December 08, 2014

Choosing the right job offer

This post is based on a recent Facebook chats with a friend who was asked me questions about which job offer to take as she completed her architectural undergrad. For anyone getting their first architecture job - the struggles are the same when getting your foot in the door to the profession. There comes a point in your architecture student career when you have to find work (unless you want to be an Academic, but that’s a whole other issue). But also, there is that nervousness of whether you will be making the right choice to the right job offer? I think me and people I have talked to get worried about the commitment that comes with a job opening and to decide whether to accept or pass in hopes a better job offer will come right away.

From talking to some, the market is not as bad as it was a few years ago. It took me a year to find full-time work after graduation. That folks, was a dark time in my past. I recall sending out 100 applications in my city which resulted in 3-5 rejection letters, and 3 job interviews. Persistence is one thing, but there came a point of great frustration at times. Luckily, I was working part-time for an architect during my job search to earn some money and experience. Any experience to start off with is valuable. Period.

But I must confess, I was initially picky when I began my job hunt. I aspired for the firms I really wanted to work for and waited for a reply and I was pretty picky for that whole year. I encourage students to reach for the stars and try and apply to the firms you want to work for – you never know which ones will choose you (even if your grades are craptacular - good grades does not a good designer make). I must make a disclaimer: picky might not always be the option. Let’s be honest, the need for money to live is also a factor you need to consider too, unless you’re rich. Choosing to not work after school is not an option for some or an option that means having a heavily compromised quality of life. Be realistic to your circumstances and know when to expand your list of firms to apply to when needed. Sometimes any experience you gain at one firm will help you get into the firm that you wanted to get in.

The interview is a critical part to deciding which job to take and is your opportunity to find out about the firm just as much as they want to find out about you. I thought I should share some of the things you should consider in your job interviews. These are some of the factors I took into consideration after my a job interviews and before accepting a job offer:

Which firm provides professional development and growth.
You need to ask what the job entails, if there is opportunity for growth to move on to other tasks eventually. You want to find out which part of the spectrum that the firm wants you in: as a technician or a designer and ideally it should be a good balance. You also need to ask yourself if you are okay with that mix.  
The work of the firm. 
You need to see what kind of work the firm does and if you would be interested in doing those types of projects. Now, let’s not be too picky – all firms need to generate profit and we will have to do “bread and butter” projects for operation and profit. But the work they show on their site should indicate the type of work and design values they uphold.  
Which firm clicks with your personality
The job interview is your chance to also see if you would get along with your prospective employees. Do you feel comfortable talking to them? Are you intimidated by them? Do they show interest in you? Communication will be a vital role working day-to-day and getting attention early when you need help.  
Firm Culture
Does the firm culture appeal to you? What’s the working environment like? Hows the work-life balance? What does the firm do to encourage social interaction among workers?

These are some of the considerations that were in my rubric in deciding which firm I wanted to work for out of the job interviews and openings I had. It is dicey choosing to say “no” to your job offers to keep searching for a better one and you have to decide for yourself if you’re comfortable in taking that job offer. You have to decide what you can cope and manage with. Do not just prepare what you will say in your job interviews, but go the extra mile and take advantage of that time to also figure out the firm that will interview you.

Applying for Architecture Internships
Post-Grad Phase: Keep Busy & Persist!
Reflections from the Post-Grad Job Hunt!

1 comment:

  1. What about salary/benefits? I certainly agree that what is outlined above are factors for an offer of employment, but salary/benefit also needs to be a part of the conversation. Is the salary offered commensurate with your experience/talents? Aside from salary, what benefits are available - vacation, insurance (health and dental), reimbursement for IDP/ARE? What about bonuses? How about overtime?

    How about performance reviews? If the salary is slightly lower than desired can you request a review after 3 months, 6 months?

    Also, remember salary and start date and other aspects are negotiable. Know your worth before you get the offer.