Job Hunting Tips for Architects
by Maire Costello & Cillian Gray
Note: This article is written for Vancouver, British Columbia, but the advice is applicable to all provinces in Canada.
Architectural firms don’t really tend to use recruitment agencies, so the best resource is the AIBC classifieds page where new jobs are advertised every Tuesday. Jobs Canada can have some architectural positions and for Architectural Technologists there seems to be a number of AutoCAD drafting positions there. Like all job hunting in Vancouver, the best way is through trying to get to know as many young architects as possible and hear about places that are hiring through word of mouth. Keep an eye out for AIBC events and lectures by SALA and RAIC in the city. Also note that some companies will only advertise positions on their own websites.
Really sell your hands-on, on-site experience and the range of work you have done in your office at home. Employers don’t expect somebody under 30 to have much practical experience as the Canadian system is set up for graduates to finish studying in their late twenties, with little or no professional experience and a much less grounded college education. Canadian architecture graduates generally don’t study structures, environmental science and professional studies, as European students do.
Under ‘skills’ do not list computer skills exclusively. Do not assume anything. List your design experience, as many graduate architects in Canada do not get to design as it is a much more tiered office structure. List your tender and construction drawing experience as relevant, as well as specification writing, representing offices at meetings and importantly site experience such as inspections or snagging.
On structuring a resume relevant to architecture, list practices with:
- a brief description of the practice, including size and type of work.
- projects you worked on in the practice and the work you did on each one. Note the jobs you worked on need not be chronological within the practice. Instead, rearrange the order so that the project most relevant to the practice you are applying for is at the top.
There is no need to put in hobbies and interests unless you have something really interesting.
It is not necessarily a pretty book. Make sure it is at least A3/Tabloid size. Include a good mix of sketches (if you have any scanned), pretty presentation drawings and be sure to include construction drawings and details. 50 pages is not uncommon. Chronological is not important; sell your best projects at the start.
If you have construction drawings from your home country, bring copies of some full size A1/A0 examples.
Portfolio — email/PDF version
Remember to pick and choose relevant projects for the job you are applying for. There are some relatively cheap and easy options for making a website (for example, Prosite from Behance.net) that give the option of giving an online portfolio. This allows more range than using email.
As with other professions, architects are very open to meeting people for information interviews. We found it great meeting one architect who critiqued our portfolio and resume and gave a fair and rounded lowdown on the industry in Vancouver.