June 29, 2009 at 11:57 pm #173806
Is it graphics, personality, design skill, ideas, LEED certification, a Phd?
In light of ASLA’s recent survey, let’s discuss what works and what dosn’t in the office, realistic expectations, and attitude.June 30, 2009 at 4:42 am #173838Bob LutherParticipant
as complex as the topic is comes down to one issue, money. If you have someone who is not performing to the expectations of the team then you loose effeciency, if you can hire someone who brings in a needed skill set and adds effeciency then they are the person to hire, they add the potential to add money to the firm (if tghe work is there), and the dead weight must be shed. I some less fortunate cases firms have let go talented middle management because they can employ two draftspersons for the same amount of money. The farther down the company ladder you are the less skills you are expected to have, a successfull business balances these people out and hires the people that can play many roles for the best price.June 30, 2009 at 1:23 pm #173837Carol BellowsParticipant
Somewhat agree. One must have skills that can be billed. The easiest to acquire is CAD.June 30, 2009 at 6:11 pm #173836
I said, “besides work,” but I should have said, “money.”
Still, one thing I think I learned more than anything in running my own small business several years ago was the importance of billability and efficiency. Not to demean quality of work (read-graphic abaility, etc.)- Quality of renderings and work can be viewed as a marketing tool both to the client and subconsultants, still it doesn’t make sense to spend 14 hours on a delicate ink sketch in most cases, or does it?
Does the aforementioned mean that all companies should trim the fat and only employ cad people? As a tangent issue, I wonder how all this trimming will affect the work that is output by firms hanging in there and how this generation of work will be viewed in five or fifty years down the road? Will there be a marked difference in qualitative aspects directly correlated to whom the firms are employing?June 30, 2009 at 6:18 pm #173835
Your check is in the mail.. ; )June 30, 2009 at 11:51 pm #173834Jennifer de GraafParticipant
I would hope that in addition to whatever the position requires, that they’d be looking for skills that are currently lacking (or want improvement) in that office AND a person/personality that is someone who would bring a positive influence, good attitude, and the ability to get along with others! is there a credential for that? I can bring THAT. LOL.
I would like to also invite stories in the “employment storytelling” group.July 1, 2009 at 7:20 pm #173833Bob LutherParticipant
I like these comments, i made me think back to comming out of school and getting my first job… ahh the thrill of design, I can design anything, let me at ’em…. sadly the first task I had was to do one color-up and then to write and file memos for the senior project,manager then I moved up to editing details, and so on. we all expect to do great things when we take a new job but the comment earlier is correct, when first hires we are just tiles on a roof there to patch up a leak. The flip sid to the story was that 3 months after getting hired the firm layed off some employees and being the most junior person in the office I expected to get a pink slip and be on my way, when this did not happen I asked why I had been spared, and the principals said that they saw potential in how I worked and handeled myself, and that fact that I did was was asked and never complained about writing memos and editing details (two very good skills to learn) was the reason I was still employed.July 1, 2009 at 8:34 pm #173832Chris WhittedParticipant
I think there are probably as many answers to that question out there as there are firms. First and foremost is going to be a needed skillset – if you’re an expert at grading but can’t sketch, and they have an in-house civil but no graphic artist, odds aren’t in your favor. Second is probably personality and attitude – if you’re Picasso and their graphics production needs serious help but you come off as everyone being beneath you, odds are again not in your favor. And that is probably the toughest requirement to deal with, because personalities click or they don’t, it’s extremely subjective, and differences don’t have to be nearly as extreme or obvious as my example for it to be an issue. I think all of the alphabet soup is at best a potential indication of other intangible things about a person, such as drive or interest, and can at worst be very misleading. Sometimes they are a legitimate, needed requirement for a position.
I don’t think people other than CAD operators are ‘fat’. In fact, it takes an LA to generate CAD work in the first place. A CAD operator with no LA background can run the program and draft, sure, even pick up enough knowledge to move a little beyond that, but there’s still a lot to be said for an LA who can design/draft/critically review on the fly. In my experience, even before the downturn, the most highly desirable person is the one who can bring in work. Obviously that’s not overly expected of entry-level, but you do have to start looking at the spectrums of billing rates, tasks, and salaries.
As a side note, if that 14 hour sketch wins over the planning commission or pleases the client, then yes it makes sense. And I’m not sure the trimming will affect quality all that much in general – I’ve seen some plans of pretty atrocious technical quality in public records from any given time frame. 😉July 2, 2009 at 6:15 pm #173831Jennifer de GraafParticipant
I was recently in the same situation. I was more expensive and experienced than someone who’d been with the firm 2 years (I had been there 4 months) and I was spared when she was laid off … all because of personality differences, and there is NOTHING wrong with the personality of the woman who was laid off.July 4, 2009 at 2:51 am #173830Mike TupaParticipant
I’ll add this.
All the billability, skill, design ability, and speed issues are certainly important.
I’ll add that I also look for someone who can work on a team, listens to those around him-her, is willing to respond (to a supervisor and the client), and most of all is someone who is compatable with the other office staff and me. When all is said and done, ya gotta work with that individual every day, and some nights, on something that is important to you. And you want to have something to talk about when the hours get long and the tensions get high.July 6, 2009 at 5:11 am #173829
I had the opportunity to speak one-on-one with a principal from Olin (Partnership) during his visit to CSU last Spring. He spent nearly an hour walking the halls, evaluating mine and others work, and speaking in depth about design philosophy, office conventions, and the economic climate. The one thing he certainly emphasized was the importance of personality. In my opinion, listening to him speak, personality doesn’t necessarily equate to agreeability or degree of subordination. In fact, many of the mangerial types I’ve spoken with welcome some level of challenge an entry or even mid level staff new hire may bring with them. Overall though, this particular manager emphasized the importance, as Mike mentioned, of the new hire being able to hold a conversation or at least be pleasant to be around come late nights.July 9, 2009 at 5:12 am #173828
I’ve been following this as well Andrew. I was convinced there was a glitch, but now I’m not so sure.
It seems like we’re all just waiting it out, even those of us with jobs.July 9, 2009 at 8:10 pm #173827Chris WhittedParticipant
The issue last September was a broken website. They upgraded the site and database and there were apparently ‘issues’. It was down for about six weeks if I recall right. I know this because it was right when I was laid off and needed it most. : ) Given that resumes are still being posted, I don’t think this latest drop in job postings is a technical glitch. I also monitor about 100 firm sites in my state and some surrounding areas. If they’re posting, I don’t know where. I believe this is not only an employer’s market, but a networker’s as well.November 4, 2011 at 7:15 pm #173826November 5, 2011 at 1:26 pm #173825Andrew Garulay, RLAParticipant
A hire is just like any project. There are specific needs for each position needing to be filled. Much like a site analysis – needed skill sets are determined. A conceptual plan of that hire is made. Aesthetic needs in a landscape might be likened to personality in an office place. Then there is budget – how much to pay. Maintenance comes in when consideration of “will this person stay” or “am I training my next competitor”. How easy is it to hire this person (a move involved) and how easy is it to let go if it does not work out (few applicants think about this, but employers do). Long distance romances have consequences on both sides – look local or move to more fertile ground.
We tend to strive to meet a standard or write our resumes to try to fit a perceived standard. This is not a cycle for filling a generic job or hiring a generic employee. We are specific. The few jobs that are out there are also specific.
It also works in reverse. Look at your skill sets. Use your design process to find the job types and firms that fits you or to find the demographic market that needs you and work it.
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