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.

Monday, March 8, 2010

BTP: Limited time offer

Okay, it's been publicly suggested now, so the brainstorm I was delaying putting into practice has been verified as useful by at least one other person. For those of you who haven't been following the comments (and why not?) Amber asked if I'd consider doing a before & after take on a resume, apparently specifically hers.

Well I am.

And I'm not.

As you all know, or should have figured out by now, I do not think there's any such thing as an all-purpose resume. Or cover letter. So just taking on a resume is, to me at least, of limited utility and would potentially encourage you to do the exact opposite of what I've been saying about tailoring. Plus, quite honestly, I'm a bit overwhelmed at work at the moment. Lots to do so I need not to take on any additional tasks for a few weeks. So I'm going to alter the suggestion a little.

So here's the offer/gauntlet/whatever. I'm willing to dedicate a few off-day posts to the idea. We'll do the resumes first. Amber has first crack at it since she was first to bring it up and because she's already said she's willing. Amber, if you want to go for this, you need to provide to me (by Friday 3/12/10) the following:
  • 1 job ad with institution-identifying information removed. Can be old, can be new, you can take your chances using one you're actually planning to apply for if you think it's worth the risk letting your recruiter potentially see the help you've been given.
  • 1 resume, redacted. By that I mean if you'd typically include a phone number, you don't include the phone number but instead of removing that line entirely, you write "phone number" in the location. You can redact name information if you like.
  • 1 suggestion for a substantive edit of your resume (no fair adding an egregious mistake just so you have something to take out) with an explanation of why you should do this
Here's what we'll do with those. I will post both the job ad and the resume in a BTP posting. Since this is supposed to be a learning experience, I'm going to hold off on responding for a bit, because I want to see what all of you are learning or have figured out on your own. There's also a potential bonus in this for those of you who want us all to take on your resumes--because I will consider extending the offer to others but only to others who have participated in the edits of Amber's application materials (and I reserve the right to quit what could be a neverending saga with little or no forewarning--I would like to finish writing the rest of the planned entries, eventually.)

Amber, there's another due date associated with this. Friday, 3/19/10. I want your cover letter for the same job by that date so we can post that once the edits to your resume have been done and we can then edit the cover letter to go with this resume. I realize your volunteering wasn't quite for this level of work, so if you're not willing to take this on, let me know ASAP? Oh, and for the rest of you, please don't start inundating me with requests as Amber-understudies, I've already got one or two people I'll be tapping for this tryout if Amber can't do it. Amber, the first piece of the gauntlet is finding my email address. Really, I'm not that hard to find out there. Not too many Arlene Schmulands in this universe. (none others, that I've found). Please put "Elusive resume" in the subject line.

Oh, and by the way, thanks everybody for your patience lately. And thanks to all of you who have taken the time to let me know what's working for you here. Not to get too soppy, but I've had a few moments recently where I've wondered if maybe the fact that nobody else has ever really taken on a topic like this at this level should have told me that maybe I shouldn't be doing it either. You know, where angels fear to tread, Arlene stomps in with her stiletto heels... I do that sometimes.

But I finally came to a conclusion this week after I'd taken a few light hits for my perspective on this whole thing and my conclusion is this: job hunting stinks no matter how the applicant/recruitment ratio works out. The applicants know it, the recruiters know it. Sometimes the wrong people get the jobs. Sometimes the right people get the jobs. Sometimes it's hard to tell which is which. But that kind of a judgment is not my prerogative (except when I'm wearing my recruiting hat) and truly? None of that really matters and it shouldn't matter. I mean that. What I can do--insofar as I can do anything to make this system easier for all of us, applicants and recruiters alike--is to get everybody to a point where we waste as little time as possible in the recruitment process. So applicants are providing good application materials with solid information in a usable form and recruiters can rely on that so they can spend less time wading through confusing documents and more time evaluating applicants on the things that really do matter to them.

Maybe if we can all get a little closer to that stage of perfection, recruiters will relax a little and applicants can stop letting job searches erode their egos and well-being. Sound reasonable? Here's to hoping.


  1. I also want to comment on how useful this blog has been towards improving my CV, resume, and cover letters. Last week, I put some of your advice into practice towards my application for what could potentially be a dream job. Of course, I haven't heard anything yet, but I do feel it is the strongest application I have ever submitted.

  2. Megan, great to hear. I'm a little jealous, really, since I wish I'd seen the results of the survey a long time ago! My app materials would have been a lot stronger too. I hope the people who are reading your materials right now are agreeing that the work you put into it was worth it!