Checklist for Archaeology Job Candidates

Before the Process Begins:
Talk to colleagues at your current employer or institution, especially those who have recently been involved with searches (either as candidates or on committees), to inform yourself about the search process and how it works. If you are looking outside academia, try to get advice from someone who is familiar with the norms and procedures in that field (e.g. museums, contract archaeology, foundations, etc.) and what employers in any field are looking for.

Think seriously about your goals, but be realistic about starting out in a career in archaeology: your first job will very likely not be your last.

While there is a certain rhythm to the academic market, you should be prepared to start looking in the summer before you hope to be employed, and may not get an offer until the following summer. Many jobs are listed in the spring and summer, particularly for one-year jobs in academe.

Non-academic job listings appear throughout the year.

Before Applying:

  1. If possible, attend the annual APA/AIA meeting the year before you are going on the market. Investigate job postings. Inform yourself about how the process works.
  2. The year you are ready to look for a position, sign up with the AIA Career Center, and check other listings for jobs that may be appropriate for you (see our "Helpful Links for Job Seekers").
  3. If in graduate school, set up a dossier with your home institution's placement service (which can send out confidential materials like letters of recommendation) or use a service like Interfolio. Collect these items:
    • a curriculum vitae; a statement of your teaching philosophy; teaching evaluations, sample syllabi if you have them; a writing sample; 3-5 letters of reference;
    • Write an academic CV, not a resume; clarity is better than high design values and puffery. Include contact info, degrees and dates, title of dissertation and advisor, excavations you have participated in, grants and fellowships, publications if any, papers given, and relevant experience (e.g. courses taught, excavation experience, museum internships). There are many examples of c.v.s on the internet, and your institution may have a career placement center that can help, but make sure that your document does not state “career goals” etc.
    • Do not list hobbies, personal information, high school attainments, etc.
  4. Write a basic cover letter and be prepared to tailor it carefully for each job.
  5. Proofread everything and then do it again.
  6. Have an advisor read both your cover letter and CV
  7. Try to arrange for someone at your present institution or job to do a 'mock interview' with you.

When Applying:

  1. Read materials that are online at institutions to which you are applying, e.g. faculty handbooks, HR websites, and of course the websites of the department and related entities (e.g. the institution’s library, museum, etc.). If applying for academic jobs, take into account the different balances between research, teaching, and service that exist among research universities, smaller undergraduate institutions, and public and private institutions. Consider the different resources available, teaching loads, and other factors. If applying for jobs outside academia, understand the requirements of these positions. Do not assume you are qualified to be a museum curator because you have been on an excavation, for example.>
  2. Be prepared to be flexible about matters such as salary, location, and duties, but do not apply for jobs for which you are unqualified (e.g. if they are looking for someone to teach Maya archaeology and you don't know anything about the Maya....) or anything that you would not seriously consider accepting.
  3. Inform yourself about the institution and department, or firm, including who teaches what, and any special programs or focus that distinguishes the department. Match your presentation of yourself in your letter to these facts.
  4. Do not send our materials not requested, e.g. if an employer only wants the names of references, do not send the letters until asked for them.
  5. Plan to come to the annual meeting, even if you have no interviews arranged in advance. Make sure your advisors know which jobs you have applied for.
  6. Whether applying for job inside or outside the academy, make certain that your skills and qualifications match what they are looking for.

Interviews at the Annual Meeting:

  1. Rehearse any presentation you are giving at the annual meeting: make sure you don't run over time, ensure that your visuals work, etc.
  2. Review and if necessary extend your research into the department and individuals interviewing you – find out about your prospective colleagues and workplace.
  3. Be prepared to answer questions succinctly about the following and to elaborate if asked:
    • The topic and contribution of your dissertation
    • Future research or publication plans
    • How you would teach courses that the department has indicated they want taught (e.g. what textbooks or online resources would you use)
    • What you would teach if you could
  4. Be interested in the department, and express that interest by asking questions of your own. But do not immediately ask questions about when you can go on leave, or state a minimum salary requirement, or ask if a course reduction would be possible, etc.
  5. Be punctual for your interview and keep your cool if the schedule is running late, your interviewers are tired, etc.
  6. For your part, dress and act appropriately: professionally, without repressing your individuality. Don’t show up hungover, do not complain about the timing of the interview, etc.
  7. If the job requires the PhD in hand, and you are not yet finished, be prepared to say exactly where you are in the writing of the dissertation, and when you plan to submit it. If you will have a defense, know that date. Be sure you and your dissertation advisor/committee are stating the same expectations (ideally before they write your recommendation letters).

On-Campus or Job-Site Interviews:
You will be one of three to five finalists. The window in which your visit can take place will likely be very small, and may come very soon after the preliminary interview. Be flexible and accommodating as much as possible.

  1. For an academic job, you may be expected to give a talk and/or teach a class. Make certain you know what is expected.
    • How long should your talk be; who will be in the audience (department seminar? open to the entire campus community?)
    • Make sure your media are compatible with whatever system the institution will provide (thumb drive, computer cables, etc.)
    • Rehearse your talk, including any visuals, and if you have a handout, ask if you should bring copies or can have copies made where you are going.
    • If teaching, prepare thoroughly and remember the students are in as odd a situation as you are: they have never seen you before and you are suddenly teaching their class. Try to engage them and try not to be too influenced by the faculty observing you.
  2. You may instead be invited to a Skype interview. Make certain that your software is up to date or have access to a computer that is up to date. Try to be in a place that is quiet and where you will not be interrupted for your on-line interview.
  3. Know who you are going to meet with and when; investigate their roles in the department or institution.
  4. Review everything you can about the department, programs, institution and its mission, strengths, and focus.
  5. Treat everyone with respect and courtesy, from the department staff to the chair of the department. Be enthusiastic about your research and teaching, and interested in interests of interviewers.
  6. If not told, ask when a decision is likely to be made; make sure they know how to reach you.
  7. If you receive an offer or accept a job elsewhere, immediately inform everyone who interviewed you at either the annual meeting or on campus.
  8. Consult the AIA's Guidelines for Employers for information on what is expected of those interviewing.
  9. Write thank you notes after your visit.

If You Receive an Offer:

  1. While notification that you are the choice for an offer may come by phone or email, formal offers should come in writing, and should be signed by both you and the employer. You may want to talk to an advisor about the content of an offer. If you have questions or request changes, an immediate answer may not be possible because even department heads often have to consult with superiors. Some things may not be negotiable, e.g. benefits, moving expenses, teaching loads and the like.
  2. Generally candidates have two weeks to accept or decline an offer. You should do so as soon as you are able to. You should be honest if you are expecting another offer or pursuing another position and need more time, but you may have to make a decision about an offer before all your employment options are clear.
  3. Be prepared to be able to provide proof that you are eligible to work legally in the U.S.; this is required of everyone without exception.
  4. As soon as you have accepted an offer, contact any other employers to which you have applied. This may make a difference for someone else.

NB: This is a basic checklist; take advantage of internet resources to develop a sense of expectations and common experiences. Our own resource page is a place to start.