Topic ID #21695 - posted 7/20/2012 8:47 PM

Writing my Vitae


I'm working on a Vitae right now, does anyone have any good tips on writing a successful one?

I appreciate it! Thank you!

Post ID#19695 - replied 7/22/2012 8:33 AM


check out the resumes section of the website to get some ideas.  I think its pretty much all over the board but try to highlight skills that are the most relevant.  If you are looking to apply for field technician positions, but don't have any experience in the field yet, I think putting your education at the top and field school is best.  If you have a lot of experience then try putting that up top and your education right below it.  

This is what I think had worked best for me.  For a year I tried sending out my resume various ways to different companies to see which way got the most responses; either they were hiring or just letting me know they have a full staff.  Sometimes its even good to just call some firms and ask what they like it see in a resume or c.v.  I did find that trying to put one together in a "business" format like they show you at school or the career center didn't work.

There is a guy Doug Rocks-MacQueen who posts on here occasionally and has a blog in which he discusses various resumes and non-traditional type resumes as well that would be worth checking out.  Here is the link tohis site; just try searching through the tags here or his website:

Post ID#19696 - replied 7/23/2012 7:24 AM


Often times, professors (and sometimes graduate students) have links to their CVs on their faculty website.  I always found those useful for content and layout.

Post ID#19697 - replied 7/23/2012 8:52 AM


I went with:

Contact Details
Brief Personal Statement (synopsizing background and objectives)
Work History
Volunteer Experiences
Conference Presentations
Additional Skills

However, I made some formatting decisions that have created some issues. I used some left and right alignments, to reduce white space on the right side of the page, and also used bullets for strings of skills/duties/accomplishments.

My experience with automated systems has been that they don't pick up formatting that well, even when it's done with good practices for page layout (i.e., not just wacky tabbing and carriage returns). Moreover, a lot of automated systems have you enter the information in their forms before uploading the CV that duplicates everything they had you enter. So, I'd suggest keeping a generic, "just the facts" version for copy/pasting into website forms, especially for work history sections where they often just want dates/contact details/duties.

Watch out for those professorial CVs, at least those from tenured full professors, as many of them aren't planning on ever looking for work again, and are just making doorstops to impress their peers/granting agencies.

Post ID#19699 - replied 7/24/2012 10:26 AM


Who is the intended recipient of the CV?

It's been my experience that an academic vita is significantly longer and more comprehensive than a CRM-oriented one.  The style/format/depth of it really depends on who you think will be going over it.

Post ID#19700 - replied 7/24/2012 6:37 PM


Wow.  Wide open question.

First let me give you a depressing reality check.  The average time that someone looks over your resume is 60 seconds.  The average time that the person takes to make the decision to hire you is 90 seconds.  You have 1.5 minutes to make an impression and, hell, that includes your cover letter.  Sucks, right?  Unfair, right?  

I know.  It sucks.  Let me be blunt, though.  That person looking over your resume is me.  My company has just advertised for two positions: a field position and a lab position.  You can find them in the Jobs section of the website (thanks, Jennifer!) or, again thanks to Jennifer, in your favourite social media feed.  I'm going to be looking through a lot of applications very shortly.  So my advice?

Read through the advertisement and actually parse it.  There's a whole lot of information in there that you don't know about.  Background.  Politics.  The nitty-gritty crap that you're going to have to deal with if you're successful.  Check through the application to see if you can detect it.  If not?  Golden.  Just don't make the mistake of applying for the job that you *think* that they want rather than the one that they are advertising.  (I made that mistake recently.  It was painful considering I was their ideal candidate.  They just didn't know it. ;))

Related to the above: Apply to the job.  Don't send out a generic resume, but rather apply to the job in question.  It makes a difference.  Seriously.  I've glossed over people with a huge amount of experience because they didn't actually take the time to apply to the job--they just sent out a CV that was tens of pages long.  

I know, I know.  You're applying for oodles of jobs at a time so generic is good.  On my behalf, though?  Not so much.  I'm a delicate snow-flower and want you to be applying to my job, not generic job #12.  Also, please remember that Track Changes on Word can do some funky things in Outlook.  I've recently seem an application that tracked the changes from the other job that they applied to.  All in Outlook.  Awesome.  I could read just how much you generically applied for the job.

In short, PDF is your friend.  (Incidentally, the person that made that mistake now has the job.  It's good to know that your actual qualifications matter, neh?)

Special snowflake resume?  Yes, you know the one.  It's on pink paper.  Avoid it like the plague.  On the other hand, colour isn't actually a bad thing on a resume.  Just make sure that it does what you want it to do--make me people sit up and realise how awesome you are.  If you're going for a general job, don't out-pace the market.  If you're applying for a job in graphic design?  Hell, make that application pink and coupled with an online, animated CV that makes me want to punch you in the face unless you tell me how to do it myself.  

Know your market.

Dougsarchaeology?  Listen to that person.  They are wise.

Basics, though?

  • Your cover letter should not be more than one page.  Seriously, guys 'n' gals.  No more.  If you post more than a two-page resume then I'm going to think that you're applying to an academic position.  I know since I am that person.  1-2 pages is your sweet spot.
  • Send a PDF, not a Word (or ODT or whatever) document.  Your hopeful boss may be more nerdy than you.  Keep it simple.  (And I'm probably more nerdy than you.)
  • Your resume should be no more than 2 pages.  I have ignored applications from people because they provided a 14-page resume.  Make sure that the resume is relevant.  14 pages is not relevant.  2 pages of your selected projects is great.  Not only that, but I get an insight into you since I question why you felt that the listed experience is more relevant than site X.
  • If you are asked for a CV then provide one.  Wake up call, though.  When someone asks you for a CV in the UK they're actually asking you for a resume (1-2 page thing).  When someone asks you for a resume in the US they're really asking you for the same thing as in the UK.  If someone actually asks you for a CV, you're applying for an academic job or something that is awesome and I'll hate you for getting.  Deal with it.
Okay, I need to sleep.  I'll leave that there for now, though.

Post ID#19702 - replied 7/26/2012 8:33 AM


I always did find those stats about average time spent reading a resume/CV a bit depressing. Personally, I do try to target my cover letter to the specific job, but I always go with the full CV. I have considered also doing a short resume. If you're applying for a very narrow range of job titles, then it does make sense to write it according to the likely expectations of the person(s) doing the hiring.

To provide an alternative perspective, I will share some personal experiences. When I applied for the job that has been my primary source of income for the past year, they were looking for a project manager that was a computer programmer (although that wasn't clear in the job announcement).

So, the CV I submitted clearly showed that I wasn't what they wanted for that position (although it did fit broadly with what they outlined in the job announcement). I was a little mystified through the first part of the interview. However, as things progressed I learned that they had decided to do some internal reorganization, and create the job, for which I had thought I was applying originally. The second half of the interview came down to me selling them on how my skill set could be applied to their long-term objectives; but, they wouldn't have known about those skills if they hadn't fully perused the CV I sent them.

On another personal note, this is a second career for me; and, I have been in a position to hire people for another industry (everything from unskilled hourly labor, to middle management). I did usually go through full resumes/CVs. Admittedly, I did exclude some for various reasons.

I normally assumed from education/experience that they'd have the basic skills that were needed for a specific job. So, what I was really looking for was whether or not I'd want to rely on them, and spend many hours per week with them (possibly for many years to come). I also wanted to know how their additional skills could be put to use, with an eye toward their potential for long-term growth/advancement in the organization.

There's definitely something to be said for knowing your target audience. That's probably the first consideration when your primary concern is landing a job to pay the bills, and keep food on the table. However, there is also something to be said for marketing yourself as a unique individual with a skill set that transcends the expected minimum. That may not produce short-term results, but may be a good strategy to pursue for future opportunities.

Post ID#19707 - replied 8/1/2012 8:21 PM


I want to thank everyone for the replies... I am going to take EVERYTHING into consideration here and rework my CV/cover letter/resume.

Yeah, I agree, I know they don't look over resumes very well, because I just had a phone interview and it seemed like they were asking questions they could have pulled straight from it. It just sucks that they don't even consider what type of person you are for a job, just what your qualifications are. I know I am a passionate person and would do one heck of a job at whatever task they gave me, regardless if I needed training or not. I know I don't have much experience, but I am extremely dedicated to archaeology, personally and professionally.

It bites that you can't put that on a resume.

Post ID#19713 - replied 8/3/2012 5:14 AM


"I know I am a passionate person and would do one heck of a job at whatever task they gave me, regardless if I needed training or not. I know I don't have much experience, but I am extremely dedicated to archaeology, personally and professionally."

Remember to write a good cover letter as well.  I think that is a great statement for a company to see to understand that although you may not have a lot of experience (yet) this is what your passionate about and want to make a career out of.  I don't know how others feel about putting in an Objective statement at the beginning of a resume but you could try putting in a very condensed one sentence summary of your cover stating what you want to learn and accomplish.  Just some thoughts.

Post ID#19714 - replied 8/3/2012 5:26 AM


Kat,  I took a look at your resume.  Try putting it in the order of most recent first, for example your education.  Put your BA first in the list.  You might also not need to include your Highschool in this list as it really doesn't have bearing on this, but I could be wrong.  Also, try using different verbs when you describe your experience, you say you have practice working in a lab, try using experience cataloging and cleaning artifacts (or something of that nature) instead.

Now, I don't review resumes at all but I think it may look good to put any work experience on your resume that you had while attending college.  To me, I would rather work with someone who was able to demonstrate that they could maintain a job in college and make good grades than someone who hasn't worked a lick.

Do you still live in the same town as your college?  Maybe your professor's might need some help with fieldschools or laboratory work that could help boost your resume?

Post ID#19716 - replied 8/3/2012 12:06 PM


I just looked at the resume that you posted here, although I'm not sure how closely that matches the document that you circulate beyond public posting.

I'd suggest tightening up your personal statement. I like the energy of the opening sentence; but, you might want to balance out "highly motivated" with a more stabilizing adjective like "organized." I'd also suggest changing the focus from what your possible employer can do for you (growth), to the qualities that will benefit them while you're learning new skills. I do like that you want to build a long-term relationship with an employer. How do you want to grow with them? Do you want to become an integral member of their lab, or their most dependable crew chief?

You may want to make some more concrete connections between your interests, and their application to a potential job. Does an interest in lithics, combined with an interest in experimental archaeology, mean you spend time knapping your own stone tools? How does your interest in GIS connect with your coursework? Do you use existing data, to produce high quality visual representations of that data? Do you digitize data yourself, from historic records and/or fieldwork, with attention to precision? Do you manage geodatabases, and write your own extensions for spatial analysis? Does an interest in British history mean that you have archival research skills that could be applied to the historical background of project locations in other geographic regions?

Personally, I'd give greater emphasis to your work with Richard Fox. What did you you do when working in his lab? Material identification and analysis? Conservation methods? Cataloging and data entry?

Overall, if I were hiring a field crew for work at a nineteenth century military encampment, then I'd give you an interview. Don't take my evaluation as harsh criticism; I think your existing resume is fine. My CV has its own flaws; and, I still circulate it. For example, I should mention logistics explicitly, and give some idea of how I get things from A to B, without overpacking or forgetting critical equipment.

Post ID#19720 - replied 8/4/2012 3:03 PM


Since you are short on practical experience, I think it would be wise for you to mention the skills you learned/acquired while in field school and the lab. For example, you probably set up excavation units, delineated the various stratigraphy, drafted soil profiles and plan maps, operated mapping equipment and GPS receiver, completed excavation forms, maintained field records, cleaned and catalogued artifacts, etc. Let your potential employer know that you know the basics.


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