My membership to the Institute For Archaeologists (IFA) was just accepted a few days ago so the IFA is on my mind. If you are not familiar with the IFA it is a professional body in the UK a lot like the Register of Professional Archaeologists in the United States. You pay dues and agree to abided by a code of conduct and if you violate that code of conduct you can be kicked out. Yet, being kicked out is not the same as being dis-barred for lawyers. If a lawyer was dis-barred they could no longer practice law but an archaeologists who is kicked out of the IFA can still practice archaeology.
There are a lot of arguments among archaeologists in the UK about whether the IFA is a good thing or not. Also, whether the membership is worthwhile or not. I do not want to get into whether the IFA is a good thing or not but I will address the issue of if the membership is worthwhile or not.
I have recent been looking at job posting data for presentation I am creating on job conditions in the UK- see here for some of the results and here for a description. I have combined this data (data can be found here) with previous job listing surveys from the IFA jobs bulletin (see the end of this post) to create a table of the percent of job postings that mention IFA membership as a benefit or requirement for receiving the job. Here it is-
Looking at the numbers, you can see that for some jobs it is a huge advantage to have an IFA membership. Also, it has been a huge advantage for the last couple of years for some jobs (project managers). Yet, does this mean its worth the cost? I would say yes for students it is as low as £15 to join and for those making over £28000 a year it’s only £202. For a student the most likely job they would get is an excavator job, last year 55% of the excavator job listings mentioned IFA membership and 87% the year before that. Even for those paying £200 for membership, you are making over £28000 which means your probably a Project Manager or higher and the majority of those job advertisements for the last 15 years have mention IFA membership. Its not a lot of money to up your chances of receiving a job, if you are looking for a job.
Devil’s Advocate- Yeah, but does a membership actually mean you will get the job.
That is a little more complicated and harder to ascertain. Different employers put different emphasis on different qualifications to meet their respected needs. So an IFA membership can mean a lot in some cases or nothing but a ticked box in others. Yet, in today’s job climate a ticked box is a huge deal. When you have 100-200 people applying to every open position there is no way someone is going to read through every resume or CV in detail (assuming 5 mins. per CV x 200 = 17hrs of reading resumes no one is going to do that). Most of the people doing the hiring will simply skim each resume and tick off that they meet the requirements listed in the job posting. Those that do not get all the ticks will get binned and then the remaining ones will be looked at in detail. In some fancy companies, were you apply on-line, the computer will sort your application automatically and people will never even see your CV if it fails the ticked-box test.
Now, if the requirements are previous experience, a degree, and IFA membership and you do not have one of those chances are your resume will never get a read through. Even if you have tons of experience and a PhD they will never find that out because they quickly sorted your resume and one of the boxes was not ticked.
In this economy, with the job conditions that exist now, there is no way you want to be shooting yourself in the foot by not ticking off that box. You still may not get the job or even an interview but at the very least you want them to properly look at your resume.
If you are looking for a job I would say that membership in the IFA is probably a must but this is only looking at one condition. There are drawbacks to a membership and other advantages as well. If getting a job is not your primary concern then you still will have to evaluate if a membership is right for you.
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