Topic ID #16529 - posted 2/20/2012 8:27 AM

Employers discriminate against long-term unemployed: happening in CRM?

Jennifer Palmer

An article from the Raw Story website:

Employers discriminate against long-term unemployed: reports
By Andrew Jones Monday, February 20, 2012 10:27 EST

A number of long-term, unemployed people in Stamford, Connecticut revealed to CBS’ 60 Minutes how they have been discriminated by the job market for being out of work, resulting in questions as to whether they would be employed ever again.

“There’s no doubt,” worker Frank O’Neil told reporter Scott Pelley. “I mean, I’ve seen it in print, whether it’s some newspaper ads or online during those types of advertisements, I’ve actually seen, ‘If you are unemployed, you need not apply.’”

Read the rest here.

I don't recall ever seeing this kind of thing in an archaeology job advertisement (at least the ones I've posted to this website). Has anyone had an experience with this? I'm wondering if this would be rare in CRM since in some cases not being employed can make it easier to hire a new crew member (not needing to give notice at the former employer, etc).


Post ID#19329 - replied 2/20/2012 4:34 PM


I don't have any personal experience with this, but I would imagine that it happens. One could project any # of reasons why someone has been out of work for a long time. A company would not want to hire back a problem employee, maybe someone has bad references, personal problems, who knows. Of course someone not working can just be bad luck or lack of opportunity but I suppose there can always be questions raised with a big gap on the resume'.

Post ID#19339 - replied 2/21/2012 3:03 PM


This is something I have always wondered as well.  From what I can see, it seems that companies within CRM who are becoming evermore incorporated are picking up those traits.  Its almost like they lose track of how our field works when they consider hiring people.  I can understand if someone has a big gap and bad references but most unemployed archaeologists and techs are unemployed simply because there is no work, not because they didn't do a good job.

Post ID#19342 - replied 2/21/2012 4:18 PM


"Gaps" in employment are an issue in our hiring.  We do look at them closely, moreso with crew chiefs and above.  I don't agree with it, but that's what we do.

When I say we, I don't mean me as I can advise on hiring but my word is not even close to final.

Post ID#19344 - replied 2/21/2012 4:42 PM


do you guys at least call references and inquire from the applicant why there is a gap or do your higher-ups just assume they are a bad employee?  

not trying to have that sound rude in any way but I don't think I have had more than one or two companies actually call my references and previous employers.

Post ID#19345 - replied 2/21/2012 5:04 PM


As I said, I am not terribly involved in the process.

They called all of my references, but I was applying for a Field Director position.

Post ID#19346 - replied 2/21/2012 5:27 PM


right, i was just curious.  I understand your predicament and I imagine that your position would def. involve more research.  I have only been employed at the level of the field tech but, hopefully, this May with the acquisition of my MA I will start acquiring better positions.

The gap issue concerns me a bit due to baby and graduate school but I have done a good job at getting sporadic work in when I can and balancing between the two and another part-time job.

Post ID#19348 - replied 2/21/2012 6:35 PM


It sounds like the ability to take on long-term travel assignments (i.e. 10 days several states away) will limit you more than any employment "gap".  Not that I know anything about your situation that what you post, but I have a wife (and no kid) and being away about 60 to 70% of the year is really tough.  And I'd say my travel schedule is average for any Crew Chief or Field Director in the business (particularly the larger firms with multiple offices).  Unless you get a good spot with a regional focused firm I would expect that my end up being your limiting reagent.

The first 5 years after the MA for me was 100 per cent field time (I am talking 90 per cent of the year away from home) is usually in the field with limit writing time.  After that I started to see an increase in writing time (particularly from December to Feb) to where I am now 10 years post-MA.  Unless you had MAJOR experience in report writing pre-MA.

To go back to the thread:  I don't think the quotation in the original posting happens alot right now,  It would be counter productive if the company typically hires temp field techs.  The company I work for only hires permanent salaried techs, with the very rare temp hire.

Post ID#19354 - replied 2/23/2012 4:13 AM

Jennifer Palmer

It sounds like the ability to take on long-term travel assignments (i.e. 10 days several states away) will limit you more than any employment "gap".

Living this right now. Though I have tons of experience, I've had trouble finding work because I can't travel far from home. My husband's job brings frequent travel and odd hours for him, and I have become a stay at home mom for the most part because someone has to be here for the kids. Even though I know there are some long-term local projects that I could technically work on, many companies would prefer to hire someone who can then continue to work several states away on the next project when this one ends. Can't blame them for wanting the flexibility and not having to deal with the issue of then hiring another unknown crew member.

I worry about having a big gap in (archaeology) work history on my resume and would likely address it in my cover letter, depending upon the employer and what job I was applying for.

I do know several people who have taken a break from archaeology for a long time and have successfully returned to fieldwork years later. Some have done so to start a family, or worked in a higher paying but less satisfying career but ultimately returned to what they loved to do.

Post ID#19446 - replied 3/13/2012 1:15 PM


The issue I seem to be having is getting older. I do have gaps on my work resume, but that is the nature of the beast in CRM/archaeology. I have a good following, immaculate references, but I will soon be 56 and Ive seen several job postings wanting junior field archaeologists or someone just out of school. Im not going to do a less than professional job on any project simply because im not some young newby. I would think that experience counts for something. I do have my own "company" of sorts. I do cell tower surveys here in Arkansas for AT&T and a couple of other communications outfits, but those are very sporadic. I have applied to several openings Ive seen here on AFW and have done alot of cold calling from the ACRA list, but for the most part those people never respond or at least acknowledge receipt of a vita/resume. Thats just a bit aggravating. I dont know if they just  overlooked it, didnt look at it, or just put it aside due to my age.
Is this an issue now in CRM?

Post ID#19448 - replied 3/13/2012 2:27 PM


I could be wrong, but I would wager money that a lot of these junior tech positions are offered for financial reasons alone. Why pay real wages when you can still get people for peanuts right out of school, especially since a certain level of experience for field crew isn't mandated in our field. I used to work for a company that didn't care how much experience the crew had as long as there was a competent field supervisor in charge, and the resulting data looked good enough for the report.

Post ID#19513 - replied 4/4/2012 10:16 AM


It seems like gaps are a pretty normal part of being an archaeologist.  The higher up in the food chain, the bigger an issue they become.

At the very least, one plus side of archaeology is that it's still somewhat old fashioned in terms of the hiring process -- resumes and cover letters are still read by a human being, so issues can be addressed.

Post ID#19549 - replied 5/7/2012 7:29 AM


While all these issues have occurred and will continue to occur within CRM work and within MOST professional fields, it is difficult to narrow down the issue to this or that. What can be said is that Archaeology (and other environmental sciences) is an oddly formed profession. Most work is done during the “field season” but each region of the United States is different, each firm is different and it is never clear when work will begin. Project dates are moved up and pushed back while crew sizes are added and subtracted regularly. Full time positions within a company are difficult to find and maintain. The whole of the CRM world is changing. The recent boom in natural gas and oil work has increased the need for the archaeologists yet this doesn’t seem to matter, as we clearly have a problem.

 I believe that in most ways the CRM world (without realizing) has begun mimicking the rest of the world in career issues. We have been brought into the mainstream because these larger companies cannot do work without first being sure they are not violating cultural remains and federal laws so in essence we have become an irritating necessity. The cost of hiring a professional (academically trained or experienced) archaeologist is hirer than hiring basic laborers which usually means picking the younger over the older (inexperienced over the experienced). It means less to these companies whether or not archaeology is done by competent archaeologists. This appears to be happening more frequently. I have wondered how much of an issue this really is after a recent string of job failures. I have applied to nearly 30 different jobs since the beginning of this year. I am only a few years out of my undergraduate. I have field school and a degree with a fantastic school; I have professional experience; and I have great references. I have a gap within my work experience because I had to be sedentary while my family member was going through some medical issues. During this time I had a job unrelated to archaeology as there were NO local archaeological related jobs. As it is time to get back into the field I started to search for archaeological field tech positions.  I had noticed jobs that have posted here and on shovel bums and then closed quickly. I have called and placed my CV with companies that had not even been advertising. I know I am not experienced enough to be seeking a crew chief position and not educated enough for a director position.  I was lucky enough to find a week long project as a field tech, being hired only as a last resort. After several discussions with the field techs I became frustrated with the realization that there was a significant problem. Half of these people, young and old, did not have field school at all or a degree even RELATED to archaeology. I want to be clear; I am not diminishing their intelligence or ability to do field work. The problem is that those who had spent the time and precious money to get a degree or take a field school so that we might have a job are being left behind for basic laborers. It isn’t necessary to do archaeology anymore. For many of these projects it’s a deadline, they want you to get it done so that the report can be written so that permission can be given to begin within a week, when IT IS CLEAR that properly surveying or excavating the project should take longer with more precision.

I know that to some extent that these hiring issues are different from person to person. Whether or not your CV is looked over or not depends on a lot of things. Gaps (which are common in our field), experience or lack of, specialties are all things employers look at which can cause an employer to second guess anyone of us as a potential employee. I recognize this as I am sure most of you do too. And as KB mentioned thank goodness most CVs and resumes are still being read and evaluated by a human being. Issues and/or gaps can be explained easily. I just wish that some of these companies were not evaluating based on what is cheaper but rather on who is the best qualified for the position.


(Disclaimer: I know that this is NOT the case for many companies. I am speaking in generalities and about larger corporations. There are still many great employers and Directors whom I have had the pleasure of working with. YET these observations of the general trends cannot be ignored.)



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