Frustrations with replying to job ads

I just want to vent my frustrations with job searching in NYC.  I have been a registered architect for almost 2 years now with 10 years post graduate professional experience in multifamily housing, hi end residential, and commerical work.  I would think that the applicant pool would shrink and my chances of getting replies would have increased after I spent 3 years taking the exams to unlock the license .  Although I have had 2 interviews this year from ad responses on the Archinect job board, I feel I should have had more.  

I only apply to ads that have requirements that match my qualifications closest.  I know I don't meet every single point but when I apply I feel I meet 90% of their requirements.   Perhaps there is that person that does meet them 100%?  

Is there anyone out there that can help me make my submissions better so I increase my chances of response?  A few questions or suggestions:

1.  How late is too late to respond to an ad?

2.  What is expected in the work samples?  It seems these employers want your whole portfolio these days before they interview you!  In my current work samples I show renderings and pictures of my best work after construction along with some millwork details.  Should I describe the projects below the samples and how I prepared them?

3.  The cover letters take the most time to write.  How can I effectively convey to the employer I meet their qualifications.  

4.  What 3D/BIM programs should be a priority to learn at this point?

This year I reviewed sample submissions with the director of the AIA NYC chapter and a top recruiter.  Both thought my submissions were impressive but I would love to know why these perspective employers don't seem to think so if I am not getting responses.  

I am currently working but not in a good place. the environment I work in is not a place I want to remain as I feel some of my skills are already suffering the longer I work there.  

Perhaps I can send someone a recent application package to review and critique, it would be really helpful!  

Nov 29, 12 8:54 pm


Your frustration is shared by many these days. I suspect there are no easy answers to your situation. Your questions are broad and I won't necessarily attempt to answer them all in detail. Here's my take on your challenges.

In a down market, employers have many (MANY) qualified candidates to choose from and, for that reason, they can be quite selective. All technical qualifilcations otherwise being equal, employers will tend to make their selection among qualified candidates based on more intangible factors - such as personality, communication skills, personal appearance, etc. Employers also will tend to favor candidates where there is some personal connection -- same school, shared friendships, recommendations from professional colleagues, etc. Nowhere in your narrative above do you address your competitiveness in such areas. I recommend you give some thought to how you might approach your job search where these aspects are given more deliberate attention.

You also do not address above your economic expectations and how you deal with that aspect in your submittals and during interviews. Whether you want to accept this idea or not, employers naturally respond to 'supply and demand' conditions -- when there are many good candidates competing for a few scarce positions, wage expectations often become an important, if not deciding, factor. Be sure you know what the "current" market is for your experience level in your market and do your best to tailor your expectations to that level.

Finally, in a job market like this one, personal relationships often become a key factor in obtaining a position. If you are not already doing so, you probably should make every effort possible to network widely with other design professionals in the NYC area. Employers prefer to hire people they already know, or who might be known by one of their colleagues in the firm.

I realize I address here mostly issues that you did not raise in your initial post. I do so because the solution to your dilemma very well may lie in areas you've not already been thinking about.

Good luck.

Nov 30, 12 9:43 am

Personal connections are key.  Usually.

But if you really want to guarantee your success then you need to master the dark art of blackmail.  Although they may appear boring & bourgeois, most of the top arch firms are run by freaks & perverts of the highest order.  Evidence of this is your golden ticket.


Nov 30, 12 10:01 am

dude, start your own firm.....You are licensed! 

Nov 30, 12 11:08 am

be proficient with Revit 2013 -  and know it it thoroughly - this + arch license + an engaging personality.

Nov 30, 12 12:01 pm

JLA-X took the words right out of my mouth!

Nov 30, 12 12:12 pm

let us see your portfolio... perhaps many architecture firms want someone who can design well and win them projects, not just someone who manages a project which I'm sure there are plentyful

Nov 30, 12 2:33 pm

after a quick review, perhaps you can enhance your chances by learning revit?

Nov 30, 12 3:23 pm

A few thoughts...

1) you mentioned that you select carefully only positions that you meet the requirements of. That's great. I makes me wonder though, do you select the firms as carefully? When there is a glut of applicants, the illusive "fit" matters more and more, and sometimes finding someone whose way of working and design aesthetic align with that of the office can trump the line-item requirements.

2) Why millwork details? Is that what you want to be known as, millwork guy? "Did you see the latest portfolio to come in?" "oh, you mean Millwork Guy? Yeah, I'm not sure about him."

3) Respond ASAP. Same day as the posting will get you the longest look.

Nov 30, 12 3:30 pm

don't forget, firms probably receive hundreds of applications/portfolios for each position available.  What sets you apart from all the rest?  Just having requirements and being licensed aren't necessairly enough.  You must be an asset to the firm and be seen as irreplacable.  Otherwise, you're just another licensed guy who needs to be paid more than that intern/recent grad who can do the same task just as well.

Nov 30, 12 3:52 pm

i wouldn't use your real name to vent about your current job!

Nov 30, 12 5:56 pm

Thank you everyone for your input on this.  There are a lot of valuable suggestions here I didn't even think of and will look out for when I prepare my next applications.  I may take the Vectorworks BIM course being offered in January in NYC to boost my knowledge of the BIM world.  This will hopefully get me to learn Revit more at the same time as well.  How can I post my current PDF work samples for critique?  I would love some imput on them and if I could send better and more annotated samples.  As far as starting my own firm, I am exploring those options as well as some private jobs have come my way in the past few weeks.  

As far as my salary expectations, I only mention it on the cover letter if the ad asks for it specifically.  Otherwise I leave that information out.  It's a very tricky area and I like to avoid it when possible until they actually call me for interview (if that even happens).

Dec 16, 12 4:15 pm

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