If your a champion baker of cakes- this is who you should give your next one to

Landscape Architecture for Landscape Architects Forums GENERAL DISCUSSION If your a champion baker of cakes- this is who you should give your next one to

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    Look, just like most of us here, I do everything I can to avoid overused cliches or landscape architect or planner speak. For example, I would love to see the term “vibrant” banned for useage for the next decade at least.

    But when I read this employment posting on Craigslist, my first and the phrase that stuck, was

    “this one takes the cake” ….

    and in my humble opinion, it does, hands down (sorry another slip)

    Here is the ad in all its embarrasing glory:

    Landscape Architecture Draftsperson (Irvine)

    Date: 2012-07-25,  6:45PM PDT Reply to: resumela123@gmail.com [Errors when replying to ads?]

    We are a small and reputable landscape architecture firm in the Irvine area, now celebrating 20 years of being in business.  We are presently looking for a consulting draftsperson for landscape architecture work.  We are now working on new communities, commercial, retail, and some homeowner association projects, representing a good variety of design work!
    Your involvement would be on a flexible as-needed basis for now, with the potential for employment in the future when market conditions improve.  Candidate selection would be based on the following minimum criteria: 1.  Experience in landscape architecture work, with a minimum of 2 years doing AutoCAD drafting and design assistance under a landscape architects supervision.  Work history should include concept design, preliminary design, working drawings and package detailing.  Project management experience is helpful but is not required. 2.  AutoCAD v.2008 & better skills and experience of at least one year full time. 3.  Capabilities with other usual MS programs (e.g.: Word and Excel) are minimum.  Other popular design program abilities (e.g.: Photoshop, Sketch-up, etc) will be considered as a plus, but are not necessary. 4.  Be a trustworthy, conscientious, a team player that is easy to work with, and can follow instructions well. 5.  Flexible availability on an as-needed basis primarily during normal office hours, with your services provided as an independent contractor at this time. 6.  Be available to work at our Irvine office location during the week.  Working remotely is not efficient nor is it effective for our needs.
    If you do not meet the above minimum criteria, please do not email us as it only wastes our time and yours, and your email will be deleted.
    Project work could begin as early as next week for the right person, which is the person that at a minimum satisfies the above criteria to our satisfaction.  As always applies in business, compensation takes into account current economics of the industry.  Understand that clients these days are few, and they are certainly not paying like they did in the good times either.  In your response, please state your desired and minimum required compensation for CADD drafting work.m
    If you are interested in this opportunity to be of service, please email us specifically addressing how you qualify by meeting each the criteria above along with providing your resume, professional references, some example project work and discuss compensation in consideration of the above. 
    We will review your information, and if you qualify, a principal will be in contact to discuss our needs with you very soon.  Thank you.
    This is what it has come to folks. Keep in mind, this is in Orange County. Long ago, almost in another lifetime, I lived and worked there (for SWA). It cost a lot then, way back then. It costs even more now.
    • This is:


    • A position that is part-time and on-call
    • Where they make it very clear that what you were used to making, ain’t going to happen with them. Yes, wages have devalued, and apparently in one of the more expensive places to live in our country, that has also happened.

    What will predictably happen:

    • Their email box will be stuffed in less than 24 hours with responses from the NEEDY,  and certainly not the GREEDY.


    • There are none stated, which means there are none, except for the benefit of being under-employed. Actually they probably offer a free lunch of fried baloney sandwiches (limit 3)

    What anyone should do about this who reads this:


    • Let them know how you feel about this. I already have.

    here is the reply address on Craigslist again in case you missed it.



    Or you can abandon the profession and become a 21st Century fortune seeker akin to the California Gold Rush or the Yukon Silver Strike and go here:




    Whatever you decide to do, please email this rogue outfit and let them know they can soon serve dessert cake  (limit one slice) with their fried baloney sandwiches.



    I suppose they are maintaining a fantasy that they will find someone who is independently wealthy and just does LA work because that’s what he likes to do for fun and doesn’t really care about compensation.  It is rather ridiculous to expect what they outline of someone.  This is for someone who does not need what one would normally expect of a job.  One is better off working in another field until things improve.  Who knows when that will be!


    I wonder if its they guy I interviewed with in Irvine around 4 years ago.  He was really into the HOA work.

    Andrew Garulay, RLA

    There are a lot of ways to speculate on motivation of both the employer and potential employee here. The thing is that we all have a choice to take on he job or not.


    Some businesses are struggling and have to do everything they can to maintain their last few employees. I don’t know what the state of that company is, but it is not beyond reasonable possibility that this is a way to keep the company afloat to live another day while still being able to bid on projects that require more staff than they can maintain right now. That opens the possibility for new hires should they land some of those projects.


    In a time of little opportunity for an out of work LA, this might not be the dream opprtunity, but it is at least AN opportuinty. No one is making anyone take it.


    The primary objective of an LA office is to do LA work. Jobs are a byproduct, not the purpose.




    Thanks for the counterpoint, it was, as you usually do, very well expressed. Your points are well taken and the perspective you offer is certainly a better one than mine. When I first saw this ad, I was just appalled by how bad things have  become and continue to appear to be in the employment frontier, not only for our profession, but all the design professions. Orange County is a very expensive place to live and the meager nature of this job offering certainly does not take that into account. Anyone (and there will be many inquiries) who takes this job will have to have another means by which to support themselves. Yes, I also agree this firm is probably (and has already done) doing whatever it takes to hang on. I should have been a lot more sensitive about that and I appreciate you being so.

    Andrew Garulay, RLA

    I think it has always been on a  “on a need basis only”. That is what made the explosion of landscape architecture jobs that generated the “20% expansion by the year 2018” statistic that was and maybe still is on the Bureau of Labor Statistics website.


    That trend of growth obviously did not continue and we look back and see that it was not realistic to believe that it would. I don’t see that there is a compelling reason to believe that the entire cycle of boom and bust development has ended and it will never come back. When it does, profit minded people will put together design offices with employees. They will need to pay them to attract them and pay them more to keep them … just like before. Then they will lay them off when there is less work.


    There are more ways to have more production with less people as technology advances, but technology has always been advancing and it seems we still need well trained and skilled people to use that technology.


    In the end, design is a human endeavor and requires humans to do it. We ain’t dead yet. We just need a demand for more development by people who value that development (not make work). Money does nothing when it is standing still. Right now it is standing still.

    Leslie B Wagle

    This may not be a good barometer of anything, but just out of curiosity, I have had brief looks at elance.com and found site design projects within the help needed ads. They are varied, some just a one-time home plan, some as big as large apartment projects. And now and then you see one that wants a continuing relationship with a designer for a specific need, like outdoor grille centers or swimming pool areas, and the ad sponsor claims the winning bidder will then get a flow of work. I have seen LA’s in the mix of “bidders,” and I think that kind of relationship could be a good recession money stream or a side support of a small local business. However, these ads get a majority of responses from foreigners and those with (what I would consider) inappropriate backgrounds. Although I’m sure they’re creative, they really aren’t likely to have much grasp of either site design or common code considerations. Often they are more like product illustrators, etc. Hopefully the ad sponsors will grasp that but I don’t know what happens.

    Going back to the opening of this topic, the ads also typically ask for fast turn-around, great skills, etc. but also don’t offer a lot per hour. Maybe that’s just a byproduct of the current market situation and big overall plans would still need to be sealed, but the foreign freelancer as a trend in mini or component design work may stick around even when the “bust” ends.



    I appreciate your commentary here. I only posted this job advertisment as a real-world testimony as to where things are in slow slog to recover from the Great Desperation. This ad reflects where things are at with our segment of the design professions, and both of us know that is not better or greatly improved for any of the others. I posted this in part, for the irony of it all. What I have seen over a good and long stretch of time during our slow, tortise paced recovery is this:

    • most jobs are part-time
    • they have been absurdly reduced to near entry-level with superstar qualifications
    • the hourly wages offered have declined (from the peak) drastically
    • the positions that are out there are short-term hauls contingent on future work prospects which are a crapshoot of chances; and despite all of this
    • there is a torrent, no make that a deluge of interest in any of these meager openings.


    So whether it is Elance or selling houseplants every weekend at your local farmers market in order to carve out an existence of a living and maintain your personal dignity and pride in our profession, those are the current options. I make no commentary beyond that, except that Dr. MacDonald’s comment seems to be loaded with his usual stingy commentary but accurate foresight.

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