Not every minute of everyday is going to be fun at work, regardless of how much you love your architecture job. There are always going to be challenges, mistakes and conflicts to deal with in any office.
That being said, there are some common red flags to look for at work. When certain issues are a regular occurrence, it can signal a deeper problem in the firm.
While I am not saying you should up and quit your job at any sign of trouble, rather, be aware of these issues then investigate the problems and take action if necessary.
If you are thinking about a new architecture job, I've created a mega-pack of free resources that includes architecture resumes, cover letters, and an extensive collection of application documents. Click for a free download:
So here are my 10 Signs You Need To Look For A New Architecture Job.
1. There are a lot of leaving parties
People come and go at all offices. Turnover is a part of life in architecture and every other profession. However, if you start to notice a large percentage of the office is jumping ship, it is time to figure out why.
Get to the bottom of what is going on so you can identify if there are some common threads with the leavers. Be especially weary if the top talent is exiting.
Is there competition poaching your co-workers? Were they (and potentially you) being underpaid in the local market?
Perhaps the mass exodus is a symptom of an underlying problem in your current office.
2. There is no ladder to climb
Career advancement is a common reason why many people decide to leave their jobs. This tends to be especially true for younger employees in architecture.
When I conducted my audience survey I asked, "what would make you leave your job?”
By far the most top response was "support of your professional advancement:
31.11%: Support of your professional advancement
25.56%: Better work environment (people or office)
23.33%: Pay increase
12.22%: Better work - life balance
1.11%: More responsibility
0.00%: Fewer working hours
So if you feel you are not getting the support you require, whether the proper experience, mentoring, licensing assistance, etc., it may be time to move on.
3. Constantly changing management
There are always going to be changes in the structure of the architecture office. However, if you have a new boss every three weeks there is a problem.
In architecture, the project timelines are very long, so it is important to have a consistent thread of supervision. If there is a revolving door of management, it can be detrimental to the office morale and project success.
This can lead to a poor office reputation which can then effect your personal reputation.
4. You don’t know how you are doing
If you are clueless to your performance in the office it is a sign you are not getting the proper feedback.
Are you doing great? Bad? Average? Lacking in particular areas?
It is important to stay on top of your progress before it is too late. Often someone who is underperforming will be ignored and not assigned tasks because it is easier to give it to someone more reliable. You don’t want this to be you.
Find out how you can improve, if there is an unsolvable issue on their part or yours, it might be time to move on.
5. It is a negative environment
Often in a firm there are going to be egos clashing, arguments and any number of conflicts. However, this should be the exception.
If you find there are constant knock-down, drag-out fights going on, it is clearly a sign of a poor work environment. If there is a common culprit, he or she needs to be addressed. While one troublesome person can be easily dealt with, if there is a culture of negative attitudes it may be beyond repair.
I can’t stress enough the importance of finding a positive work atmosphere. You will not only be happier but more productive and efficient when working in a team or solo.
6. There is too much stress
All firms have deadlines and stressful situations. As stated above with the other issues, if it becomes part of the culture it is a problem. High levels of stress permeate all levels, from your work to your private life.
Try to identify the cause of the stress and see what can be done. Often we are told to just "stick it out” and “deal with it”. Yet, if the reasons for the stress-inducing situations are out of your control that is easier said than done.
If there are reasons that simply can’t be solved you should start working on your architecture resume.
7. You are just a number
This typically depends on the size of the architecture firm. Since the majority of offices are small this is less of an issue. However, if you feel you are being treated as simply a number, it may be a sign you are not getting the support you require.
While it is not up to your employer to carry your architecture career to the highest levels (that is for you to do), there should be some personalization in the office.
You should feel that your work is being valued and appreciated on some level. This will keep you motivated when times get tough and deadlines are looming.
In the end, feeling like you are easily replaceable will make for a much less productive work environment for everyone involved.
8. The ship is sinking
In the Great Recession of 2009, all the ships were sinking. Jumping from one boat to another meant you were potentially sinking a little slower. That was a downturn was somewhat unique in that it affected all of the architecture industry. When it is limited to your firm, you do have the luxury of other options.
This is perhaps the most obvious sign you need to look for a new architecture jobs. If a large number of staff is being let go, there is a good chance you are next on the list.
Stay ahead of the game and get all of your application documents ready. Start reaching out to other firms and recruiters.
The best time to find a new job is while you already have a job.
9. The company's ethics are questionable
This is quite a rare occurrence but it is worth mentioning. If you discover your firm is taking part in potentially unethical or illegal behavior it is time to leave.
Honesty and integrity are extremely important in the architecture community. Both for your personal reputation and that of the profession.
Architecture is a profession that can potentially put lives in danger. For instance, if building safety issues are fudged to cut corners or blatant incompetence due to lack of experience. These are serious problems not to be ignored.
10. You are always bored
It is your job as an architect to stay engaged in a project or task, even if you don’t find it over-the-top exciting.
If boredom becomes your daily routine, you need to look at the root cause. Perhaps you don’t find the work challenging, it is too mundane, or you are being underutilized. Whatever the reason, it may or not be the architecture firm's fault.
Once you have assessed the problem, sit down with you supervisor to discuss how you can fix the problem.
This does not mean you should say “I am bored”!
Instead, you could ask for more responsibility or to work on a project that better aligns with your skills and abilities. This will result in a better outcome for both you and the office.
I hope you found these 10 Signs You Need To Look For A New Architecture Job helpful.
Want to find your dream architecture job?
Check out The Architect's Guide Resources.
To help you with your architecture job search, I've created a mega-pack of free resources that includes architecture resumes, cover letters, and an extensive collection of application documents. Click for a free download:
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Brandon Hubbard, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP BD+C
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