Tips for an Archaeology Resume/CV if you just graduated

Posted on May 21, 2012

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I have posted a bit here and there on making an archaeology resume/CV. This has led to a couple of people contacting me asking questions about what to do with their resume/CV because they are about to, or did just, graduate with a degree in archaeology and are looking to get a job. I have looked over a few CV’s and given some pointers. Not that I am an expert on the topic but I have asked quite a few people and have gotten a few jobs myself. Instead of doing this for everyone I will show you an example of a CV that was worked over and so general tips.

Jeremy was kind enough to let me use his CV as an example. PLEASE if you have any pointers for Jeremy post a comment so he has a fighting chance at getting a job. This is for a UK entry level commercial archaeology position but some of it is applicable to other jobs. Here was his original CV-

It is not a bad CV/resume. Jeremy has some things going for him. He has some archaeology and volunteering experience. Also, he has held a job before. I am still truly amazed how many people leave university never having worked a day in their life. There are also several problems with it. Here is some advice I gave him that is applicable to anyone just starting out in archaeology.

  1. I asked if he had a drivers license and if so put it first. NOTE this is for a UK diggers job and a drivers license is key to getting a job. It will vary from place to place and country to country but find out what is the number one thing people look for on a resume for a job and put that first. That means no degrees. Very few jobs hire people based on degrees but you still need them, more on that below.
  2. A CSCS health and safety card will also help you get an entry level job in UK commercial archaeology. The test costs about 15-25 quid to get the card. There is a book to help pass the test DO NOT BUY IT it is like 60 and you can probably pass the test without it. Check the book out from your local library or a local job center might have a copy.   Jeremy didn’t have a card but he is going to get one. What does this have to do with archaeology? Not much but some commercial digs are on construction sites were companies need people with their CSCS card.
  3. Pages- no more than two and if possible try to get your most important information on the first page. People spend about 16 seconds looking at resumes which means they only make it to the second page if they like what they see on the first.
  4. Next I said to put and expand  excavation experience e.g. this is were one explains what archaeology skills them have. I would recommend instead of saying 6 weeks say June-Aug. 20xx it will round out your experience a little more to boost your CV. Also, put any relevant experience even if it is volunteering.
  5. Degrees go last as everyone has a degree and it really does not matter too much for an excavator job. This is your second page stuff along with other job experience. Yes, that is not related to archaeology but it shows that you have held a job before and know how to work. If they are interested them will flip through to check and see that you have a degree.

Drivers license and CSCS will not get you a job by themselves. What they will do is that when someone is going through CV’s looking for someone with a drivers license or CSCS card they will stop and say oh well this person had it. Do I want to spend another hour looking through CVs when this person has some experience? The answer is almost always no. If you are just starting out you will never be able to beat out other applicants on experience but you still need some. What you are hoping for is that your CV is what they are looking for at the right time. You would be surprised how many people get calls not because of experience  but because their CV was on the desk of an employer when they needed to hire someone.

Which brings me to: start applying for jobs now, you students about to graduate. Most companies will keep a list of diggers and slowly work through it as jobs come up. Its best to get on people’s radars now. Also, do not wait for jobs to come up, cold call all the companies in your area and send in your CV about every month/other month to prospective employers. THIS is how you get a job. A CV/resume will help but 90% of the work comes from being in the right place at the right time and 90% of that comes from being on top of things and getting your CV in and keep sending it in (don’t be annoying by sending it your resume/CV every day). Most CV/resumes have a life of about a month before it is buried and thrown out, probably less but in some cases more. (again entry level positions in UK commercial archaeology)

I would also say make a second CV aimed at heritage sites/museums/councils etc. to apply to and keep your options open. There are lots of archaeology related jobs that are not in the commercial sector that you can get involved in BUT you need to tailor your CV/resume to jobs. A drivers license or CSCS card won’t help you land that museum job so you will need to change that around and put up what will get you the job. Here is Jeremy’s revised CV. If anyone else has pointers to give please speak up.

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