Help an archivist out
This post was not written by me, but by a colleague who asked that I post on his/her behalf. Since the post describes a hiring situation, my colleague asked that his/her identity be kept anonymous.
“Slow train coming.”
“Reform, Lamar. Reform.”
–Brother Mouzone, The Wire
Not a lot of shaming in the post, but I think the following story fits in well with what I believe is the spirit of this blog–to make the archives profession a better place to work, one critique at a time.
While I am fortunate to have a relative sense of comfort and satisfaction from my current job, I am always looking for new and interesting professional challenges. To this end, I once came across a job that looked like it would be worth applying for. Nearly all of the stated responsibilities I had done (and then some), and the collections I would be working with looked great. The one aspect of the job description that gave me pause was that it *required* twice the number of years of professional experience than what I have. Nonetheless, I really thought I could do the job, so I applied anyway. Within a day the hiring manager responded to set up a phone interview. Two weeks later, I was scheduling my travel arrangements for an on-site interview.
At the end of the job interview, I withdrew my application for a variety of personal and professional reasons. When pressed about the latter by the hiring manager, I gave the truth: I didn’t feel the job was going to challenge me enough to give up what I had. Furthermore, I respectfully offered a comment about that job description: the year requirement was too high for the responsibilities of the position. I advised this person that, given the scope of the position as expressed to me at the on-site interview, this job would be the perfect opportunity to an archivist in an entry-level position looking to move up. My advice appeared to be well-received, and I found the whole exchange very congenial. I don’t think I burned any bridges by speaking my mind.
Many of us are fortunate enough not to be looking in desperation for that next job, but we’re still looking. With the stakes this low, we can do our colleagues a service by suggesting changes to these job descriptions that not only may provide more opportunities for more archivists, but also hopefully will help match the best archivist with the open position.
I’m not advocating that we indiscriminately apply for positions we have no intention of taking just to “school” hiring managers whom we perceive to be misguided. However, if a job prospect doesn’t pan out the way you hoped, and you have leverage in the situation, this could be a great opportunity for a teaching moment. If you think a job description places unrealistic or exaggerated requirements on potential job candidates, say so. If you think an institution’s administrators are not offering a salary range commensurate with the responsibilities of the position, let them know. Your unemployed,underemployed, underpaid, and dissatisfied colleagues will thank you. What have we got to lose?