Why So Secretive?

You're hunting for a job. For most, the main reason for finding a job is to earn money; money that enables you to pay for things like food, shelter, clothing, and chocolate chip cookies. Yet when you find a posting for a position that interests you, rarely is the salary listed.

Why is that? Why do museums hide the most vital information when posting job openings? Do HR managers sit in a dark office, hunched over their computer cackling evilly as they create vague job posts in an effort to frustrate and confuse people who want to work for them? While I have encountered some pretty suspect behavior in HR departments over the years, I can't imagine that quite so deliberately despicable as that image would suggest.

Whatever the reason, job posts lack the amount of detail one would hope to find when making a decision about a career change. Over the past few years, I have been a part of several conversations about fixing this strange issue. These discussions always end with folks bringing suggestions back to their home institutions, but those institutions have been hesitant to act.

After a lot of chatter and little action, my colleagues on the Philly EMP committee and I decided to try and affect change from the outside. We changed the requirements in an effort to encourage museums to create clearer and more equitable job posts. Here are the requirements we came up with:

  • Paid positions only

  • Unpaid internships are only available to those who can afford to work for free, and disqualify many people without the means from getting experience in our field.

  • Must include an accurate salary range

  • The job hunt is time-consuming and expensive for both the employer and prospective employee. Posting an accurate salary range will help both sides avoid wasting time on jobs/candidates they cannot afford.

  • Must include the name and title of the person to whom candidates should address applications

  • This avoids any confusion for candidates submitting applications, resumes, and cover letters.

  • Must include interview format (group, panel, one-on-one, etc.)

  • This allows candidates to better prepare for an interview and reduce the stress of the unknown.

  • We strongly encourage you to accept relevant experience alongside any degree requirements

  • Degree requirements exclude those who were unable to obtain a degree for financial reasons but instead worked in related fields. Job requirements should not have barriers to those who chose/needed to work instead of pursuing higher education.

  • Must include a breakdown of the hiring process from application to training

  • This offers candidates a clear picture of what to expect and give them a better understanding of your timeline

These requirements were posted in April of 2017. A few months later, a Twitter conversation led to some attention for the Philly EMP website. In response, we drafted a form letter that folks could send to some of their preferred job boards in an attempt to encourage them to follow suit. By the time fall rolled around, Museum Hack updated their requirements for museum.jobs.

It has been quite rewarding to see this idea slowly gain traction, and the whole Philly EMP team is looking forward to more job boards following suit. All that said, this solution brings another question to light: What else can we change about museums from the outside? What should we try next?

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Verb. 1) Pertaining to the behavior of being a Wittwer. 2) Doing odd things that only Wittwers would do. 3) Catchall phrase for the thoughts and actions of Patrick Wittwer.