Changing jobs in April.

As I am once again on the move. I do change my job like I change the sheets. It has come to my attention that whenever I change my job at this time of year there seems to be a ridiculous influx of offers.

Now I could be incredibly unrealistic and say it’s all thanks to my ability to do my job, but lets be pragmatic here. April is the start of the financial year. Everyone suddenly has an increased workload, just watch BAJR for those adverts flying up all over the place, everyone suddenly needs copious amounts of staff.

So my advice to those would be archaeologists, or would be ‘stepper-uppers’: Apply for everything, even those jobs you wouldn’t necessarily think you have a shot at, from the end of February onwards. Companies desperately need people. If you think you can do the job but just want a bit more training on something, then tell them that.

Offers come pouring in and options are an archaeologists best friend.

 

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Another new job.

I started my new permanent job today.

Went to the office in Lincoln, had a look around, read A LOT of templates for paperwork/reports/GIS all of that sort of thing.

Got my contract to sign, filled out all of the relevant new starter forms and noticed something a tad peculiar, a job title I didn’t realise I had…

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Interpretive job descriptions welcome in comments…

Must have gypsy in the blood.

I moved out of London on May 10th.

I took a week off to recuperate and see the family.

The 17th May I moved to Lincoln, I had planned to stay there until July 20th, but after two days and the realisation that I was expected to do 12 hour shifts and work 6 days a week, I simply thought “hell no”

So I got in touch with an old boss. Organised to head to Northampton after a weeks notice in Lincoln and spend my time there until July 20th.

On the Friday before being due to leave I get offered a better job. I say I’ve already agreed to head to Northampton, so out of professional courtesy I shall head there for 2 weeks and then join the better job with a new company in Lincoln.

I’m now settling there as the contract is permanent. However this does include going on secondment for 3 weeks from July 20th back up the North Yorkshire.

All of this comes after moving around from:

Shropshire – Milton Keynes – Gloucester – Edinburgh – Bradford – Exmouth & Hayling Island – Chester – Richmond – London

My nanny used to tell me that my fathers family were descended from Rom’s who left India, travelled through Romania into Europe and finally settled in Ireland before upping sticks (like so many) and settling in Birmingham.

Many many many generations down the line… I think those itchy feet linger in the genetics.

Perfect Pottery

Finally found a lovely large sherd of prehistoric pottery today.

So proud. This is my personal best, the biggest bit of prehistoric pot that I have ever found.

I’m thinking Bronze Age, although I don’t know Lincolnshire artefacts very well.

It was lovely. My picture is poor but the sun was so bright today (so I can’t complain).

You could see the coils of rolled clay, just such a human element to the whole production!

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I am a neglectful blogger – the life of a gypsy archaeologist.

This year I have moved three times so far.

I went to North Yorkshire and was living around Richmond.

On the 23rd of February I moved to London.

On the 10th May I moved out of London and took a week off (after working 3-11pm, 6 days a week I slept A LOT!)

1.5 weeks ago I moved to Lincoln, where I thought I would stay for a while.

Alas the suitcase calls again. The job I started in Lincoln wants us to work 7-7 Mon to Fri and 7-4 on a Sunday, I said no thank you.

So on Friday I leave this site in Lincoln, head down to Northampton for 2 weeks to dig with a former company and then after those two weeks are done I will move back to Lincoln, to lucky company #10.

Here I shall be staying. I am retiring my suitcase for a wee while and have accepted a permanent contract with someone new.

Here’s to pastures greener and new! Project Supervisor!

I think this gives a slight indication to how good the diggers market is right now!

Today I gave an interview.

So today, as the title suggests I gave an interview about being a commercial archaeologist in Britain.

The interview was for a person who is researching commercial archaeology, it’s people and practices across the globe. SO far they have worked with and interviewed people in Canada, Australia, Japan, UK and next is France.

They asked how I got into archaeology and how I feel about the industry. I surprised myself. At first I thought my most cynical side was going to come forth. Turns out… I’m actually quite optimistic about the future of archaeology and it’s relationship with planning and construction.

A few points I would like to highlight in this are as follows:

I actually think we are at a pivotal point in commercial archaeology in Britain. There are good and bad points to this. The bad points are that archaeology is increasingly having to work to the objectives of large construction companies, I agree with the health and safety measures, however we have very different aims and objectives. They don’t really understand what we do, how we do it or why we do it that way. They don’t really understand the fact that there are questions within archaeology and we have convoluted ways of finding the answers. They see something, either remove it and build something new or add something new to the old. Archaeologists of course answer questions you didn’t know were asked in ways that you could never understand (yes there’ a t-shirt with that quote out there in the stratosphere somewhere). The other problem with working towards construction standards is the amount of micro-management which takes place on site, I can understand why that would be necessary for a huge engineering job, but that doesn’t work in archaeology, in order to do your job properly you A) need to have a wider understanding of the site, you can’t be kept in the dark as a digger just turn up to site and do your slot and go home, that kills off your enthusiasm for it, B) need the comararderie which comes along with being an archaeologist, that sort of thing isn’t really encouraged on a construction site, they need to have trust to know that they’re not going to be squished by a bit of plant but they don’t need to tell geeky jokes to keep trugging along and C) ranking on sites doesn’t work in archaeology, I know they’re trying to introduce it more and more with silly half-ranks like Assistant Supervisor (and don’t get me wrong I understand that they do a great job but they should just be supervisors!) that in turn leads to more micro-management on site because everyone feels they should have their rank known. Don’t micromanage your archaeologist, you’re likely to end up with shoddy work!

The good thing about working with construction now though and not 20 years ago is that now they understand that we’re part of the planning process, they may not understand why we’re there or what we’re doing but they accept that we have to be there. When PPG16 first came in and right up until when I first joined this business which is not show, archaeologists were seen as a nuisance, blamed for delaying a project, cursed for costing them more money blah blah blah. Luckily over the last few years the message has finally begun to sink in that actually due to planning laws it is known well in advance that archaeology needs to take place in one form or another and that that is calculated into time scale and budget well before a scratch appears on the ground. (Granted I know it’s not PPG16 anymore, but we all still say it!)

So although we are moving further and further into the pockets of the big construction companies and working to their hymn sheets, at least its becoming more accepted and easier for us to do so. It’s also good that archaeological units still have a say on the results from their digs. So although the big construction companies control the time frame on site, they have no say in the post-ex work which takes place (minus the fact that they fund it) once the samples have been taken they can’t specify how much research comes from a project, the knowledge is still well and truely owned by the archaeologists. The project I am on now for example (see other posts for details) they will get their report, but the research prospects for after that is just phenomenal, the academic ownership and potential for endless publications is brilliant, should that ever be taken away from archaeological units, well I think we would see the beginning of the end. If construction firms turned around and said you can use the results of the finds and samples for the report and naught else… well… what a dark world that would be.

I also think that we’re at a good time for wages. When I first started a trainee archaeologist would pick up a measly £15.6k a year, an absolute joke of a wage considering the amount of investment in university from archaeologists.

Luckily though, since the end of the recession and the resurgence in building works the number of archaeological jobs has increased, every unit is crying out for digger and that is in turn, driving up wages, we are on a positive move. It is by far no where near a good enough wage for the qualification levels of most of those on site, but at least they’re moving up and not down! Now the Irish archaeologists have striked and agreed to not take low paying jobs, we might see that domino its way across the sea and land on our fair shores.

We just need to stick together and ask for better wages and conditions, granted I am not a unionist, I will not take strike action, I believe that does more harm than good, but I do believe that companies who pay well and support their staff should be rewarded with loyalty, I don’t think we should go without work, if you HAVE to work and there is nothing else then by all means work for the lesser standard company, but otherwise work for the good ones, keep with them and try to only accept contracts with those paying better wages. This idea of better standards and wages for archaeologists should start within the universities, encourage the next wave of diggers before they’re already drawn into commercial the way it is, it should be back by those larger influencing bodies such as CIfA, CBA, Bajr. Just a thought!

Well I shall leave it there.

It seems I have been busy…

It is bizarre to think that a large chunk of time can pass without even noticing… that has just happened to me!

So the work in London is almost through. You may have seen us on the news, read the articles and heard the rumours. But it is true, the burial ground in completed and we are currently making a dash for the finish line through the last of the Roman archaeology.

It has been a blast working in London. The big smoke.

The archaeology is complex, the layers intermixed beyond identification and the people have been amazing (well most of them, ha!)

Interestingly though.. and the real point of this blog today is that it truely is the diggers market out there right now! Do not be lured by the offer of long contracts and fake loyalty! We were told a few days ago that we shall likely end early and that of course leads to the hunt for new work.

I was a bit slow on the dash to the laptop and the bajr website, mostly because I am in the rather fortunate position of having never really burnt my bridges with people I worked for (minus one horrific mistake of a company, but as they don’t even make it on to my CV they don’t count!) I know that with a couple of phones calls to various areas across the country I can be on site and in work on the Monday.

But anywho… I digress. Yes it’s a diggers market out there. There is so much work on the go and companies are desperate for staff. I sent out 3 CV’s yesterday and last night one company got in touch with a staff form to fill in and I got the offer of a contract from a different company this morning.

By Jove… archaeology is actually healthy in the UK right now! Get those CVs out there folks!