Standing Out in the Job Market: Wikipedia and Professional Development

by Dorothy Howard, Wikipedian-in-Residence, METRO

Familiarizing yourself with Wikipedia’s editing structures, Public Domain licenses, and image sharing capabilities provides additional opportunities to stand out in today’s competitive job market.

October 7, 2014. Guggenheim Museum Wikipedia Edit-a-thonLibrarians and archivists, by becoming acquainted with Wikipedia’s editing practices and communication channels, are well positioned to proactively respond to increasing institutional interest in the Open Knowledge/Open Data movement, reach new publics and collaborators, and discover publication platforms that are especially relevant for information professionals living in the digital world.

A Bit of Background

After the GLAM-Wiki (Galleries, Libraries, Archives, Museums-Wikipedia) initiative started at the British Museum in June, 2010, over 40 coordinated, institutional Wikipedia projects have been documented in the U.S. alone, with at least 9 active projects underway in New York. Increasing institutional interest has led to the opportunity for cultural heritage professionals to step forward as institutional leaders in all things Open Access.

Wikipedia projects have largely taken shape through the initiative of individuals who took interest in Wikipedia and sought institutional support for the creation of a Wikipedian-in-Residence position, where an expert Wikipedian could be brought on staff to help the institution understand how to contribute. After learning resources and case studies have been developed by the Wikimedia Foundation and by volunteer contributors, the Wikipedian-in-Residence model has opened doors to new types of institutional engagement. These include:

  • staff-run Wikipedia special interest groups,
  • appointed Wikipedia specialists at institutions, and
  • one-off coordinated staff Wikipedia trainings to get entire teams up to speed on the encyclopedia.

Wikipedia remains a place for information professionals to be bold and start new initiatives and conversations at their institutions.

Here are a few more ways engaging with Wikipedia sets you apart in the job search.

New Skills on Your Resume

Wikipedia experience can be suitably included on a resume or CV under Volunteer Experience. Like any other volunteer position, engagement on Wikipedia can be described based on the roles assumed during editing time, and the length, and consistency of engagement.

If you’ve improved existing articles or created new article content, for example, you could list “content management,” “content copy editing” and “community management” on your resume. If you’ve worked with Wikimedia Commons (Wikipedia’s image site), you’d list “image management,” “graphics management,” and “image licensing management” under your volunteer duties. This way, the skills you learn from editing Wikipedia compliment a resume that includes social media experience, web content management, online community management, as well as other skills learned in library school.

Connect with a new Professional Community

The Wikipedia community, being truly global and multidisciplinary, offers the opportunity for cultural heritage professionals to connect with like-minded thinkers in unexpected and collaborative ways. Local Wikipedia meetups contain a cross-hatch of instructional technologists, librarians and archivists, social media specialists, programmers, artists, and other members of the public. Engaging with these groups can be a great way for information professionals to find like-minded people in a friendly environment, learn best practices, and continue learning.

Almost every subject specialty under the sun has a “WikiProject,” a sort of Wikipedia special interest group, for improving Wikipedia content on that subject. No matter what institution you work with, engaging in Wikipedia editing projects or content donations in collaboration with editors on WikiProjects can be a good way to reach new online demographics. Other opportunities to engage with Wikipedia include projects prevalent to online archiving and information circulation including WikiData and WikiMedia Commons (Wikipedia’s image site).

New and Interesting Resources

Finally, the Open Knowledge movement includes thousands of specialized newsletters, blogs, listservs, social media channels, and avenues of publication which fall in the scope of interest of librarians and archivists. This is especially true of the conversations happening in the GLAM-Wiki community, a growing group of Wikipedians working at and collaborating with cultural heritage institutions.

Staying aware of conversations happening in the Open Knowledge movement, and being active on Wikipedia will keep you up to date in emerging trends in information stewardship, and allow your voice to be heard.


Interested in getting involved in METRO’s Wikipedia initiatives? See the project landing page.

Photo by Guggenheim Museum External Affairs on Wikipedia Commons, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license.