If You Can't Market Yourself...

Event Recap: The Arts Job Interview: Marketing & Development

Conversation on prepping for an interview led by Nella Vera, Director of Marketing for BFV Management, and Erica Sattin, Director of Development at National Sawdust. Photo:  ©  Young Professionals in the Arts

Conversation on prepping for an interview led by Nella Vera, Director of Marketing for BFV Management, and Erica Sattin, Director of Development at National Sawdust. Photo: © Young Professionals in the Arts

Interviewing is always stressful no matter what field you are in. YPA has found that when it comes to the arts, different paths call on distinct tools to prepare for each interview. Marketing and Development roles within the arts are similar in that they demand keen communication skills, a personable nature, and the ability to adapt as technology and methods evolve. It involves having to comprehend and sell the mission and big picture goals of the organization to audiences and supporters on a daily basis, and because of that your first impression during an interview can impact everything. So how should one prepare for a dream job interview specifically for a role in the coveted Development or Marketing fields? Leaders Erica Sattin, Director of Development at National Sawdust, and Nella Vera, Director of Marketing for BFV Management, disclosed to us at last month’s Professional Development Workshop: The Art Job Interview hosted in partnership with Emerging Leaders in New York Arts (ELNYA) and the Roger Smith Hotel, a few key pointers on how to do your homework before stepping into your next big interview. Below we piled up our favorite steps!

Development Interview Prep - Where to start?

  • The website. Know the organization’s website like it's your full-time job. Be knowledgeable on what they do, how they do it, and don't just understand their mission - breathe their mission. 

  • If available, take advantage of their staff and board page. Knowing who will be interviewing you is a considerable edge going into an intimidating situation. 

  • If it’s a non-profit, find their annual report online and search for their 990 form on GuideStar. These documents must be in the public domain and can reveal a lot about the size and goals of the organization. There is a lot of information regarding the scope of an organization that is revealed in their annual report like for example how much of their budget comes from fundraising. 

  • Research the board and know who supports the organization. How involved are they? A quick Google search may provide articles of board members' contributions, achievements, or personal agendas.

  • Look for articles written on the company and be informed on what their public narrative is. 

  • Prepare answers for questions that you might be asked. Both our mentors emphasized knowing  your personal answer to 'where do you see yourself in the next five years?'. Your answer shows that you have a direction and goals you're working towards. An organization wants to see that you are committed to the field.

  • Know your OWN resume. This may seem obvious but make sure you know the skills and projects you highlighted. 

Marketing Interview Prep - Where to start?

  • Google, Google, Google. Researching not just the website but also the organization’s social media. What platforms are they using and how are they utilizing them? Going into the interview with a baseline of their voice will be helpful. It’s always better to be over prepared for a marketing job.

  • Know the company and if possible, find out who will be interviewing you. Look them up on LinkedIn and see if you have any contacts in common. If so and if you feel comfortable doing so, reach out to your mutual friend for advice or insight. Knowing who you'll be talking to can really put you at ease.

  • Understand your personal voice as well as your vision for your role within the company. Go into the interview knowing what you think the organization is doing well and identify something you think they could do better. Having prepared answers to these questions shows you know your stuff and are ready to contribute to the goal of the organization. 

  • Do your deck eight times, know your stuff!

  • Write the answers down to the questions you are preparing for. The better you know your answers, the more confident your delivery.

  • Be confident! Remember if you can’t market yourself, you can’t market art. (YPA ❤️'s Nella Vera for that nifty phrase, pure gold.)

There's More!

Other areas of impact that can affect a job candidate’s success are the usual suspects we are always reminded of but don’t always follow through on. Verified by both Directors - any typos or poor grammar immediately eliminates a resume/cover letter from the running.

Create a narrative that is result driven within your written materials. Employers want to see goals achieved, money raised, or followers gained through your work. Be enthusiastic about the interview, always make eye contact, and have a few questions on hand to ask about the company. It shows you did your research and are engaged in being present.

Finally, always, always send a Thank You note. A handwritten card delivered by snail mail, though personable and sincere, can arrive delayed and may seem desperate to some. (Our panel was split on that). But both specified, a simple, short email is a MUST and can really make or break a candidate. The email is also the perfect time to give a brief reflection on something discussed within the interview or to pose a question that you didn’t have a chance to ask.

The Reality

Sometimes, what pushes a candidate into a position over another, has little to do with their cover letter or on paper experience. Teams have dynamics that need to be balanced and certain skills are more valuable at different times. Even though nailing an interview is definitely an impressive, fast-track way into a role, sometimes you can do everything right and still not get the job you tried for. A key take-away from the evening was the idea that every interview is a practice and a possibility. If something didn’t work out for that specific role, you may be perfect for another one later down the road. So take these tips and if you don’t get the job, it won’t be because you didn’t do your research or try your hardest. Because as Nella Vera so eloquently said, "If you can’t market yourself, how are you going to market art?”  

Join us next week at our last event of the season, Professionals in the Arts Mentorship Session: What’s in a Promotion? on Monday, December 11, at the Roger Smith Hotel at 6:30pm.

Also, if you missed our last two Mentorship Sessions but still need advice on growing your burgeoning arts idea or negotiating a salary within the arts - find some guidance in Pitching 101 in the Arts and The Art of the Ask on the YPA Blog.