Summer Archaeology Job Search Strategies

Find a summer job and become an archaeologistIf you were going to land a job in cultural resource management archaeology, you’re hitting the job search kinda late. December through February is the best time to start your job search but there are still dozens of jobs advertised.

Companies need archaeological field technicians, crew chiefs, and project managers. They need you. Don’t be afraid to land that summer job. Here are some tips that will help.

It’s been a while since I wrote a blog post specifically describing how to get a job in CRM archaeology. In 2014, I wrote a version of the post you’re about to read (How can I further your career in cultural resource management archaeology?). In that post, I covered several of the main topics on the Succinct Research Blog in hopes that information could help others land jobs and further their careers. Before delving into this post, I recommend you check out that one because it has a lot of useful links to posts written in the first few years of this blog.

Now that you’ve read that previous post, I’m going to talk about job search and career improvement from a more philosophical perspective.

Now is the only time you can search

We can only live our lives in the present. The past is our interpretation of what has happened. The future is a dream and not guaranteed. All we can do is live our lives right now.

When it comes to searching for a job, there is no better time than the present; indeed, the only time we can find a new job is in the present.

From this viewpoint, our entire lives are all composed of billions of milliseconds of the present. Each of them adds up to days, months, years, and careers. What you do in the present moment is extremely important because it’s the only thing you have control over. Furthermore, your career is composed of millions of decisions made in the present that pass into the past. You stack up dominos in the present that you might have the chance to knock down at some future date. This means your job search, your career, and the legacy you live behind through your work is really the summation of actions taken in the present. There is no other time to act than now.

Additionally, your career has no beginning or end. Because you need money to survive, every job flows into the next one. Even spells of unemployment and hopes for retirement shape your actions in your current job. Even though they remain unknown, you can act in the present to help guide yourself toward gains in the future.

Okay, that’s all logical and copacetic but people rarely think about the fact that: Your thoughts make your reality. Action is only part of the equation. Your mindset while acting is nearly as important as getting off your duff and doing something. You have the power to envision where you will be in the future and take action in the present to guide yourself towards that goal.

This may sound New-Agey but it is true. Every archaeologist became an archaeologist because they believed they could become an archaeologist. They believed in themselves and took focused action to make it happen. Confidence in yourself and your ability to manifest your dream job is nearly as important as the actions you take to guide yourself towards that job.

I don’t know how it works but it does. Perhaps the human imagination is a tool we can use to turn thoughts into reality…. Ask your local shamanic healer or guidance counselor if I’m on the right path.

Thoughts + Action = Reality

While thoughts and willpower are important, attaining your dream job doesn’t happen just because you want it to. This isn’t “The Secret.” Manna just doesn’t fall from heaven. You have to take action in order for your thoughts and dreams to become a reality.

Let’s bring it back from the stratosphere and focus on your job search again. There is a reason why you are looking for a job:

  • You might not have one
  • You might hate the one you have
  • You might want to rise in your company or within the industry’s hierarchy
  • You want to work less than you currently do
  • You’re not sure but you feel like you aren’t doing what you want to be doing
  • You haven’t reached your career goal yet and attained your dream job…

Whatever the reason, there are a number of steps you need to take in order to land the job you’re looking for. Remember, the only thing separating yourself from where you are to where you want to be is time and targeted actions:

1) Finding job postings: You will need to search job posting boards if you haven’t cultivated a job for yourself (If you already have a job but are looking for something else, see #4 below). If you’re looking for a job, the best place to start (aside from this blog) is one of the archaeology employment directories.

The two largest archaeology job boards are: (, and (

I highly recommend surfing these two websites because most archaeology work in the United States passes through these two websites.

If you can’t find anything on archaeologyfieldwork or shovelbums, check out: (– Most of these eventually hit Shovelbums or Archaeologyfieldwork but, for government jobs, it’s important for you to apply quickly because they start reviewing applicant packages based on who applied first.

Preservenet (– Lots of architectural historian and museum jobs here.

Society for American Archaeology Career Center (– Focuses on academic jobs. Great for PhDs.

Society for Historical Archaeology Job Board (– Also heavy on the academic jobs but worth looking at if you have a graduate degree.

The American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) (– All kinds of different positions here for people with history, administrative, or business backgrounds.

Society of Black Archaeologists (  (NOTE: You don’t have to be African American to apply for the jobs advertised on this board. Race-based discrimination in the workplace is illegal and immoral)—A mixture of academic and CRM jobs. There are also positions on archeological field schools posted here. ( – A great combination of CRM, non-profit, and governmental preservation jobs posted here. There’s also a preservation grants directory that could be tapped to create your own job.

Your state and local governmental websites—Oftentimes states do not pay to advertise their jobs on shovelbums or archaeologyfieldwork. Keep abreast the state and local governmental websites.

The first place to start looking for work is on one, or all, of these job boards. You can get a feel for what employers are looking for and start filling out application packages that you can use as boilerplate for future job applications.

2) Applying for jobs— I wrote a whole book on this so you should buy it if you want to know more (Resume-Writing for Archaeologists). Hundreds of people have purchased this book. Several have thanked me for writing it.

There is an art and a science to applying to job postings. Basically, you want to make yourself sound like the exact candidate this employer has always been looking for. That’s done by paying close attention to the job posting and doing some stealth research about the organization you are applying to. It’s a lot of work but paying attention to details is how your resume is going to get picked over others.

I’ve written extensively on this topic. If you don’t have time to read the book, search this website for resume-writing tips (

3) Cultivating future employment— I know you need work now but you should also be assuring yourself of future work by networking, proving your abilities by successfully accomplishing projects, and creating an excellent reputation for yourself online. Projects are the new resume. Your work will speak for you, whether you like it or not. This is why it’s important to take ownership of what you do and always do your best.

My mother used to say: “The best time to look for a new job is when you already have one.” This adage is particularly salient for CMRers who are at risk of being laid off at any time. Make sure you are networking yourself into your next job. Creating a personal brand for yourself on the internet is an excellent way to demonstrate your expertise and highlight your work. I wrote a free eBook on Online Personal Branding for Archaeologists that you can download on the SHA blog ( It is THE definitive guide on how archaeologists can use the internet to build a personal brand that will help get them future work.

4) Achieving your dream job— A job is a job. Archaeology is a dream job. So. how can you merge your dream with the job?

Cultivating a successful career takes effort spread across several years, decades even. Building the career you want has also been covered extensively on this blog. It’s also the topic of an eBook that you can pick up on Amazon (

There are several keys to achieving the kind of job you’ve always wanted in CRM archaeology, but they all revolve around using your right-minded beliefs about how your job should be to connect with those who can make it become a reality. Your best shot at achieving your dream job is through visualization, networking, targeted, timely action, and maintaining adaptability.

Sometimes your dream job isn’t the one you dreamt for yourself. Sometimes achieving the goal you’ve been striving for was not actually what you wanted. This is why maintaining a robust network and being able to adapt to ever-changing career conditions is the only way you can get the position best-suited to your personality.

Additional Tips

Since 2012, I have been doing my best to deliver solid tips and advice for job seekers in cultural resource management, historic preservation, and heritage conservation. Below are additional resources that will help you in your archaeology job search:

Succinct Research’s Job Seeker’s Toolkit: (– A compendium of free resources that will help your job search

How to Ruin your Archaeology Job Search (– How indecisiveness can submarine your job search.

Work Smarter Not Harder for an Archaeology Job (– How to harness the internet to gather information on potential employers and grow your professional network.

I’m always looking to help job seekers and other cultural resource management professionals. Please, write a comment below or send me an email if you have any questions.


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