Surviving and thriving and getting that professional archives position.

Welcome. If you're here, you're probably wondering how to get some job--maybe the perfect professional archives position or maybe just something you can use as a springboard--and you're seeking advice on how to do that. From searching for advertisements to writing a resume or cover letter to making it through the interview. And hopefully even beyond.

No guarantees, you probably already know a lot of this, but maybe some help from a lot of people who want to make sure that good candidates get good jobs. If you've got better advice? or need further explanation? Please share in the comments.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Who are those anonymous survey takers?

67 of the 70 survey respondents answered the question as to institutional affiliation. Here's the cumulative look at it:
And oh, boy, those captions aren't readable! Put that down to my current limitations with MSExcel. I'll work on that. In the meantime, that first column is academic (45), the second is corporate or for-profit (7), third is federal, state or local govt (10) and fourth is non-profit, non-governmental orgs (15).

Obviously, that's more than 67 individuals. 5 individuals chose two or three affiliations which is understandable given that they may have served in a hiring capacity for more than one type of organization and chose to answer the survey with all of those types of searches in mind. For example, if I'd remembered to fill out the survey before I closed it down, I would have represented myself as both academic and government since I've served on archival search committees in academic settings and in state and local government archives. Oh, and 4 of the respondents noted that they work in specialty media archives (digitization shops, born-digital units, film, video, so forth).

Now on to the individual roles of respondents. The question I asked was: are you an archivist hiring archivists, an allied professional (librarian/records manager/etc) hiring archivists or non-archivist (business or personnel manager) hiring archivists? I also allowed write-ins and got a few other responses based on that. Here's a visual for you.


The numbers: 60 of the 69 respondents identified themselves as archivists. 5 identified themselves as allied professionals. 2 identified themselves as business or personnel managers (one of whom pointed out that s/he was part of a hiring panel) and the 2 other individuals identified themselves as "special collections librarian hiring special collections librarian" and an "archivist representing archives interests on other library searches." I think the high rate of response from archivists is probably due to the initial circulation of the survey announcement which went out to the Archives and Archivists listserv and so the survey probably didn't get distributed widely beyond the immediate readers of the list, most of whom would probably identify as archivists.

So this is getting long but I do want to share three more of the survey results about the respondents before I switch over to the more advice-oriented information that came out of the survey. The next question I asked is how are recruitments handled: are they committee searches, single-manager searches, HR-managed, or other? Obviously there's overlap (HR-managed searches may also be single manager or committee searches and some institutions may do multiple types) so technically a pie chart isn't the proper way to handle this, but I still think it gives you the best visual as to how the respondents are approaching the rest of their answers to the survey. The HR-managed number there is only 4 respondents who said they solely did searches that way, but given the plethora of comments and respondents who checked multiple choices, I think you should assume that in most cases, HR has a finger in this pie. Why does that matter? We'll get to some of the specifics later, but this does mean that many of these searches are being conducted under specific rules for process and procedure and depending on the institution in question, you won't always be able to assume that all of the important hiring decisions are being made by people who have a strong personal understanding of what archivists do and what archives need in personnel issues.

And on to the second-last chunk of numbers in this posting. For those who had a committee process, this is how they shake down in terms of their role on the committee.So what's the point of this? Mostly to give you an idea of where the respondents fit in the scheme of things. 20 chairs, 34 committee members, 3 who have served in both capacities, and 1 other, who identified his/her committee process as a two-person committee without any defined hierarchy.

I think that's a pretty high response (20+3) from individuals who have served as chair of the committee. Now in some places, that might not mean much: that's just the person who does the meeting scheduling and so forth. But in many places, the chair has much more extensive duties than the general members of the committee. The chair is probably responsible for initial drafts of job ads, ranking matrices, some of the leg work. When I'm chair, I bring food to our committee meetings. Some of my regular committee members have been spoiled by this and now demand it of other search committee chairs. But I digress. What should matter to you is that most of the respondents to this survey, whether part of a committee process or not, are very involved in the recruitment process. So even though you'll notice as we go on that they may occasionally provide advice that is contradictory to each other, they have a strong interest in providing that advice to you.

Let me enforce that concept a little and close on this last bit of numbers. One of the other questions I asked respondents was how many recruitments they'd served on in the last 5 years. Of the 65 people who answered this question, only 6 (10%) had no recent hiring experience. From there, the numbers shoot up. 85% of respondents had served on two or more recruitments. Over half of the respondents had served on three or more. Two individuals admitted to 12 recruitments each and one person admitted to 30 recruitments. In the last five years! I feel for that person, I really do, and since it got my curiosity up, I did some digging. For the two individuals who had been involved in 12 recruitments each, one was from a private for-profit, one from an academic archives. And the 30-person? An archivist from a private non-profit institution, and this individual not only goes through the committee process, but usually serves as the chair of the committee. I don't know who you are, you masked wonder, but I have to think that you do nothing but recruitment paperwork most days.

But to get back on tangent. The surveyed? Very involved in recruitments. 85% served on 2 or more searches in the last 5 years alone. These are individuals with a lot of time invested in recruiting and with, presumably, strong motivation for getting their advice out to candidates. Not to get too preachy here, but as you read the following posts, I'm hoping you'll keep some of that in mind.

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