In searching for your AEC dream job, it's important to differentiate yourself in the hiring process. Here are 6 tips to help you do just that.
Design and construction work is booming, AEC firms are busy getting projects out, and they’re looking for high-quality professionals to become valued members of their teams. This is true in all sectors—healthcare, mission-critical, hotel, education, multifamily, to name a few—and at all levels, from recently minted professionals on up to Senior Project Manager and even CEO.
AEC firms are looking for design and construction professionals with the right skills, knowledge, and experience to give their company a competitive edge. But even in a positive economy it’s important to stand out to hiring managers. No matter what stage you’re at in your career, if you want to obtain your dream job, you need to differentiate yourself in the hiring process. Here are 6 quick tips to help you do just that:
- Reputation and Personality – AEC firms are looking for dynamic individuals who are good team players and competent professionals who can handle themselves well in front of clients and are eager to learn. How you present yourself matters. Having a good reputation and a positive personality are important factors in being received well and making a good impression.
- Resume – The purpose of a resume is to get you a meeting with an employer. It should be a snapshot of your education and professional career that allows an interviewer to immediately identify if you are qualified for the position. Make sure to note any professional organizations you belong to, professional committee memberships, your education and work experience credentials, published articles (print and online), awards and honors, and speaking engagements. I also recommend highlighting important past projects and any special skills or experience—laser scanning, or 3D printing, or foreign work/foreign languages, for example. To keep your resume from seeming to be impersonal, add a biographical “letter” to introduce yourself to the AEC firm hiring manager. Bonus points: Add a graphic with your name and contact information to make your resume stand out.
- Portfolio – Your portfolio showcases your abilities, expertise, and talent through storytelling of past projects. Be sure to include all of your skills throughout your portfolio. Employers want to see how you think: including sketches or preliminary concepts is a great way to share your thought process. Be sure to include construction documents and details. Remember, with portfolios, the more you highlight your skills and range of abilities, the better.
- Online presence – Most employers will check out your LinkedIn profile (and Google your name) before reaching out to you, so maintaining your online presence is important. Your professional profile should be up to date at all times and be used as your “online resume.”
- Work your network – Vendors, product representatives, classmates, former colleagues, and industry peers can be great allies when looking for a new position. They can inform you about the companies you are considering, and serve as references. Most important, they can often “walk you in the door” and make the connection for you. Leverage but don’t abuse your network. Make sure to inform anyone you use as a reference before putting them down as one, and make sure they will be an advocate for you.
- Be informed – Once you have gained a meeting with an AEC firm, you really have the opportunity to stand out in person. Do your homework. Always research the organization and the people you are meeting with prior to your interview. This process positions you to ask good questions and show that you are serious about working for them, not just “working.” Be sure to follow up afterwards with a thank-you note.
It’s important to stand out in the career search process, but it’s equally important to find the right fit for your personal and professional development. Take the time to assess the firm when you meet with them. Is this someplace you could imagine yourself working? Does the company culture feel like a fit for you? Can you see yourself there in five or more years?
Start with these six steps to differentiate yourself as you continue your AEC professional career search, and you will be well on your way to landing your dream job.
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