Apologies in advance for being specific to the United Kingdom in what follows.
This post could end up being really short, because there are only three places that I have ever found it profitable to look for jobs. These are, in order of my personal preference:
The University of Leicester Museum Studies Jobs Desk http://www2.le.ac.uk/departments/museumstudies/JobsDesk
The National Museum Directors’ Council (NMDC) jobs page
And the privately-run www.museumjobs.com
There are of course other places one can look. I have heard from colleagues older than myself that in the 1990s and early 2000s, the Museums Association jobs listings were the place to go. Guardian Jobs has long been established as one of the largest general jobs listing websites in the country. Some of you even trawl through the recruitment pages of individual museums and heritage organisations.
I too used to look everywhere. It was an approach which I ultimately found to be inefficient, and a waste of time. Let me explain why.
It is free for a recruiter to advertise on Leicester. The NMDC site follows a similar line, although advertising is open only to NMDC institutional members (limited to nationals and only the larger regional and university museums in the UK).
At the time of writing, Museum Jobs (.com) charge £149 + VAT (a 20% tax) per advert, the Museums Association charge between £495 and £595, and Guardian Jobs between £750 and £1900. Everyone knows that museums are more than a little strapped for cash – it follows that websites which are free to use will attract the most job adverts.
Guardian Jobs is not a specialised museums recruitment site, although it does have a dedicated ‘arts and heritage’ page. The problem is that some recruiters will dress up jobs with nothing to do with arts and heritage precisely as such, so that they can reach a wider audience. Similarly, ‘featured’ adverts from other industries might slip into the arts and heritage section. See below for an example I found today. Another common feature of Guardian Jobs is to see expensive university courses being advertised – frustrating when you already have a degree and are just trying to find a job!
Museum Jobs (.com) can be equally naughty. I have seen adverts there for Guest Experience Ambassadors at The View from the Shard. The View from the Shard is a viewing gallery in a London skyscraper known as the Shard. The Shard is a somewhat charmless building largely owned by the Qatari State, noted for playing merry hell with the winds around London Bridge Station. One thing the Shard definitely is not is a museum.
Another howlers includes adverts for roles working at the Emirates Aviation Experience, operated by Sodexo. The Emirates Aviation Experience is a tourist attraction in East London, heavily sponsored by the Dubai Government-owned Emirates airline. Sodexo, a multinational facilities and services management company, has in the past been accused of misdeeds as diverse as unfair labour practices, passing horse meat off as beef, and subjecting inmates in a prison it operates to conditions amounting to torture. Nice.
That said, Museum Jobs is still relatively cheap to advertise on, and the fact that it doesn’t have the same limitations as the NMDC site does mean that you get some interesting jobs appearing on it.
As for trawling through the recruitment pages of individual museums, I have an idea as to why this didn’t work for me. Yes, museum roles are over-subscribed. But equally, any recruiter will want to get the best candidate possible. Museums still need to actively advertise their vacancies. If a museum has chosen not to do so, and has just put an inconspicuous advert on their own website, it could just be because they already know who they want for that post.
I said this post could end up being really short. It hasn’t. Sorry if I have been a bit…ranty.
Not everyone agrees with me about the View from the Shard and the Emirates Aviation Experience being inappropriate organisations to advertise on museum jobs listings. Ashleigh Hibbins had this to say:
While Lauren Rhodes added this:
I agree that working at both places can help you develop a strong skills set that can be transferred in the world of museum work. But then so can many other roles in many other sectors. More on transferable skills to follow soon!