Unemployed and need feedback



I've been reading though the posts and its unfortunate some of the younger folks are moaning about having to work at the entry level jobs.  I've been there before and would be glad to be back in the seat doing the same work, as long as it put a roof over my families heads and food on the table.

Yes, I'm unemployed and haven't been able to get back in the profession since the fall out in 2007.  Its been difficult not to be able to work in the profession and even more difficult taking on work as a CSR for 6 months and a Foreclosure field processor for 2 yrs.  I could go on about how crappy those gigs were, but I'll spare everyone.

Between those gigs, I've been able to take on remodeling and lite construction projects for home owners, real estate investors, apartment owners, a restaurant and a few small offices.  No real design work, just swinging a hammer.  Some projects were 75% total restorations (partial structural, drywall, window & door replace, insulation & vent, electrical....) and some were just paint, flooring and clean.   

While I enjoyed these projects, I'd really like to be back in an office and working on larger projects.  Unfortunately, I haven't been getting any offers.  I send out plenty of resumes and get a few interviews. I apply for entry level, intern, staff, viz, home builders, residential designers, but nothing.

Here's my background-

7+ years drafting- Retail- franchise interiors, office space planning / interiors, Custom homes, Assisted living, churches, medium size public structures and small office buildings. (AutoCAD, ADT and learning Revit)

5+ years Arch Viz and multimedia presentations- for High rises, master planning, custom homes, interiors and  more. (3D max, SketchUp, adobe MS + video, Web design and more )

5+ years remodeling and construction.

BS in Architectural Design w/ minor in Urban Studies

MSc in Real Estate Development

Currently Working on LEED AP BD+C and Sustainable Building Practices Certificate.

Living in Oregon and not able to move out of state b/c of family and home.

Also, Non-licensed, but realize I could put in the time w/ ARE and get licensed in CO, HI and a few other states that don't require the 1st pro degree.

I dress well for interviews, mind my manners, speak well of the industry, downplay my lack of employment and talk about the positives of the past few years.  I'm also 48, married, male, 3 teen boys, graying hair and a little over weight (working out a little more).

I've had a little feedback from a few firms, that I thought the interview went well (though the hired a younger applicant) and comments were that they needed someone that could do more than pick up red lines, or who wasn't just a 3D guy, or that I wouldn't stay too long with them, or that they couldn't pay me what I was worth.... Not good.

Anyone on this forum have some good feedback, thoughts, or the person hiring with comment.... anything would be helpful, as long as its gets me back working in the industry.

Thanks for the input.

Apr 9, 13 2:51 pm

Figured out editing post

Apr 9, 13 3:00 pm


I feel you pain! that's why im working on getting my license. i figure i will have more opportunities. maybe you can start a magazine or Facebook page named "Unemployed Architects Anonymous" if you do i will join and subscribe. =)

Apr 9, 13 3:29 pm

You have a great background. You have a BS in Architecture and a MS in Real Estate Development and years of actually construction work. With this I would focus in getting a Project Manager job in Construction, Architecture or a Real Estate Development firm. Look for management positions as well as design positions. This should open a whole new world of possibilities.

Sorry to get off topic but where did you get your MS in Real Estate Development?

Apr 9, 13 3:44 pm

-tmston2:  could we start a reality show of down and out architects living on the street trying to design the most efficient cardboard / mobile sleeping container?

-Greg F: Portland State University.  Great program, very intensive and team oriented.  They just opened up the full masters degree.  I have the wee master's (28cr) or Masters certificate.  I'd like to go back to get the full, but not enough funds in the coffers for that luxury.

Thanks for the response.

Apr 9, 13 4:41 pm

I second Greg F's comments.

Potential targets as you seem to be Pacific North West focused:

Walsh Construction in Portland

JTM or GLY in Seattle

Also consider the development side and target Vulcan in Seattle. Although you said you are not able to move out of OR for family reasons, there could still be opportunities to pursue in Seattle that could have you working from Oregon or splitting your time between the two cities.

You may be pleasantly surprised at the opportunities and the increase in salary from the architecture field. Good luck.

Apr 11, 13 1:00 am

"tmston2:  could we start a reality show of down and out architects living on the street trying to design the most efficient cardboard / mobile sleeping container?" -lol!! classic!!

there is a video in case you haven't seen it called, "so you want to be an architect"

Apr 11, 13 12:34 pm

A question to ask yourself, are you finding jobs that are public and thus getting tons of folks to apply or are you finding hidden jobs?  Try the book cracking the hidden job market by Asher. It worked well for me.  In a nut shell online advertised jobs are a waist of you time way too competitive.  Make your job by learning about a company and networking and describing yourself as the solution to their vexing problems, before they take the arduous task of actively looking for someone.
Also consider your strengths are you representing them well when you interview.  Interviews are a good sign that you have something that an employer want’s, if the next interview doesn’t pan out call them up and politely ask them what you need to improve on and what skills and experience they thought you demonstrated the level of experience and abilities they wanted.
Spend 90% of your time talking to people 10% applying online.

Over and OUT
Peter N

Apr 11, 13 12:56 pm

I have a similar situation that ended well, read about it.

Apr 11, 13 12:57 pm

I agree with Peter. Every one of my arch jobs I've ever had did not come from applying to a job ad.

Apr 11, 13 1:07 pm

djohnson, you have a great background but right now you're doing a shotgun approach towards finding a job meaning you send your resume to all job listings without considering whether your skills, talents and experience would benefit those firms. If I were you I'd search the google for firms in Portland, visit their website, read all about the firms and their staff, make a list of 10-15 firms you like the most. Then go to Linkedin and see how you're connected to the people who work at those firms. Try to build as much connections as you can. 80% of the work is actually done before the interview. If you do the 80% unless you act like a total caveman at the interview you should be given a job offer. In addition to reaching to those firms' employees via social networking you can also write cover letters tailored specifically to each firm and make sure you send them to the hiring manager not to the secretary not to the or Applying to advertised positions is such a waste of time. Go for the hidden job market.

Apr 11, 13 3:08 pm

I forget the exact title of the book, but "cracking the hidden job market" (or something similar) was really useful for me.

Apr 12, 13 3:15 pm

Sorry for slow response.  

I've been cramming down the LEED AP studies and testing- passed.  Cool, another credential for my resume.  I've also had a few interviews (firms and Spec home design) and snubbed for all of them. 

I appreciate all the comments and feedback so far.

Pete - I have been looking for work on the radar, below it, trying to create a few and trying to network as much as possible.  As said before, at 48, I think my gray hair is curbing the offers.  I think its wrong and I know its illegal, but how to prove it or even go there.

Anob & Chingale- I'll start looking at the construction side more as I go forward and if possible, I might step up to starting my own design/build company. I've been reluctant to go that route as I've been a freelancer in the past and hated the feast & famine of it.  I'd rather just work for a firm or company and leave all the head aches to management.  I know that sounds like a slacker, but not all of us have the stomach to handle the ulcers.

s=r*(theta)- Great video, thanks for the laugh.  I'll let you know if i come up with a 12 step program.

Thanks again.

May 1, 13 2:46 pm
wurdan freo

Find a partner who likes the ulcers. You take care of the production part. License would almost be a necessity. Would you rather know that your last paycheck is coming at the end of this job if you can't drum up more work? Or simply in two weeks when your boss comes in and tells you? 

May 3, 13 2:44 pm

^ Spam.

May 8, 13 10:36 am


May 8, 13 5:28 pm

Sorry, misposted. Thought I was tagging a "click me" post that was deleted by management.

But please enjoy the Python.

May 8, 13 5:43 pm

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