This is a continuation of a series of Talentstar Spotlight posts on “When your new job is to find your next job.”
So far, you’ve taken five steps to open the door to new opportunities —
Step 1 –
You researched potential employers to learn more about them — not just their work, but their leadership, organization, culture, and experience.
Step 2 –
You created a master list and then began connecting the dots between yourself and the companies in which you are interested — looking for correlations for additional action.
Step 3 –
You crafted the message that you (and your connectors) want to share with the potential employers that you have targeted.
Step 4 –
You updated your professional credentials to be able to win the job(s) you want.
Step 5 –
You looked ahead to the future of specific market sectors and client types and then reframed your background and experience to be relevant and future-forward.
Step 6: Presentation
Now is the time to ask the question, “What do you want them to know about you?”
Make yourself memorable.
Take a ruthlessly critical look at what you are bringing to the table. Seize the opportunity to tell a great story about yourself, to help potential employers understand why and how you can make a difference in their firm. Above all, organize your presentation to support your value proposition — the message — that you want potential employers to remember.
In today’s market, there is no excuse for lack of a great profile on LinkedIn, as well as a website or platform to illustrate what you do and how you do it. You need a good résumé, but you also need to make it easy for potential employers to see what you do and why it should matter to them.
Architects and designers have always relied on portfolio images to tell their stories. Today, that’s not enough. In addition to the photos and drawings that demonstrate your design talent, potential employers want to know what you did and why. They also want to be able to imagine how you might fit into their organization — what you are like as a person, how you think, and how you communicate.
If you are a seasoned professional who has been doing project management, you know that a client will be interested in projects that have been built or are under construction. The client will want to see demonstrated evidence of your ability to deliver successful projects. A potential employer is interested in the same things, as well as your ability to manage clients, consultants, and project teams.
To be considered for a PM role, you should organize a curated collection of project photos and drawings, but in addition, consider including sample proposals, contracts, budgets, and schedules, too. Be prepared to tell stories about your work — key relationships that led to successful outcomes, or events that had an impact on how your client and your firm were able to achieve success.
For a great example of how to tell your story, take a look at this Monograph Best Practices episode featuring Flora Bao, AIA, LEED AP of BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group).
If you are new to the profession and don’t have a substantial portfolio, use your creativity to show your potential — include school projects (especially hand-sketched drawings and renderings), but also add work that you did as a volunteer (or leader) in community service projects. Were you an Eagle Scout? Did your project involve construction or sustainability? Did you volunteer with a “newcomer program”? How did you work with the newcomers to help them make the transition to a new environment?
Don’t oversell yourself
Today’s design firms are learning organizations, focused on knowledge sharing. How do you fit into that picture?
Make sure that you define and clarify your role on specific projects. In your portfolio, credit the firm and indicate your role or responsibility. Were you the primary design leader, or were you on a team? Did you have a specific responsibility on a project? Who did you learn from, and what did you learn? What did you take forward into your next role or responsibility? What are you bringing forward now?
Show and tell.
There’s an old story about how to get into Carnegie Hall. Practice, practice, practice.
Weave your story into a narrative that will help a potential employer understand that you have “hard skills” (job-specific abilities to execute)1 and “soft skills” (attitude, flexibility, motivation, manners to win friends and influence people)2.
Now take it on the road. You’ve reinforced your relationships and built new connections. It’s a great time to ask a few friends to take a look at what you’ve put together. Ask them to pretend that they are meeting you for the first time. Engage in the conversation and listen to what they say. Ask them for criticism, and accept it graciously, asking questions so you understand why it was offered. Then curate a bit more.
Generate some buzz.
Once upon a time, we wouldn’t think about publicizing that we were looking for new opportunities. Now there’s a feature that you can add to your LinkedIn profile to make sure that people know that you are #OpenToWork.
Make sure your résumé and portfolio are digitally accessible so you can publicize them via email and social platforms. Check out opportunities to tell your story on LinkedIn, Behance, Instagram, Issuu, and other professional sites that are continuing to spring up.
Think “curation.” Take a look at your entire social media presence and make sure that you are presenting your best self. Be authentic, but be professional, too.
Tip #6: Create opportunities to demonstrate and reinforce the unique and distinctive value that you will bring to a potential employer.
Would you like more ideas?
We have one more installment in this series on opening new doors of opportunity. Stay tuned!
Step 1: Market Research – posted
Step 2: Mapping – posted
Step 3: Market Positioning – posted
Step 4: Professional Credentials – posted
Step 5: New Market Opportunities – posted
Step 6: Presentation – posted
Step 7: Rainmaking
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1 The Top Hard Skills Employers Seek, Alison Doyle, The Balance Careers
2 The Soft Skills Employers Value with Examples, Alison Doyle, The Balance Careers
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For more help with your career and professional development, check out our HELP DESK.
- Back in 2009, Seth Godin (the bestselling author, entrepreneur, and agent of change) wrote a blog post on “slack” time – how you can invest in yourself “to build a marketing asset that you’ll own forever.” If you haven’t signed up for Seth’s Blog, now’s a great time to start.
- Archinect offers a feature section on Employment. It includes a link to “How to Use Archinect to Get a Job: Optimizing Your Profile with Your Current Portfolio and CV.”
- Bloomberg has feature stories on architecture and the built environment, as well as the economy. Check out CityLab Daily.
- DesignIntelligence publishes excellent insights and information on the AEC industry. They have recently made their publications available for download.
- Monograph is not just a practice operations platform for architecture and design firms. It’s a team made up of architects, landscape architects, designers, and technologists focused on building tools for the AEC industry. Their Best Practice Webinars provide opportunities to hear insights from industry experts, and their Blog provides more information about all aspects of professional practice.
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The original article was published by ArchNewsNow in 2009 and has been updated for 2021.