“thank you for applying but…”

Landscape Architecture for Landscape Architects Forums PORTFOLIO & RESUME “thank you for applying but…”

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    Pablo Cortez

    Hi everyone, Thought I’d take advantage of the forum and see about getting some feedback on my application package from you guys. This is the most recent version and looking for any feedback that would help in, at the very least, getting a call back from some of these firms.

    UPDATE – Lots of good responses, thanks everyone this has been incredibly helpful!

    Trace One

    I think your stuff looks really good! I do wonder if you should include a more clean-cut photo- i.e., wearing a tie, instead of the bike helmet. 

    Whatever you do,  don’t do this:http://www.uproxx.com/webculture/2012/07/girl-accidentally-emails-prospective-employer-pic-of-nic-cage-is-awesome/


    Roland Beinert

    I’m no expert, since I’ve redone my portfolio four or five times with no positive results, but:
    -Where’s the CAD work, Pablo? Great hand graphics and sketchup, though.
    -Were any of your projects built? If so, include pictures of the finished product.
    -Is all the work in your portfolio residential? You mention you did other types of projects in you cover letter, so these should be included in your portfolio.

    Pablo Cortez

    I really want to do that now. ha, yeah, been working on a clean cut pic. I use the helmet pic to show some personality, something a bit different that may stand out. Thanks Trace One!

    Pablo Cortez

    Thanks Roland, my thoughts are that employers know what CAD looks like? most, if not all, of my CAD work has been for firms and I’m not about to use their work on my portfolio, thoughts on this? I have one project that was built and one in construction, just waiting on pics to add.

    Roland Beinert

    I see what you’re saying, and I wonder what actual employers would say to that. I guess what I’m saying is that your portfolio doesn’t show the full range of your capabilities. Employers know what sketchup looks like, too. But they also know the difference between good sketchup work and bad sketchup work. The same goes for CAD, and so, if you’re as good at CAD as you are at sketchup, they will probably appreciate it.
    I have no problem showing CAD projects from work. I made sure to get permission first, but as long as I did the work, why shouldn’t it be in my portfolio?
    Then again I could be completely off on this. I’m curious what more experienced people would say.


    I have to agree with some of Roland’s comments. As a person in the role of hiring landscape designers in our office, it would appear that your portfolio and resume’ is light on content. Especially, if as you state in your cover letter, you are applying for a position of Project Manager. What you are showing in your resume and work examples are not at the level of someone seeking a project management position. For that level, firms want to see your track record that makes you a good candidate for such a position. What types of projects have you “sold”. What types of fees were generated based on your “project management” skills and abilities. Oddly enough numbers in a resume excite employers. Specifically those where you can show that you have worked on million dollar projects, percentage of increase in sales from year to year. Amount of sales generated from work you have performed. Not everyone can do this but if you are trying for a Project Managment position you will need to show this to get hired. More than likely a Project Manager for Valley Crest is going to have to be able to sell projects and you should be able to show them that you have this ability based on your past experience.

    Also, to echo Roland’s point show me some cad work. You are right firms should know what cad drawings look like, but what you have shown doesn’t prove that you know any CAD programs. Our office makes all prospective employees take an Autocad test before they will even be considered for hire. Also show examples of your other work beyond the small residential projects. Do not be afraid to show project plans in your portfolio that were done from previous employers. I certainly wouldn’t be posting work that is in progress or of a confidential manner. Show works that may have been built. Also include a narative about the project and what your involvement was, ie. drafter? designer? crew leader? etc.

    Your portfolio and your resume is your brief moment to shine and sell yourself. You are one candidate among perhaps hundreds applying and yours must stand above the rest for them to give you a second look.

    Jason T. Radice

    There are a few schools of thought on this, but I would strongly consider de-personalizing your portfolio. No personal photo, nothing about coffee or cycling. Just the work. And perhaps larger images. If you race with your bike, that would be mentioned somewhere on the resume in just a short line, but don’t include hobbies. Keep it all business. Others had mentioned this as well; you mention doing lots of CAD work, but don’t show any. Please do. I would also take the advice to show finished projects if you can get the images. All the of Sketchup and color drawings don’t do justice to your experience. I would also try to pad the resume up a bit. If you are in ASLA, mention that, if you have done any pro-bono work, mention that, if you are LEED, mention that.


    As far as a cover letter, you can set up ‘bones’ of a letter of what you want to mention, but I rewrite mine almost every time (I sometimes reuse if firms are similar to each other), not just change the “to” in the address. I would also pad that out quite a bit mentioning exactly what you did. Smaller fonts for everything (white space is premium).


    I hae been refining my package for years, and it constantly changes. Good luck in the hunt.


    Pablo Cortez

    good point on bad v good cad work, I’ll get on adding that. As far as the other types of projects, again, It’s work done for firms and they own the work, I just don’t feel it appropriate to include it amongst work that I’ve personally designed and own. Maybe I’m being too proud?

    Pablo Cortez

    Right on Dennis, thank you. I don’t quite have that level of experience, though I have performed project manager duties and ready to take on the role. Thanks again this has been very helpful.

    Akin Adekile

    You need text. A lot more text. You shouldnt let the graphics just speak for themselves. You need to give a summary of design intent, design process, design concept etc….

    I agree with the other comments. This portfolio is a bit light on content. Include CAD work. E.g Grading Plans, Planting Plans, Construction documents. You should also include a project that showcases the steps you took before you came to the  final design. E.g first you did a site analysis, then you did an inventory plan, you came up with a bubble-digram, then BOOM….Final design.


    I agree, personalizing the portfolio is usually done to make up for the lack of work. So you like to go snowboarding… so what?

    Tosh K

    Cover letter: personalize it to the position you’re applying for, highlight what skills that are needed for the specific position you have (“you’re great, I’m great, we’re great together” was the format encouraged by my program – in engineering, but i think it applies here; you want to get them excited by the prospect of you wanting to work there).  I don’t know how others feel, but I felt using bullets cleaned mine up a bit.

    Portfolio: could use more digital content, I’ve found putting in an extensive grading plan and some nicer details (not standard ones) peaked interest that was brought up during interviews.  I personally like the personality shown through hobbies and have gotten interviews because of my extra-curricular/out of work info; but as much as it appeals to some firms (which you can tell by their websites, some of which border on weird), it can be a turn-off for more “corporate” types.  Judging by your style, it may help weed out places you wouldn’t want to work at, but if getting a job is a priority you may want to tone it down to a page toward the end.

    Tosh K

    If the senior folks in a fimr list “avid snowboarder” in their profiles/the office is in snow-sport country/firm’s work often involves winter sports, it could help…  I once had an extended conversation about time spent in Germany because my interviewer had extended relatives there (it showed up in my photography and in my resume) – I was the most under-qualified candidate they interviewed, but apparently that helped me make the cut (and a history major in college, since another interviewer was a history buff. go figure)

    Tosh K

    resume seems “light” considering the text in the cover letter…

    I’ve seen folks list representative project/client&team/cost with responsibilities under employment, particularly for PM positions:

    ABC Park

    client: City of ABC

    project budget: $1,500,000 (some indication of size)

    -schematic design through construction administration as project lead

    -preparation of construction documents

    -specifications with supervision

    -onsite observation and preparation of reports

    HR often mentions putting a 2 sentence “career goals” at the top, design firms seem to really not care about it – anyone else want to way in on that?

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