Give me this job or I will break your knee caps? Pretty please?
March 25, 2011 2:25 PM   Subscribe

Need advice about how to proceed in getting a really awesome job.

So there's this job that I (really, really) want. Here's some (longish, sorry) intro...

A bit about the setting:

-It's in the education department of a museum.
-The museum is a part of the university I attended.
-I used to work for this museum, while a student (3+ years ago), in a lowly capacity that is almost compeltely separate from the education department.
-I "know" some people by face and title (and I assume they would know me by face), but only had a direct working relationship with one person. My co-workers were all similarly lowly and students, so they have certainly all moved on.
-My former boss there is a bit of a strange dude, always kept himself locked away in his office, and we never really clicked. I never got the impression that he was well-respected by the rest of the museum staff.
-That said, I did my job responsibly and well, met a lot of the higher-ups in a very informal, passing manner, and left on good terms.

I believe I am very qualified for this job:

-They want experience in museums. Check, not only for this particular museum, but I was also a (volunteer) docent at another museum for a few years, but quit (on good terms) doing that (doing the exact same tour every weekend became draining) back in late 2009.
-They want some experience in development. I have a couple years of some, but all as a volunteer (internationally known and resepected non-museum non-profit).
-They want experience leading volunteers. I have this in spades, all as a volunteer, but I always put myself in leadership positions.
-I also have (limited) experience doing a few activities that are unique to the particulars of this position.
-I am extremely interested in it; it combines everything I want to be doing into a neat little package, AND is at a museum that I adore.

Why I am concerned:

-I have been unemployed for a long time and my work history is spotty. I graduated in 2008. While in school I did a ton of volunteer work. When I graduated and didn't have the structure of a student organization, I kind of stopped.
-I didn't get a job until early 2009, and it was doing something I really didn't want to be doing, in a field I really didn't want to be in. But it was work, and I did my job extremel well. I left (which in retrospect was probably a mistake, given the economic climate) in mid 2010 and haven't been able to find work since.
-I've kind of been...doing...nothing since then. Well, applying to (non-profit) jobs (unsuccessfully).

Why I want to be as aggressive as possible:

-This job at the museum is, really and truly, perfect for me. And I, really and truly, think I'd be perfect for it.
-A handful of times over the last year, when I've actually heard back from the organizations I applied to, I'd get a call and we'd set up a time to do a phone interview or I'd actually DO a phone interview (that went very well!), and then never hear back from them. Returned calls go to voicemail, I send emails, it goes nowhere. I think I'm close, and then nothing. I feel kind of doomed, employment-wise, and I really don't want to let that happen here.
-And practically speaking, my financial situation is bad and I've finally eaten through all of my savings; I neeeeed a job.
-But I also really waaaaant this job.

So here's what I've done:

-I applied for the job (good first step, right?)
-My cover letter mentioned that I had worked at this museum before and named the names of the people who I had had the most formal interaction with. These people *should* all remember me by name (almost defintiely by face), and if they do remember me, would all say good things about me.
-After applying (through an online system, the only way to do it for legal reasons), I waited a week and then called the education department to follow up. They don't answer their phones, so I left a message saying I was excited about the position, would love to come in to talk to them about it, and left my contact info.
-The next day, I received an email from them saying that there was a bug in the online system and all of the apps had been deleted, so to please submit mine again. So I did.

The meat of my question...

That was Tuesday. What is my next step?

It would be easy for me to go drop in on them in person. I have (briefly) met most of the people in the education department before, and they may recognize me, which would (I assume) work in my favor. I also really kick as at in-person interactions. Phones not so much, but I'm ok. Would it be total suicide of me to just drop in on them unannounced? They're busy people.

Should I call them again (which would mean leaving a message)? Should I email?

When? What should I say?

I just really, really want to make sure I don't fall through the cracks (again). I want this job SO HARD and will do just about anything to get it.

I just have no experience at all in this and could really use some guidance. My friends/SO are all in finance where recruitment is very different, so can't offer me any practical advice. My parents are many decades out of the job hunt game and are similarly of no help.

Thank you guys so, so much for reading all this, and for any advice you can offer.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (7 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Tuesday wasn't that long ago. Sometimes I'll apply for a job and hear back right away. Yesterday I got a response for a job I applied for over a month ago.

I'm not in that field, but in general, dropping by unannounced could be very bad. Odds are the people hiring are quite busy and they haven't had a time to go over the resumes received. So showing up when they're busy doing something else and not thinking about hiring decisions could backfire big time. There are exceptions, of course but the only successful examples I can think of are in the movies.

If it were me, I'd just follow up by email next week briefly re-pleading your case and offering to come in at their convenience to do discuss.

Most of the job questions on Ask will have answers comparing the process to a date. You don't want to come across desperate setting up a date and you don't want to appear desperate for a job. Just dropping in unannounced can come across as desperate.
posted by birdherder at 2:50 PM on March 25, 2011

Have patience. No need to keep calling or e-mailing. Focus on looking for other jobs. If they are interested in you and you really are the perfect candidate, then they will contact you.

Would it be total suicide of me to just drop in on them unannounced?

posted by futureisunwritten at 2:53 PM on March 25, 2011

I would email the person you know best at the museum, saying hi and letting them know that you've applied for the job. Don't be desperate or pleading (I agree, it's like trying to get a date), but just let them know that you'd love to work there. Ask them some question about the museum or the work if you have one. Let them know about your qualifications. Then ask if there's anything else they think you should be doing to position yourself to get the job. Probably what will happen is that they'll say that you're highly qualified and offer to put in a good word for you.
posted by decathecting at 3:15 PM on March 25, 2011 [2 favorites]

Are there any staff members there who would remember you well, like by name? You could email these people, telling them about your interest in the position. Don't be too eager-puppy, but professional.

Start organizing your thoughts for an interview--did you directly contribute to the raising of so much $$ when you volunteered in development? Have you ever worked on a volunteer training program or handbook? Start thinking of the bullet point achievements that you want to stress when you get an interview.

Showing up seems sort of amateur hour.
posted by Ideefixe at 3:16 PM on March 25, 2011

Have patience. No need to keep calling or e-mailing. Focus on looking for other jobs. If they are interested in you and you really are the perfect candidate, then they will contact you.

This, but if there were technical difficulties in submitting your application, I don't think it would hurt to get in touch using the proper channels, just to verify that your application went through. It would really suck not to get your dream job because of a dumb computer glitch. An email would be perfectly fine, especially since they previously sent you an email to inform you of the technical problems.

(And I agree with Ideefixe that if there are staff members who would know you by name, making use of those connections would be totally appropriate.)
posted by Sara C. at 3:24 PM on March 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

This job search advice has served me well:

You can control about 20% of the factors that go in to you being hired. The rest is out of your hands. It sounds like you've done your part very well. But as someone who's applied for some dream jobs and hired others, don't get too emotionally tied up in one job application.

Getting an internal recommendation (from a current museum employee who knows you) is a great way to set you apart from the pile.

And definitely don't show up uninvited.

I recommend Kevin Fanning's Let's All Find Awesome Jobs as sound, entertaining advice on how to put your best foot forward.
posted by ktheory at 3:57 PM on March 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

Look, I don't mean this to be mean, but I think it's important that you go into this with your eyes open. As someone who's been involved in hiring at museums at non-profits at (what seems to be) a similar level to your dream job, I'll advise you as strongly as possible to please please please not get your hopes up anymore than you already have. A polite but enthusiastic follow-up email, including the cover letter and resume you submitted through their online system, is really all you can do.

Odds are good that they already have someone selected for this job, especially if the job posting is only set to be open for one week (you didn't mention the time frame, just throwing that out there). If you don't get this job, it's not your fault. 95% of museum hirings I've heard of or been involved in have posted a job because they're legally required to, even though the person they're planning to hire has been a volunteer or a lower level employee for months or even years, or is a close friend of a current employee. That's how people get jobs in this sector. They will interview their preferred candidate and one or two others, submit all their paperwork, and hire their preferred candidate. This has been the case with every job I've ever had except the two part-time jobs I got in college and early grad school.

That said, if you really really want this job, take another volunteer position in this department. Instead of applying for jobs in the non-profit sector, spend 50% of your time applying, and 50% of your time volunteering for the places you'd like to work at. When they eventually have an opening, you'll be the person the job has already been promised to, feeling bad for the poor suckers applying for the posted opening when the job is already yours. Good luck!
posted by booknerd at 4:50 PM on March 25, 2011 [5 favorites]

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