March 15, 2007

In this Issue:

A Day in The Life

The Burning Question

Career Talk

Add to My Vocab

The Corner Bookshelf

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Dear Readers,

Welcome to the first issue of Art Career News, a valuable source of career information for future and current professionals in the arts and culture industry. Whether you’re an executive director, administrator, manager, freelancer, curator or educator working in museums, auction houses, galleries or arts and cultural centers, Art Career News contains insightful content to help you build and manage a successful career in the field.

What makes our newsletter different? You! We recently published the findings of our groundbreaking study, The State of the Arts: An Art Career Inventory, which revealed the current career challenges that arts and culture professionals face, both in the non-profit and for-profit sectors. We received a tremendous response from professionals at all career levels and found they are hungry for training, professional development, personal coaching and meaningful career paths. We’ve implemented these findings to provide what professionals told us they are seeking: useful, job enhancing information and career strategies specific to the unique nature of the arts and culture industry. Take a look at our new Art Career Services that help you increase your impact in the job application, interview, and salary negation processes. We’re eager to hear from you at [email protected] with your questions, ideas, and feedback.

Geri Thomas, President

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Salaries for arts administrators are highly dependent upon both the size and geographic location of the organizations for whom they work. An entry-level position might pay in the neighborhood of $20-25,000; a senior position in a small organization might pay $35-45,000; a senior position in a larger, more established organization might be in the $60-$80,000 range, and even higher for very large organizations in very large cities.

“Careers, like rockets, don't always take off on schedule. The key is to keep working on the engines.”
- Actor Gary Sinese


Do . . .
Have a friend, colleague, or someone you trust review your resume and cover letter. Their objective critique can point out redundancies and areas of improvement that you overlooked.

Don’t . . .
Jam too much information into your resume. Your resume should communicate your skills and abilities, stating succinctly what you did, how you did, and the results achieved.
Do . . .
Maintain an ongoing file of emails, letters, certificates, awards, and other documented achievements. These serve as sources for highlighting your accomplishments because they’re already written for you!
Don’t . . .
Submit a 6-page cover letter. Present clear and concise statements that reflect what you’ve actually done in your past jobs, not what you think you can do in your new job.
Do . . .
Make absolutely certain that your resume is error-free and formatted uniformly. Margins, bullets, headings, font styles, dates of employment, etc. should be consistent throughout your resume, making it easier to look at and read.


A DAY IN THE LIFE: I want to be an Art Gallery Assistant
A snapshot of how different arts and culture professionals are shaping their careers.

Matt graduated from a liberal arts college with a major in art history and minor in English literature. His dream was to manage a commercial contemporary art gallery in a bustling metropolitan area. Stumped at how to enter the field with no real contacts, Matt applied to several entry level assistant positions in the gallery environment. Matt knew he didn’t have a lot of experience, but he possessed a passion for art, solid knowledge of art history, and ability to learn quickly. However, Matt did not know how to interview appropriately.

Frustrated but determined, Matt took a suggestion and put it to the test: He videotaped himself in a mock interview conducted by a friend and critiqued it. As he watched the tape play back, Matt saw what employers were seeing: His answers were long and inarticulate, his body language did not express enthusiasm, and he lacked confidence in his statements. Matt was able to critique his mock interview and identify specific areas that he could improve. Matt continued to practice his answers to common questions and became more confident, assured and prepared for his interviews.

What made the difference? Matt improved not only what he said but how he said it and learned that seeing is believing. He now works as a Gallery Assistant in an Los Angeles, CA.

Increase your understanding of common terms used in career development.

What is Career Coaching?

Career Coaching is an interactive process that assists you to determine and achieve your professional goals. A career coach works with you to set better goals, take more action, make better decisions, and more fully use your natural strengths.

A coaching session is a one-on-one meeting you have with a career professional to discuss your needs and identify strategies to achieve them. A coaching session is devoted to address one area that you would like to work on to bring you closer to your desired goal.


A column devoted to raising and revisiting management issues from the field’s leading experts.

How do you Lead with Passion?

According to Sherene Suchy, author of “Leading with Passion: Change Management in the 21st Century Museum” (2004), individuals need to develop their leadership role in four different dimensions.

1. Leaders must be guided by their own passion to represent their organization internally and externally. They are devoted to their organization’s mission, staff, public, trustees, stakeholders and volunteers.

2. Leaders must create a context for others to contribute their best by acting as a coach and promoting team involvement.

3. Leaders must serve as ethical entrepreneurs to ensure their organization’s financial future. They identify new ways to create profitable opportunities for their institution.

4. Leaders must nurture relationships of trust with key stakeholders throughout their organization. They must use their emotional intelligence to manage the interface between directors and board members. As leaders weave all of these dimensions together, they demonstrate and embody the integrity of their institution and themselves.

Deciphering the true motives behind interview questions.

Question: Tell me about a specific occasion in which you conformed to a policy with which you did not agree.

Motive: Are you a flexible person who can comply with organizational and departmental policies that may conflict with your own opinion of them? Are you going to play hard ball or can you play as a team?

What you want to avoid is answering the question negatively by saying that you didn’t like a certain policy, were completely against it, or had a hard time accepting or following it. The interviewer wants to know that although you may disagree with “we have a no personal email policy” or “if you call in sick you must bring back a doctor’s note”, you will follow the rules anyway. This is not the time to express your disdain that, in your previous organization, the one hour lunch period was shaved to a measly 30 minutes, and you absolutely refused to eat your sandwich in that short amount of time. This negative response tells the interviewer that you may be too opinionated, stubborn or inflexible about certain rules that the organization demands. The best way to answer this question is to talk about a harmless policy that was changed for some reason you didn’t understand initially, but that you got used to the change quickly and understood that the reasoning behind the policy made sense to the organization. For example: “While I was used to taking a full hour for lunch, I realized that with limited staff and budget constraints, we all needed to pitch in as a team.”

Your “burning” career questions and issues.

What can/should you do when a submitted resume gets no response, not even an acknowledgement of receipt? How appropriate is it to try to talk to the organization or Human Resources’ department, and what should that conversation include? - Teaching Artist/Educator, Cultural Arts Center, Delaware

It can be very frustrating to apply for jobs and not hear back from anyone. Typically, after a job is posted, HR managers and hiring administrators get flooded with emails and faxes of resumes from potential candidates. For this reason, organizations may state on the job announcement, “No phone calls please” or “Only those candidates who are qualified will be contacted.”

The trick is to do everything you can beforehand to increase your opportunity to get noticed. First, find out who the hiring manager is, not just where the resumes are sent. If an HR or administrative staff member is listed as the contact, find out who the hired person would report to and send your resume directly to him or her. Second, what are you doing to get your resume and cover letter noticed? Are they as effective as they could be? Make sure you have created a cover letter and resume that acknowledge the qualities the employer is looking for and highlights how your qualifications and experience can help them.

Third, when applying for jobs - network, network, network! Ask your friends, colleagues and associates if they or someone they know have contacts at the organization to which you are applying. See if you can obtain a “warm call” by getting that person to email or call the hiring manager in advance and to look out for your resume. Any chance you have to make a personal contact will increase your chances to get noticed by the right person.

  We want to hear from you. Send us your questions, ideas or feedback to [email protected]. Confidentiality is always assured.
In our next issue, we discuss how to advance your career when you do not see an opportunity to do so in your current organization.
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