Career Routes                       Glossary
Careers In Culture

Heritage - What You Need to Do

Work Search Strategies

On this page:

Take action to find heritage work

Do you want to know what it's like to work in the heritage field? Find your way to the future by:

  1. Using available resources - call or write to professional organizations.
  2. Gathering information - read about the heritage sector in magazines, newspapers and online.
  3. Staying abreast of technological trends - spend time on the Internet to see how information presentation is developing.
  4. Volunteering - to gain experience and make useful contacts.
  5. Attending community events - visit Canadian heritage fairs, historical and genealogical society events, and art gallery and museum activities.
  6. Going to conferences - find out about upcoming events through your local heritage society and organizations.
  7. Visiting career events - attend career days and job fairs to find out about work opportunities in heritage organizations.
  8. Building your network - keep in touch with people in careers in heritage.

Research Tips

Make Heritage Day, which occurs every year on the third Monday of February, part of you work search strategy. Check out what your community is doing during this national event. This could be a great day for learning more about local heritage people and organizations.

Don't be afraid to call up an organization and explain that you're researching facts and work opportunities. Say, “I am curious about what you do and would like to learn more. Do you have any in-house publications or is there anyone who can help me? I only need a few minutes of someone's time”.

Your Education Will Give You a Boost!

Your high school diploma is a good start towards a career in heritage, but a post-secondary education in today's workplace is usually a requirement. Employers want people with college / Cégep diplomas or university degrees in a variety of disciplines. What's important about your education is the knowledge you gain about heritage, and the learning skills you develop during your studies.

The heritage marketplace is diverse, and technology is changing how heritage work is done, you should consider taking specialized courses to hone other important skills. Here are some examples:

  • Accounting
  • Business
  • Creative writing
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Fundraising
  • Public relations
  • Web design
  • Writing
  • Web

Communicate Your Work Search Message

A wide variety of people do the hiring in the heritage field, including museum curators, directors of heritage organizations, historians, park superintendents, project managers, and human resource managers. A large part of their job is communication. What does this mean for you? You must ensure that your cover letter and résumé are impeccably written, and demonstrate excellent listening and speaking skills during the interview.

The cover letter

A great cover letter has two important functions. It introduces you to an employer and sparks his or her interest in your résumé. To make a great impression, your cover letter should be the best business letter you can write – clear, neat and free of errors.

Sample Cover Letter

Make sure your letter includes your correct contact information

Your name
Street address
City, Province/territory, Postal code
Telephone: (area code) phone number
E-mail: e-mail@address


Address your cover letter to the right person, spelled correctly, even if it means a phone call to the company. Employers are interested in candidates who show initiative.

Their name
Their job title
Their company name
Street Address
City, Province/territory, Postal code

Dear Name,

Indicate the specific position you're applying for, or the type of contract work or assignment you're seeking.

I am pleased to apply for the position of Museum Guide / Interpreter advertised in the Fairfax Courier on June 3, 2008.

Explain your interest in the position/work and in the organization

I am familiar with the museum sector through my volunteer and summer employment experiences, and would enjoy working for an organization such as the Fairfax Museum which is well known for its support of our community heritage.

Briefly state your qualifications and demonstrate that you're a strong candidate

As my attached résumé illustrates, I am bilingual, have nearly three years' experience as a museum guide, and would like to work towards improving public understanding of Canadian heritage.

Request an interview and say that you will follow up with a phone call.

I would be pleased to review my qualifications in more detail with you. If I haven't heard from you by June 12, I will call to follow up. In the meantime, if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call me.

Yours truly,


Cover Letter Tips:

  • Be brief - the cover letter shouldn't be longer than one page.
  • Be business like - your letter should be factual, precise and to the point.
  • Produce an error-free document - check for grammatical and spelling errors.
  • If writing is not your strong point - ask an editor or a friend to review your letter.
  • If you're writing a cover letter to a French employer - check the French edition of this booklet. The writing and format of a French cover letter are slightly different from the English one.

Target your résumé

In today's highly competitive job market, you cannot use the same résumé for every position. Target each résumé by tailoring your Career Objective section to the organization and the position you're interested in. Then write your résumé in such a way that the information reinforces your objective.

Sample Résumé
Your Name
Street Address
City, Proving/territory, Postal code
Telephone: (Area code) Phone number
E-mail: e-mail@address

Indicate your career interests and goals.

Career Objective
To obtain a position in a museum and increase my knowledge of Canadian heritage. My career goal is to become a museum curator.

List experiences in your area of career interest.

Highlights of Qualifications
Computer literate - Windows XP, WordPerfect Suite 8 and Corel Draw
Bilingual - fluent in both written and oral French and English

Point out your outstanding achievements.

Accomplishments and Awards
Founder and President, Fairfax University Heritage Club
Grade 12 Honours Roll, Fairfax High School

List your educational achievements in reverse chronological order.

2005 - Present BA in History
Duke University, Chadwick, Nova Scotia

Highlight your work experiences, particularly those that relate to your interests. Include, in reverse chronological order, part-time work, summer jobs, internships, contracts and self-employment.

Employment History
2002 - 2003 Volunteer, Children's Education Program (summers)
Fairfax Museum, Fairfax, Nova Scotia.
Helped develop activities to encourage young people's curiosity about Canadian heritage.
2001 Museum Guide / Interpreter (part-time)
Chadwick Historical Museum, Chadwick, Nova Scotia
Interpreted artifacts and provided information about Canada heritage to museum visitors.

Highlight volunteer experience and any other type of experience that demonstrates your creative skills and interests

Other experience
2005 - 2006 Photo editor, CÉGEP St. Lambert Weekly
2004 - 2006 Special events photographer, CÉGEP St. Lambert

List your educational achievements in reverse chronological order

2004 - 2006 Photography diploma, CÉGEP St. Lambert
2000 - 2004 Grade 12, Notre Dame High School

Demonstrate the range of your interests

Other Interests
Snowboarding, hockey

Get permission from your references ahead of time to make sure you can give out their names, e-mail addresses and phone numbers if requested.

References available upon request.

How to ace an interview

In today's heritage workplace, there are often many applicants applying for the same job. How can you make a good impression during the interview? How can you tell an employer about your unique qualities? The keys to acing an interview are research, preparation and presentation.

Before the Interview - Put Your Research Skills to Work

Employers are usually impressed when a work applicant takes the time and energy to research an organization, the position and the skills required. Here are some research tips:

  • Visit the organization's website.
  • Call the organization and ask for its most recent annual report or any brochures or booklets it has published about its activities, services and/or products.
  • See if you can find out key information such as the organization's past successes and future goals.
  • After analyzing the organization, make a list of the skills you think it would want in an employee. Now make a list of your skills. How well do they match the employer's list?
  • Carefully prepare for possible interview questions. Write out answers and practice them with family and friends.
  • Learn more about interviewing techniques. Several websites are dedicated to interview techniques tips.

At the Interview - Put Your Best Foot Forward

Almost everyone about to be interviewed is nervous, and employers understand the pressure you're feeling. But don't let your nerves affect your presentation. Here are some ways to make a great impression.

  • Be 5-10 minutes early.
  • Dress appropriately and neatly.
  • Bring copies of your résumé and, if you've recently graduated, your transcript.
  • Greet your interviewer with eye contact, a smile and a firm handshake.
  • Be natural and let your sense of humour show.
  • Be honest. If you don't know something, acknowledge it.
  • Answer questions clearly and stay focused. Don't ramble.
  • Let the employer know what you've learned about the organization.
  • Explain why you're interested in the job and how your skills would meet the employer's needs.
  • At the end of the interview, re-state your interest in the position, ask when the hiring decision will be made, and say that you look forward to hearing from them.

Typical Interview Questions

  • Why do you want this job?
  • Why do you want to work for our organization?
  • How did you become interested in this field?
  • What are your strengths and skills? What are your weaknesses?
  • What do you see yourself doing in five years?
  • How do you think you can contribute to our organization?

An Interview is a Two-Way Street

The employer wants to learn about you, your capabilities, experience and enthusiasm. In turn, you want to know more about the position and the organization. Here are some questions you can ask at an interview. It's a good idea to write them down and bring them with you. It shows you are prepared.

  • What is the organization looking for in the person who will fill this position?
  • What are the main responsibilities of the job?
  • What would be the first project or assignment that I would be working on if I got the position?
  • Who would I report to and how many people would I be working with?
  • Are there opportunities in the organization for on-the-job training or other educational programs?

And Don't Forget the Thank-you Note

A thank-you note is a great opportunity to show appreciation and to make a good impression. It should include:

  • A statement of thanks for the opportunity to meet the interviewer.
  • A sentence that restates your interest in the job.
  • A sentence that reaffirms your belief that you're the right applicant.
  • An offer to provide further information to the hiring manager if necessary.

After the Interview - Put It All Together

You've had the interview. You feel that you did well or maybe that you could have had better answers to some of the questions. Whatever you're feeling, it's a good idea to think about the interview and see what you can learn from it.

  • Make notes on what you were asked and how you answered. These will help you build your interview skills and may come in handy for another interview.
  • If you haven't heard back from the employer within the allotted time, follow up with a phone call.