One of the questions I am asked most often is, "who should I send my architecture job application to?"
The answer is easy: the right person.
Sounds simple enough doesn't it?
So who is this elusive gatekeeper inside of an architecture firm that can make or break your career? Hiding behind an impenetrable brick wall called an HR department or an online portal.
I think the title "portal" is appropriate. Sounds like something from a sci-fi movie, where your application is sucked into another dimension never to be seen again. Unfortunately that is often exactly what happens to your online application.
So what are you to do?
In this article I will discuss a few tips and tricks to avoid the application black hole and how to get your architecture application to the right person.
Dear sir or madam
Let's say for the sake of argument you don't know anyone in the firm or firms you would like to work. You have created your target list of architecture firms and are now ready to start sending out applications. Great!
Dear sir or madam?
Dear hiring manager?
Dear future boss?
The best answer is none of the above.
The reason is that all of these salutations have the same problem, they are not addressed to a specific person. This should always be your goal.
Do your best to get the the name of the hiring manager or a decision maker on your application and email it directly to them. In my experience this always gets the best results.
Aim high or aim low?
First you need to do your research on the firm you are applying. Depending on the size of the architecture firm the application process will differ. A very large firm with over a hundred people will likely have the previously mentioned online portal. While you can get a job this way I only recommend it as a last resort.
Every firm will have a leadership team, owner, CEO etc. Generally speaking you do not want to send your application to the top people in the office unless you have a connection. The senior management get hundreds of emails a day and you will just get lost in the shuffle (assuming they even read their own emails).
On the other hand, you don't want to send your application to someone at the bottom of the office. Sending your resume (CV) to the newly hired intern will unlikely yield any results.
If it is not clear from the firm website or the job posting who to send your application to it is best to aim for the "Goldilocks Zone" within the firm hierarchy - not too high and not too low.
Generally this is a person with the term manager, senior, or director in their job title. Also more obvious is someone with an HR title attached to their name.
Where to find contact information
The best place to start is the architecture firm's website by looking in their About page. This will often include firm managers that you can contact via email. I discuss how to get their email using a technique below.
Also check out their Contact page, usually this will include either an HR email or some kind of email@example.com. Unfortunately, a general email like this is only one small step above the application portal.
You can also search for the hiring manager's name using Google. Put the company name in quotes along with potential HR or managerial titles.
The LinkedIn search method
One helpful method to find the name of a potential hiring manager is to use LinkedIn's search feature.
At the top of the LinkedIn page is a search bar. When you click in the bar it will show a drop down, click on "Search for people with filters".
You'll see search options including Current companies, Keywords (First Name, Last Name, Title) Industry (Architecture & Planning), etc. Obviously we don't know the hiring manager's name - that's what we're trying to find out. However, you do know the company name, so put that into the "Company" box and try searching for keywords and job titles.
For example I did this with Gensler and got a successful result. By using the keyword "recruiting" in about ten seconds I was able to find the Gensler NY recruiting manager.
Be sure to try a range of job title and keywords like HR, director, manager, principal, partner, etc.
Once you have found them on LinkedIn you can send them a message but it is best if you can get their email address, this can be done by going back to the firm website above and looking for contact information.
The email contact method
Often offices have a simple template for emails such somehow combining the person's first and last names (or initials) along with the firm name.
For example, if you find on the website that John Smith's email at Archifirm is firstname.lastname@example.org then you can apply that to anyone you need to contact in the firm with reasonable certainty. So then if you need to email Jane Doe then you can assume her email to be email@example.com.
One thing about this method is that you are sending emails to people who haven't asked to be sent to so please be respectful. Do not send more than one email to someone without a response. Be kind and courteous in your communication and your efforts will pay off.
I hope this has been helpful for preparing your next architecture job application.
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Brandon Hubbard, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP BD+C
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