How to Write the Perfect Architect Resume

In December 2019, it was reported that the employment market for architects will grow eight percent from 2018 to 2028, which is five percent higher than the average. An increase in “green jobs” for architects and new buildings such as universities and schools was also projected. 

However, companies who will continue their hiring activities despite the construction slowdown will be monstrously selective in their hunt for a “perfect” candidate. A typical job opening receives approximately 250 resumes. Out of these, less than half a dozen are called for an interview.

You’ve seen architect job descriptions – companies want a multifunctional architect applying extensive sustainable design and construction knowledge, cutting-edge software abilities, analytical skills, number crunching, and creativity – all the while working towards business development. They will ultimately choose the candidate that checks the most boxes.

Does your resume check all the qualifications mentioned above?

  • What are you supposed to do if you just don’t have all of this experience?
  • When was the last time you updated your resume?
  • Does it effectively showcase what value you bring to employers?
  • Does it make a powerful first impression?

If the list of qualifications above seems intimidating to you, don’t worry. Here is my step-by-step guide to creating the perfect architect resume that will ultimately give you the competitive advantage you need.

Transform your resume by following these tips:

  1. Incorporate keywords in your resume.
  2. Prioritize accomplishments over generic duties.
  3. Create a strong summary.
  4. Use design best practices to get your resume read, not skimmed.

Step 1: Incorporate keywords into your architect resume

An applicant tracking system is a tool that is used by over 90% of employers to parse and sort resume submissions. These systems are used to screen resumes based on keyword usage, so make sure your resume is keyword optimized for a particular job description.

Skills mentioned in the job description also count as keywords. You can incorporate these keywords into your resume to help improve your resume’s ranking in ATS.

Take a look at how I bolded keywords in the following snippet from a job description. I will add these to an architect’s resume if they have these skills. In parentheses, I added the keyword I’ll be using in the resume:

The architect will plan and design buildings (Building Planning & Designing) along with a team of Architects. They brainstorm project ideas, complete design drawings (Architectural Planning & Designing + Architectural Drawing)in AutoCAD, and review project proposals (Project Proposal Review), remaining a part of the process from conception through development (End-to-End Development Process). Architects complete and file much of the paperwork that is involved in the design process. They create proposals and complete construction paperwork for buildings (Construction Documentation).

Here are a few more keywords that you can add to your resume. Feel free to copy and paste these in:

Keywords for architect resume
Keywords for architect resume

You can add these to your skills section, summary, and accomplishments.

If you’re having a hard time doing this, ask yourself the following questions:

Architectural Design

  • Were you ever required to work on an integrated design? If yes, what did you work on? This may include architecture, structural engineering, passive solar building design, and HVAC. 
  • Were you ever required to work on a cost-saving and sustainable design? How did you do so?
  • Did you come across any ill-constructed designs? How did you remedy these?
  • Were you ever required to oversee the design process? This may include the pre-design process, schematic design process, design development, construction documentation, and construction administration. If yes, did you resolve any related challenges?

Building Materials & Sustainability

  • Did you help make sure that the correct building materials were provided for construction?
  • Did you suggest construction techniques? If yes, to achieve what?
  • What methods did you take to ensure cost-effectiveness?
  • Moreover, what methods did you take to ensure sustainability in construction?
  • Did you ever experience any difficulties managing the material take-off process? How did you overcome them?
  • Did you assist with a large-scale housing construction project? If yes, describe the project.

Project Management as an Architect

  • Which teams did you collaborate with?
  • Did you adhere to project requirements?
  • Did you meet stringent deadlines? If so, how did you do so?
  • How did you manage contradictory stakeholder requirements?
  • Did you encounter any inefficient processes? What did you do to rectify this?
  • How did you translate your clients’ vision into drawings while managing their expectations?
  • Did you negotiate pricing with suppliers?
  • Were you ever required to shorten the lead time? If yes, how did you do so?
  • Did you experience any difficulties collaborating with general contractors? If yes, how did you overcome them?
  • What tools and technologies did you use to plan and design building infrastructure? Did you inherit any outdated technologies? What did you do to rectify this?

Documentation

  • What type of architectural documents did you prepare? Did these include location drawings, assembly drawings, and component drawings? What tools did you use to do so?
  • Did you prepare construction proposals? Did you face any difficulties in this regard? This may include time-consuming documentation, collaborating with multiple stakeholders, etc. If yes, how did you overcome it?

Here’s what my client had in their resume before I spoke to them:

You can see in this version that you can find most of these are duties and actions in any architect’s resume.

Here’s what I wrote after asking them some of the questions listed above:

You can learn more about the Challenge-Action-Result model here and how you can use it to elevate your experience section.

Step 2: Add your architectural projects and volunteer experience

If you’re new to the world of architecture, relying solely on your professional experience to build your resume won’t do; it might make you look less talented than you are.

Therefore, you should dig into your school and side projects as well as your volunteer experience to showcase your skills.

Many companies regard volunteer work as an indicator for candidate’s personality and culture fit, especially for new graduates. It shows that the candidate is passionate about giving back to the community, while at the same time, providing proof of leadership and transferable skills.

Here is a blog on how one of our clients secured a promotion because we emphasized on their volunteer experience.

As you go through your projects and volunteer experience, ask yourself these questions:

  • What was the goal of the project?
  • What challenges did you experience or did you set out to solve with your project?
  • Did you work in a team? If so, were you the leader of that group? How did you ensure smooth communication and delegation?

Here’s a project section that I recently wrote for a client who had just finished her bachelor’s degree in architecture:

As you can see, I bolded the “title” of the project. You can do the same in a bulleted project list to draw the reader’s eye. (Again, I color-coded the challenges, actions, and results behind her project.)

Moreover, if you have volunteer experience, you can add it to your resume like so:

Optimizing your architect resume

Step 3: Create a strong architect resume summary

Recruiters receive hundreds of resumes for a job opening and have only a few seconds to skim each one. But if the top portion of your resume does not immediately interest them, they will move on to the next one.

Therefore, it’s important to have a powerful summary to grab their attention and convince them to read further.

What can I add to my architect resume summary?

  1. Contact information.
  2. One-line professional summary.
  3. Three of your best accomplishments, prefaced with a bolded keyword subheading.
  4. Your best skills.

Here’s what my client had as a resume summary before I started working on it:

As you can see, the above can apply to any architect. It doesn’t really stand out or talk about why the recruiter should slow down and pay more attention to the resume.

Here’s what I did instead:

Optimizing your architect resume

This one-line summary shows that the candidate can collaborate on the initial design stages, as well as the entire architectural process from concept to construction.

If a strong summary is something you need help with, this article goes into more detail.

Step 4: Format your architect resume

Lastly, the key to creating a beautiful resume is consistency in design. This not only helps make the resume more visually pleasing, but also helps improve legibility, slows the reader down, and makes them pay attention to your wins.

Creating a strong visual design means making smart use of alignment, white space, bullets, and subheadings.

Here are a few steps to follow:

  1. It’s best to leave out charts and graphs because the ATS is not able to read or parse images, as they can scramble the rest of your resume’s content.
  2. Use Calibri in font size 10 for your bullets and font size 16-18 for your headings.
  3. Go easy on the bolding.
  4. Avoid using italics because they can be harder to read if your resume is printed.

For more, check out my blog, What Resume Designs Get the Most Interviews? It goes into further detail about resume consistency, subheading placement, formatting, and where the hottest “real estate” is on the page.

Step 5: Update your contact information on your architect resume

First, make sure to update the location to the exact place you would like to begin your job search (not the place you currently live).

Why?

ATS systems will weed out resumes outside a specific geographic area. This way, you have a greater chance of reaching recruiters despite a highly saturated job market.

Location is a keyword. Think about it from a recruiter’s perspective. If you search for “Architect, Los Angeles,” it’s unlikely that someone with “Tallahassee” in their address line will come up, right? Put in the city, state, and zip code.

You also need to put in an activated phone number and an email you often check to respond efficiently.

Lastly, you need to hyperlink the URL to your LinkedIn profile so that recruiters can find you easily. If you don’t have a LinkedIn profile, make one right away. You can read more on the importance of having a LinkedIn and networking here.

Here’s an example:

714.845.7104 | contact@careertuenrs.com | Irvine, CA 92620 | linkedin.com/in/careertuners

Writing is not everyone’s forte, but it is definitely mine. This is the reason dozens of recruiters in the architecture space have approved my architect resume writing best practices. If you need help showcasing your skills and career history, upload your resume here for a free critique.

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How to Write the Perfect Architect Resume

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