What are employers looking for?



Me and my partner have been working our way up in architecture in the Netherlands for about 5 years now and are looking to relocate to the US.

Any advice on what programs, breeam, leed or what have you are smart to get before applying? What will increase our chance of a future employer wanting to employ us.


Jan 25, 23 11:12 am

Probably best if you know Revit and/or Rhino/grasshopper depending on what you're going for, and the adobe suite.

Most anything else is a pretty quick pickup or not expected in my mind. 

With that much experience, I'd be looking for a nice body of professional work resume/portfolio so I'm convinced you know how to work in a firm and on buildings. A small amount of personal stuff so I could try to assess that the professional work isn't just taking credit for other's efforts. And strong communication skills. 

Jan 25, 23 12:35 pm  · 
1  · 

Skills to have:

  • A solid portfolio that shows professional work.  The exact type of work will depend on the firms you're applying to
  • Show that you understand functional detailing.  
  • Understand LEED.  Having actual certification could be a plus depending on the firm. In my experience firms will hire a LEED consultant to do the actual building application.  
  • Show that you understand the IBC and IECC.  
  • Demonstrate that your communication skills are great.  This means speaking and writing in fluent english.  America is not like Europe, most people here only speak and read / write english. 


  • Show that you understand and enjoy the culture of the place the firm is in.  American culture is different than the Netherlands.  Different states in America have different cultures.  Think of it as if each state is a different country in Europe.  Some may have similar cultures, some will be very different.

Programs to know:

  • Revit
  • Bluebeam
  • Adobe (Photoshop, Illustrator, Indesign)
Jan 25, 23 12:54 pm  · 
3  · 

Reaching a typical still level for blubeam is a much lower learning curve than the others, I know my company could care less if someone knows how to use it when we hire them, and I agree with that.

Jan 25, 23 4:54 pm  · 
1  · 

It's not hard to learn and the basic stuff is easy. Using it to do punchlists, creating custom keys, symbols, templates, and making posted sets, those things take a bit more skill.  Not much more skill however . . . 

Jan 25, 23 5:18 pm  · 

I wouldn't say each state has a different culture. The cultures don't always align with the state borders. Some states have multiple cultures even overlapping. Aside from that, I pretty much agree with what you wrote.

Jan 25, 23 6:21 pm  · 

Thanks for the expansive answer!

Currently, we are working in a design focussed firm but I would like to transition. Program knowledge or language won't be the issue I just want to make myself interesting enough that an employer is willing to hire somebody that doesn't have local knowledge of sizing and hasn't worked much with ft and inches before. 

Jan 26, 23 3:07 pm  · 

Show that you understand the IBC and IECC - How would I demonstrate this skill??

Jan 26, 23 3:12 pm  · 

Demonstrate in your portfolio. Include it in your resume.

Jan 26, 23 4:53 pm  · 

LEED and WELL seem to be the main sustainability credentials sought for stuff we are working on.  Like Chad says above, how much(if at all) you actually use that knowledge varies from firm to firm.

Jan 25, 23 12:57 pm  · 
2  · 

If you can do a zoning analysis and basic understanding of code and can apply in real life projects and get a set of construction drawings together, Ill hire you today, no need for any graphics programs.

Jan 25, 23 4:29 pm  · 
2  · 

ahah. Sounds good ;)

Jan 26, 23 3:11 pm  · 

Disclaimer: I'm not American but am in North America. I am involved in all hiring in my office, and it tends to be me who sets the criteria for applicants. 

When looking to hire an architect, I'll only accept applications from locals (meaning they already live and work within my country). The reasons are several: as an architect, zoning and code work forms a substantial portion of your work, and I simply don't want to train somebody who should already know that (aka 5 years experience) when there are other applicants who do, and don't need a year or more to learn these things. The other part is that construction typologies are very different from country to country, and if you're not familiar with how things get constructed in your target market, you're at a huge disadvantage in my opinion. I'm licensed in Canada but I'd have no idea what a proper detail looks like for Thailand or Portugal, for instance. This stuff matters to me, but may not to others. That's pretty much it, everything else being roughly equal. 

Regarding LEED, I've never had a client ask for that in 12 years of working professionally. Huge waste of time in my locale, but that's a decision you have to make based on your own needs. We do design to LEED for all government-funded projects, because it's mandated by law here. You may want to check this with the specific market you want to work in. 

Regarding software, just show me that you can draw cleanly and communicate clearly. I can't expect all applicants to know all the softwares, just be willing to learn with the goal of being productive within a couple of months while you get settled. I don't base my hiring on software proficiency, even for technical roles. 

Good luck

Jan 25, 23 6:37 pm  · 
5  · 

Clear thanks!

Even though my firm is based in the netherlands most of my work has been all over the world. I hope that will help bridge the gap to the US a bit.

Jan 26, 23 3:12 pm  · 

Agree with everything BB said. Want to add, though, that in the US, the answer to "how things get built" will vary widely even within the country. 

I've worked in Utah, where there are a lot of people very skilled with in-situ concrete, and the vast majority of homes are framed construction, with a lot of concern about high-performance insulated assemblies.

I currently work in southwest Florida, where block masonry homes are super common, with PWT roofs, and the concern is with shedding water and redirecting moisture in the assembly. 

Not to mention the differences in material availability, skill and trade markets, and even things like labor unions, and their effects and pressures on your job site.

Jan 27, 23 7:15 am  · 
1  · 

- I want to see your skills and some experience ( depends on what level you are at ) but skills are at the top of the list. 

- show how you can be an asset to the firm, not an asset then now reason to hire you!

- show me how effective you can be with the delivery of work / projects tasks.

- pretty simple, but it takes a clear understanding of what it is you are tasked with, how to execute effectively and efficiently

Jan 26, 23 6:12 pm  · 

Disclaimer: I'm a building designer and not a licensed architect and therefore my projects are more residential oriented and because of where I am, some light commercial within some size rule. While I am not hiring at this time or have an immediately foreseeable time of hiring, here's the general idea of what I would be looking for.

If I was hiring, I would expect the person to have familiarity with and understanding of how to look through the adopted codes and determine the applicable codes including also local zoning and related codes. It's not important to remember every little code section by heart but you need to know how to research the information and I wouldn't want to be telling you how to do this. 

Important buildings codes includes the residential building codes and other associated codes. 

In my work, I tend to deal with existing and historic buildings so you need to have a sound understanding of existing and historic buildings, how they are built, historic / past building codes. You need to be able to do historic research. Ideally, I would have someone who does more of that on the team but if you don't have many employees, everyone's in for a lot and is going to have to know this stuff and do it or at least learn it. Luckily, we have some local programs at the local community college and universities, to learn about this. 

I'm not going to say that "you should show how you can be an asset". That's kind of useless to say or ask prospective employees submitting resumes. How the hell does a stranger know what you need that will be viewed as an asset if you don't convey what you need from those you intend to hire. You need to bring your education and skills to perform the work of the position you seek to be employed. If you can perform the work in a timely manner with quality expected and more importantly to the quality as needed at a level above the minimum. Absolute perfection is too excessive and the minimum is not good enough. Being a self-starter and having initiative is a quality I would expect but also balanced with process and communication. As an employer, I would need to know where you are at, at the various stages of the project, and exercise responsible control and supervision throughout preparation of what's prepared. I may not have or do that with licensed architects employed or as a business partner but I even then being familiar with what's going on and all and not just be a mushroom not knowing what's going on, the decisions being made, etc. 

There is still a duty of responsibility even if not licensed and is part of the ownership of the firm and what is produced by the business. Leadership roles requires that. An entry level employee might not have to worry abut such things right away but eventually that's part of career development.

 I don't want to micromanage employees otherwise it would take up all my time. I would want employees that I don't have to practically handhold throughout every step of every project. Most likey, if I was hiring, I would need reasonably experienced starting staff that may have time in their workload to supervise those with little experience. This is the reality of small businesses in this field. Not all that different than a small architect firm.

Jan 26, 23 7:08 pm  · 

Employees who are reverse of quite quitters basically.

Jan 27, 23 1:55 am  · 

be ready for a shock to the system with our work "culture."

Jan 27, 23 9:46 am  · 

Square, do not scare him away. We need another cog for the wheel lol

Jan 27, 23 10:17 am  · 
1  · 

ha! it's hard for me to imagine any european willingly subjecting themselves to the land of 50 hour work weeks, avoidance and/or lack of vacation, privatized health care, extremely unaffordable child care, etc etc.

but hey, we do have good pizza.

Jan 27, 23 12:02 pm  · 
2  · 

Honestly, why not start with looking at what companies are in the NL or that region and cross pollinate with ones that have offices in the states? I have no idea your background but companies like Snohetta, BIG, HdM all have outposts in the US and maybe helpful culturally for you? Again, not advocating for a starthictect, more a company that has multiple offices that can bridge a gap for you? On the otherhand you could find a nice small or mid sized company here with great culture and just jam out on good work. 

Jan 27, 23 10:18 am  · 

A strong portfolio of work, good technical and design skills, and the ability to work independently and collaboratively. They may also seek out candidates with experience in specific areas, such as urban planning, sustainable design, or historic preservation. Qualifications such as LEED certification, industry certifications, and specialized knowledge may also be desired. Additionally, employers often look for applicants who demonstrate strong communication skills, a commitment to excellence, and a passion for their work.

Jan 27, 23 3:10 pm  · 

Block this user

Are you sure you want to block this user and hide all related comments throughout the site?

  • ×Search in: