Although many people think that the only way to get a rewarding job is to follow the traditional process of applying to advertised positions, the truth is that there is a huge amount of unadvertised and “word-of-mouth” hiring that goes on, particularly by nonprofit organizations like museums and small local businesses.
Non-profits like museums often have very limited budgets, and so they may decide to only announce a job on their own website, rather than spending the money to post it on professional job boards.
Museums (like many colleges with their adjunct teacher pools) may also maintain a running candidate pool upon which they draw whenever positions open in the future. Thus, it makes sense to notify them of your interest and eligibility should an appropriate job become available.
Increase the range of your available job opportunities by writing letters of interest in current or future unadvertised jobs.
What to Include in the Cover Letter
When applying for an unadvertised position, you will need to include a cover letter with your resume to state your interest as well as to start selling yourself.
The cover letter should highlight some of your most relevant qualifications and experiences, enhance your resume, and (hopefully) increase your chances of being called for an interview. Use examples from volunteer work and educational and work experiences which are relevant to the types of positions that interest you.
Cover Letter Example for a Job at a Museum
Here's an example of a cover letter written for unadvertised development/administration positions at a museum. Download the cover letter template (compatible with Google Docs and Word Online).
Cover Letter Example for a Job at a Museum (Text Version)
123 Main Street
Anytown, CA 12345
September 1, 2018
Director, Human Resources
The Science Museum
123 Business Rd.
Business City, NY 54321
Dear Mr. Lee,
I am submitting my resume for your consideration with regard to future openings within the development department of The Science Museum.
My past experiences have prepared me well for a variety of development and administrative duties. As a Supervisor for my university's $2.75M Annual Fund, I maintain and report on a broad spectrum of donor-related information for over 100,000 alumni. This necessitates my familiarity with a diverse staff of both students and administrators, and an awareness of new and continuing initiatives. Additionally, as an intern at a premier clinic for science research, I developed databases for a vast number of patient records, which required self-initiation and excellent time-management skills.
Furthermore, as a Residential Advisor, I facilitate the planning and implementation of dozens of events in a variety of settings for 700 residents. Moreover, my degree in Biology emphasizes attention to detail, problem solving, written and oral skills, and information analysis. These abilities would greatly add to my effectiveness as a member of a development team.
I am drawn to The Science Museum because I am committed to working in a field that promotes civic education, demonstrated by my past volunteerism and employment in university development. Given my my background in the sciences, I admire the contribution that The Science Museum makes to scientific exploration, and I would be honored to be a part of the development department.
My salary requirements are negotiable. I am looking forward to learning more about employment opportunities, and can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at 555-555-5555.
How to Send an Email Cover Letter
If you're sending a cover letter via email, you don’t need to list the employer’s contact information. Instead, list your name and the job title in the subject line of the email message.
Open your email message with a respectful, professional salutation before launching into your narrative text. Finally, remember to include your contact information (physical address, phone number, email address) in your email signature.
Tips for Getting a Development / Museum Job
If you picture yourself thriving within a non-profit development or museum job, consider volunteering for a position as a docent or an unpaid intern with the organizations you are interested in. Hiring managers typically prefer to fill new positions with either talented volunteers they themselves know or with candidates recommended to them, through word-of-mouth, by their current employees. Volunteering is typically the best way to “get your foot in the door” if you are an emerging professional with little related job experience.
If you are focusing on development, then keep a running list of events you have organized either as a college student or as a volunteer within your community. Include details about their budgets, their number of participants, and their ultimate fund-raising results. You’ll thus be armed with some impressive, quantifiable examples of your development prowess which will elevate your candidacy above those of others who can’t demonstrate comparable fund-raising or donor solicitation expertise.
If you’re still debating whether museum work is for you, here’s some information to consider. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, most entry-level museum archivists, curators, and conservators require a master’s degree in history, art history, museum studies, archaeology, archival studies, or library science for consideration. Museum technicians, however, typically only need a bachelor’s degree in one of these fields.
In 2018, the median pay for archivists, curators, and museum workers was $48,400 per year ($23.27 per hour). The job outlook between 2018 and 2018 is positive, with an anticipated growth of 9% in available jobs.