How to Find a Better Job with an Amazing Architecture Portfolio
Is there anything better out there?
We all see the global unemployment numbers and wonder if we can ever afford to lose or leave our current jobs. We cling to the status quo for dear life fearing what might be out there waiting for us if we decide to look for something better.
While the unemployment numbers seem daunting there is actually high demand for good workers. The best firms in the world are in need of individuals to come in and be part of growing industries.
This is especially true in the global construction industry where architects, engineers, designers and other professionals are highly sought by the best firms in the world.
The catch is they aren't looking for just anybody. These firms want the best of the best. The issue for professionals is communicating their worth to firms.
If you feel you have something to offer and want to find a better job then creating an architecture portfolio is the first item to put on your priority list.
Here is how to create the type of portfolio that will win over those HR execs.
What Firms Want to See From Architects Today
You want to put yourself in the frame of mind of the firms you want to work for when creating your portfolio. This mindset takes you away from thinking about what you or other architects might enjoy seeing in a portfolio puts you in the person you're trying to win over – the hiring agent.
It's an obvious point, but an important one to remember early in the process.
Now, things have changed in the last few years. The Internet has changed the hiring process. The biggest change is access to information. Today, people have an immense amount of information at their fingertips.
Some see this as a deterrent when looking for new jobs. After all, hiring agents must have the ability to pick anyone they choose by doing a simple Internet search.
But the Internet is a great opportunity for you to really show your worth and get the ideal job.
Here are the modern tools you can use to show firms that you are exactly the person they need.
Creating Your Own Website Portfolio
There are a number of online portfolio collections and communities. These are great as part of your overall portfolio strategy, but it's not enough today.
Remember, employers are looking for top talent. It's relatively easy to create a resume on communities like LinkedIn and other architecture-type websites.
To stand out you need to put forth the extra effort to create your own website portfolio. Having your own website to showcase your work and experience gives you control over the platform. It also shows that you're willing to go beyond what the rest of the workforce is willing to do.
You have a few different options for creating your own website portfolio.
The first is to create a basic website with a basic design template. For around one hundred dollars you can purchase a domain and hosting. These will be annual costs. To keep costs low you can use a content management system such as WordPress, which is free, and use one of the many available free design templates.
The next step up will get you a semi-custom design template. These can cost a few hundred dollars more. There are templates that come with a cost, but they are very easy to alter on your own. They also come with support, which can be really handy when you have questions or issues.
The next step up will be a completely custom design, which can cost into the thousands of dollars, but will allow you to create the design that showcases your work exactly as you would like.
And that's a good question. How should you showcase your work on your own website?
Start by thinking about your website as your personal online salesperson. The task for the site is to sell you to potential employers.
Consider the most important information employers want to know about you just as if you were submitting a resume and going to an interview.
Include the following:
- Basic Information including contact information
- A few paragraphs about yourself including personal and professional stories
- Your work
Now, to expand on the idea of your work you'll have to show more than just the actual work. Employers want to see case studies. They want to read the story about the challenge you were presented with and your thought process to achieve success in the face of the challenge.
Remember, employers are investing in you. They want that investment to pay off. They want to see how you've helped others achieve success. They want to see how you can help solve their current problems or take them to another level of success.
Showcase the visual side of your work. That remains important, but the stories behind the work are just as important. People react to stories and it's something most people overlook as they search for jobs.
Low-Risk and Trial Work
Another point of difference to consider is allowing potential employers the opportunity to see what you can do on a specific project with little or no risk for them.
Think about it from the employer standpoint today; they need to find the best. It's expensive to hire new employees and when employees don't work out it's extremely costly and can set back the company especially for high positions.
You don't have to offer to do work for free, but you can offer to work on a trial basis where it's a money-back guarantee for the employer if things don't work out. You can work on a project just as you would normally and offer to accept payment should the company find the work satisfactory.
Now, this is likely going to be mostly small-scale projects. You don't want to invest long periods of time without a guarantee on your end, but again, this will set you apart from others without cheapening what you bring to the table.
Project-based employment is more common today. Again, employers want low-risk options for employees. If you're willing to work project-to-project it eliminates some of the risk for the employer in the long run. They might even be willing to pay you more than they normally would if you were to accept a full-time position.
This approach has its positives and negatives. It's not a guarantee of long-term work, but you will have your own options available and if you remain one of the top candidates in the industry you'll find yourself always in demand with employers fighting each other for your services.
Traditional Elements That Remain Important
While creating your own website portfolio is an important way to earn a dream job today there are still classic concepts and strategies that will serve you well. Some may tell you these are out-of-date, but you can be sure that some of these concepts will never go out of style especially if the hiring agent has classic style.
Print has kind of been pushed aside, but there is still nothing like being able to touch something and see all the intricacies up close. Details, even though websites have come along way, are still ideal in print when it comes to items like photographs, drawings and other creations.
Print has never been cheap and it shouldn't be if you're looking to impress. It can cost several hundred and into the thousands of dollars to create a print portfolio that will win you the job you covet.
But if you compare yourself to others out there that will only create LinkedIn profiles you'll stand out if you take the time to send your print portfolio to the companies for which you wish to work.
The concept of what have you done for me lately is timeless. People are interested in what you've done throughout your career, but it's important to have recent success and recent effort.
Whether it's your online portfolio or you printed portfolio you'll want to showcase your most recent case studies first. This requires frequent maintenance, but it's essential.
As projects and case studies become older you can retire the full details instead opting to include them as part of your story. Remember, people want to understand your story. When you write about yourself tell your entire story. Discuss your early struggles and how you fought through each challenge and each project to get to where you are today.
Project Layout and Design
A common question for those looking for jobs is how to present their projects and case studies. People want to know how they should design their portfolio.
The advice is basic, but relevant. Let the project, but the star instead of the portfolio. Let the colors of the images from your design be the main focus rather than making the website background or supporting elements the highlight.
Whether designing your website or print portfolio always use muted tones and minimal supplementary elements. Let the project images and feature sections stand out so employees can scan the portfolio as they determine where to start.
Promoting Your Portfolio
The final part of your portfolio is the art of promoting yourself. You can have a wonderful portfolio, but if nobody knows about it you'll never get your dream job.
Directories, Networking and Community Building
Earlier we spoke of online communities and directories. Use these to build your audiences. Websites like LinkedIn and other niche sites specific to the construction and design industry can be to your benefit.
Employers do search these sites when looking for the best potential workers. You can provide the most important information about yourself that will make you appealing with a quick glance. From each location link to your online portfolio so they can get just a hint of what you're about on the directory and find out the full amount on your own website.
Work to build your connections in the industry on community sites. The more connections you have the more potential for making a connection that will turn into a dream job. In the professional world it only takes one serendipitous moment to find happiness. Encourage these moments by building your networks.
Media and Public Relations
Another avenue available to anyone today is the media and public relations. Services like HARO are available that connection professionals and experts with reporters and other media sources. By building connections in the media and providing quotes and insight you can build your profile.
The more exposure you have the better chance you'll have to find the job you want. Potential employers are reading all the industry literature and they're watching many of the videos as well.
The Living Architecture Portfolio
The main take away from this article is that your architecture portfolio is a living, breathing being. You want to always keep it maintained and updated so potential employers can see the latest success case studies from your list of accomplishments.
An online portfolio is easier to manage in this nature. You have the opportunity to create your own website that you can frequently update and maintain. By keeping your own website you'll stand out as someone committed to excellent work and not just the most basic of work presentations.