When people ask me for career advice — which has been happening a lot lately, my number one piece of advice is to be creative.
Start by studying the popular museum and archives job sites and be sure to read the job description and requirements closely. If a job calls for 10+ years of experience and you have four, don’t be surprised if you don’t get a call from human resources requesting an interview.
Also, speaking of human resources, if you are applying at an organization with a human resources department, take in mind that many human resource professionals won’t know the ins and outs of your particular profession. Try to use the jargon that is mentioned in the job posting; that way, the human resources employee might not understand exactly what you’re talking about, but s/he will be able to tell that you meet the requirements of the position and pass your resume along to the next step.
Some of my go-to museum and archives job sites are:
American Association of Museums
Society of American Archivists
AASLH (American Association for State and Local History)
ALHFAM (Association for Living History, Farm and Agricultural Museums)
Midwest Museums Association
Mid-Atlantic Association of Museums
Iowa Museum Association
Illinois Association of Museums
Also be sure to check your regional and/or state museum association for jobs in your area.
In addition to these links, I highly recommend joining list-servs in your field, such as Archives-L, Museum-L and any list-servs managed by your regional or state organizations. Some list-servs require you to become a member in the organization, but many do not.
Still haven’t found your dream job? Well, now is the time to be creative.
I found my current position at Des Moines University on careerbuilder.com! Every so often, a relevant job will pop up on there. Remember–HR staff don’t always know where to post museum and archives jobs.
I also suggest increasing and filtering your web presence (aka remove the spring break photos from your facebook page and add some linkedin contacts) and, of course, getting off the couch and and meet with your colleagues.
Contact museum professionals and ask if you can arrange an informational interview. Even if they don’t have any job openings, it’s good to sit down and talk with them–pick their brain, so to speak. I’ve been asked to do a handful of informational interviews over the years and personally, I love to meet my colleagues and brainstorm ways to help them out. Because, after all, Word Of Mouth is still the best track to success.
What are your job-searching tips?
Now get out there and find yourself a job!