Friday, 09 April 2021 15:30

2021 - The state of Archaeology, CRM, Architectural History…

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2021 - The state of Archaeology, CRM, Architectural History… 2021 - The state of Archaeology, CRM, Architectural History… R. Joe Brandon

Hey folks!

Now isn’t that a kick-ass presumptuous subject for an e-mail! ??? (<— Since I am quite NRHP eligible I can use whatever outdated emoji I want ;-) <-- or ascii for that matter!)
But like every clickbait worthy POS article online only after you are lured into opening it do you see the full title.
"The state of Archaeology, CRM, Architectural History… in the age of Covid, via my incredibly siloed view of the profession(s) through ShovelBums. Plus, the Mark of the Beast bodes a good omen for us!"
I put Architectural History in the title only because that always catches peoples eyes and makes them think it must be interesting because none of us really know what they do. I mean we all know the Architectural Historians write prodigiously, they can talk eloquently about a shocking number of subjects beyond their job title, and they always give that *polite* little nod when anyone else tries to identify any type of structure, yet is off by 2-3 years. But they are generally so quiet. They really must be up to something, but I digress. Though do be sure to buy them a drink when prevailing social conditions are suitable. You always want them on your side because they are just so darn useful. 
First off, my apologies. I actively thought last year when everything was in the tank that I should be a bit more proactive in engaging the community. Maybe host a periodic virtual Happy Hour just to shoot the shit. But A: My wife moved into my office with me and so the view of skulls and old tomes that look much more scholarly than I am is shit. B: I am just so grossly anti-social and vulgar I would probably offend the other person who showed up. Well, actually, aren't many of us grossly anti-social and vulgar? So it just would have been a bunch of sullen faced old farts in bad lighting with blurry webcams on aging 486 Pentium computers staring at each other grunting periodically, but not that you would know because they would have forgotten to turn on their audio at the right time. 
No. Really. No-one needs to see that. As a matter of a fact, I try to avoid drinking on weeknights, but that mental image might convince me otherwise…
So back to the point of all this. 
Where in the hell are we all right now?
I am not sure. 
I do *cautiously* fell optimistic about 2021. 
ShovelBums gives me a very very narrow view on the state of things. Why? Because I have always, and I mean always, stated ShovelBums is your tool of last resort. Back in the day (another advantage of being old is being able to say that with some gravitas) when jobs were found by phone calls, a direct result of your own personal network of peers. And as always, companies did - as they should - always give preference to people who had someone to vouch for them personally as their 1st degree of finding qualified people. But as we all know, we have an incredibly small profession, even including the Architectural Historians and the dozen or so qualified geomorphologists. And yet even with people vouching for others some fuckups made it through, hey, we are all human! LOL! So back then, if the personal networks failed to produce enough functional bodies then that is where Fax machines, and literally papers pinned to office bulletin boards came into play. Things are no different today. The fax, phone, and bulletin boards produced the exact same results as modern services do today. 
But the field has grown a lot since Jill-Karen, Cory, Pat, Chuck were the ones picking up the phone. It grew a lot because of them and many others utilizing their personal networks. So while our ability to communicate with an ever widening group of professional acquaintances has grown exponentially there is still the reality that we really are a very small niche profession. That is where ShovelBums comes in. It helps connect professionals with jobs and employers with great staff. And if a recipient isn’t the right person for the job, they likely know someone who is. Or to put it another way, staff personal networks are the 1st degree resource. ShovelBums covers degrees 2-6. {Random Factoid about the 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon. I have a Bacon Number of 4. Me -> I worked with Elizabeth Craig who was taught to ride horses by -> Harrison Ford (tangent, Harrison got the scar on his chin from Elizabeth's horse kicking him, not from a bar fight) -> Ford was in Apocalypse Now with Laurence Fishburne -> Fishburne and Bacon were in Mystic River).
While ShovelBums is not the final metric to measure where in the hell we are at any given time. It is, like an out of stratigraphic context potsherd and other midden remnants in a plowed field, an indicator of what might lie beneath. Sometimes, sometimes..., an abundance of detritus on the surface might indicate an information rich feature below. 
So from this perspective is the best information I have that I can tell you my thoughts about where we are right now.
2020 was shaping up to be one of the best years ever for ShovelBums, the postings in January and February, which are not typically high volume months, were up almost double from what they were in 2019. Now of course there are myriad things that factor into this, and there is no doubt that the ongoing push into Energy was driving a lot of this. So many of these jobs were not for surveying sites like Grasshopper, I can confidently say that. But, there was work, and enough of it employers were using ShovelBums to help them out. 
….and then everything went into the shitter. That has been well covered.
But surprisingly 2020 wasn’t as stupendously terrible as I was expecting and by fall the postings numbers were actually looking pretty good (Note: In general, don’t look for jobs in December). Now there are a couple of ways to read these numbers though. Were the postings increases simply because it was hard to find staff because those who could stay hunkered down did so? Or was it from increased work opportunities? It is probably somewhere in the middle I would expect. 
As for 2021? Well the number of postings has started our strong. Both January and March saw the largest number of postings in several years. And not many of the postings are repostings for the same position (which when that happens is to me is an indicator of the CRM labor force being stretched thin, or maybe nobody wants to work in the northern US or Canada in the winter if they can avoid it).
Here is a chart (attached) of the number of postings on ShovelBums over the last few years. It is of course worth noting that all postings carry the same weight. Some posts are for individual full time Principal Investigators, some are cattle calls for dozens of professionals at different levels for numerous projects in multiples areas. And these differences underscore why ShovelBums is not a perfect bellwether for the state of Archaeology, CRM, Architectural History… But it is a metric of some value
Oh! And about ShovelBums and The Number of the Beast? 
The last job post for 2020, was job posting number 
How was that for a way to end 2020? LOL! 
I can not make this shit up. 
In conclusion. I do hope you are all as well as you are able to be during these challenging times. And I do genuinely hope that 2021 provides you the opportunity to find a fantastic job in your career and that companies can find the excellent staff they need to keep on doing their great work!
If you are in academia, or know someone teaching an intro class, please be sure to end the semester by suggesting students take the time to join up for ShovelBums so they can painlessly keep abreast of what their career options are in the field, what skills are in demand, and where the work is in high demand.
There is info on how to sign up here:
R. Joe


Last modified on Friday, 09 April 2021 15:36
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