Khurram is the Senior Manager, Recruitment at David Zwirner, the prestigious global contemporary art Gallery based in New York City. He brings nine years of experience within Talent Acquisition to the gallery and art world. He is extremely passionate about building relationships, inclusivity within the workplace, and creating an equitable hiring experience.
AF: Hi Khurram! We are delighted to speak with you today. To start us off, we would love to ask you our classic first question: where are you from and what is the arts community like there?
KM: Hello! Thank you again for inviting me to the Frank Talks short interview series. I am born and raised from Newark, New Jersey and we have a very close knit yet unique art community there. Newark has really changed over the years and you can truly see that within the arts sector as well. Our arts community is filled with people from music, to poetry, to creative, to the renowned Newark museum of art. It’s something very special
AF: Please tell us a little more about yourself, when did you realize you wanted to pursue a career in this industry?
KM: Funny enough, I come from a somewhat creative background myself. I studied English and Creative Writing at George Mason University. While in University, I worked at the radio station and was grateful to intern and network with people in the arts. Since then, I’ve been in recruitment for about 9 years working in many different industries including Technology, Health Tech, and E-commerce. I’ve always had appreciation for art, so when an opportunity at David Zwriner presented itself I was more than excited to tie my passion for recruitment with my appreciation and interest in art. The opportunity to see someone’s vision recreated through their art is beautiful to me.
AF: What was your first job? What is an important lesson from it that has carried with you?
KM: My first job, wow that takes me back. I was working at my University’s radio station as the Director of Media Relations. In that job, I was tasked with booking artists and musicians for interviews with students. So when a new act came to town, I would reach out to build a relationship which led to gaining awareness for their event.
This was honestly the foundation of my career today and the greatest lesson that I learned is always try and nurture a relationship with whoever you interact with. No conversation or meeting is too little, there is something that you can take from everything to help you grow even more.
AF: You are a Senior Manager of Recruiting at David Zwirner gallery! What does a normal work day look like for you?
KM: I’ve gotten myself into a great routine which starts with clearing out my inbox from the day before, making sure I’ve caught up on everything important. From there, I check the latest applications from the previous day through our Applicant Tracking System and Linkedin seeing the candidates that applied recently. From there, during the mid morning I conducted a recruitment team meeting in which we discussed our recruitment process for our open positions and brainstormed on how to move the process forward.
Post recruitment meeting, my day consists of screening candidates, sourcing for new candidates, and actively checking in with candidates that are interviewing at David Zwirner.
AF: When reviewing a job application, what is the first thing you look at? What do you think is the most important part of an application?
KM: The first thing that I look for in an application is relevant experience. Searching for the experience one has had in the past that may be relevant to the open position that I have. Relevant experience can consist of similar company, similar role, even experience from a different industry that correlates with any open requisitions.
The most important part of an application to me is having a resume that is clear and as relevant as possible to the position that you are applying for. Even if you’re coming from a different background, try to show as much relevant experience as possible, that may even help your application and get you to the first step interview. There is a lot of competition these days when it comes to applying for jobs, so always try to put your best foot forward.
AF: What are some personal or professional goals you have for yourself at this moment in time?
KM: I love this question. Personal Goals for me this year, continue to read as many books as possible (i just got back into reading this year after a very long hiatus). Also, bring my best self to work everyday! Everyday is a new day that you can make a new impact.
Professionally: Create transparency and provide excellent customer service throughout the entire hiring process.
AF: What are you most excited for this year at David Zwirner or in the art world as a whole?
KM: David Zwirner is having great success so far this year and I am extremely excited to see the growth of our new Los Angeles Gallery. That gallery is going to grow very quickly and I’m excited to see the exhibitions there!
AF: As you know, Art Frankly is a community that cares about job transparency and supporting fellow art professionals. What is the best piece of advice you can give about working in the art world?
KM: Always come to work with an open mind. You will learn a lot, especially at a Prestigious Gallery like David Zwirner.
AF: How do you think the art world can become more transparent?
KM: When the New York State law passed that all salary ranges had to be included in the description was a great start. The next step in my opinion would be creating even more awareness around DEI and inclusivity within the art space. So people of all backgrounds and demographics can have an opportunity to thrive and have success.
AF: Khurram, thank you for participating in Frank Talks, it has been our pleasure! To finish us off, we would love to know what media (music, television, art, movies, books, etc.) you’ve been enjoying recently and why!
KM: Thank you so much for the invitation! The pleasure has been all mine. I go through phases of ingesting media but as I mentioned earlier, I finally got back into reading after a long hiatus. Below are some of the books that i’ve read in the past few months and the reason why is because it allows me to escape from reality for a bit!
I dabble a lot in the world of thrillers but i also enjoy non fiction at times as well.
Tremendous – Joey Coco Diaz
The Silent Patient – Alex Michaelides
A Little Life – Hanya Yanagihara
One by One – Ruth Ware
Never have i ever – Joshilyn Jackson
When No One is Watching – Alyssa Cole