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Prospect Archaeologists

Archaeological Careers Guide

10 Ways To Get Ahead In Your Career- The Prospect Guide

No.1 – Make a Plan

  • Work out your career goals. What do you want to do? Where do you want to be in a years time? In three years time?
  • How are going to achieve these goals? Do you need to set yourself smaller targets first? What skills/experience do you need?
  • Speak to those already working in your field of interest. Find out how they got there. What is the best route to take? What pit falls should you avoid?
  • Once you have made a plan, stick to it. Although, leave yourself the flexibility to accommodate unexpected opportunities.
  • Prospect members receive free access to career counselling services.


No.2 – Take a Flexible Approach to Job Hunting

  • What opportunities does your current employer offer? Talk to your employer about your aspirations. Be assertive and ask if career opportunities are available.
  • Can you relocate? Being able to move to a new area will provide the opportunity to apply for jobs in other regions.
  • Does the job allow you to train up? Sometimes taking on a more junior position with another employer will provide the opportunity to train up on the job and let you gain the skills you want while being paid.
  • Would commuting further bring beneficial career options? Moving to a better paid position further afield can offset the extra commuting costs.
  • Identify your transferable skills. We all pick up general skills such as IT, project management, communications, and supervisory skills, during our careers which we can take to a new employment environment. Make sure that any potential employer is aware of the transferable skills you possess.


No.3 – Skills & Training

  • Review and identify your training needs. What skills do you require? Do you need to brush up on any established skills?
  • Invest in yourself. Do you need put in time or money to gain new qualifications?
  • Following the IfA’s Continuous Professional Development (CPD) programme will allow you to keep tabs on your skills and experience, and provide documentary evidence of these to any potential employer.
  • What can your employer offer you? Do they have an established in house training programme? Is a training budget available to allow you to access external courses? Can they assist with the cost of undertaking vocational training?
  • Prospect members have access to the skills lending library. You can access CD-ROMs related to various skills including maths, English, project management, staff supervision, and languages.


No.4 – Generate Industry Contacts

  • Do not be afraid to make contacts. Most people will be more than happy to give you advice and answer any questions you might have.
  • Use conferences and social events to get to know people in your field.
  • Ask mutual parties for introductions.
  • Contacts are great sources of information. They can often give you the inside edge.
  • Stay in touch and make them aware of your interests. Once they know what you are after, they may even contact you if they know a suitable job opening is coming up.


No.5 – Keep Your CV and Interview Skills Up to Date

  • Make sure your CV is top quality. Any spelling or grammatical errors may mean your CV goes straight in the bin.
  • Get someone to review you CV. Not only will a fresh pair of eyes catch any errors, if they are experienced, they could provide advice on what information to include and how best to layout your CV.
  • Choose the right referees and stay in contact with them. Choosing the right referee can be the difference between a mediocre reference and a glowing reference. Let your referee know what you have been up to, and when they might expect requests for references to arrive. They won’t be very useful if they are out of the country when you are applying for that key job.
  • The more interview practice you have the better you get. Don’t view an unsuccessful interview as a failure. See it as an opportunity to learn and improve your interview technique, especially if you ask for feedback.
  • Stay on top of industry developments. A good industry knowledge base will always be obvious during an interview. Not only will this knowledge base equip you to answer any difficult questions, it will also enable you to ask educated questions at the end of the interview.
  • Prospect members can access eLearning materials providing advice relating to interview skills and CV composition.


No.6 – Don’t Wait For the Boot

  • Be proactive by keeping a constant review of the job market. The perfect job will always be worth moving employers for.
  • You are always more desirable to a potential employer if you are already employed.
  • If threatened by redundancy it maybe better to move sooner rather than later. Not only will you avoid working in a low moral environment, but you can potential avoid the rush when you current colleagues eventually enter the job market.
  • Maintain contact with potential employers. A quick call every so often will keep you on their radar, but also let you know if any possible job opportunities are coming up.


No.7 – Always Ask Questions

  • It never harms to ask educated questions.
  • Make enquires before submitting your CV. This will not only give you an idea of the skills & experience they are looking for, but will also familiarise your potential employer with who you are prior to receiving your CV. 
  • Go armed to interviews with a selection of intelligent questions. It can often give you that extra edge.
  • If offered a job, ask about wage levels and benefits being offered. There maybe an opportunity to negotiate.


No.8 – Job Hunt From a Position of Power

  • Where possible, generate multiple job options. The more options you have the better.
  • Try and get yourself in a position where you do not have to accept initial job offers that are not ideal. If you can generate a financial buffer or personal situation which allows you a degree of flexibility, may mean you don’t have to except a job offer if they are not offering the salary you want or the location you desire.
  • The stronger your position the greater your ability to negotiate with a potential employer.


No.9 – Be Ambitious!

  • Do not under value your skills. Archaeologists are notoriously bad for not acknowledging how highly skilled they are.
  • Consider applying for higher grades of employment. Worse case scenario they turn you down, but there is always a chance they will offer you the job along with the higher salary and better opportunities.
  • Be aware of, but avoid dwelling on, your short comings. Recognise your weaknesses, but if asked about them then state how you plan to address those short comings.


No.10 – Stay positive

  • Confidence is half the battle.
  • Hard work brings its own rewards.
  • Stay focused on your goals.
  • Treat every application turned down as practice towards the ultimately successful application.