These are tough times, not least for Architecture students desperately trawling through the RIBA Directory of Practices writing to every man and his dog in the hope that someone will be able to offer them an opportunity. On the back of a few conversations that I’ve had recently with those looking for work, here are a few tips for students (in fact, anyone who’s been made redundant) to make sure that your application is hitting the mark.
Firstly remember that practices are being inundated with applications so you need to make it obvious that you are instantly employable. Think from an employers perspective – an Architect running a business might suddenly find themselves with a tight deadline on a large drawing package. They need to know that you are up to the job, so good quality legible drawing samples are essential. You still need to get your personality across, but remember that the stuff you think is important might not necessarily be the thing your prospective boss is looking for.
Personalise the covering letter. An application with an anonymous covering letter won’t grab your prospective employers attention, however, spending a little time researching the practice you are applying to, perhaps mentioning key schemes that you admire, or explaining your understanding of their working ethos, means you’re more likely to get noticed. Flattery won’t necessarily get you everywhere, but it can help (don’t go overboard though, you don’t want to embarrass anyone!).
Think about the presentation of your CV and covering letter to prove that you’re thinking about the bigger picture, not just the fact that you have an degree in Architecture. A little thought about font, colours, graphics and layout will not go unnoticed. Make sure work samples are large enough to be legible. Low resolution images aren’t worth using.
I lose count of the amount of CV’s I see littered with spelling mistakes. It’s instantly off-putting. Spellcheck is there for a reason – don’t risk it, just use it!
Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback about your application. Most Architects have been in your shoes at some point or another, so will probably be able to spare a couple of minutes to chat with you about what could be improved.
Good luck, stay positive and keep trying.