#11 Shovelbums Guide Part 1: The CV

You've graduated college: Congratulations!  Now what?  I’ll start this post with a story of the road that I took to CRM archaeology.

I received by B.A. in Anthropology from the University of North Dakota in May of 2005.  All I remember being taught about CRM is a brief bullet point in an Intro to Archaeology class four years before.  Honestly, when I graduated I had forgotten completely about CRM and I didn’t know what I was going to do.  So, I packed everything up and, for lack of anywhere else to go, I went home.  

After a less-than-satisfying summer working with my brother doing home remodeling I was ready for something else.  Through the kind donations of family, friends, and, most of all, my girlfriend at the time, I was able to attend an Earthwatch field school excavating at Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania.  On the way there I stopped in North Dakota for a couple of weeks.

The ND stop-over was see Jane Goodall speak at the school.  Prior to that event I was reading in the awesome student lounge in the Anthropology Building when a friend that graduated the year before me walked in.

My friend was back in North Dakota because Hurricane Katrina had destroyed his apartment in New Orleans.  He said that he worked for a CRM company and asked if I had checked Shovelbums for jobs.  I naively said, “What’s Shovelbums?”

 (I’ll cover Shovelbums and other sites for job seeking in the next post.)

After checking out the website and double checking my CV (curriculum vitae) I had a job lined up.  I’ve had steady work ever since.  So, how did I get that first job?  I created a CV.

I first learned how to create a CV in 1997 when I was preparing to leave the U.S. Navy.  Right before I got out I had to attend a class designed to transition you from being in the military to being a civilian again.  It wasn’t too hard for me because I was only in for four and a half years.  There were others that were in the military for over 20 years and didn’t know how to be civilians.  Anyway, we had pretty intense classes on CV preparation and conduct during interviews.  

Also, during my last semester at UND I was fortunate enough to have a class called Senior Seminar.  One of the things we did was create a CV.  I was frustrated by the assignment because I didn’t think I had any relevant experience and turned in barely a page of information for the first draft.  However, through the patience of my professors (Dr. Marcia Mukulak and Dr. Melinda Leach) I was able to create a seven page CV before I even graduated.

Before we get to the CV let’s get a commonly asked question out of the way: what is the difference between a CV and a resume?  A resume is supposed to be no more than one page (one side) and should highlight your experience and education that directly relates to the specific job that you are trying to get.  I’ve never used a resume to get an archaeology job.  It is just not adequate for detailing the experience you need for this type of work.  That’s why we use the CV.

CV stands for curriculum vitae which is Latin for, “(roughly) the course of my life”.  It is literally a detailing of all of your education, experience, and other skills that would be helpful to your career.  

There is certain information that should be on the first page of your CV including contact information, education, and work experience (at least the most recent).  Of course, your name, address, email address, and phone number should be at the top somewhere.  Next should be your highest level of education.  Include the year and month that you graduated, your GPA (if it was high!), and areas of study.  If you took a lot of geology classes, for example,  put that down.

The last item you should try to fit on the first page is your experience starting with your most recent job.  Now, this is a tricky area if you just graduated.  For my first CV I put my field school here because it was the next most important item that an employer was likely to look for.  In the place of archaeology job entries you can put in other jobs and highlight relevant skills.  Here is where some creativity comes in.  Think about what you did at those jobs and try to translate that into buzz words and phrases.  Skills that are obtained while working in high school and college can translate to an archaeology career if you put the right spin on them.

For example, I worked at Kinko’s for two years during my undergrad.  I dealt with customers and had to be creative when figuring out what the customers would need.  That translated into a few bullet points on my CV including, “Able to work under high stress situations,” and, “Able to work with clients in a professional capacity”.  Also, “Ability to figure out a client’s needs and deliver a product in an efficient and cost-effective manner”.  You get the idea.

There are many ways you can make your CV stand out among the hundreds that an employer is going to receive when they put out a job posting.  My current CV has a pie chart on the front page that gives an employer a quick snapshot of the types of job titles I have had.  It is crucial information in the Great Basin and is used for permitting.  A friend of mine has worked in so many places for so long that he has a graph that shows how much time he has spent in different states.  There are many ways to make yourself stand out.

Don’t forget to include important information about your field school.  Nearly all CRM jobs require a field school so you likely have completed one.  Include the field school title, location, institution in charge, dates attended, and what you learned.  Certainly include any equipment you used, such as a GPS, total station, compass, Munsell Color Charts, and anything else that you may have used.  Include activities such as survey, shovel testing, excavation, mapping, profile drawing, and artifact analysis.  Everything is important.

Finally, anything else that you are good at or are proud of should be included.  Did you take any geology classes?  How about osteology?  Are you good at photography or have an aptitude for electronics?  Put it down.  I include a special section that lists the computer operating systems and programs that I’ve used and/or are proficient at.  We are in a computer age and whether they like it or not, CRM firms are being dragged kicking and screaming into the future.  Show them that you have the skills to take them there.

If you think you can’t fill out any of the above sections, keep in mind that you can include school projects.  If you completed any research papers where you actually performed some type of research, analyzed it, and wrote it up into a 20+ page paper then put it down.  Employers like to see drive and dedication.  Were you in any clubs or organizations and did that club have any big achievements or accomplishments that you were directly a part of?  Put it down.

As you progress along in your CRM career you’ll want to remove some of the non-archaeology items from your CV.  After every job that you finish you will put that at the top of your experience list and can likely knock something off of the bottom that isn’t related to archaeology.  Always keep your computer skills and other skills on there though.  Also, your field school should always stay on your CV as it will always be required.

Have someone look over your CV.  Make sure that major entries are not broken up over a page break unless it is absolutely necessary.  It’s OK to have a few extra blank lines at the bottom of any one page in order to start a section at the top of the next page.  My work experience is about three or four pages long and sometimes I have to add a few spaces after one so the next one starts at the top of the page.  It’s little touches like that that employers probably won’t notice.  They will notice, however, if you have a cluttered CV that doesn’t flow well.  They are looking for mistakes and for a reason to put your pages in the trash instead of in the “call” pile.  You are competing against people with years of experience so take the time to do it right and make yourself stand out by not making any big mistakes.

Remember, every person in CRM had a first job.  Every person, at one time, had absolutely no experience.  We all started at the beginning.  Feel free to check out my current CV as well.

The next post will cover the major job posting websites and other ways to get a job in the CRM field.

Feel free to email me your CV and I’ll give you some pointers and tell you what I think.  Also, show your professors or other professionals that you trust.  You can’t have too much advice when it comes to your future.