10 reasons why you Are not getting hired as a landscape architect. Before you decide not to read this article because its title sounds too pessimistic, consider going ahead anyway — it is here to help you improve your chances of finding your way in the attractive but competitive field of landscape architecture. If you recognize that you are making any of the following mistakes, there is still time to change your ways and land your dream job.
10 Reasons Why You Are Not Getting Hired:
1. Lack of Balance Between Academic and Practical ProductionThe marketplace has plenty of dedicated students who have failed to get good positions. The main reason is that they stayed so focused on their academics that they forgot to connect with “real world” production. Although you need to concentrate your efforts on learning the concepts of design and keeping your grades high, you also need to start getting professional experience as soon as possible. The best way to avoid conflicts between academics and experience is to form volunteer groups with your colleagues to deliver products or services that address small but immediate needs. For example, your team could meet after classes to come up with solutions to improve community centers or school outdoor areas. Another way of gaining experience is to look for opportunities at not-for-profit organizations, which often rely on student labor. Taking part in a team whose design results in an implementation will take your curriculum to the next level in addition to forming a reliable network for your future. 2. Going Unnoticed in the Classroom Even if you have been spending most of your time designing in the studio or at the computer center, if you don’t participate in classroom discussions, you might go unnoticed by colleagues and teachers. An energetic presence with mindful contributions to classes and presentations will confirm your studio production and help teachers remember you when you need a reference letter or when you are being considered for a researcher assistant position. Besides, having great oral communication skills is essential to landing a great job, and the classroom is a safe place to start practicing. 3. Not Getting Summer Jobs We have already talked about volunteering with your colleagues throughout the term, and you shouldn’t stop during summer break. It’s even more important to go further by getting work experience in an established business. And if you find it difficult to secure a summer job, imagine how hard it will be to get hired in your specific field if you don’t have an efficient strategy. To be prepared for this task, include in your volunteer work some projects coordinated by post-graduate students, since most of them have already worked for small practices such as gardening firms and can give you advice on finding those types of summer jobs. The experience will help you develop transferable skills and improve those you are learning in your studies, all of which are fundamental for your future career. 4. Not Attending Networking Events When it comes to getting hired by larger landscape architecture firms, your network from the university is important, but may be not sufficient. That’s because your colleagues are now your competitors. Your teachers can help you with recommendation letters, but, most of the time, they are not the ones hiring you. The best way to become visible to potential employers is to attend networking events where you can meet representatives of the firms and conclude which ones you are most interested in working with so that you can prepare your portfolio according to their profiles. See also 10 Easy Ways for Landscape Architecture Students to Network with Professionals 5. Not Following Up to Confirm Your Interest Although the events you took part in may seem enough to keep your name in employers’ files, if you don’t follow up, they will probably forget about you. That first interaction was the starting point of your professional relationship, after which you must keep in touch with the businesses and show your interest in working with them. A simple follow-up email will put you ahead of the crowd when it comes time for interviews, because firms prefer to start the hiring process with people they already know. 6. Misusing Social Media Transforming your education, part-time jobs, volunteer work, and skills into public information on the World Wide Web will increase the chances that you will be noticed by employers. Even though a search of a job candidate’s social profile is not enough to fully understand his skills due to the combination of design and practical experience required, it’s becoming common for employers to peruse social media to confirm the information provided in your curriculum. To avoid blurring the lines between your private and professional life, you had better use the specialized social networks for landscape architecture instead of more general ones so that you can link the starting point of your career to the procedures adopted by the employers. We recommend LinkedIN as the basis for your professional social networking profile. 7. Not Adapting the Portfolio You can turn your portfolio into a more efficient tool by keeping it flexible and adapting it according the firm and position you are applying for. In the same way that the trained people who are checking your documents can determine whether you used a general cover letter for different applications, they can also perceive whether you tailored your portfolio especially for that opportunity. Contrary to what some people believe, it does not show that you are forcing an opportunity; instead, it shows that you cared about presenting your work in a special way to better communicate your intentions. It does not mean you are going to produce a different portfolio every time you apply for a job, but that you are highlighting your skills to match different companies’ missions. 8. Skipping Portfolio Reviews You knew that portfolio would be in this list, right? Indeed, it is your main tool to enter the market because it synthesizes all of your skills. From communicating your ideas through sketching and using drawing software to being up-to-date on modern design approaches, from being able to produce technical documents to showing planting knowledge, everything must be displayed clearly and pleasantly. WATCH: Landscape Architecture Portfolio A good way to check if you are on the right track in producing your portfolio is to attend review sessions offered by your school or by supportive organizations. And, of course, ask for feedback after making changes to see if your portfolio has really improved. Don’t miss our hit article 5 Mistakes You Should Avoid When Designing Your Portfolio 9. Not Having a Mentor Most of us tend to think that we are self-sufficient in our job search, but, as in other activities of life, we can achieve the best results if someone more experienced is guiding us. Some gaps in curriculum and personal weaknesses can be better perceived by another person than by ourselves. Many of the landscape architecture programs include lists of leading professionals who are available for mentorship. So take advantage of those and find one who can help you avoid mistakes that could turn into obstacles to your career. Your mentor will be able to act as a conductor to bring together all the parts that you are building. 10. Not Attending a Mock Interview The years you have spent studying, volunteering, taking summer jobs, building your portfolio, and forming a network may be ruined by a bad interview. You may be tired of reading tips, attending lectures, and watching videos about this subject, but how often are you taking mock interviews offered by your college or university? We can compare your student years to an athlete’s training — and the interview to the athlete’s moment in real competition. Although an athlete may be well prepared thanks to the training sessions, the pressure during competition can make him more vulnerable to making mistakes. That’s why athletes first compete in the minor leagues — to prepare themselves for the more important ones. So, use them as examples and practice for your job interviews so that you can recover quickly in case you fail in some of the questions. This will help you to achieve a more resilient attitude that will probably be seen as an asset. By following the tips you’ve just read, you will be able to achieve the necessary work experience without compromising your academic production and build a supportive network for your career. They are steps that will help you to transform the anticipated — but also feared — hiring process into a smoother transition from your student routine to a successful professional life. Article written by Tania Gianone Return to Homepage Published in