The dream job may be out of reach for now, but being proactive, persistent and open to possibilities often pays off, says recruitment expert Misty Waters.

Misty Waters

Misty Waters is a registered architect and a Principal of Bespoke Careers.

Economic downturns & lessons learned

I have worked through a number of downturns and seen architects retract and grow their teams in various ways (from fair to terrible). I have learned that you should never burn your bridges. It is a small town. Be proactive – if you think you are at risk of being retrenched, then think about what you can offer (eg reduced hours etc). This will show initiative. If you do lose your job, try and stay positive and professional and think about the future.

I have been in the room trying to decide who, how many and when to retrench and it is always awful… In some cases it is those who seem the least likely to stay or the least happy that are on the list. In those cases you hope that the person uses this experience to go and find what they really want to be doing. Sometimes it really is just bad luck – the wrong project stopped at the wrong time.

Opportunities for the profession

Hopefully, there will be a longstanding acceptance of more flexible work practices, including an openness to working from home. Perhaps with travel restrictions over the next one to two years (potentially), we will see a shift away from the expectation that we need to import international design skills for large scale projects? I am hoping we see a huge shift towards science and renewable energy.

Gaining employment

Firstly I am pretty confident the market will keep recovering over the next six months. I would suggest graduates will need to be persistent and patient – which is hard! I would also be open-minded. Now may not be the time to join the ‘dream firm’ but there are roles out there. If you can get any experience at all, take it – especially if it means you build up your basic technical skills like revit or ArchiCAD. Door knock in person if you need to and drop off your CV (if restrictions allow). Make sure your CV and folio are as good as possible. Be clear that you are open to short-term or long-term opportunities and really emphasise any CAD skills you may have – they are often your first stepping stone into a practice.

Working in aligned fields

Hot tip – Landscape architecture seem to be one of the busiest sectors at the moment and will sometimes consider architects/grads. This could be a great stepping stone – they work on a lot of urban design projects and interesting work.