Category Archives: Job Search

Academic and Institutional Employment—Resumes, Cover Letters, and Interviews…Oh My!

Webinar Recap by Marissa Friedman, MLIS

SNAP 2022 Webinar Series:
Demystifying Academic and Institutional Employment:
Resumes, Cover Letters, and Interviews…Oh My!
Presentation by Jennifer Motszko, MA/MLIS, Head of Archives, University of Wisconsin–Whitewater

Organized and Hosted by Marissa Friedman, MLIS, SNAP Vice Chair/Chair-Elect

On March 31, 2022, SNAP welcomed Jennifer Motszko, MA/MLIS, Head of Archives, University of Wisconsin–Whitewater, for an informative talk on curriculum vitaes/resumes, cover letters, and interviewing for academic archives jobs. We’re very grateful for Jennifer’s insights into the hiring process at academic and institutional archives from her perspective as someone who has been both an applicant and hiring manager. 

This session is particularly useful for students and early career professionals who are interested in pursuing employment in academic and institutional archives, and who have questions about best practices and expectations for finding relevant jobs, formatting curriculum vitaes, and preparing for the (often lengthy) interview and hiring process. 

The recorded session is available for viewing below, but here are a few major tips and takeaways from the webinar:

  1. Customizing your application for each position is indispensable, but you don’t have to completely reinvent the wheel each time. Invest in building good templates for cover letters and curriculum vitaes, and always save your application materials. You never know which bits you can reuse in a future application. Curriculum vitaes are usually preferred for jobs in academic institutions. 
  2. Curriculum vitaes (CVs) are generally preferred for academic jobs. As they are much longer than resumes, you can really be creative in how you present your overall professional biography, including everything from continuing education and certifications to volunteer experience, presentations, publications, and more. Just remember to stick to easy to read formats and avoid things like color! Keep it simple, clean, neat, and easy for both OCR engines and human beings to read. 
  3. Make sure to follow application instructions exactly — if the institution requests three references, do not submit only two! Many institutions use software that might automatically reject or screen out your application if you don’t submit the required documents or submit material that is formatted oddly (i.e. using colorful fonts in your CV). 
  4. You are more than welcome to bring notes/notebook in with you for interviews; for some people, this is an excellent way of harnessing one’s thoughts and fighting off nerves. Taking notes during the interview is also fine — it can give you time to think through the question before responding, and can also demonstrate a candidate’s interest in the position. 
  5. Don’t be afraid to ask questions of the hiring committee! You’re also interviewing them. Jennifer’s favorite question as a hiring manager is, “What is your favorite thing about working at [X]? Ultimately, interesting collections alone will not likely make a job sustainable as much as quality colleagues and institutional support, so find out why people who work at an institution enjoy working there.
  6. Do basic research before going into the interview on the institution’s mission, collections, and priorities. You don’t need to be an expert, but demonstrate that you’ve done your homework and connect this knowledge to why you might want to work there.
  7. The hiring process at academic archives can take months — each stage of the process, from drafting job descriptions to posting jobs to interviewing to hiring an individual, requires multiple levels of review and approvals from bodies well beyond the hiring committee itself. So be patient and prepared for delays. 

Webinar Highlights and Links:
0:00 – Welcome and Speaker Introduction
– Marissa Friedman, MA, MLIS, SNAP Vice Chair/Chair-Elect
– Jennifer Motszko, Head of Archives, University of Wisconsin–Whitewater
1:31 – Jennifer Motszko Presentation Begins
50:27 – Q&A begins

Job Searching Sites
– SAA Online Career Center (
– Web crawlers (
– Archivesgig (

Salary Transparency Resources
US Bureau of Labor Statistics: (note that salary data may be outdated; the SAA A*CENSUS Working Group is conducting a new survey)
2019 SAA Annual Meeting Salary Transparency spreadsheet: 

– Examples of good interview questions to ask as a candidate: 

SAA Resources
SAA Career Services Commons: Offers job listing (with listed salaries), resume reviews and mock interviews, mentoring, and more,   

Questions for Jennifer? Contact her at

Questions for SNAP? Contact us at

Jennifer Motszko, Digital Scholar and Preservation, Archives at University Library, on Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2021. (UW-Whitewater photos/Craig Schreiner)

Jennifer Motszko, MA/MLIS, holds a BA in History from UW–Madison and Master’s Degrees in History and Library and Information Science from UW–Milwaukee. She has over fourteen years of experience working in both corporate and academic archives. Jennifer began her archival career with the Harley Davidson Motor Company as a museum technician before taking a position as manuscript archivist for the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. In 2018, she moved back to Wisconsin to head the Archives and Area Research Center at UW–Whitewater where she manages university records, genealogical resources, and manuscript collections that document the agricultural, business, and supernatural history of Southeastern Wisconsin.

Thoughts? Please let us know!

As SAA-SNAP kicks off its 2022 webinar series, we would like to know your thoughts on the types of topics you would like to see and what days and times are most convenient for you to attend a live webinar. Please complete our short survey!
If you want to present in our webinar series, contribute with a blog post, share with a member a project you are working on, please contact us at We want to hear from you!

Demystifying Government Jobs with The Gov Geeks

SNAP 2022 Webinar Series:
Demystifying Government Jobs with The Gov Geeks, LLC
Javier Lopez, MSA, PCC, and Karen Lopez, Co-Founders, The Gov Geeks, LLC

Organized and hosted by Lourdes Johnson, MLIS, Provisional CA (Certified Archivist), Steering Committee Member-At-Large, SNAP Section, Society of American Archivists 

On January 28, 2022, the SAA SNAP section welcomed Javier Lopez, MSA, PCC, and Karen Lopez, Co-Founders of The Gov Geeks, LLC, who spoke about Federal jobs, including searching for jobs, resume tips, and the application process. We thank Javier and Karen for sharing their time and expertise with us!

The biggest takeaways of the webinar:

  1. Reformat Your Resume to Work with the Government ATS (Application Tracking System)Applying for government jobs means you need to spend a significant amount of time reformatting your resume “Federal Style.” For example, if you are applying for government jobs on USAJobs, make sure you are using the resume builder feature.   
  2. Write Your Resume to Focus on ResultsWhen writing your resume, focus on describing mission statements rather than producing bulleted lists.
  3. Use the OPM Handbook of Groups and Families—This one was the biggest golden nugget! Before writing your resume, check the OPM (U.S. Office of Personnel Management) first. Search the occupational family and group series that relate to the position you are applying for. For example, if you are applying for an archivist job, you want to go to group 1400 on page 98, click on the “Archivist” link to access “Position classification standard for archivists series GS1420”. You should aim to write a resume that is consistent with the position description from the OPM—the requirements are all there in black and white!

Webinar Highlights and Links:
0:00 Welcome and Speaker Introductions 
Lourdes Johnson (She/Her), MLIS, Provisional CA (Certified Archivist)
Member-At-Large, SNAP Section Steering Committee
Javier Lopez, MSA, PCC, and Karen Lopez, Co-Founders, The Gov Geeks, LLC

5:15 — Why be a Federal Government Employee?
9:30 — OPM General Schedule of Salaries and Wages,
10:50 — A-Z Index of U.S. Government Departments and Agencies,
11:30 — Federal Pay Grades on Education Level
13:13 — Competitive Hiring Process
19:30 — Resumes at-a-Glance
28:30 — What Interests You?
34:15 — Find Your Job Series Number, OPM (U.S. Office of Personnel Management) Handbook of Occupational Groups and Families, See page 98, number 1400—Library and Archives Group. Google “OPM occupationalhandbook.pdf” or go to
35:30 — Resume Strategies
36:00 — Resume Strategies: 1) Use OPM’s Position Classifications, OPM (U.S. Office of Personnel Management) Handbook of Occupational Groups and Families
42:15 — Resume Strategies: 2) Show Impact! The STAR Method
45:00 — Resume Strategies: 3) Formatting is Key
(A resume template is available by signing up for “Gov Geekdom” at
45:00 — Resume Strategies: 4) Use USAJOBS,
54:40 — Summary
1:01:15 — Bonus: GSA Advantage,
1:06:00 — Summary of ResourcesWebinar Q&A
1:08:00 Points for Grading Positions > Position Classification Standard for Archivist Series, GS-1420 (defines job roles and positions), > General Schedule Supervisory Guide (hiring factors and point levels)
1:13:30 Hiring Process Turnaround
Advice on expected timeframes, direct hire positions, and lateral transitions for existing Federal employees.

Javier Lopez, MSA, PCC

Javier Lopez, MSA, PCC, is the Geek in Chief and Co-Founder of The Gov Geeks LLC, a learning and professional development endeavor committed to helping public servants get in and get ahead in government.

Karen Lopez is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of The Gov Geeks, LLC. A native Texan with a passion for public service, she combines her love of science and human behavior to successfully implement programs within the Federal Government.

[Note: The SAA does not endorse products or services; inclusion does not imply endorsement.]

Thoughts? Please let us know!

As SAA-SNAP kicks off its 2022 webinar series, we would like to know your thoughts on the types of topics you would like to see and what days and times are most convenient for you to attend a live webinar. Please complete our short survey!

If you want to present in our webinar series, contribute with a blog post, share with a member a project you are working on, please contact us at We want to hear from you!

“Not Just a Number: Negotiating Salary in Academic Archives and Special Collections” Webinar Recap

“Not Just a Number: Negotiating Salary in Academic Archives and Special Collections”, was a webinar presented by Beth Myers, Director of Special Collections at Smith College, for the Association of Southeastern Research Libraries on April 16, 2020. The recorded webinar can be found on ASERL’s vimeo. This webinar was coordinated by Ashelee Gerald Hill, a Processing Archivist at Wake Forest University and member of the SNAP Steering Committee.

Setting the Groundwork

With the diverse number of sub-fields within the archival profession, the presentation focuses on non-union/non-tenure academic institutions but is applicable to corporate or government environments.  Serving as an introduction, Myers provided a collection of resources on salary and the negotiating process from SAA, AAUW, CoSA, and AFL-CIO, among other organizations. She provided an overview of the state of the profession that echoed facts known to many of us: most archivists are full time, but 23% work in non-permanent positions. Archivists are predominantly female and white. In terms of debt and income respectively, the average salary is $61,303 while $53,347 is the average student loan amount. She also comments on a core issue facing our profession today—namely, that of being a female dominated profession that is underpaid as a result and the inherent systemic barriers to people of color within that system, though she comments that this issue is too expansive to cover in her presentation. She encouraged attendees to reach out to her if anyone wants to work together and present on this topic!

Within this framework, approximately 50% of archivists do not negotiate as part of the offer process. Negotiation has been seen as an adversarial process—Myers believes we need to move from confrontation to conversation. This process involves understanding your own needs, finding and using data to make your case, and knowing when to walk away.


So, you get a call offering you a position: what now? Myers suggests you immediately ask if the person offering the position can share any information about salary, benefits, and the subsequent hiring process. You’ll then hear more about institutional structures and policies to help determine what is negotiable and what isn’t it. Before you respond to this initial offer, consider what your needs are—both financially and personally, and compare those needs to the offer. It’s important to consider the hierarchical level, geographic area, and affiliated cost of living in the context of the position to determine if meeting those needs in that particular job is possible. Do your research or work through your network to look at the history of pay for the position you’re applying for. Be realistic and don’t make a counteroffer that is starkly different to the initial offer. It might not be realistic for the institution and, as a result, that job might not be a good fit.

To be the most compelling candidate, Myers suggests that when you do make a counteroffer, don’t just parrot your credentials—point to the relevant salary data in the area and talk about what is necessary for you to make the move. Discuss how you will bring yourself and your skills to solve problems and do the work. Propose not just your past, but your future. Hold firm on your needs and know what those needs are—in this conversation, you are advocating for not only your current self, but your future self.

Salary is where you start, but it’s not where you end. You are a human with a variety of needs beyond money. Myers refers to the process of advocating for salary in conjunction with other needs as “whole package” negotiation. If salary isn’t negotiable, there are other options for negotiation, including: start date, relocation assistance, housing, technology package, professional development, trailing partner assistance, flex schedule, work from home, title or grade change, or a one-time hire bonus. Non-payment benefits like health insurance, sick time, vacation time, retirement benefits, and tuition subsidies are often fixed but super important to examine if an offer meets your needs.

But what if you’re in a job already, especially in one where ranks or opportunities for upward mobility aren’t defined? For the most part, substantial increases are achieved through moving positions. Don’t put much stock in merit raises—they’re usually just cost of living raises. A title change or additional professional funds can be one option if you’ve had a substantive change in duties.

Managing and Current Developments

For all of the managers out there: Do your best to improve unit compensation by studying the hiring culture at your institution as well as the demographics of your area. Do a salary survey and look at the history of salaries of the position. Leverage archivist’s skills in areas such as technology to HR to bargain for additional compensation. Myers believes strongly that managers should confront inequities—your ability and desire to advocate directly impacts people’s lives. Consider increasing salaries even if that means fewer positions. The A*CENSUS II will focus on salary and contribute to better outlooks for archivist pay and quality of life in conjunction with existing work done by sections within SAA, such as SNAP, to foster a more transparent profession.

Myers also commented on the recent situation of COVID-19 and its impact on archives. She notes that everything is currently in flux and it’s hard to say at this point how things will unfold. Many institutions will have hiring freezes or hire for key positions only. Furloughs or salary decreases may occur, but it’s important for managers to check back in at pre-determined points to ensure those situations do not become permanent. She also notes that, regardless of the situation, she recommends that you do not accept a position with an inadequate salary and continue to advocate for yourself as you would during any other time.

Beth Myers can be reached at She is open to talking about any or all of these issues.

This recap was written by Elizabeth James, Archivist and Digital Preservation Librarian and Junior Blog Editor for SNAP.

“Not a Solitary Endeavor”: Finding a Job I Love 

In my role as Outreach Archivist at the University Nebraska Omaha, I teach archival instruction, curate Archives and Special Collections exhibits, collaborate with faculty and staff, and serve on campus and departmental committees. I started this position in August, having graduated from both North Carolina State University and UNC-Chapel Hill in May. While in grad school, I was enrolled in a dual degree program that allowed me to pursue a Masters in Public History from NCSU and a Library Science degree (archives and records management concentration) from UNC.  

My first experience with archives and special collections was in an undergraduate art history class at Drew University in which we traced the provenance of books. I found this process of following an object’s ownership and history fascinating, and it fundamentally changed how I viewed research and the role of archives. After my BA, I worked full time in a dentist’s office while also volunteering at Drew University’s Special Collections and University Archives department. This volunteer experience, particularly the work, the environment, and my colleagues, solidified my desire to pursue an archival career. I left my full-time office job and enrolled in graduate studies at NCSU and UNC.

 There is no one direct path to finding an archives job, but reflecting upon my experiences, I can identify a few key elements that were important for launching my career. To start, I strongly recommend that students identify professors, peers, and supervisors who can act as mentors. I have been extremely fortunate in this regard. As an undergrad, intern, and graduate student, I have found people who supported and challenged me to become a better writer, scholar, and archival advocate. As one friend and mentor often reminds me, this cannot be a solitary endeavor.  The professional and personal network that I created over the years helped me with more papers, projects, internships, and jobs than I thought possible. Benefit from the experience and advice of others, because one day someone will come to you for the same.

 When you are applying for jobs, don’t be afraid to emphasize the relevance of your activities and projects outside of assigned coursework. As a student I benefited from various volunteer and internship positions, which included working at the Morristown National Historical Park (Morristown, NJ) and the Rakow Research Library at the Corning Museum of Glass (Corning, NY). It’s also important to address skills acquired in non-library positions. My ten years working in a dentist office, for example, provided invaluable skills such as being a supervisor, customer service, and administrative responsibilities, all of which shaped my professional skill set and directly prepared me for my current position.  These activities outside of coursework, and even outside of librarianship, provided me with invaluable experiences that I wouldn’t have received during my library graduate studies.  

 Whether in an internship or a permanent position, don’t be afraid to collaborate with colleagues in other departments, pursue your scholarly interests, or actively develop skills you may currently lack. When I finished graduate school, for example, I recognized my lack of reference experience, so I asked to shadow reference shifts during my internship at Corning. Eventually, I was able to staff reference on my own.  Demonstrating flexibility and an active desire to learn is one of the most important skills I’ve gained through my academic and professional career. 

Be prepared for disappointment, but don’t give in to doubts. I certainly had my moments, but if I hadn’t been rejected from some jobs, I would not have had the opportunity to work at the Rakow Library nor would I have found my job at Criss Library. You will, at times, be in a panic and will apply to the jobs for which you feel overqualified. It is likely you won’t even get an interview. Remember to apply to the jobs for which you are qualified, even if you feel like you don’t have enough experience or confidence. When you get interviews, practice and prepare for them until you have your presentations memorized. I recorded myself, sent my presentations to friends for critique, and I practiced in front of Rakow colleagues.  The interview process, like the library profession itself, is not a solo venture! Be sure to do research about the institution, the library, and the search committee members. Using this institutional knowledge, identify ways that you can support your potential colleagues, and be able to articulate how the goals of the institution reflect your own professional goals and values. Step into that interview with a quiet confidence (like you already aced it), and deal with your doubts later and privately. 

 Your own circumstances will obviously dictate many of your options, but overall try to be flexible and open to unexpected possibilities. Your path will not always be clear, and certainly my own route to the archives didn’t feel obvious during graduate school. I remember being at SAA 2018 in the SNAP panel, thinking “how am I ever going to get a job, let alone have the opportunity to negotiate a salary?” It is extremely important, however, to be open to options you may not have previously considered. When I began my journey into librarianship and archives, I could not have imagined I’d move from New Jersey to North Carolina to the Finger Lakes region of New York, finally beginning a career in Nebraska. It has proven an unexpected and delightful adventure. I always had a plan, but within that plan there was flexibility which allowed me to also handle changes and challenges.

Finally, never underestimate the importance of community. I didn’t do this on my own; there are dozens of people who supported me all along the way. They pushed me to apply for graduate school, apply for those internships, and prep for my current job. I’m now doing what I love: working with faculty and students, engaging with new ideas, and advocating for those who are missing or obscured in the archival records.

This post was written by Claire Du Laney, who recently began a position as Outreach Archivist and Assistant Professor at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. She earned an MA in public history from NC State in 2018 and an MLIS from UNC at Chapel Hill in 2019.

Academic Library/Archives Job Interviews – Generalizations That I Hope Are Helpful

This post is written by Kate Crowe (contact information at the bottom!) and originally was posted on her blog here. Last year, she wrote about her professional journey for the SNAP blog (linked below). This post was inspired by the November 9th #snaprt on Twitter; chat flashback here

First, my sympathies that you are on the hunt for a job of any kind. Like any activity where you “put yourself out there” (dating, your rec softball league, etc.), you face some amount of upfront emotional labor and potential rejection. Unlike dating or a hypothetical softball league, this rejection is also directly tied to your ability to pay your bills (and maybe other people’s bills) and get a regular meal – so the stress is ramped way, way up. Virtual hugs to you – my guess is, you need them.

Second, who the heck am I to tell you what to do on an academic library/archives job interview? I’m the Curator of Special Collections and Archives at the University of Denver, and I wrote about my professional journey on a series of blog posts for SNAP last year. If you want to know more about me and what passes for street cred in the academic archives world, check ’em out.

What follows is based on my experiences on several library faculty search committees, as well as personal observation and experience at an academic archives / as a hiring manager for the past decade (2007-2017). Continue reading

Landing a Job in a Business Archives

Guest Author: Jamie Martin, IBM Corporate Archivist, IBM Corporation

When I was asked to write this blog, I immediately thought, “What do I wish I knew then, that I know now?” (For one, learning how to archive a giant 1950s mainframe would have been helpful). As with many corporate archivists, I stumbled into business archives. As a new grad, I always assumed I’d end up in academia or a historical society. I just wanted a job—any job—and I took the opportunity as a Processing Archivist Contractor for a large corporation. Eleven years later, I’m now managing a different corporate repository, and I love what I do. However, I’ve found that even a decade later, not many students or new archivists are familiar with the concept of business archives.

Continue reading

Student Experience: Gayle Schechter

This post is part of the Student Experience series, which features current and former archives students as they reflect on graduate school, internships, and early career issues. If you would like to contribute a post for this series, please email me

Guest poster Gayle Schechter is a recent graduate of Simmons College, and discusses graduating and the challenges with entering the job market and staying positive. 

Continue reading

That Rare Breed

This post is part of the Student Experience series, which features current and former archives students as they reflect on graduate school, internships, and early career issues. If you would like to contribute a post for this series, please email me

Guest poster Kylie Casino is a new professional about to graduate with her MLIS from UCLA. Here, she discusses the challenges of being a recent grad looking for work, and everything that goes along with it, but from the particular perspective of a very young professional. Continue reading

Rocking the Phone Interview

Sometimes I feel like this blog becomes a chronicle of my graduate school existence. You, the readers, are dragged along on all of my misadventures, though I do that only to help you through pitfalls I have already encountered in hopes you can avoid them or at least minimize the damage!

Back in January, I discussed the application process and how I was tackling it. Good news, folks: I’ve been contacted for phone interviews, so I did something right. Of course, I was relying on others who had been there, done that because they would have good insight as to what worked for them. I can’t say that my phone interview experiences have made me an expert – let’s be real, if you become a phone interview expert during your job search, either you’re a truly special individual wanted by tons of places or you’re stuck in purgatory – but I have become increasingly more comfortable with every one I have, which allows me to provide better answers to questions I’m asked.

When I got the first interview, I had no idea what to do or say, or how I was going to prepare. If you’re looking for an archival job and you haven’t come across That Elusive Archives Job, I cannot recommend it enough. Written by Arlene Schmuland, it provides solid explanations for each step of the job searching process. The section on phone interviews is where I looked first when preparing for my first one. Other excellent advice I gathered came from Forbes (short video included), US News & World Report, US News & World Report again, Yale, and – yes – Cosmopolitan. Some of these sites have conflicting information, and some of the suggestions did not fit me as an individual, so I’ve condensed some of the best tips. Continue reading

2013 Archival Program Graduates and the Entry-Level Job Market

Recently, the digital version of the Fall/Winter 2015 issue of The American Archivist was released. If I’m honest, I’m not yet on the Eira Tansey Timetable of Journal Reading, though I’d like to commit to that kind of professional growth – after grad school. As it is, I was pretty proud of myself for even having read the table of contents all the way through – though, when I did, I immediately clicked on one of the articles and read it.

That article is Matthew Francis’s “2013 Archival Program Graduates and the Entry-Level Job Market.” (I’m a Ravenclaw, but I clearly I have the self-preservation of a Slytherin.) For anyone who hasn’t had the time to read it yet – which is likely a lot of you – I wanted to make sure it got plenty of air time. Essentially, Francis conducted a survey for 2013 graduates of MLIS (and related degree) programs during the month of April 2014 to see how they had done in securing employment. He referenced Rebecca Goldman and Shannon Lausch’s 2012 survey a good deal to make comparisons, and of course brings in the excellent but now terribly outdated 2004 A*CENSUS data. Not mentioned in the article are the INALJ/Hiring Librarians’ job market surveys by Naomi House and Emily Weak, which included responses from 188 archivists in 2014 and 196 archivists in 2015. Continue reading

Hiring Librarians/INALJ Annual Job Market Survey

Over the weekend, Hiring Librarians and I Need a Library Job released their Annual Job Market Survey, which included responses from 196 archivists. As we’re either preparing to enter the field or have just entered the field, this seemed appropriate to share on the blog. There’s some really great information to parse through, and the survey is still open if you haven’t taken it! You can read the post in full here.

Are you currently employed, even if part time or in an unrelated field?

How long have you been job hunting (or if recently hired, how long did you look before that)?

Source: Stats and Graphs: 576 Job hunters

[Guest Post] Persistence and Perspicacity: Lessons I Learned on the Archival Job Hunt

Guest author: Lindsay Zaborowski, archivist at The Museum of Flight

In this post, guest author and SNAP member Lindsay Zaborowski shares about her experience transitioning from graduate student to new professional. To read more anecdotes and advice for job searching after graduation, check out Hack Library School, That elusive archives job, Hiring Librarians, and INALJ. Continue reading

[Ask an Archivist] Q: What questions do employers in this profession usually ask?

Ask an Archivist Question:

I am applying for an archivist job this week. I am trying to do research to prepare myself. What questions do employers in this profession usually ask? Do they dwell on the different systems that use such as XML and markup language? I can use any and all advice in this matter!

Continue reading