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Six steps to getting a job in architecture

Six steps to getting a job in architecture


Architecture learning platform Black Spectacles has teamed up with the American Institute of Architecture Students to create a 17-page guide to help graduates find their first job.

Called How To Get A Job in Architecture [link], the guide is aimed at recent architecture graduates and offers tips and advice on how to optimise your CV, interview techniques and the best way to network.

Guidance from HR and industry professionals is also included, with advice from architecture firms including Gensler and Cannon Design. [do they have Dezeen Jobs profiles? If so link]

“The most important resource in any firm is the people who work there,” says Troy Haggard, principal of American firm Cannon Design. “Regardless of size, the best and worst experiences come down to the people.”

Surveying the scene

According to the guide, it’s important to consider what type of firm you’d like to work at – whether it’s a small team of up to 10 people or an international firm with over 500 employees.

Benefits of working at a large firm include having a clearly defined role, having the most up-to-date software and technology, and starting at the same time as a group of people with similar-level and experience.

On the other hand, working at a large firm may mean you recieve less individual attention and don’t get to work outside of your specific assigned area.

In contrast, working at a small or mid-sized firm would expose you to different aspects of the design process. There is opportunity to make an impact, which will allow progression onto more interesting projects and tasks – although the guide does note “you may be tasked with projects outside your experience level.”


“Many recent grads start their job search by filling out as many online job applications as they can find, then hoping that you hear back from a few. This is rarely effective!”

The guide sets out the best tips for your in-person networking approach, including becoming a member of your regional architecture professional membership body. Networking involves going to local design events and socials, speaking to architects themselves to learn what it’s really like to work in the field. Getting involved in the architecture community isn’t limited to socialising; it includes going to lectures, tours and exhibitions and volunteering.

Optimise your CV and LinkedIn page

An essential step before applying to jobs is to “make sure to optimise your LinkedIn profile and resume for hiring managers and recruiters.” Some of the tips provided in how to polish your LinkedIn profile include: having a professional photo, showing your participation in architecture events/organisations and writing a summary describing skills and architecture-related interests.

Applying for jobs

The guide lists insightful tips when applying for jobs, which include starting small and tailoring your application for a few firms instead of sending the same one to as many firms as you can. Another hint listed in the guide is to keep track of where and when you applied, making sure after two weeks you “reach out to the hiring manager to follow up via email… ask them if they need anything else from you to move forward”.

Amy Elstein, regional talent acquisition manager at Gensler, advises applicants to not get discouraged and that an opportunity may arise further down the line: “A lot of times I can’t hire great talent because it’s not the right time for that skill set. A few months or even a week later, that might change.”

Interview technique

The guide has collated a list of dos and don'ts at the interview stage, which includes being succinct with answers, getting there early and bringing copies of your CV. One point emphasised in the guide is to make sure to ask questions. “It’s really valuable to ask a lot of questions. We learn a lot about you just by what you ask. Have a good list of questions to hit us with.” says Troy Hoggard, principal of Cannon Design. “You should never leave an interview early. Why would you? We’re sitting here. Use us as a resource.” The guide even provides a list of example questions for you to ask when you get there.

Navigate your offer

“If any part of your compensation package is unclear, ask for clarification.” The guide provides a few questions to consider when you review your offer. Some of these include checking health insurance options or asking if you are paid hourly or salaried. However, it’s important to have realistic expectations, “use Glassdoor to research typical entry-level architect salaries in your area.”

Amy Elstein of Gensler says “Save the awkward or sensitive conversations for HR. What do you need to ask that you don’t feel comfortable asking anyone else?”