I had a post appear on ArtsHacker today about hiring executive leadership in the context of the social changes which have occurred since the start of the Covid pandemic. My post primarily focuses on a piece Seema Sueko wrote for American Theatre, which I would highly encourage people to read.
Sueko was serving as a field advisor for a search firm specializing in executive searches in the arts and culture field. She discusses how she initially assumed that search firm would work with their clients to identify all the social, political and economic changes that occurred since their last hire, determine how the organization would need to change, and then what qualities the new leadership would need to possess to move the organization in that direction.
Finding out that was not the case, she surveyed 4-5 other search firms that also worked with arts and culture organizations and found they operated in much the same way.
She lays out some great ideas about how organizations can do a better job with leadership hiring. Many of the suggestions would probably please candidates to no end such as the hiring committee going through mock interviews and receiving feedback on how to do a better job.
As I write in my ArtsHacker post, I thought her best idea was one about creating an introductory video of a facilitated conversation about the job:
I recommend that the search firm record a Zoom meeting with the search committee where each committee member introduces themselves, followed by a facilitated conversation about the job opportunity. This video could be shared with all the candidates to level the playing field and capture some of the culture which can’t be conveyed through a written document. Such a video would also have the added benefit of demystifying and humanizing the search committee, which, I propose, will lead to more substantial interviews with candidates.
I am not sure about the current status of hiring for executive roles in arts and culture is at the moment. Readers may know that I changed jobs in November 2022. Around February-March 2023, the very first place I interviewed for when I started my search a year earlier contacted me to say the search had failed, board membership had changed and would I like to interview again.
While this certainly not indicative of the whole industry, I suspect it might not be far off the general environment. A lot of people have chosen to leave the field and hiring committees might be finding it difficult to identify good candidates because they are looking to hire for an environment that no longer exists and candidates are looking to join an organization that has acknowledged the work and change that needs to occur.
N.B. – regarding the post title. With all the social media abbreviations, has the old print classified “in search of -/i/s/o” entirely fallen out of use or do folks use it on dating apps?