Brandon Hubbard is an architect and founder of The Architect’s Guide, a site dedicated to helping architects find rewarding careers. Brandon specializes in architecture job applications including resumes, cover letters, portfolios, and interviews. He has worked for several world-renowned architecture firms across the U.S. and Europe, including Foster + Partners in London. He is a licensed California architect and LEED Accredited Professional with a Master’s Degree in Architecture.
As I previously covered in, Where To Apply For Architecture Jobs Online, there are many sites that post architecture jobs. While it may be there in plain black and white, how can you translate it into a job offer? I still maintain that the best way to get a job is through your connections and network within the architecture community. However, depending on the firm you want to work for this isn’t always possible.
So what is the best way to go about landing that architecture job offer?
1. Don’t Forget The Cover Letter
This is an essential document that is even more vital when applying online. It is your marketing document. It is your two sentence “elevator pitch” that introduces yourself.
Highlight the best parts of your resume without duplicating it.
The number one goal of the cover letter is to let the prospective employer know who you are. If you have a mutual colleague or connection make sure you mention them.
Emphasize your “soft” skills.
For example highlight your strong work ethic, ability to meet deadlines or working long hours if required (not uncommon in architecture).
Show that you are enthusiastic and passionate about the firm and the role. Be sure to use active voice instead of passive. “I started the project” is better than, “the project was started by me”.
By the way, make sure you keep it short. One page is ideal.
For a more detailed cover letter explanation check out: How To Write The Perfect Architecture Cover Letter
2. Get To The Point!
According to a new study released by TheLadders, on average job recruiters spend only 6 seconds looking at your resume.
This highlights the importance of having a concise, well formatted resume that highlights your best work and experience.
Don’t be a robot. Be a person. Most generic resumes do not sound genuine. Try to add a personal touch by mentioning something unique and interesting about yourself. Clearly explain why your qualifications are a good fit for the job.
For more on writing a well crafted resume see, How To Write The Perfect Architecture Resume (CV)
3. Follow Instructions
Most job postings have paragraph on how they want you to submit and what to include. Pay special attention to this information.
For example, here is an excerpt from a recent architecture job posting:
“Please submit one pdf document no more than 5MB that includes a cover letter, resume, and work samples to firstname.lastname@example.org. The cover letter should include your availability, salary requirement, and specific legal authorization to work in the US. The email subject field should read: XYZ Intermediate Position: Your Name.Applicants that do not follow the instructions above will not be considered.”
Note the last sentence. This is your first test as a potential employee. Can you follow simple instructions?
Often it helps to copy the instructions and reformat as a checklist so you don’t miss anything:
- ONE combined pdf (5MB max)
Send by email: email@example.com
- Email subject: XYZ Intermediate Position: Brandon Hubbard
4. Spell Check And Proofread
This is very basic advice and I wouldn’t be listing it here if it wasn’t a problem. Despite the obvious importance of proper grammar, I still see many applications with typos and poor sentence structure. While applying for an architecture job may not be an extensive literary exercise, your application documents should be error free.
Don’t just rely on spell check.
Common mistakes like “they’re” versus “their” will not be picked up. Have a friend proofread everything before you send it out.
This includes your portfolio, often it is overlooked because of the graphic emphasis. If you can’t find someone to check it for you just read it to yourself out loud. This can help find mistakes you may have otherwise missed.
5. Your Submission Mission
When applying there are usually two scenarios: website and email.
If given the choice I prefer to submit to an email address. In comparison to a website submission, it is one less layer to get through.
Some of the large architecture offices will have application portals on their website.
There are generally two options:
1. Attaching a PDF
Always go with this option first. If they only offer a text box then can be a formatting issue.
2. A text only box
This is usually a plain text box that does not allow formatting, you need to have your application documents formatted for both html and plain text when applying so they are both clearly legible.
I recommend you include the cover letter in the body of the message if you are applying by email. By keeping the cover letter as part of the email it takes out one step from clicking on two or three separate attachments (cover letter, resume, and sample portfolio.)
Hopefully these tips are helpful for your next online architecture application. Good luck!