Overcoming the Top 5 Challenges of Getting Your First Job

Hunt with a strategy. Image credit: Public Domain, source

Looking for your first job is really hard work. You have to realize that job hunting is kind of your first job. If you want to succeed in this hunt, full-time dedication is required. Almost everyone has the same doubts and questions when the time to work finally arrives: What kind of job do I want to get? How can I impress my employer? Are my skills good enough for my dream job? Is there a way to eliminate the competition? You can be pretty good at something and learn faster than the rest, but you have to persuade the person on the other side of the table that you are exactly what he needs.

There are a few things you need to consider in order to get your first job:

  1. You Don’t Have a Job Hunting Strategy

Hunt with a strategy. Image credit: Public Domain, source

Hunt with a strategy. Image credit: Public Domain, source

Job searching can be really stressful if you don’t have a plan. Online applications will rarely be enough; you can send a billion, and ages will pass before you get a call.

The first step for a successful job search is to know thyself — make a list of your interests, goals, values, skills, and accomplishments. To sell yourself as a unique, precious piece made of unimaginable talents, it is important to be able to back up your claims. Keep in mind that everyone else will be applying the same way. If you don’t have any friends who can help you get into a firm, then look for the companies in your city and do some research to find out how your skills match their needs. You’ll need to know who’s in charge of contracting new employees, then pay him a visit. Even if he is not looking for applicants at the time, you might get lucky and arrive at precisely the right moment. If you are hoping to work abroad, online applications may be your only option. But that doesn’t mean you have to send resumes to every landscape architecture firm in the world in order to succeed. After sending an application, you have to follow up, including phone calls and e-mail. Companies will receive a bunch of applications, so try to be remarkable and stand out above the rest of the competitors. Make a good impression and behave exceptionally nice; humble people are well received everywhere. 2. How do you pick the right firm for you? Once you have defined your goals and recognized your talents, it is time to put them all together. It is likely that you will be given more responsibilities if you work at a small firm than at a large multinational, but this is not a rule. Don’t just look for jobs you can easily do, but also at positions that represent a challenge to your capabilities. Be flexible.


Aiming for the biggest firm you can find may not be the best choice, put some more thought into it. Image credit: Turenscape

3. Overcoming your lack of experience Keep in mind that landscape architecture is a business and money has to be made. You do not want to show up as a load for the company or someone they will have to teach everything. Rather, you want to be an investment — a self-sufficient, independent thinking, and responsible young mind. Ask yourself what can you offer that an experienced applicant doesn’t have and be sure your interviewers know that answer. Every company has a weakness; do solid research and become the solution to a problem they probably don’t even know they have. For example, not everyone is familiar with the most recent software on the market, and if you are able to save them time, money, or just make a considerable improvement, you’ll be one step ahead of the competition. 4. Your portfolio is impressive when it needs to be effective! Sometimes we make the mistake of thinking that an awesome portfolio design will instantly get employers’ attention and leave every competitor behind. Focus on the content rather than the presentation. Make sure it is legible, clear, and concise. Your design skills will rarely be valued in the beginning. Your new employers will want you to be useful from the first day. Focus on what they are expecting from you. Filling your portfolio with fancy renderings and cool drawings is important, but don’t forget to add technical details, cad drawings, and every element that reflects your understanding of the construction process. WATCH: One of the sample portfolio videos in our hit article: 5 Mistakes You Should Avoid When Designing Your Portfolio 5. You don’t know anyone in the profession! This is not the first time and won’t be the last you hear about the importance of networking. We are a social species; building relationships is as important for your career as it is for life. Let people know what you are doing. Employers and potential clients will give the job to someone they trust, even if they are aware that he might not be the best. Family, friends, and acquaintances will help you if they can. Friends you make while in school probably will be your ticket to get into your first jobs; working on a unique skill is quite useful here. When an opportunity opens in the field of your domain, people will remember your exceptional ability and may recommend you for the job.
LAN's Cameron Rodman and Brett Lezon with renowned landscape architect Laurie Olin at an ASLA event; photo credit: Cameron Rodman

LAN’s Cameron Rodman and Brett Lezon with renowned landscape architect Laurie Olin at an ASLA event; photo credit: Cameron Rodman

Always know how to sell yourself. It is possible that you offer the same things as the competitors at first, so create the feeling that a firm is buying extra features by contracting you. A good sense of humor is also highly appreciated. See also: 10 Easy Ways for Landscape Architecture Students to Network with Professionals – Your first job as a landscape architect may lay the foundation for your career. Do not accept a job just to have one. Define your goals and head out in the right direction. Try thinking about where you want to be five years from now. If your search is not getting results, review your strategy, identify the problem, and try a different path. Getting a job is not that hard. Don’t give up. Article written by Eduardo Reguer Return to Homepage Featured image: Credit: Ethan; licensed under CC 2.0

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