Dear Matthew: Are all good jobs not advertised for?
BD’s agony uncle explains how you find a new job — even if it’s not made public
Question: A colleague of mine has just announced she is moving to exactly the kind of job I would like to have. When I asked her where she saw the ad, she said there wasn’t one — she just arranged it through her contacts. Are all the good architecture jobs not advertised for?
Answer: First off, I would say, no, lots of good jobs are advertised. Getting a job from answering a job ad or through an agency is a sure-fire way of efficiently matching need to want. Advertised jobs also tend to have the advantage of being well-described, and organisations posting them will clearly have thought the role through. They will be wanting to recruit for the medium to long term, rather than acting on a whim. So, answering ads is a good way of getting a job, and certainly a much better use of your time than firing off speculative applications.
But what your friend is tapping into is the vast underbelly of the job market, which consists of recommendations, indistinct and self-made niches. If you are good at what you do, it is perfectly possible to be proactive and make your own opportunities. In fact, with the current job market, this route to a new job becomes even more important.
Think of it from an employers point of view. They might not have an actual role to fill. If they come across someone who can do a little bit of this, a little bit of that, someone who looks like they can deal with this, and seems likely to be able to cope with that, then these skills will be enough to justify creating a job around a person. Even if they could describe such a combination of skills, putting this description in the paper would result in a whole range of weird and left field applicants. This is especially the case in a difficult job market, where the sheer volume of responses to an ad can be daunting and time consuming for a practice to handle.
So, for better or worse, some employers prefer to scan the horizon for recommendations, or people who can fit in, then in order to win them, go to the lengths of constructing jobs around them. However, employers don’t necessarily do this actively, they need to be made aware of your availability.
So the lesson from feeling envious is to make sure you don’t ignore networking. You never know when it might pay off.
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Architect Matthew Turner of buildingonarchitecture.com has worked at a range of offices as well as being a client adviser, project manager and competition juror.