Tips for an Archaeology Resume/CV if you just graduated

Posted on May 21, 2012


By Power_of_Words_by_Antonio_Litterio.jpg: Antonio Litterio derivative work: InverseHypercube (Power_of_Words_by_Antonio_Litterio.jpg) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

By Antonio Litterio derivative work: InverseHypercube CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

In the past, I have posted about making an archaeology resume/CV. This has led to people contacting me making their resume/CV better because they are about to, or did just, graduate with a degree in archaeology and are looking to get a job. To share some of the insights I tell people here is an example:

Jeremy was kind enough to let me use his CV as an example. This is for a United Kingdom entry level commercial archaeology position but some of it is applicable to other jobs. Here was his original CV-


Click to enlarge images

JeremyHallattCV1st1 JeremyHallattCV1st2 JeremyHallattCV1st3 JeremyHallattCV1st4

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. More info at the CSCS website. Why do you need the card? Well you need one to work on construction sites and most commercial archaeology occurs on construction sites. Jeremy didn’t have a card but he is going to get one.
  3. Pages- no more than two and if possible try to get your most important information on the first page. People spend about 15-30 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 gives more details. 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.

Suggestions from others:

  • Put what specific skills you have: i.e. basic survey equipment competence (TST, dumpy, gps etc.), field recording methods, report writing (indicate which elements you did), photography, finds & sample processing, statistics, geography & geology, and IT skills – particularly any databases, illustration, GIS and CAD programmes that you can use competently or have worked with.
  • If you have any additional practical skills or qualifications – motor maintenance, IT, outward bound stuff, languages, first aid, CSCS, electric tools, any training in site tours/dealing with the public – do note these.
  • No reasonable employer expects an expert at this stage, and a good employer/colleagues will help staff to build on their skills and training. Sometimes in addition to the driving license + CSCS, the hook can be a hiring person’s simple interest in a particular training dig or curiosity about your experience of thatching and mandolins!
  • Also – Font 11+ or other clean font is good, it is well-spaced – make sure the indents are consistent.

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.

Here is Jeremy’s improved CV


JeremyHallattCV2nd1 JeremyHallattCV2nd2