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Have you ever considered how your skillset and experiences could translate into heritage or museum work?

Everyone who works in the GLAM (Galleries, Libraries, Archives & Museums) sector has a unique career pathway. However, with the ongoing incredible financial pressures on this industry, and seeing fellow organizations we know and love in Victoria recently closing, we recognize that it can be difficult to see yourself beginning a heritage or museum career.

There is no blueprint for a career, but staff at the Maritime Museum of BC wanted to share tips on applying and interviewing in the GLAM sector. We can’t wait to see you join the team!

There are sometimes multiple different job postings; how do I know which position suits my skills and interests best?

Sometimes, it’s hard to know what you’re looking for in a job until you try it out. Summer contract positions and internships can be really useful in fine-tuning your career path. Regular, permanent positions tend to require experience in an area. Volunteering is a great way to gain experience while trying out different skills.

Generally, in small museums you can expect that:

  • Programs and Events positions require presentation skills, creative problem-solving, and strong intra- and interpersonal communication skills.
  • Collections and Archives positions require strong attention to detail, self-directed motivation, and being comfortable with an often solo work environment.
  • Any position related to Volunteer coordination requires strong interpersonal communication skills, business writing, and a real community drive.
  • Development positions require strong attention to detail, excellent phone and customer service presence, and creative problem-solving.

You might have a strong community spirit and draw people in to volunteer, and still be an analytical superstar for membership data; you could thrive in Development. You might love the thrill of leading tours and speaking publicly about artefacts, but really enjoy the deep focus time of a Collections position–we’ll bring you to events for some interpretive time!

Do any of these roles seem like they were made for you? If you have your heart set on an area, there are ways to adjust any role to work for you, but you might just find the perfect position in a different department than you were expecting!

How do I make sure my application stands out?

All hiring managers have their own preferences–that’s what makes job hunting so tricky! But generally, these actions will help you stand out:

  • think about your cover letter as the opening conversation of your interview; this is your opportunity to explain things we won’t see in your résumé, and make a case for yourself in the role. Many positions in the GLAM sector require strong writing and communication skills, especially in interpretive and narrative writing.
  • resist the urge to use AI technology to write your cover letter or résumé! Many GLAM sector organizations are small, and your hiring manager will be reading every single application front to back–we do not use any screening or AI software to assess job candidates, and we truly can tell when we’re hearing from ChatGPT instead of you. We want to hear from you, in your own voice, about your personal and professional experiences.
  • attach all requested documents in the format requested in the job posting. When reviewing dozens of applications, hiring managers really appreciate when all documents are prepared as requested.
  • send your application to the correct person! We really want to see your application; help us out by making sure you send it to the email specified in the job posting.

How do I prepare for an interview?

At the Maritime Museum of BC, we send out the interview questions ahead of the interview so that you know what to expect. We don’t do trick questions, and we don’t try to surprise you. We really just want to get to know you and hear how your skills and experience suit the available position.

For each question, think about a situation that relates to it, the task you were trying to accomplish, the actions you took to resolve the situation, and what the result was. You may have heard of this structure referred to as the STAR method. It can help you identify a great example or accomplishment, and describe how it made an impact in your workplace.

Even if you receive questions ahead of time for a job interview, try not to script it and don’t read aloud your answers at your interviewers. Use your brainstorming for inspiration, and enjoy the conversation.

How do I make a good impression at my interview?

There is no formula for a perfect interview, and we do not expect or require a flawlessly memorized performance! Treating your interview like a conversation can help your personality shine, and will likely put you more at ease.

Some small actions that can make a big impact:

  • learn a little bit about the organization you are interviewing with. Our strategic plan and organizational values, events and programs calendar, volunteer process, and all other operational activities are available on our website. Knowing what we do can help you brainstorm relevant stories and examples of accomplishments from your previous jobs.
  • let your interviewer or hiring manager know if you can no longer make the interview time and need to reschedule. “Ghosting”–i.e. not showing up–wastes the time of everyone involved.
  • respond to emails or calls about interviews and employment offers as soon as you are able to, even if it’s just to let us know when you can respond in full. Our timelines are often tight when hiring on a rolling basis, and prompt communication is very much appreciated by hiring managers.

Remember: an interview is also your opportunity to assess us! Ask questions to get a better understanding of what working here is like, what professional development or advancement opportunities are available, and how our organizational values are demonstrated in our work.