion. If you meet most of the qualifications and it’s a job you really want, make your case and see what happens.

    3. Jen*

      I’m currently involved in hiring a replacement for a co-worker who left. Our job ad has included “preferred experience using software X” ever since the position was first advertised. None of the 8 people on the team had ever used the software before they were hired (me included)… but they had strong language skills, which is way more important for a technical writer than knowing how to click 3 buttons. The candidate we’re targeting now doesn’t have any experience with it either, but we’ve chosen her over several others with seemingly-perfect qualifications because she performed better than them in the interview.

      Don’t hold back if your skills don’t perfectly match the requirements!

    4. jj*

      I can tell you that in my department, when we write and post a job opening, we think very carefully about the difference between required and desirable skills. If you’ve got the required but not the desired skills for a job posting, I really hope you’ll apply. We’re not trying to fool anyone here. No tricks… what we say is exactly what we mean.

      If we say something is required, that means the job cannot be done without that skill. You might still be able to make a case for having similar skills and an ability to learn quickly, but it’s a harder case to make and may depend on factors you can’t know, like who else applied, or the relative weight of a given requirement. (And there is a difference between matching 100%, which is rare, and 50%, which probably isn’t enough.)

      When we say something is a desired skill, we may mean that it would be cool if you already knew some obscure software, but we don’t really expect many people to, so you’re fine if you don’t. Or it could mean that there’s a job responsibility requiring a specific skillset that we’d love to transfer to this new hire, but that we have covered a different way and it’s not the most important thing to us anyway. You know, things that would be nice but AREN’T required. (Think of it like house hunting. Does anyone ever get everything on their wish list?)

      Also, I know the market is rough and there are lots of stories of hiring managers getting hundreds of applications for every open position, but please don’t assume that is always the case, or assume that you’ll be discounted immediately as unqualified or “sub-par”. Or whatever you are thinking that keeps you from applying to a job you believe you are suited for and that you would like to have. Just don’t get in your own way. Job hunting is hard enough without letting those kinds of fears take over.

      1. Alisha*

        Agreed, 200%. This is an awesome breakdown of job-posting language and what it all means!

  28. fposte*

    #2: I’m in small academic workplace where my best friends also work. I’m in agreement that a direct supervisory position is something to avoid–I almost was a direct report to one friend, and while I thought at the time it would be fine, I’ve subsequently been relieved that it didn’t happen. You have to tell people you manage sucky things sometimes, and you have to ignore distress that would be your business as a friend. That’s tough on both ends.

  29. Anon*


    A little off topic, but are you hiring now? I have GIS skills and am looking for work…

    Let me know.

  30. GeekChic*

    #2: Maybe you can talk to your former co-workers turned friends and see how they feel about the general idea? I’m friends with my current boss. It works because we’re not friends at work and we’re both able to compartmentalize.

    We talked about it when we realized that we were moving into the friends territory and it is working well. I just received my performance review with some legitimate corrections to my work and she has disciplined me in the past (correctly).

    #6: I used to be a senior manager in public libraries and you have received some good advice. All library positions are public service oriented, some just involve more contact with the public than others (and even those involve contact with internal customers). As others have noted, there are other types of library-related jobs that have less of a public service orientation that you might feel more comfortable in.

    I now work in IT primarily because of my preference for less draining (from an introversion stand point) work. I still have to be “on” for training and working with clients but it is far, far less then I had to be in public services and / or management in libraries. Good luck to you.

    1. fposte*

      I do think it’s a little easier when a work relationship evolves into a friends relationship than when you go from friends to being supervised, though. The first way I do a lot, and it’s actually quite nice so long as everybody’s sane. I think it’s a more jarring step that requires careful negotiation, at the very least, when you go the other way. At least in this case the OP sounds like they have information about what kind of workers their friends are–it’s particularly troubling when you find out your friends have big work flaws.

      I also think it’s a lot easier if the department/company is thriving and successful. A workplace under pressure is a really demanding place that often means people not getting what you’d like them to have–and sometimes what you choose somebody else to have over them.

      1. GeekChic*

        That’s a fair distinction. It can be distressing to have friends you have always seen positively suddenly become a source of stress. If you’ve known someone’s work habits / ethic first and then become friends its less likely to be an issue.

        I think it’s also perfectly fine to be someone who can’t compartmentalize the way my current boss and I can. If you don’t feel comfortable being friends with your boss or your direct reports – you shouldn’t try. And there are definitely potential pitfalls to be aware of.

  31. Kev*

    well – as an introvert, I was going to chime in – but most of the other introverts beat me to it with excellent advice. One of the comments said that interacting with customers is much different than social interaction. This is so very true. As the person being asked for help on the circulation desk, you can control the level of your interaction with those seeking your help. You can chit-chat, or you can help them in comfortable silence. It is a library, after all, most of of the librarians I deal with at my local library rarely make chit-chat. “Oh, that book looks interesting,” is about as far as it goes. (Except for the librarian I’ve known for probably 30 years, who asks after my family now. She’s the exception to the rule.)

  32. AnonA*

    #1 brings back the suppressed memory of our AVP at a former company making her entire team have a meeting because of the survey results which showed people unhappy with her and the direction of the team. Good meeting–she screamed at us and threatened us re: future surveys. Maybe not what our Fortune 500 was hoping for with the survey. She was later fired for abusing her team, which had turned over entirely three times in three years–except for me. Later found out that she was fired from a competitor for the same reason. I hope she got therapy or medication. She made my life miserable.

  33. Unanimously Anonymous*

    #1. Are employee feedback surveys worth filling out honestly?

    In my experience, they’re not worth filling out at all. Since I’ve been at my current company, the management’s done two employee surveys; one about 6 years ago and another just last year. My department’s VP (who’s actually a good person with her heart in the right place) called a meeting last February when the results were finally issued for the most recent survey; she stated unequivocally that the executives at our corporate HQ were stunned by the low scores for employee morale and engagement, the high number of employees who are considering looking for other work, and the fact that strong majorities of employees below management level would not recommend our company as a good place to work.

    We worker bees left the meeting with at least a faint hope that the HQ executives might finally “get it” and at least slow down with the constant reorgs and reshuffles that in our department’s case had more than doubled the workload of the surviving employees and gravely compromised both internal and external customer service (due to employees being dumped into new, technically-demanding roles with the only “training” coming from other workers who were juggling their own high workloads and new responsibilities).

    However, at the the department’s next quarterly all-hands meeting about a month ago, the VP’s only mention of anything related to the survey results was a brief statement that HR at Corporate had determined that the company has “only” a 9% annual personnel turnover rate, after which she rushed to the next, totally unrelated topic. We got the message VERY clearly – CEO to rank and file employees: You are hereby cordially invited to drop dead.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      In fairness, it’s possible that the management of the company legitimately has other priorities that they’ve decided are higher right now. It’s not necessarily “drop dead.”

      1. Esra*

        If this is the case, it would be nice if they shared that, even just a broad overview. Skimming past things leaves people feeling ignored and worried.

      2. Anonymous*

        Unless that building is on fire, there is nothing more important than low employee morale and engagement. Sales and profit margins are surely on their way to the basement. A CEO that doesn’t understand that needs to be fired immediately.

        1. Anonymous*

          Right on – my former employer is a great example of this. They had an issue with morale around the time I left; in fact, some of my reports resigned shortly after I did b/c they didn’t care to work for another manager, who was adding to the morale problem. But pressing as employee retention and morale were to the executives last year, their bigger issue was retaining an account that was on the brink of terminating their contract, and which comprised a significant portion of their revenue.

          From what my ex-colleague network (and my boss) has told me, the execs triaged the issues, focusing on lining up new revenue sources first, and then turning around the factors that were affecting morale and retention. Fiscally, they are not where they were at this time last year, which unfortunately led to layoffs, but by plugging revenue holes, they were able to preserve their better employees’ jobs, thereby more efficiently addressing the morale and retention issues without the “going out of business” Sword of Damocles hanging over their heads.

      3. Unanimously Anonymous*

        Hi, AAM –

        Thank you for answering. In many cases you’re probably correct. However, at my company the most recent survey took place after a particularly nasty meat-axe reorg that has damaged multiple departments’ abilities to perform their basic functions and adequately serve both internal and external customers – with an obvious negative impact on the future bottom line. The survey effort was launched amid much executive-level hoopla about employees are our most valuable asset, we need to engage everyone in this tough economic environment, blah, blah, blah. The final brush-off response as related by our VP at that quarterly meeting was seen by the rank & file as a slap in the face and an in-your-face proclamation that the entire process was a sham. If the CEO and his flunkies were so involved in “higher priorities”, why bother with the survey (and waste a likely six-figure pile of dinero) in the first place?

  34. Ellen M.*

    Librarian here (I am also a director of a library school program) – you can be an introvert and also be good at a circulation desk (and later on at a reference desk if you do get your Master’s and become a librarian). There are lots of successful librarians who are not extraverts and handle circ. desk and customer service responsibilities with ease.

    It is unlikely you would be on the circ. desk all day; a shift of a few hours at a time is more likely. Many times circ. transcations are routine and don’t involve a whole lot lot of conversation, so you wouldn’t really have to be “on” as if you were making small talk at a party.

    I would say go for the job – you will probably rise to the occasion and find it easier than you think it will be and it will get easier still the more you do it. If you enjoy it and do well, it may reinforce your decision to become a librarian. And if you really don’t like it, it is much better to find that out *before* starting work towards the degree.

    Good luck!

    (now I am going to read what the other librarians had to say)

  35. Anonymous*

    #2: I’ve managed and been managed by my best friend a number of times through the years. In our case, it was pretty much unavoidable since we were both in the same relatively small field. We also weren’t at all unusual–most of our industry got jobs through networking so it was quite common to have good friends working together. In our case, three things helped us successfully mix friendship and work. The first was that we treated any success of one of us as a success for both of us. This helped us avoid feeling jealous when the other got promotions or awards. I’ve had other friendships start to fall apart due to professional competitiveness. The second thing is that we *always* tell each other instantly if something is bothering us. No one likes to hear that they’ve made a mistake, but because we say something immediately, we don’t let issues fester. It’s much easier to hear “hey, can you do this another way?” from a friend that you know has your back than to not hear anything until lots of people are pissed. Finally we also respect confidentiality. We don’t push each other to share managerial secrets or to pass along gossip about coworkers. Sure, we do share more with one another than we might with other coworkers, but if there is a topic we have to be silent about, the other doesn’t push for details.

  36. Lora*

    1. No. The only time I have ever seen a company act on these is to fire anyone who gives them less than a glowing review. Large companies already have data on why they are no good: they have HR calculating turnover rates for individual departments, they have exit interviews from people who have left, they have performance metrics which may or may not be met, they have 360 degree review systems, they have customer feedback surveys, they have market share comparisons, they have benchmarks against their competitors, they have industry publications putting out surveys of their own. This is more than enough data to conclude that the Associate Vice Director for Teapot Handles sucks.

    2. Read Alison’s link and be prepared for your friends to see a whole new side of you, which they may not like. My friends said I went from being their friend to their mom, including nagging them to clean their workstations.

    3. Are you 100% certain that maybe HER boss might be telling her to do these policies and whatnot, and she is merely taking cues from him? I ask because I once had a boss sorta like that: He was fresh out of his MS, had no real job experience, but had a massively inflated sense of his own genius. He would make suggestions to the higher ups, who would reply, “OK dude, sounds fine, have fun with that,” (they didn’t actually care as long as the work got done), and he would make me do all sorts of things, such as what you’re talking about here with the putting drafts on the server for review. Then he would go to a managerial meeting and announce that his strategy was a great success whether it was or not, and the other managers would say, “OK dude, sounds fine, have fun with that.” And then it was supposedly my job to “champion” his new way of doing whatever. Other managers who had previously nodded along suddenly were like, “wait, what? Now he wants ME to use his stupid method too? And who the heck are you anyways, missy?” If the idea failed, it could be blamed on me, and if it did well, he could take credit. It is a thing that crummy people do.

    5. Yeah, um…to me this is a bit like, I go to the bar, let’s say five people give me their phone numbers. Four answer their phones and want to have coffee. The fifth emails me saying they prefer to text, and gives me the number of the local Domino’s delivery. Just…no.

    1. OP*

      Once again, I am the original poster for question 5 and I am not a local interviewee, phone interviews are very common for people who are out of state. When I said I was near the internship I meant that I am three hours away. They were happy to set up a phone interview. The only mistake I made was a typo in the email and since they were willing to set up an interview I am hoping it’s a non-issue.

  37. Liz in a Library*

    I want to be a bit of a contrarian on #6. The stress of having to be “on” and available constantly can be a real issue if you are a true introvert, and shouldn’t be dismissed. I agree that introverts can do the job well, but I don’t like the idea that if you don’t, you aren’t rising to the occasion. Because, well, some of us truly are not made for constant interactions.

    I work at a library where our main desk is BUSY. Sometimes we’ll have people lined up waiting for help. I am incredibly good at my job, but the stress of having to stay calm, happy, polite, and helpful when dealing with the 30th person in an hour is extreme. I have had periods where I have trouble sleeping, gain weight, cry on the drive home, etc. It can be oppressive without the downtime an introvert needs to re-center. I am considering leaving the profession that I love (and am excellent at) because of it.

    I have to echo the idea that you need to be conscious of looking for a library that suits your personality. I’m not suggesting that you won’t be good at library work because you’re introverted, but you may find that library work isn’t good for you.

    1. KellyK*

      Good points. I don’t think an introvert should rule out working with the public, but that you should be aware that it will be a source of stress and try to figure out (probably by doing it) if it’s a stress you can handle. It may be that you can work the circulation desk all day, decompress by closing yourself up and reading for an hour after work, and be fine. Or it may be that you hate it.

      I particularly like your suggestion of looking for a library that’s a good fit.

  38. Joey*

    #6. Go work the circ desk. I don’t care if you want to end up in collection development, IT, or some other behind the scenes function. I’m not a librarian, but I’ve hired entry, mid, senior level librarians, and anyone who didn’t have circ desk experience was at a huge disadvantage. And if they did get hired ….well that was their first assignment. You see, all things library revolve around patrons. And there’s no better way to learn how the numerous behind the scenes functions come together than working the circ desk. In the old library you could be a librarian for 20,30, or 40 years and never work the crc desk. With most libraries experiencing budget cuts, staff cuts, and consolidation of services your chances of never having to work the circ desk are nearly over.

    It’s like any other job, the more versatile you are the more opportunities you’ll have. Limit yourself to librarian jobs with limited customer service and yes you can probably find a library to work at but you’re going to put yourself at a huge disadvantage in terms of promotability and marketability.

    1. JT*

      Joey – there are libraries without a physical circulation desk at all (the library at Johns Hopkins medicial school is a famous example among academic libraries), and also libraries with no circulation function at all, only reference.

  39. Bluesie*

    #1 : Employee feedback surveys

    I work for a company that runs these as a third party provider (amongst other things).

    Anonymity will depend entirely on who is running the survey, but we abide by our industry code of conduct and if the respondents are told it will be anonymous we do everything possible to protect that.

    For example, where there are smaller departments (i.e. fewer than 10 people have responded) we will not provide detailed breakdowns of data. If we use quotes we may remove any identifying factors. We often have to push back on the client on this point – they want as much detail as possible.

    We administer any reminders, so our system knows who has responded but this information is not shared with the client. We provide overall demographic data on who has responded, but again we avoid detailed breakdowns that could compromise anonymity.

    As to whether it is worth filling it in… this depends on the management of your company! One of our biggest frustrations is when we present findings with clear trends and areas for improvement, and yet two years later when we run the next survey, nothing has changed. We can only supply the information: if the client chooses not to use it, I guess they have just wasted their money.

    Another point to note is that we will usually be looking at the overall picture. Individual comments may be highlighted if they are significant, but it is the trend of the overall dataset that will shape the key findings.

  40. Wilton Businessman*

    #3: Put your manager hat on and manage. Let the junior person know that her input in welcome, but she will not be doing A, B, and C because you want her to do X, Y, and Z. Period. You’ve got to get this situation under control, stat.

    #5: This is what we mean when we say that internships help you learn what the working world is all about. When the manager asks you to come to a local in-person interview, you don’t tell them your schedule is full and you’ll have to do it over the phone. And you double check your work before you hit the “send” button to your dream company. That is an email I would be forwarding to my other managers as a “can you believe this guy?” email.

    1. OP*

      As I stated above, the manager I am not local and phone interviews are the norm for potential interns, I am three hours away. Also I was not contacted by the manager, I was contacted by HR and told to contact the manager about setting up an interview, that is the initial email I made with the typo, which was the only mistake I made. Asking to set up a phone interview was not a problem and I actually have a phone interview with them tomorrow.

      1. Wilton Businessman*

        I didn’t read all 98 comments, so I didn’t pick that up. When I see “near”, I assume that means within driving distance (which I would consider up to 3 hours). Either way, good luck with it.

        1. OP*

          I am working at a summer camp without a car. I would have liked to go in person but it was not possible.

      2. Jenn*

        Right, it wasn’t a problem, THIS TIME. I think you’re overlooking the larger point, though: if they ask to set up an in-person interview, do everything you can to make that happen. If you absolutely have no leeway in your current schedule, then why bother to apply for this internship, that’s three hours away? When did you think you were going to have time to interview? You don’t get to set the parameters for meeting with an employer. You were fortunate this time.

        1. OP*

          I am not over looking the point, everyone else seems to be jumping to conclusions. I was contacted by HR and told to contact a manager about setting up an interview. In my email I mentioned that meeting in person would be very difficult and asked for a phone interview which I know is the norm for potential interns because they are almost all from out of state. If I was asked specifically to come in for an interview and I did not know for a fact that the company was willing to do phone interviews I never would have asked.

          1. OP*

            By the way the internship is for fall in New York. I am moving there in August, that is why I applied for the internship.

        2. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Agreed with Jenn — this stuff wasn’t a problem this time. It’s still stuff to avoid because it often will be. (In fact, it still could be this time — for all we know, it’s a strike against you that they’ve filed away in their heads.)

          1. OP*

            I honestly think people are overreacting to the fact that I requested a phone interview. It is not like this is my first interaction with the professional world, I am a graduate student who worked for two years before entering grad school. I know at most companies requesting a phone interview instead of an in person interview is not something you should do. I think people jumped to conclusions about it being the wrong thing to do because I know how this particular company works. As far as the typo, I am sure it did not make me look good, that is why I requested a second opinion to verify what I already knew. As far as asking for a phone interview though, I think everyone is way off base because like I said normally I would not have done it but I know the company and I know its perfectly acceptable there.

            1. Tel*

              Well, if you didn’t want advice, don’t ask for it.
              I think someone 3 hours away should interview in person.

              1. JT*

                I dont think she asked for advice about phone/in-person interviews. She asked for advice about how do deal with a typo. Go ahead and offer unsolicited advice if you like, but don’t jump on her as if she’s rejected advice she asked for.

                1. Jenn*

                  Yeah, but she’s asking for advice on the wrong thing. Instead of asking, “Hey, do you think I blew my chance because I missed one digit?” she should have asked, “Hey, do you think I blew my chance because I asked for a phone interview instead?” And if she “already knew” the answers to both, then she shouldn’t have written in at all.

                2. JT*

                  This is for Jenn who wrote:
                  “she should have asked, “Hey, do you think I blew my chance because I asked for a phone interview instead?”

                  1. She doesn’t think she blew the interview for that reason,
                  2. She didn’t blow the opportunity to have an interview for that reason – she got one.
                  3. She knew the company did phone interviews.
                  4. She probably could not have had an in-person interview anyway.

                  It’s remarkable how counter-factual a number of the comments here seem to be about this one.

                  The OP wrote “In my email I mentioned that meeting in person would be very difficult and asked for a phone interview which I know is the norm for potential interns because they are almost all from out of state.”

                  This is very reasonable. Maybe they won’t agree, but it seems to be worth asking.

    2. JT*

      “That is an email I would be forwarding to my other managers as a “can you believe this guy?” email.”

      Do you think *that* is professional behavior – forwarding around what you think are errors by a potential intern? Dang.

      1. Anonymous*

        If something amusing comes into my inbox, it is shared with people I think will appreciate it. I think that’s pretty normal behavior.

        1. JT*

          I share funny general things but never diss people for amusement in work email. We will share negative information about people describing why we should be wary of someone or why we shouldn’t work with/hire/meet with/whatever. But not to laugh at someone. I really don’t think that’s very professional, even if it may be common. Haven’t seen that where I work though.

  41. Rin*

    I have an “Administrative Skills” section and an “Other Skills” section (wording may vary) on my resume. Some of my jobs have had the same duties, so I thought it would be repetitive to write the same things under each one. Instead I have, “Typed correspondence, faxed, etc. at Job 1, Job 2, and Job 3,” or “Did billing at Job 3,” if I only did it one place. How’s that format? I suppose I could just copy and paste my LinkedIn info.

    1. Wilton Businessman*

      IMHO, I don’t think that a computer programmer needs to put “Touch Typing” as a skill on her resume as that’s a skill I expect as an unstated requirement (two finger typers don’t get on my case, I’m sure you can type just as fast as I can, it’s just an example). Similarly, I would expect an Administrative Assistant to know how to fax and type correspondence. I think you’re just wasting precious space there.

    2. The IT Manager*

      I agree with Wilton. “Typed correspondence, faxed” are very basic skills and sound like they come from a job description. As AAM has said before your bullets under each job should be accomplishments and not a list of your duties. And your accompishments should be specific to each job.

      1. Rin*

        Those were just generic examples. I know that they’re on there, whether or not they need to be, but I also have specific duties or accomplishments on there, too. My point was more that I have all of those things in a separate skills section and not under each job. But if what you’re both saying is that, if I leave the more basic stuff out, there would be no repeats in duties, then I should put them under each job.
        Side note: I haven’t updated my resume in a few years, and I don’t knwo when I’ll need to again.

  42. ImpassionedPlatypi*

    #4- This might be fine to do, but the person asking the question is completely right that the “desired experience/skills” could be keeping some people from applying. I’ve decided not to apply places before because of one or more “desired but not necessary” things listed in the ad, and it was because I figured that all things being equal I had less of a shot at getting the job than someone who did have that experience. I’d say that if those things are truly not going to factor into your decision making, then just don’t list them. If you feel like you need a little extra help with screening, list them so that the potential applicants can screen themselves out.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Eh, I’m going to disagree — after all, virtually anything you put in an ad will be misinterpreted by someone. As we’ve seen here, some people won’t apply for job listings that mention “competitive pay” or that use the term “rock star” to mean “high performer.” There are always going to be misreadings, and all you can do is be straightforward.

      In this particular case, there’s often real value in listing the “nice to have” skills/traits, because seeing them may prompt someone to get interested in applying whereas they previously weren’t especially motivated.

    2. JT*

      “not going to factor into your decision making”

      They are a factor in decision making. But not having them does not disqualify a person.

      What you wrote “all things being equal I had less of a shot at getting the job than someone who did have that experience” is right. But all things might not be equal, so if you’re strong in the essential items, you might get the job.

  43. LibKae*


    My answer seems to reference several other posters, so I thought I’d just start a new one here (rather than replying).

    As yet another of the many introvert librarians who’ve responded to you, I’d like to suggest you give the circ desk a shot. It’s a good way to strengthen your introvert muscles, so to speak. I started in public services (on a circ desk, as a matter of fact, though I’m now firmly ensconced in tech services), and you’re right in that it can be exhausting, but you can manage it as long as you learn to be stingy with your alone time. For me it was lunches on my own and a decent commute that gave me some buffer time both before and after work. You know your schedule best, so you’d have to figure out how you can carve out some time to recharge, but as long as you can find those pockets you should be fine. I will say that I noticed that the more time I was forced to be “on” the better I learned how to cope with it. That’s not to say that I didn’t have days when I went home and said “I need to be alone for a few hours” and then shut myself in a quiet room, but it helped me to find out where the edges of my tolerance were (not to mention some emergency coping mechanisms) which has proved invaluable as I’ve gotten further in my career.

    (As an addendum: I have no idea where people got the idea that the OP isn’t already customer service oriented, so all I can say to that is: being wary of working a customer service job is not remotely the same thing as not being customer service oriented. Of course all aspects of a library are customer service oriented. It’s a library for heavens sake. But I, as a cataloger, being aware that I need to shape my records to best suit my patrons while I sit alone in my office, is not anything like standing behind the circ desk trying to deal with crowds of people for 8 hours straight. It’s a reasonable concern for any introvert and I applaud the OP for being self-aware enough to ask the question before diving into the job)

  44. Suzanne*

    As to #6, I’d say don’t even get a Library degree but find something that is more stable. I have an MLIS and have a part time librarian job, which I struggled to get after the librarian job I had ceased to exist. I’ve given up on ever getting another full-time library job because there are so few jobs out there. Our local library just announced they are cutting hours; the huge library system in the city nearby has approximately 40 fewer positions than they did five years ago and have cut hours at all their branches. I am applying in other fields…and, sadly, leaving my library degree off my resume.
    Sorry to be such a negative nelly, but if you are already questioning your fit for a librarian job, with the library job market what it is today, I would highly caution you against getting that MLIS at all.

  45. Anonymous*


    I minored in GIS in college, but have since decided that while I like GIS and would love a job where I used it, I don’t want to do it 40 hours a week. Because of this, I love seeing “Desired skills: GIS” in job descriptions. When I see that I often am more encouraged to apply to a job that I might not otherwise apply to because I didn’t think I was a strong enough candidate to make a good case for myself. However, I don’t kid myself in thinking that having GIS skills would make up for not having 5 years of experience with something that is required.

    I would think that while some applicants might be discouraged by a desired skill they don’t have, others will be more encouraged because they do have that skill.

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