5 Reasons You Will Never Find An Architecture Job

I receive a lot of emails throughout the week, most are encouraging and positive. However, there are always a number of people who are convinced they will never find a job in architecture and often wonder if they should just give up. 

I have found that there are common themes with the people that have been unsuccessful with their job search efforts. Unfortunately, if they continue these same habits they will likely remain unemployed. In this post I share my thoughts on what can doom your architecture applications and hopefully this will help you avoid the common pitfalls. 

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:

1. Unclear goals

Setting goals is extremely important in both your professional and personal life. To be successful you have to be completely clear on your ideal job and career path. 

Do you want to work in a large office? 

A small residential firm?

Interior design firm?

Specialize in BIM Management?

These are all viable paths within the architecture profession but no one is going to figure it out for you.

Figure out what you want and where you want to be in ten years. This will allow you to position yourself with the right role in the right environment.

If you want to work exclusively on design competitions then don't waste your time applying for offices that do not participate in competitions. It sounds simple but I see this mistake again and again.

We can become so focused on "just find a job" that we mistakenly get into a position where we are unproductive and unhappy. This is a recipe for career suicide. 

2. Blaming outside variables

"The economy is bad."

"No one is hiring." 

"I didn't go to a prestigious university."

"I don't know anyone in the firm."

These are a few of the common reasons I often hear as to why someone has not been able to find a job. The fact is these are simply excuses.

All of the above statements are trying to justify why the job search has been a failure. The fact is there are many people who have found top architecture jobs with ALL of the above problems. The difference is they did not focus on their weak areas but rather their strengths. 

The economy is bad?

Find a different part of the country or world to look for work.

Don't know anyone in the firm?

Apply anyway and stop by the office. Taking action gets noticed. Yes, you may be rejected but persistence always pays off. 

Didn't go to a prestigious university?

Most firms do not care where you studied. The number one metric for hiring is your work experience and applicable skills. 

3. Thinking a degree (or an advanced degree) is the answer

I hear from people who have been in school for 8, 10, or 12 years and more. The idea of being a professional student is certainly appealing, but it does not help your job search.

There also seems to be a common theme that along with this much schooling. Usually it is accompanied by almost zero work experience despite more than ten summers of free time. 

Once upon a time having an advanced degree meant a ticket to your dream job. Today this is certainly not the case.

What employers what to see is work experience.

I don't care how you get it: internships, volunteer work, working for practically nothing, etc. — you have to get something to show potential employers outside of academia. 

Carefully think about your choice to pursue an advanced degree in architecture or related field. Be very honest with yourself. Are you doing it because you truly need the degree to continue your career path or are you just "hiding" from the job market?

4. Only applying for advertised jobs

I do believe that applying through job posts can yield excellent results. It has worked for me and many others i have helped.

However, if you are ONLY looking at jobs that are posted on job boards or their website, you are seeing a very tiny percentage of what’s available.  

Carefully research where you want to work. Then make a list of 30-40 companies where you know there could be a match for your skills and contact them – before they “post” the position.   

This will help to give you a head start on the competition and increase your chances of success. 

5. Not knowing yourself

"Of course I know myself! I am me!"

You would think that most people know their strengths and weakness better than anyone, however many are oblivious to their own skills. Taking the time to examine and discover your strengths, talents, and abilities will give you greater confidence and go a long way to helping you land your next position. Most people never do an honest self-appraisal and assume things about themselves that may, or may not, be true.

Only by knowing yourself will allow you to put together a successful application that makes the connection between your skills and the needs of the employer. 

Being self aware is critical.

If you don't know your own pros and cons it is much more difficult to sell yourself to a potential employer. When you are interviewing for a position, you must be able to show with credibility what you know and what you do well, to be considered for the role.

Try asking yourself a series of questions:

What is your greatest professional skill?

What is your biggest achievement? How did it happen?

What is your greatest weakness? How can you minimize the impact or improve it?

What you like doing? Hate doing?

By asking these questions it will help you to identify your basket of skills from which to pull application content ideas. 

Also reach out to past colleagues (most important), friends, family, fellow students and ask them what they think are your greatest attributes. Often having the perspective of an outsider can highlight your own skills you may have otherwise overlooked.

I hope these have been helpful things to avoid so you can land that great architecture job. 

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:

Thanks for reading, see also my posts on:

The Two Page Architecture Portfolio

Where To Apply For Architecture Jobs Online

25 Things To Consider When Choosing An Architecture Job Offer

Good luck!

Brandon Hubbard, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP BD+C

Have a suggestion for a future blog post? Please let me know in the comments below.