|ISSUE 5 | VOLUME 1 | 2007|
July 15, 2007
In this Issue:
As challenging as it can be to find a job, it can be even more difficult to leave one. How do you know when it’s time to leave your current position and what is the best way to do so?
We know from our recent study, The State of the Arts: An Art Career Inventory™ that arts and culture professionals leave their jobs for a variety of reasons, including:
If you’re wondering how to leave an unsatisfactory job, begin by assessing your financial state, emotional well-being and work history. Finding a new position takes effort. Make time in your schedule to research, identify and apply for jobs. Some people are in a position where they can afford to be unemployed for a period of time. If your budget and lifestyle require a regular paycheck, this may not be an option and you will need to continue working while searching for a new job.
The decision to leave a job is a personal and professional choice and should be a learning process. Consider leaving a job less as the end of a negative experience and more the beginning of a positive opportunity.
|A DAY IN THE LIFE|
|A snapshot of how different arts and culture professionals are shaping their careers.||
Amir was extremely excited to get his first arts job at a small but cutting-edge gallery in Los Angeles. The hours were long and the pay low, but Amir thought it was an opportunity to “get his foot in the door” and gain experience with all facets of gallery management.
As months went by, Amir began to find the atmosphere at the gallery stressful and his work unpredictable. The gallery's Director, initially very warm and helpful, became rapidly less so. As he neared the end of his first year, Amir found himself dealing with abusive behavior on a regular basis. He also realized that the gallery was actually not very well run. Clients and artists alike complained about administrative and financial errors. After attempting to bring the situation to the Director’s attention, Amir was accused of being incompetent in front of several other employees. At this point, Amir decided that he could no longer continue working at the gallery.
Without a new job lined up, Amir wrote a formal letter of resignation and delivered it to the Director the following Friday with two weeks notice. He also communicated his willingness to help train a replacement. When the Director told him to leave immediately, Amir was ready. He had taken the precaution Friday evening of emptying his desk of all personal items.
When he applied for new jobs and arranged for interviews, Amir listed the gallery along with other relevant experience and focused on the skill set he had developed while working there: phones, databases, exhibition installation, client and artist relations. When asked about the experience, Amir stressed the positive aspects, talked about how his skills developed and praised his former employer’s fine eye for significant contemporary art. When asked why he had left, Amir said that he felt ready for the challenge that a larger gallery environment posed and also mentioned his desire for better compensation. When asked why the gallery’s Director was not among his references, Amir stated that the Director’s management style was very confrontational and that he felt it better to move on into a more constructive environment. However, he never criticized his former employer or suggested that their final parting was anything but professional. He remained cheerful and enthusiastic about the possibility of new gallery work.
Finally, Amir got a new job at a larger gallery with a slightly higher salary. His ability to focus on the positive and remain professional about his previous job truly impressed his new employers (who had some knowledge of his ex-boss and his temperament). Amir now enjoys working in a more congenial and stable environment, while never dismissing what he learned from his previous position.
|ADD TO MY VOCAB|
|Increase your understanding of common terms used in career development.||
What is an exit interview?
In order to improve working conditions, employee retention and overall organizational culture, an employer’s representative often meets with a departing employee in confidence to understand his/her reasons for leaving a job. The interview gives the employee an opportunity to explain what they liked and did not like about their job and what s/he recommends changing to improve the position. Typical questions asked during an exit interview may include:
When you resign, it may be a good idea to ask if your employer has such a procedure in place.
|THE BURNING QUESTION|
|Deciphering the true motives behind interview questions.||
Question: Why did you leave your last job?
Why you leave your job may depend on circumstance but how you leave your job represents your character and degree of professionalism. By asking why you left your previous job, the interviewer is trying to find out what caused you difficulty so that s/he can assess whether the potential job contains similar aspects and represents similar problems. But s/he is also interested in how you have handled interpersonal relationships, conflict and unsatisfying work.
Be succinct and positive. Tell the employer what you liked about your previous job and how this relates to what you’re looking to do now. Consider this sample answer:
“As public relations director, the opportunity to promote high-quality concerts and attract new regional audiences was very rewarding for me and increased subscription sales for the organization. Now, I’m looking for a more challenging position where I can focus my skills on building an international audience for both music and dance.”
|Your career questions and issues.||
"I’m in a situation where
it is clear that I need to leave my job. My boss is very moody and unpredictable.
There is no room for growth, the pay is low and in the past few months
my tasks have been more personal than job-related. I know that I’m
qualified for other jobs in the arts that are available in my area. The
problem is my boss is very well known in the art world and does not react
well when employees leave. I fear that if I start looking for another
job, she will make it extremely difficult for me by bashing me and my
work with her. What should I do?"
Chances are if your boss is as you describe, you are probably not the only one who has experienced this kind of treatment. While employers may be upset and angry, it is not appropriate for them to seek retribution by sabotaging your ability to find a new job.
When searching for a new job, you can specify to potential employers that you do not want your current employer to be contacted and you do not have to use your boss as a reference. Instead, try to find a co-worker or client who can provide you with a reference and speak about the good work you have done.
|THE CORNER BOOKSHELF|
As the only major orchestra that rehearses, performs, and records without a conductor, the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra is a unique organization. Founded in 1972 and based at New York's renowned Carnegie Hall, the OCO has been honored with four Grammy awards and is frequently profiled by the arts and business media for its practices in collaborative management. Rather than managing through a hierarchy, OCO is a “flat” organization that has minimal layers of management between employees and top leaders.
In their book, Orpheus’ Executive Director Harvey Seifter and Associate Editor for Leader to Leader magazine Peter Economy offer principles to help others create a more collaborative workplace:
Put Power in the Hands of the People Doing the Work
Create Clarity of Roles
Share and Rotate Leadership
Foster Horizontal Teamwork
We want to hear from you. Send us your questions, ideas or feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org. Confidentiality is always assured.
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