Job Search Tips in Architecture

If you are pursuing Job in Architecture then you must read top tips posted by successful Architects.

1. Build a supportive network

Jim Rohn, was an author and motivational speaker who famously said, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” (1) I have always found this idea incredibly fascinating. In the scientific study, “Nonconscious Mimicry: Its Ubiquity, Importance, and Functionality,” authors Amy N. Dalton and Tanya L. Chartrand suggest that humans unconsciously mimic their social surroundings. It is undeniable, then, that your support network – both near and far – forms an important component in defining not only who you are today but also how your future ideals are shaped.

2. Define your purpose

It was important that I take a step back and reflect upon my purpose. In The Seven Habits of Highly Effective PeopleStephen R. Covey talks about the importance of beginning with the end in mind (2), by developing a personal mission statement and establishing your desired objectives.

3. Form a selection criteria

Based on core values and purpose within the field, develop the following criteria:

I want an office that will…

a)  Provide mentorship: I seek individuals who will invest their time to teach, listen and guide my direction.

b)  Contribute to exciting project roles and responsibilities: I want to be involved in the entire process of building and to understand how things come together.

c)  Accommodate and extend on my personal values: What matters to me also matters to the people around me. We must operate within authentic values.

d)  Foster a fun and culturally driven work environment: It is important to be around people that I can relate to, that inspire me, and make me laugh.

e)  Be a creative firm with a point of difference: I want to work for a firm that has consistently good projects. Knowing which projects to turn down is just as important as knowing which ones to take on.

f)  Provide opportunities to upskill and learn: I want to be around a team that is willing to share knowledge in order to help me navigate my way into their system, thus fostering my professional growth.

g)  Acknowledge and appreciate my contribution to the company: I want to work with a company that openly communicates and shows appreciation for its employees; a company that is validating and motivating.

h)  Allow creative freedom within my role and provide autonomy: I wanted the opportunity to express myself through design and to find a firm that is comfortable enough to let me fail or to guide me through the creative process.

i)  Support and encourage extra-curricular activities: I wanted to find a company that sees the value in personal development and that encourages me to have a personal life outside standard work hours.

j)  Have purpose-driven projects that extend beyond commercial gain: I want to find a firm that had a greater purpose beyond the commercial aspirations of a project, I want them to have a bigger story, with a more meaningful agenda that I can operate within.

k)  Allow input on the company’s direction: I want a company that provides a framework that fosters “ownership thinking” amongst the team members for sharing collective goals.

l)  Be surrounded by people that live inspired lives: Jim Rohn in his book, Leading an Inspired life, touches on having compelling goals, discipline, and focusing on personal development as the fundamentals for personal success. It is essential to work with people who seek to reach their potential while maintaining a work-life balance.

4. Seek, first to understand, then to be understood

Seeking to understand is about deeply and empathetically listening and connecting to those around you. I believe it is more important to deeply understand potential employers not in terms of what their company provides but instead focusing on who they are. I spent time interviewing with many firms that I thought were a fit for me. During my interviews, rather than trying to express my opinion, I focused my energy on listening to what they were choosing and willing to share with me. I sought to establish whether they could provide an inspirational and satisfying workplace.

5. Represent externally who you are internally

Despite external influences, everyday pressures, and dealing with self-consciousness, authenticity (to myself and to other people) is of great importance.

Interviews and portfolios are often impersonal, constructed as a sales pitch representing yourself as the best possible job candidate. Naturally people will hold back their option or agree to something in order to avoid confrontation. Realise that no matter how much you think you want the job, if you cannot genuinely express yourself then it’s probably not the right value fit.

6. Make an impression


Your portfolio will be just one in a pile of hundreds, if the firm you hope to work for has a strong reputation. Your first challenge is to establish your point of difference. The best way to make an impression is through your credentials, however, this required me to disregard the most common (superficial) advice on “How to make a good impression.

Education aside, invest a considerable amount of time into attending and speaking at conferences to build awareness and to network with potential employers.

7. Don’t be afraid to pursue change

It is important to aspire for new influences, mentors, and challenges. We are creatures of habit and so we easily fall into routines that make us complacent and near-sighted – routines that muffle our critical eye.  

8. Identify your value

When looking for a firm, spend time to evaluate your relevant, unique and compelling value contribution. The next step is to find a firm that fits what you are looking for; a firm that understands your contribution and will in return gain value from what you can offer to them.

Many students or recent graduates undervalue their position in the industry by voluntarily working overtime hours or offering their services for free, in turn creating unhealthy culture and expectations within the industry. Social theorist Slavoj Žižek argues that modern organisations fabricate a culture to empower the employer while denying the employee the right to vocalize and protest dissatisfaction. These organisations are devaluing the profession, creating an environment that is difficult to resource or manage without relying on cheap (or free) labour.

9. Your job is only one part of what defines you


Understand that your career is only one component of what defines you, and it’s the remainder of that definition that provides the capacity for you to uniquely contribute to your job. The most important thing for me as a recent graduate was to find a good work-life balance.

Architect Andrew Maynard wrote a great article about work-life balance, “Work/life/work Balance,” in which he describes the commonality of employees to neglect other components of their life by believing they will find happiness and contentment at a later time. This is identified by Clive Hamilton as the Deferred Happiness Syndrome.

10. Know when to quit your job


Staying in the wrong role can have a negative impact on your confidence. We tend to internalize the false-expectations of others. It is important, especially as a recent-graduate, to present yourself as you are: with minimal professional experience (which is gained naturally with time and effort), but also an individual with innovative ideas and technical abilities that are unique. No employer should expect you to know how to seamlessly project-manage the entire process of building right out of university. Your employer should manage their expectations to suit. In turn, you should offer your fresh perspective and technical agency in exchange for their experience, mentorship and guidance.

This article comes courtesy of Linda Bennett, the founder of Archi-Ninja, a site that discusses and critiques current Architectural projects and ideas… Ninja style! 

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This entry was published on November 14, 2013 at 12:31 am. It’s filed under Tips and Tricks and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

One thought on “Job Search Tips in Architecture

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