Have You Ever Googled Yourself?: Online Personal Branding for Archaeologists

This is a guest post by William A. White, SHA Member, author, and PhD student at the University of Arizona.

I held down the button on my iPhone until I heard a quiet tone. I clearly enunciated a question: “Siri. Who is Bill White the archaeologist?” A robotic female voice replied: “Checking my sources.” A short pause. “Here’s what I found on the web for who is Bill White the archaeologist,” Siri replied.

With one hand, I scrolled down the list of information in Siri’s response on my phone while I was holding my son, Cyrus, with my other arm. “Daddy, that’s you,” my son said when he saw my picture in the query result. Looks like Siri found the correct Bill White, archaeologist.

It may seem like the height of vanity to query yourself using Siri—Apple, Inc.’s knowledge navigator that comes with every iPhone since the 4s. I mean, asking a robotic smartphone program to search the internet for information about yourself seems really similar to when the evil queen in Snow White asks a mirror on the wall, “Who is the fairest one of all?”

In reality, it is very important to know what kind of things the internet is saying about you. Online search engine queries are a good way to discover what information exists about you on the internet. When you ask about yourself on Siri or Google, what do you see? Your contributions to a local community archaeology project, your profile on the Department of Anthropology’s webpage, or your latest political rant on Facebook? Or something worse?

This summer, I attended a webinar attended titled “How to Build Your Personal Brand Online”. The webinar was sponsored by the University of Arizona’s Human Resources Division and was led by two amazingly experienced social media advisers: Christine Hoekenga and Jaynelle Ramon. Hoekenga is a freelance writer and the Social Media Coordinator for the University of Arizona’s Office of the Senior Vice President for Health Sciences. She’s been published in High Country News and Technology Review and is an online content strategist (Learn more on her personal website http://christinehoekenga.blogspot.com/). Ramon is the Web Content and Social Media manager for the UA Alumni Association. She is also the writer and copy editor for Arizona Alumni Magazine. This webinar was a great introduction to online persona management for folks that may not realize how important this is for career development and promotion.

Controlling your online persona is an increasingly important element to job searching and employment in all industries. Recent polls cited by Hoekenga and Ramon revealed:

  • At least 39% of companies use social network sites to research job candidates,
  • 43% of hiring managers who researched candidates via social media saw something that caused them not to hire a candidate (Facebook posts, anyone?),
  • Surprisingly, only 19% saw something that caused them to hire a candidate; however,
  • 56% of hiring managers are more impressed by candidates that have personal websites, while only 7% of job seekers have their own site.

These are the statistics for a number of industries. I do not believe these numbers accurately reflect the situation in archaeology because our field is still very tight knit and many archaeology jobs are still filled based on personal recommendations from friends and colleagues. However, I will admit the archaeology job market is competitive and will only get more competitive in the future. In a jobs workshop I attended at the 2014 Society for American Archaeology Conference in Austin, I learned that universities in the United States grant about 8,300 anthropology B.A.s, 1,000 M.A.s, and 440 PhDs. Not all of these folks will go into archaeology, but it gives you an idea of the sheer quantity of degrees granted every year. At SAA2014, I also learned that top-tier universities get between 40 and 50 applications for every anthropology professor position. Other universities get well over 100 applicants for each position.

These numbers tell me anyone that wants to work in archaeology had better use everything in their power to become well-known and well-connected long before they think about starting their job search. Conducting some extensive personal branding is one way to make yourself known and network extensively with other archaeologists.

Personal Branding for Archaeologists

This webinar inspired me to create a blog post series called Personal Branding for Archaeologists on the Succinct Research Blog. In a series of seven blog posts, I covered a number of personal branding techniques archaeologists can use to increase their visibility on the internet, connect with other archaeologists and potential employers, and demonstrate their personal experience and expertise. I also created an eBook called “Social Media Strategy for Archaeology Job Seekers” that outlines three strategies archaeologists can use to brand themselves as professional archaeologists.

I have complied the text from the blog posts and the social media guide into one document that is available for download by clicking Personal Branding For Archaeologists.

The body of this eBook has seven main parts:

Part I: Why Should Archaeologists Care About Branding— You need to care about what Google tells potential employers because they are going to look you up on the internet before they even think about hiring you. You need to make sure they only see good things. Personal branding allows you to highlight your skills, knowledge, and abilities in a positive site and differentiates you from the other 10,000 recent anthropology graduates.

Part II: Low-Hanging Fruit: LinkedIn— Harnessing the search engine optimization (SEO) power of LinkedIn is the easiest way to brand yourself as a professional archaeologist. LinkedIn is also a great place to connect with other archaeologists.

Part III: Listen to the Twitter of Little Birds— Contribute to conversations about archaeology with archaeologists around the world via Twitter. Use this platform to let the world know your perspectives and connect with archaeology communities of practice.

Part IV: Control the Message: Build your Own Website— Building your own website allows you to create an online portfolio. Projects and accomplishments are the new resume. Use a website to demonstrate your skills to the rest of the world.

Part V: Blogging your Way to Infamy— A blog allows you to address relevant questions in our field using your own voice. Blogging has the potential to replace the working papers of old and allows others to comment on your ideas and theories. It is also a great way to get published.

Part VI: If a Picture Says 1,000 Words, What Does a Video Do?— Archaeology is a very visual field. Use photo- and video-based social media to spread the word about your work and life. This is also another way to connect with other archaeologists.

Part VII: Crafting a Social Media Campaign— Online personal branding can be a daunting, time-intensive project but it doesn’t have to be. With the right planning and strategy, you can craft your image as a professional archaeologist in a few hours each week.

I have been working on my online personal brand for a couple years now and still have not gotten my name in the top 10 Google search results. There are simply too many politicians, former athletes, and neo-Nazis with that same name for me to compete with. However, a lot of good things about me come up if you Google “Bill White archaeologist”. That’s exactly how I want it to be.

Online personal branding is important for all archaeologists, but it is especially important for early careerists and archaeology students. Nobody in archaeology knows who you are in the beginning— before you’ve published a laundry list of articles, book chapters, and reports. You can paint a positive picture of yourself as an archaeology professional if you take advantage of the interconnectivity of the internet. You can also use the internet to connect with a vast network of archaeology professors, cultural resource management specialists, and government archaeologists around the world. Most importantly, you need to act as soon as possible to make sure the search engines are showing the world what you want them to see: your finest accomplishments and best achievements.

About the Author

Bill White, III is an archaeologist, author, PhD student at the University of Arizona, and the creator of the River Street Digital History Project. He is also the Research Publications Director at Succinct Research— a company dedicated to helping cultural resource management professionals learn what they need to forge fruitful careers.

SHA 2015 Seattle Preliminary Program Part 2: Roundtable Luncheons and Public Archaeology Session

A continuation of the events at the 2015 SHA conference in Seattle:

ROUNDTABLE LUNCHEONS

The roundtable luncheons are scheduled from 12:00 noon to 1:30 p.m. in the Sheraton Hotel on Thursday and Friday. A minimum of six participants per table applies to all roundtables. Maximum of 10 participants for each roundtable. All roundtable luncheons will cost $30.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

RL-1 Jobs in Nautical Archaeology

Leader: Paul Johnston (Smithsonian Institution)

What are the different job types and career tracks in nautical archaeology? This discussion will examine public archaeology (NOAA, National Park Service, MMS, Parks Canada, state programs, etc.), private-sector cultural resource management (contract archaeology, consulting), private foundations, academic positions and museum work (public and private), and treasure hunting. We’ll talk about the advantages and disadvantages of these various enterprises, as well as prospects in these fields.

RL-2 Public Archaeology in the Pacific Northwest

Leader: Doug Wilson (Northwest Cultural Resources Institute and Ft. Vancouver National Historic Site)

Participants will discuss public archaeology programs in the Pacific Northwest, including the use of field schools, public engagement events, and archaeology month programs. Participants will explore ways of engaging the public and descendant communities and means to evaluate programs for effectiveness.

RL-3 The Archaeology of World War II

Leaders: Stacey Camp (University of Idaho) and Jodi Barnes (University of Arkansas, Arkansas Archeological Survey)

This session will explore the historical archaeology of World War II. Potential discussion topics will include artifact identification, methodological challenges, useful theoretical models for interpreting World War II archaeological sites, and artifact patterning across different types of sites.

RL-4 Numismatic Archaeology  

Leader: James C. Bard (Cardno ENTRIX)

The intent of the luncheon is to bring together professionals interested in the recovery and interpretation of coins and tokens from archaeological sites. The roundtable hopes to promote greater understanding of the interpretive potential of coins and tokens, as there is more to these artifacts than simple description and dating. The luncheon is an opportunity to explore the many interpretive possibilities of coins and to connect with others who are working with this common, yet under analyzed, class of material culture.

Friday, January 9, 2015

RL-5 How to Get Published in Historical Archaeology

Leader: Meredith Morris-Babb (University Press of Florida)

This roundtable luncheon will offer some practical advice to prospective authors on navigating the publication process from submission to publication. The format is flexible and participants should feel free to come with questions or concerns. Possible topics can include the peer review process, publication ethics, marketing and social media, and the logistics of digital publishing.

RL-6 Exploring Chinese Healthcare Practices through an Archaeological Lens

Leader: Sarah Heffner (PAR Environmental Services)

Small, aqua Chinese medicine vials are ubiquitous on Asian American archaeological sites and are frequently viewed as the most representative type of material culture associated with Chinese medicinal practices. Interpretation of these vials in the archaeological literature is often limited, and they receive little mention other than as entries in an artifact catalog as “Chinese medicine bottle,” or “Chinese medicine vial.” In reality, Chinese medical practitioners utilized a wide range of medical devices and ingredients (plant, animal, mineral) for both internal and external applications. Only fairly recently have historical archaeologists begun to include discussions of other forms of material culture and faunal/floral remains that may.

RL-7 Tips for Finding a Job in Archaeology

Leader: William A. White, III (University of Arizona)

What do you need to do to land your dream job in archaeology? That is a question most archaeologists spend their entire careers answering. From the entry-level archaeological technician to the most venerated professor, we all need to learn how to find and successfully land a job in our chosen career field. In this luncheon, we will discuss the three most important things you need in order to land an archaeology job: deciphering job postings, writing a killer resume and cover letter, and building your professional network. Attendees should bring a copy of their resume and an example of a job posting for a position that they would like to have. Be prepared to build a strategy for career success.

RL-8 Historical Archaeology and CRM in the Pacific Northwest: Challenges and Opportunities

Leader: Lorelea Hudson (SWCA Environment Consultants) and Robert Weaver (Environmental History Co.)

Historical archaeologists working in the Pacific Northwest face challenges that are somewhat unique to the region. We have few people working in CRM who were directly trained in an academic historical program. In addition, politicians and bureaucrats focus almost exclusively on prehistory as archaeology. Even among practicing professionals, there is a bias against historical sites, in part due to the fact that our sites are “too recent”-mostly from the 1850s onward. Compliance review processes are inconsistent, and the laws are antiquated. The intent of this luncheon is to bring together professionals working in CRM from various parts of the country to discuss how we might begin to address some of these problems and work towards raising consciousness and improving standards for historic sites in the Northwest Plenary Session.

 

PUBLIC ARCHAEOLOGY SESSION

The Public Archaeology Session will be held on Saturday, January 10, 2015 at the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture at the University of Washington, in conjunction with its annual Public Archaeology Day.

Archaeology Day is a family-friendly event featuring Northwest archaeologists, educational displays, and activities geared toward a general audience.  The Burke has produced this event annually for over 12 years and it regularly draws more than 600 visitors to the museum. SHA- registered guests are admitted free to the Burke Museum, with their conference credentials, anytime during the week of the conference. This event will open at 10:00 a.m. and conclude at 4:00 p.m.

Bus service will be provided between the Sheraton Seattle and the Burke Museum. A bus will depart the Seattle Sheraton on the hour between 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. for the Burke and will depart the Burke Museum on the half hour between 10:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. for return to the Sheraton.

SHA’s INVITE YOUR LAWMAKER DAY IS AUGUST 20!

Congress’ summer recess is underway! August is a great time to invite federal, state and local lawmakers to visit sites and projects, and to learn about the importance of cultural heritage education and preservation. It is also a chance for us to advocate for SHPO/THPO offices, social sciences funding, and NHPA’s Section 106 and upcoming 50th anniversary in 2016.

This summer, SHA is holding its first annual Invite Your Lawmakers Day on August 20, 2014. Please invite lawmakers –  and the press – to visit nearby sites and digs, and learn why archaeology matters.

We have prepared a sample email to use if you are asked to submit a written request:

*          *          *

Dear Representative ___________/Senator ___________,

I am your constituent, and I would like to invite you to [visit my site, come see my facility] on August 20, 2014, which the Society for Historical Archaeology (SHA) has designated as its first annual Invite Your Lawmaker Day.

I own/work for  [company/school name]. My company does ____[describe your firm or department in 1 sentence]_____. [Company name] employs __[X]__ number of people in the district/ state.

I am an active member of SHA, the largest organization in the world dedicated to the archaeological study of the modern world and the third largest anthropological organization in the United States. Members come from a dozen countries, and most are professional archaeologists who teach, work in museums or consulting firms, or have government posts. The SHA and its members strongly support the protection of cultural and historical resources and sites around the nation.

I hope that you will be able to visit on August 20. If you have any questions or would prefer a different date, please reach me at ___[provide best method for contacting you]___. Thank you.

Best regards,

[Your signature block]

*          *          *

A 1-pager about SHA to hand out during lawmaker visits is available at: http://tinyurl.com/oooptsg.

If you missed Cultural Heritage Partners’ webinar providing tips and guidance for summer recess visits, the slides are available at: http://tinyurl.com/p9vjfkj.