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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
– ALA JobLIST (http://joblist.ala.org/)
– SAA Online Career Center (https://careers.archivists.org/jobseekers/)
– Web crawlers (http://www.indeed.com/)
– Archivesgig (https://archivesgig.com/)
Salary Transparency Resources
– US Bureau of Labor Statistics: https://www.bls.gov/Oes/current/oes254011.htm (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: https://t.co/GT8t9ih3eM
– Examples of good interview questions to ask as a candidate: https://twitter.com/kcrowe/status/1496329139451838466?s=20&t=-pU_YpxClDM1dUitxsXSlQ
– SAA Career Services Commons: Offers job listing (with listed salaries), resume reviews and mock interviews, mentoring, and more, https://www2.archivists.org/groups/career-services-commons
Questions for Jennifer? Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Questions for SNAP? Contact us at email@example.com.
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.
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