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.

Top 10 application mistakes candidates make

I get that this blog is too long-winded, I do. There's a little too much to process at times, especially when you're consumed with job searching and working 1, 2, or 3 other jobs and maybe volunteering a few other places besides. Plus, you know, Game of Thrones is on. So, while I will not tell you that this is a comprehensive summary of the blog, it hits a few of the high points for the application side of things.

I cast around some of my friends and colleagues who conduct recruitments and asked them what mistakes they most commonly see--or that they find the most problematic--in the application materials they receive. So here's some advice for you in no particular order:

1. If the job posting provides specific instructions, follow the instructions. As Colleague A said: "People applying to my pool listing consistently fail to upload a document I request. It's a required upload so they will upload random docs (a letter of rec, transcripts, their résumé -- again, or my favorite, a Word doc that just says some variation of 'I don't know what to upload.' Not only does it say what I want, it even has my name and number in case they have any questions." Same for every other instruction in the ad.

2. Don't write a short, perfunctory cover letter that doesn't address anything in the position.

3. Don't provide a stated objective totally different from the job for which you are applying. We're not necessarily talking "objective statements" on resumes as are suggested by some of the resume-writing manuals I've seen (and the inclusion of which on a resume I find redundant), but anywhere you may mention the job title or duties.

4. Don't exhibit poor writing, spelling, or grammar. 

5. If you have a lot of experience in your field be sure to enumerate it. As Colleague B said: "I've seen a lot of experienced people with very slim resumes recently. It's like they can't seem to remember the details of what they know."

6. Do not include irrelevant information. As Colleague C said: "Not tailoring their resume to the job they are applying for....for instance, thank you for applying for the professor position, but did you really need to let us know that you are a masseuse and nail technician? Not relevant." (In this case, massage and manis were not mentioned in the job duties.)

7.  Substituting unequivalent experience.  As Colleague D said: "Since when is experience at a restaurant equivalent to reference service?" If you include experience that you believe to be equivalent or similar to a requirement or preferred skill in the job ad and the job ad doesn't list it, your cover letter had better make a very strong argument for why the one should be accepted as a substitute for the other. You're still taking the chance that the recruiters won't accept the argument, but for those that might have a little leeway in the search, they're going to need something on which to base that decision.

8. If you're going to use names, get them right. As Colleague E said: "My personal favorite was the cover letter directed to the museum director giving her first name as 'Judas' rather than 'Judith.'" I've received more than one cover letter talking about the University of Alabama Anchorage.

9. Don't say "I'm the best candidate because" or "My school has the best degree" or any comparative superlative to which someone on the search committee might take exception, or have proof otherwise. 

10. Do not make the recruiter assume anything, guess anything, translate anything, research anything.  Not because they're dumb, not because they're not equipped to evaluate the information you're providing, but because they don't have time to waste on applicants who can't write clearly and define and demonstrate their professional credentials. Why? Because they have applicants who can write clearly and define and demonstrate their professional credentials and who have done so. Why bother with guessing when they have somebody who told them exactly what they needed to hear? Your recruiter wants to get through the hiring process as quickly and efficiently as possible. They have other work to do. They may even be responsible for the work of the position during the time it goes unfilled. You might be lucky enough to find a recruiter who is willing to work hard to figure out what has gone un or understated in your app materials. You probably won't.

Okay, so that's mostly a bunch of don'ts. Here's some more quick advice: taking the time to tailor your resume and cover letter to the requirements of the specific position under consideration will solve 2, 3, 5, 6, and 7. Having good proofreaders will solve 4, 8, and 10 (and possibly also 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, and 9). Tailoring and having your materials proofread can solve so much. On behalf of recruiters everywhere--or at least on behalf of the recruiters who talk to me--please? Proofread. Tailor.

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