You’ve spent several years in architecture school. All that’s left is to find the perfect job. Online listings might lead you to job prospects in today’s strong market, but to find the right job, a job that you’ll love, embrace the power of networking.
“At least 70 percent, if not 80 percent, of jobs are not published,” Matt Younquist, president of Career Horizons, tells NPR. “And yet most people — they are spending 70 or 80 percent of their time surfing the net versus getting out there, talking to employers, taking some chances [and] realizing that the vast majority of hiring is friends and acquaintances hiring other trusted friends and acquaintances.”
“For job-seekers there are some major advantages to networking over applying directly,” writes Lou Adler, CEO of Performance-based Hiring Learning Systems. In other words, it really is about whom you know, even if you don’t know everyone. “For one, you’ll be able to bypass the gatekeepers. For another, you’ll increase your chances of being interviewed and hired by 5-10x. Even more important, candidates who are highly referred are judged more on their past performance and future potential than on their level of skills and experiences.”
Making connections whenever and wherever possible is vital, but cold-calling and -emailing can be daunting (NPR suggests job seekers make 100 new contacts a month). To supplement those efforts, here are several other creative ways to meet and engage with new and existing contacts.
- Join the conversation. Along with using LinkedIn to search job opportunities, showcase your expertise and spread your personal brand name by joining discussions in Groups (e.g., Architect magazine, Architecture, or Sustainability Professionals, to name just a few) — share helpful content, answer questions, acknowledge the commentary of others. Also, use LinkedIn’s publishing tool to blog about timely subjects; be sure to use keywords so your writing will show up in topic searches.
- Embrace your village. Networking is about more than just finding a job — it’s about getting the most out of your chosen career. For example, “New York boasts more architects than any other city in the U.S. and is home to some of the most groundbreaking practitioners in the world. But some might be surprised to hear that the local architecture community is a very much a village,” says Benjamin Prosky, executive director for the Center for Architecture and the American Institute of Architects New York Chapter. “Daily, we all experience happy chance encounters, spontaneous meetings, and discovery-filled detours that impact our work and lives in immeasurable ways.
- Work the room. When making connections at industry networking receptions, check your ego, be authentic, and prepare to talk about things other than just design or career goals, Architect magazine advises. The goal, Richard Pollack, FAIA, tells the magazine, is to “build a large and wide-ranging network without an immediate ROI. I’ll … learn if there is any [professional] advantage for me to know more about the person and their business. If there is no advantage to me, I will find a way to disengage quickly.”
- Get active. Becoming directly involved in your community and the design community will help expand your network while putting your own skills and expertise on display. Seek out volunteer opportunities because they frequently can be turned into employment opportunities.. Your local AIA chapter is a great place to start seeking involvement prospects in your area.
- Let AIA help—for free. From local chapter events to online group forums, an AIA membership grants you access to thousands of other architects around the country and the world. Connect with fellow members at high-profile firms, showcase your expertise by joining the conversation in our knowledge communities, and even become an advocate. These and other paths will open up your network while introducing you to new opportunities.
Ready to get started reaping the benefits of the AIA network? Join for free today.