For the Job Seekers: What Are You Doing to Get a Job?

Landscape Architecture for Landscape Architects Forums GENERAL DISCUSSION For the Job Seekers: What Are You Doing to Get a Job?

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    Logan Ahlgren

    I’ve been out of work for the past few months and have been struggling to get a job or even an interview.

    As a beginning landscape designer/architect with some, but limited experience, I’m at a loss of what to do.

    I was hoping to start a discussion about what to do in tough economic times like these.

    Here is what I’ve been doing:

    – Searching for jobs online (asla, craigslist, land8lounge) and emailing and mailing in cover letters/resumes/work samples to firms.

    – Using professional contacts in my network to try and make new ones, and I have made a few.

    – I’ve attempted to use LinkedIn to search for more contacts that i’d be interested in, but there arent too landscape architects on that site.

    – I have been writing a blog about Sustainable and Green Design in San Diego to show my interest to potential contacts and employers.

    – Started to volunteer at a local wetland sustainable nature center, get involved with the Orchids and Onions awards in San Diego, and also currently applying to be on the Parks and Rec Commission of my local city.

    What have you all been doing?

    Daryl McCann

    I think you are doing the right thing. Try to meet and shake hands with as many people as possible. Though not out of work, marketing has become a way of life for me. As for your situation, when I got out of school (many years ago), Reagan had just cut the National Parks budget to almost nothing. They, at that time, employeed a huge amount of landscape architects. I hired on with an engineering firm and found it quite enjoyable and they really liked the abilities I had that complimented their work. Just don’t stay too long. I ended up in that profession for over 10 years. It really set me back in my development as a landscape architect. But then, I excell in other areas that LAs typically are weak in.



    I’m in the same position as you are. I am doing a lot of the same things as you and not finding much success. One thing I’m doing, is taking the LEED exam in about a month. I think the LEED certification and sustainability is the way to go and will be most beneficial for entry level LAs to have this.

    I think looking into related fields that aren’t LA for now is a good idea and when projects start picking up, you will have some sort of niche that sets you apart from a typical candidate. I actually have an interview coming up for an admin/sustainability marketing position at an architecture/engineering firm. It’s not ideal since I wouldn’t be designing landscape but I would be opened up to other related design fields and improve some more communication, leadership, and graphics. I’m looking into environmental design positions, water management, etc. I am also looking into part time work at a nursery or florist. I hope things turn around soon though!!

    Eric Shepley

    Have you personally gone to the firms you’ve applied to? I know for me, I felt much better if I could personally deliver my materials rather than mail them to be put in the pile with the rest of the mail. Don’t forget to follow up with those you’ve submitted applications to. First with a thank you, then with a formal request of the status of your application. It sounds like you have done some good things to get yourself involved outside of the office environment, that won’t go unnoticed for long.

    Good luck.



    I can’t agree with you on LEED. For one, from what I’ve seen and heard, if you don’t use it, you lose it. Secondly, LEED isn’t necessarily a marketable skill like something as tangible as drawing or even, say model-building. At least not for an individual in my opinion. For firms, LEED is precisely a marketing element.

    As was brought up in an earlier discussion, the issue of “redundancy” is probably the greatest factor in a firms decision making process to issue lay offs and mandate hiring freezes. I’m not sure how many LEED accredited individuals an office really needs at any given time and I would bet many if not most already have at least one.

    With regard to the second part of your comment- I believe branching out in this situation is probably good. For one, when the economy turns around you may have gained valuable knowledge in a specialy or complimentary area which could set you apart and make you more marketable for specific reasons.

    I might add this disclaimer though; I am still finishing school in my fifth year at CSU, although I have had a fair amount of work experience before and during my time at CSU.


    Maria Aragao

    Hey Logan,
    It seems to me that you are keeping yourself pretty busy and doing all the right things. I think the only other thing I would suggest would be for you to become active with the local chapter of ASLA. Your time will be spent helping the profession, and I found it to be very rewarding at a personal level. You will be surrounded by LA’s, and often times by the principals of the firms themselves. And the next time they look at your resume, they may see it in a diferent light.
    I volunteered with the GAASLA while living in Atlanta, and although I did not get a job out of the contacts I made, I was surprised at how quickly I got to know the ‘important’ LA’s in the State personally, and at how quickly they recognized and remembered me!
    Anyway, just a suggestion. Good luck with the hunt!

    Dante C.

    In my area just about 90 percent of the job force was laid off in the building industry about 2 years ago. The company I worked for went down at the end of 2008. There has been two job postings I have seen here in the last 8 months. The two adds were online adds. Each not explaining what company was hiring. And the emails rejected my email. I think some of these emails get backed up so fast that they reject anything above storage limit. There are probably 400 of me looking for that one job in this area alone. Even Edsa has been letting go employees. There are not even any jobs around here in related fields. I have resume and portfolio ready to go. Everything in digital format as well as my own website. And I still can’t even find jobs to apply to. So far, every job I have searched I find the day its posted. And I send resume and portfolio that night. And I have not had any responses not even an email. When I started working in 2004. The job market was flooded. But because this area is so tied into the building industry the only firms surviving are very diversified. Such as more government and public works along with smaller job private residences. The DOT work is plentiful. But most small landscape architecture firms have slowed to a stop.

    I called and emailed every firm in the area. None are hiring. Home Depot even said they are accepting applications and that it will be placed with the other 400 apps they received this week alone. And they were not hiring either. This area has been hit very hard as far as jobs go.

    I do some contract work but its very far and few between. Even those jobs are taking 3 times longer to finish than normal. No one is making any decisions. Things are going slower and slower through the counties. I am almost contemplating a career change. I will stay optimistic but job searching is turning into a waste of time after 8 months. I don’t see any. I search roughly about 20 online job search sites. I have web pages for just about every local firm around. I went onto ASLA and did a search for all firms in the area. Most won’t even accept phone calls if they are hiring. Its amazing me everyday.

    Trace One

    dont forget the Feds, at USAjobs, both planning and LA work, besides just work, if you really get desperate…I know they are hiring planners to go to Afghanistan…

    John M. Slinski

    I agree with you on LEED. I am a more experienced LA out of work. I don’t think my lack of certification is the reason I’m not successful at getting employment. The problem I see with LEED it that is a marketing tool to a firm. I think we as a profession have too many certifications (there was an excellent article on this in LA magazine recently). I have LA licenses in multiple states. I would suggest that the most important certification/license would be to actually become a licensed Landscape Architect. Just my opinion of course.

    Juanita Salisbury

    Hi Logan,
    It looks like you are doing all the right things. See my posts on the “4 jobs on ASLA” discussion board for links and to see what I did when I was laid off.

    Basically in these times you have to follow the money, as trite as that sounds. Get creative and think outside the box–which you are doing.

    But also engage in shameless self-promotion, such as…check out my new fabulous website at Check out my great blog and news with speaking appearances listed. Posting your link on other blogs will help, obviously. If you post links to artists or others who are working on projects, ask them to return the favor…

    Get as much mileage out of your marketing efforts as possible!


    Amy Verel

    Hi Logan,

    Sound like you have the right idea, especially with industry-related volunteering. Since you mentioned LinkedIn, I took a moment to look up your profile and would recommend a couple of things. First, join the ASLA LinkedIn Group – it’s the official group of the national organization and it has over 2,000 members and a good volume of activity. LI Groups are one of the hidden gems about the site that aren’t immediately apparent but are the best way I’ve found to meet new people in our industry (aside from live, old-fashioned networking, of course!). Feel free to take a look at my profile and the groups I’m in – there are a ton of urban design, planning, and landscape architecture-related ones.

    The best way to meet people once you’re in the groups is to participate in discussions – start by replying to others and consider doing a post introducing yourself and welcoming others in the group to connect with you, and remember to have at least one meaningful exchange, probably in a private message, with each person so that the connection means more than a name on the page.

    Second, look into maximizing your profile at least to “100% completeness” – there’s a cottage industry of advice on LI on how to do this, so look into that in the groups and LI Answers as well. The most important thing to remember is that 100% complete profiles are bumped up in searches, so you’ll be more visible to some random recruiter or hiring manager who types in “landscape” or whatever. I noticed that you still have yourself listed as being employed, and while some people would argue that appearing to be employed makes you more employable and so don’t change their status (I don’t know if this is your intention, just something I’ve heard from other people), to me it kind of defeats a lot of job-searching networking opportunities if people can’t tell that you’re actively looking.

    It’s up to you, of course – I’m a job searcher as well so take a look at mine – even though my current volunteering is unpaid, I have them listed as current positions so it’s clear that I’m keeping busy. The very last thing (semi-connected to LI) that I’d suggest is to expand your networking to local business groups that are less industry related, if you haven’t already. It’s less direct and harder to find design professionals, but you never know if that random lawyer/it/marketing person has an industry connection, and the people you met at those things tend to be energetic networkers eager to help people make connections. Good luck to you!

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