ISSUE 4 | VOLUME 1 | 2007

June 17, 2007

In this Issue:

A Day in The Life

The Burning Question

Career Talk

Add to My Vocab

The Corner Bookshelf

Featured Job:
Global Logistics Director

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Dear Readers,

At our recent workshop, “How to Find a Job in the Arts,” many participants expressed concerns about re-entering the field after being out of the workforce for a period of time, whether for personal reasons or employer downsizing. Re-entering the arts and culture sector in mid-career can be both exciting and challenging. Every week, we hear from candidates who come to us seeking advice on how to re-enter the field and what jobs they should apply for. In this issue, we feature useful advice and tips for professionals who are returning to the field after a long absence - many of whom are women, who make up 90% or more of the workforce in the arts and culture industry.

It’s important first to conduct an objective assessment of your skills, abilities and career aspirations that reflects your current interests - not as they were when you last worked. If you find this difficult, ask a friend or trusted colleague to help you review what your relevant qualifications are now based on your educational background and work experience.

Think about what you want to do and give yourself some time to explore the possibilities. Your career goals and work preferences may have changed over time. Do you want to be in the same field or role you were in before? Perhaps you are considering a shift from nonprofit to for-profit work or maybe want a part-time position that offers more flexibility. Be honest about what works for you and what you are willing to do to get there.

Be proactive in your job search. Develop a job search strategy and keep track of your efforts by establishing goals and deadlines.

Here are some additional points to consider:

• Seek out people, opportunities and organizations that value or can benefit from what you have to offer.
• Project an air of confidence.
• Research positions, organizations and trends in the field.
• Update your computer skills and current knowledge of your chosen area.
• Practice your interviewing skills.
• Use career services from online sources, your alma mater, professional associations and recruitment firms.

I hope the ideas and tools in this issue will give you the skills and motivation to reach your career goals.

Geri Thomas, President

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Global Logistics Director
Send your resume and cover letter to Geri Thomas at


Back in the Game - Returning to Business After a Hiatus:
Experiences and Recommendations for Women, Employers, and Universities
, a 2005 study authored by Monica McGrath, Marla Driscoll and Mary Gross under the advisement of the Wharton Center for Leadership and Change and with the support of the Forté Foundation found that:

• Women most often leave the workforce in order to care for children, family members, or to enhance the quality of their lives.
• Women stay out of work longer than they anticipated.
• When women leave the workforce, they feel energized and positive; when they attempt to return, they find the experience negative and depressing.
• Women who re-enter the workforce tend to join smaller companies.
• Women often shift industries and functional roles when they return to work.


Do . . . Re-establish a presence in your field. Attend events and circulate to meet new people. Inform others about your job search.

Don’t . . . Create a cover letter that tells your life story. A succinct one-page cover letter should describe your interest in the job and how your skills and qualifications will help the organization meet its goals.
Do . . . Refresh your memory about your previous jobs and accomplishments. Be ready to talk about everything on your resume in detail and provide engaging answers to follow-up questions.
Don't . . . List someone as a reference just because they are a "big name" in the field. The ability of the reference to provide quality content about your skills and abilities is better than the notoriety of someone who may barely remember working with you.
Do . . . Conduct a strategic job search. Apply only to those jobs for which you are qualified at institutions that truly interest you. After reading a job description, ask yourself, “Have I done these tasks before?” instead of, “I’ve never done that before, but who knows? I’ll apply.”
Don't . . . Answer questions in your resume, cover letter or interview that are private or personal. Questions about your age, financial situation, marital status or sexual orientation are not appropriate. Focus on providing information that demonstrates your skills, ability and motivation to perform the job to which you are applying.


A snapshot of how different arts and culture professionals are shaping their careers.

Carla, an independent curator for art museums, was at the height of her career. Highly respected and heavily networked in the art world, she had just completed her seventh major exhibition with great success. Then Carla and her husband received exciting news that they were expecting twins. Carla was elated, but as she neared her due date she became anxious as to whether or not she would return to work after the twins were born. It was a difficult decision to make, but Carla chose to be a stay-at-home mom until her children entered kindergarten.

Carla was aware of the consequences of leaving her job, but she never expected the type of rejection and frustration she experienced when she tried to re-enter the field. After receiving feedback about why she was rejected from an associate curatorial position at a museum, Carla learned that her resume was outdated, her presentation skills rusty, and her networking contacts weakened as she no longer had time to attend museum events and gallery openings. Carla was in desperate need of career advice to revamp her resume, hone her interviewing skills, and conduct a more effective job search.

At the suggestion of a friend, Carla attended one of our workshops and learned new techniques to focus her job search and strengthen her resume. Carla changed her functional resume to a chronological one and included a section called “Community Impact and Leadership” to capture her involvement organizing several local charity drives. She also provided more detail about her previous exhibitions and publications with links to websites where her work was featured online. With new ideas about her current career goals, Carla wanted to work in a for-profit gallery rather than with large museums so she could represent artists and promote their work. To reactivate her network, Carla contacted former colleagues and her university’s career services for alumni.

After two months, a former colleague told Carla that he was leaving his job at an art gallery and wanted to recommend her for the position. Having done all her preparation, Carla was ready to act on his suggestion, conveyed her skills and experience well during her interview and received an offer. After a brief period of readjustment, Carla felt back on track with her career.

Increase your understanding of common terms used in career development.

How is a functional resume different than a chronological resume?

A functional resume lists your background and experience according to skills and competencies, rather than a chronological job history. This type of resume is most often used for executive and senior level professionals with a considerable amount of experience.

A chronological resume lists accomplishments achieved in jobs in order of their occurrence starting with your most recent employment. We find that recruiters and hiring managers prefer this format with bullet points that outline your responsibilities.

Deciphering the true motives behind interview questions.

Question: Why is there a gap of several years in your employment history?

Motive: Many professionals have gaps in their resume. Whether these gaps represent a return to school, a decision to have children, or some other personal matter, they will invariably pique the curiosity of potential employers. The key to answering the above question effectively depends largely on how positively you present this leave of absence.

Employment laws restrict what employers can and cannot ask candidates about their private lives. However, it is not uncommon for employers to ask these questions anyway. Remember, questions regarding employment from recruiters and hiring managers should focus on your qualifications to perform a job, not the circumstances of your leave of absence. Conversely, employers do look for candidates with a consistent job history and periods of unemployment can suggest that candidates did not work because they were somehow incompetent or otherwise unemployable.

Your answer about your leave of absence should be positive and brief. Focus on what you can do for the employer now. Your personal life is personal. Keep your answer job-related. Here are some sample:

“Although being downsized was an unexpected setback, I believe it encouraged me to focus more on developing my skills for other employment. My expanded skill set, along with my persistence represent the type of focus and commitment I can bring to this position.”

“I spent two years traveling in Asia. The experience really opened up my eyes to opportunities for nonprofits to partner with emerging companies. I’m eager to contribute to the success of your fundraising campaign and have solid ideas about identifying socially responsible corporate sponsorships.”

Your career questions and issues.

"I earned my BFA in painting and worked in China teaching English for 4 years. Then I came back to Chicago to try to make my living as an artist. I did this for two years, becoming a bartender to pay the bills. But now I really have to find a career I can pursue. I’m interested in selling art or working in an auction house. What should I do?" --Artist/Bartender, Chicago

Career paths are not always linear, and we all benefit from trying new things. You’ve identified two possible areas that interest you: art sales and working in an auction house. What interests you about these two career paths? What experiences and skills do you already possess that you can bring to these areas? Once you answer these questions, start researching the skills and qualifications that different jobs in these specific fields require and talk to others who have experience in these jobs. Read literature in these areas and talk to others who have experience in these jobs. Ask yourself the following questions: What kind of art do you want to sell? Have you ever worked on a commission structure before and would you feel comfortable doing so? Do you prefer building relationships with clients or researching objects?

After you conduct your research, identify ways to acquire skills in these fields and then try to gain relevant experience. If you are still working as a bartender, internships may be possible which will allow you to determine if you wish to continue pursuing these options as a career.


Million Dollar Networking: The Sure Way to Find, Grow, and Keep Your Business by Andrea R. Nierenberg

Networking is not something you do sporadically or just when you are looking for a job. According to Andrea Nierenberg, networking is a continual lifelong process and a state of mind. It is about meeting new people and nurturing your current network by giving to others, not just about asking what others can do for you.

You don’t have to be an extrovert to be a good networker, but you do have to be prepared. Develop a “30-second commercial” - a brief script that lets others know who you are, what you do, and why it is important. For example, “I’m a consultant who works with presenting arts organizations. I work to increase the impact of their community outreach programs.”

Introduce yourself at events and if seated, to the people at your table.

When appropriate, make introductions for others you know by stating who they are and what they might have in common with other people.

Pay attention to what other people say and ask questions to show your engagement and interest.

Have an exit strategy to politely end a conversation so you can continue to meet others such as, “I’m so glad we met. Lots of good luck with your new project and I look forward to seeing you at the opening.”

Follow up with new connections in creative ways by sending an invitation to an event you think they might enjoy or providing a bit of information that you believe would be useful to them.

Set goals for your networking achievements and remember to thank those who help you.


We want to hear from you. Send us your questions, ideas or feedback to Confidentiality is always assured.

In our next issue, we will discuss when it’s time to leave a job.

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