Applying for a Job: How to be an Attractive Candidate
Updated: Apr 15, 2021
Here we are, week nine of Design Create Inspire. Thank you for joining us! Last week, I welcomed Nico Becerra, a successful, new age business lawyer, onto the show. If you missed last week, check out the blog and podcast. Also, if you’d like to get a monthly newsletter with a summary of the past month’s episodes, subscribe here.
On the topic of business, this week we are talking about applying for jobs, and how to be the most attractive candidate (in my opinion).
As someone who has been on both sides, the one applying and the one hiring, there are many tips to making yourself, your resume, and your portfolio stand out. Don't forget to check out the podcast to hear me discuss these more.
From the design/architecture perspective, here are the qualities that I am looking for when hiring:
1. Good Communication
This is the cornerstone of my entire business, not only with those I hire and work with, but with my clients as well. Without clear communication, things are misunderstood and fall through the cracks, getting messy quick.
How can you showcase your communication skills in your first interaction? Be clear and concise. Why are you sending this email? What are you looking for?
Your first email is your first impression, deliver your thoughts efficiently and effectively. Personally, I respond well to emails and if I am impressed with the initial email conversation, look forward to having a phone conversation.
Always provide your phone number and availability to further the conversation over the phone. This shows assertiveness and confidence, as well as time management.
In addition to keeping your initial email concise, delivering your portfolio in the most efficient way is extremely valuable. Rather than sending a 300-page portfolio, keep it short.
Your resume should be one page, followed by your portfolio, which includes your favorite works, the ones that show how you think like a designer. Adding your website to this portfolio is a great way to provide your future employer a chance to look further into your work while displaying efficiency in the workplace.
It is important to me that I can connect with who I hire, to be able to chat and talk with them about things other than design. While a professional relationship is important, it is just as important to be able to relate. Additionally, showing that you have a life outside the design world shows that you are real, let your personality shine.
4. You ask questions
There is no such thing as a stupid question. Being able to ask good questions shows confidence and intelligence as well as your interest in my business.
I am a goal-oriented person and it is important for my team members to share that mentality. Be honest about your goals and where you envision yourself in the future, and how working together fits into those goals.
While these five things have very little do with design, they are the first five things I look at in a new hire. If you have these, it is clear you will be a valuable team member.
That being said, when it comes to your resume, this is what I look for
1. Revit and Adobe Suite
Understanding Revit and Adobe Suite are important to me as we use these programs daily in the design world. I do not expect a new hire to know everything, but I do need a new hire to know how to do the basics: make a wall, export a PDF, etc.
When I was in school, Revit wasn’t required and almost talked down on. I took it upon myself to learn Revit which was one of the best decisions I made for my architecture career. I am hoping that Revit is part of the curriculum now, as someone with a small team, I could not hire a design employee who did not have this knowledge.
2. Organizations, Clubs, Extra Curricular Activities
While I was an introvert during architecture school, as well as a new mom, I did not have many of these on my resume, but I kept myself busy outside of school. It is important to show that you have interests outside of design, adding personality to your resume. Maybe you are part of an intramural soccer team, love to surf, or are an avid hiker! Whatever you do in your free time, mention it.
I briefly look at a portfolio. What I look for in a portfolio may surprise you, beginning with how clean the portfolio is. Immediately I look to see how efficiently the portfolio is laid out. How you display your work directly transfers to how you will display your work on my team, under my name.
Having a nice layout, justifying and spacing correctly, is important. I am blinded by the layout of a portfolio, as overall, your portfolio is a direct reflection of your attention to detail.
Additionally, I look for project evolution, not just final renderings. This shows a lot about the individual as a designer and their ability to learn. So don’t forget to include the process: sketches, photos of models, etc.
So, if you are looking for a job, here are my tips
Get involved. Go to AIA events or participate in organizations where the company you are looking to work with is associated with. Today, there are tons of virtual events that are easy to get involved with. The design and architecture world is a small industry, mingle, and start to build your network.
Reach out. Put yourself out there, but don’t be annoying. I suggest first reaching out virtually and setting up a meeting rather than blindly showing up at someone’s office (which I guess isn’t even an option at the moment).
Resume + Portfolio. In the very first email, include your resume and portfolio. This makes it incredibly easy for the employer to learn about you, especially when the first page is aesthetically pleasing.
Put yourself out there. Similar to getting involved, be comfortable with connecting with others. Start an Instagram account, follow those you want to work with, and use social media to showcase your designs as well as your communication skills.
Show interest. You want the company to feel wanted, that you are passionate and have interest in their projects, their message, etc. Doing a little bit of research goes a long way. Educate yourself on past projects and mention their work.
I am always welcome to giving advice, looking over someone’s portfolio, or answering questions. Please don’t be shy to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or send me a message on Instagram, @byoungdesign.
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See you next week!
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