What Do You Want In An Architecture Job? My Survey Results

Architecture Job Survey

Architecture Job Survey

I emailed a short survey to my audience recently and I received a lot of valuable feedback that I would like to share. Thank you to those of you that took the time to share your thoughts and experiences. Hopefully this is helpful to others dealing with the same issues.

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:

So here are the results of my architecture job survey.

1. My audience's gender

Interestingly, 55% of my audience is female. According to the 2015 NCARB Demographics study, only 42% of new Record holders were women.

2. My audience's age

73% of my audience is between the ages of 21 and 31. This didn't surprise me since the majority of emails and questions I receive from candidates are in this age range. 

3. My audience's education

My audience is highly educated, with 75% having either a Bachelor's or Master's degree.

This particularly impressive given the fact that only 36% U.S. adults 25 to 34 years old have a degree, according to the 2015 Census.

4. Is my audience employed in an architecture related field?

This stat also surprised me, I assumed that a larger proportion (actually only 59%) of my audience would be working in an architecture related field.

I assume is is because the other 41% is either students or people looking to transition into the architecture profession. 

5. My audience's employment status

The detailed stats:

35.00% of my audience is employed and actively looking for a new job.

17% are employed, but NOT looking for a new job.

16.00% are not employed and looking for a job. 

The rest are students or other situations.

The good news is that the majority of my audience is employed. However, there is a large percentage of unemployed at 16%, which is much higher than the general unemployment statistics. 

6. What is the most important employment factor for my audience?

Here is a detailed breakdown of the above chart:

34.00%: Support of your professional advancement

28.00%: Work - life balance

22.00%: Culture

7.00%: Salary

3.00%: Office prestige

6.00%: Other

These results really surprised me. I had assumed that for most candidates one of the most important employment factors was salary.

However, salary isn't even close to the top at #4. This highlights the importance of a supportive office environment and work culture.

I discussed this in greater detail in a previous article: 

88% Of Supervisors Say Architecture Licensure Is Very Important. Only 27% Of Employees Agree

7. What would make my audience leave their job?

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

6.67%: Other

1.11%: More responsibility

0.00%: Fewer working hours - WOW!

Again the results surprised me. I assumed most people would be persuaded to leave their job if offered a higher salary. While a pay increase is at #3 it is not the biggest reason. Most people in my survey would leave their current job for more professional advancement and a better work environment. 

This does make sense since my audience skews younger, a demographic which is focused on career development. 

Perhaps most amazing is that for all of the complaining that goes on around working hours, not a single person out of hundreds of responses said they would leave because of working hours. 

At the end of the survey I asked an optional open ended question. I have selected a handful of these responses to provide my comments on each.

I think this might be helpful for everyone since these seem to be common issues. My comments are noted with BH.

8. What is your biggest problem or difficulty when it comes to the architecture job search? 

Putting myself out there and cultivating a connection with firms. Most firms (from what I've heard) will hire people they know, but it's really hard to get into groups like that. Maybe it's because I'm only a second year undergrad, but any advice on how to begin to cultivate a relationship with a firm would be VERY helpful.

BH: There is no magic formula for getting to know architecture firms, especially as an undergrad. However, by working the contacts you already have is often a good starting point. For example, I am sure your architecture professors have connections you could reach out to. Finding someone who knows someone is a great shortcut.

As a foreigner recently moved to the US, a main concern is competing on the market with a foreign education, a relatively small network, an imperfect knowledge of the construction/design US industries.

BH: Everyone starts with a network of zero. It is your job to meet people in the industry, learn new skills and develop your network. No one will do this for you.

Start small. Reach out to one mutual connection and ask them to lunch to share their experience. 

Cover letter, specifically the time it takes to craft a letter based on research of the firm and how you align with those ideals.

BH: See How To Write The Perfect Architecture Cover Letter.

In addition, if you would like my one-on-one help with your cover letter and applications check out my Architecture Job Resources.

Getting the salary I feel I'm worth.

BH: I discuss this here: 5 Factors Affecting Your Architect Salary

I believe my skill experience. I worked as drafting manager for specific residential design firm, so it is quite hard to pick up job with more design focus.

BH: Regardless of your previous work experience there will always be skill overlaps with a new role. Your job in your application documents is to make those connections clear.

Drafting always involves design on some level, even if minor. Focus your applications on your strengths and examples of design work that shows your potential. Even if drawing a wood framing detail requires a level of design skill. 

Fear of rejection. Spending too much time trying to make perfect work samples and portfolios.

BH: You have to get over your fear of rejection. This is extremely important. Successful people fail more than anyone.

The people who get back up after being knocked down are the winners in this world. 

Finding a firm large enough that they offer programming as a career path and having a strong team to help mentor me into and through establishing programming as my focus.

BH; Scripting and programming are very niche specializations within architecture and as you said are almost exclusive to large firms

A good place to start would be the list of the Top 300 Firms of 2016. 

Currently I am having difficultly finding firms in my city - firms whose work overlaps with my career interest. If I stumble across firms of interest, they aren't hiring for a position I qualify for. I find myself questioning whether to reach out or not, and if so, what will happen.

BH: Most job openings are not advertised. If you want to work at a particular firm I would encourage you to apply. Regardless of whether or not they have the exact position you are looking for listed. What is the worst thing that could happen? Go for it.

No Revit experience, which makes it hard to find a job.

BH: There a lot of great courses out there. I recommend Lynda, they have some great Revit classes like: Revit: Tips, Tricks, and Troubleshooting

Getting acknowledgement or responses when I submit my resume. I've only really had to search for an architecture job once, and submitted over 16 resumes (I know that's not a lot compared to what some people go through) but only received even an acknowledgement of receipt of the applications from a few offices. This is so frustrating!

BH: This is perhaps the most common question I get. Unfortunately there isn't a one-size-fits-all answer. There are an infinite number of reasons why your application is rejected. I covered this topic in greater detail here:

7 Reasons Why Your Architecture Job Application Is Being Ignored

To find a job near home, it is difficult to have certain comfort related to the distances for me to travel (around a 3 hour journey) It affects the time left for me to do extra activities, such as sports, going out with friends, etc.

BH: As we discovered above, a work-life balance is one of the most desirable traits of potential employment (obviously). Personally, a commute longer than an hour is crazy. If moving is not a possibility then the only options are finding another job that is closer or potentially starting your own office.

Getting the portfolio right. How many projects, what information on each of them. If what I send via email is more like a flyer. I've got only 2 years experience so I'm including a couple of projects from university. Less is more? Should the online representation be just to create an impression but not really explain the project?

BH: I covered many of these topics in The Two Page Architecture Portfolio. Your application portfolio should just give the hiring manager a taste of your skills and experience so they want to learn more about you. The interview portfolio can go into more detail. 

Meeting all the requirements of the job position since what is required can be at time very and extremely specific.

BH: Don't worry about meeting all of the requirements of the job position. If you meet approximately 75% of what they are asking for it is usually more than enough to apply. Focus on the most important things first such as years of work experience. 

What the 'norm' of cv and portfolio writing are for the industry.

BH: See these articles for further information:

How To Write The Perfect Architecture Cover Letter

The Two Page Architecture Portfolio

Finding the motivation at the end of a workday to sit down and work on my portfolio, resume and architecture job search.

BH: This is a challenge. Often the last thing you want to do after work is more work. I would encourage you to set aside time on the weekends instead of trying to push yourself with an extra long workday. If you would like my one-on-one help with your applications check out my Architecture Job Resources.

I hope you found these survey results as helpful as I have. Please let me know in the comments below if you have any thoughts on the responses. 

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

The Top 5 Architecture Interview Questions

Where To Apply For Architecture Jobs Online

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.