In the competitive Architecture and Interior Design world, attracting top employees is no easy feat. Enticing the best of the best to consider working for your firm requires careful planning and preparation; from understanding what the cre?me of the Architect crop want; to crafting the right job description so they'll apply; to ensuring a first-class recruitment experience to increase the chances they'll say yes to your offer.
So how do you make your job out stand amongst the rest? The following steps will guide towards this goal and make your Architect and Interior Design talent quest a success.
1. UNDERSTAND WHAT TOP ARCHITECTS AND INTERIOR DESIGNERS WANT
While every individual will have their own list things of they want in a new job, there are a few overarching categories Architects and Interior Designers consider. Here are some key ones:
A great base package
While it's not always about money, top Architects and Interior Designers feel they should be paid their worth. How does your firm compare to others when it comes to salary? Are you on par, or below? Check out our 2019 Architecture and Interior Design Salary Survey here and see how your company's salaries compare.
Type of project work
Great Architects and Interior Designers have a clear career trajectory in mind. They might be looking to take the step up to large-scale commercial projects, or even go the other way, by working on smaller, bespoke projects that offer more scope for creativity and innovation. Some are keen to jump on board with a firm who has a 'green' focus, promoting sustainability in every aspect of their work. Communicating what you have to offer in terms of projects in your recruitment materials is essential to attract the right candidates.
In the fast-paced Architectural scene, the best Architects and Interior Designers stay relevant by keeping their skillset fresh and current. This often requires formal training, either on or off-site. It might be as simple as keeping up to date with the latest version of ArchiCAD, or as involved as launching themselves into the world of BIM and all that goes with it. Whatever the case, it's important to consider a training budget for your new position.
Many Architects are tied to their work stations for hours at time, so it's important they are set up to suit this. Ensuring your office ergonomics are on point is a fantastic way to show employees you care about them. Furthermore, some Architects may enjoy working in open office environment, while others prefer to be seconded away in a quiet spot. As this is tied to personal preference, it is something you should seek to uncover when interviewing potential candidates.
This one often comes down to working hours and what is expected of an experienced Senior Architect or Interior Designer. Some may be happy to put long hours when necessary, as long as there is some flexibility in downtime with say, days in lieu. A work from home option is also enticing, as is the ability to offer autonomy project planning and execution.
Great colleagues and culture
This is a very broad topic that can encompass any number of things. However, many Architects look for an environment where they have support from management, and can develop good working relationships with their peers. If you can create a culture such as this, it's extremely powerful and enticing.
Your current design team are a goldmine of information when it comes to how your firm fares in these categories. Use this valuable resource. Ask them how they rate you in each area, and what you could do to improve.
Digest and action feedback, if necessary, but also use this intel to inform and refine your recruitment process. It would also be a good idea to draw on your design network, asking colleagues and perhaps even, trusted clients, about how they view your firm's performance in these areas.
2. REVIEW YOUR BRAND
It's vital you fully understand how your firm presents itself to the candidate market, plus how you stack up against your competitors. Once you have this information, it's much easier to work out how to sell your value to a potential new employee. What follows is a brief outline of some steps you can take:
Review what your firm offers
Consider the following areas when thinking about what your firm offers a potential new Architect or Interior Designer, remembering how you articulate these in your recruitment materials is key (job ad, job description, interviews and job offer):
Company mission/values: This one matters. Potential employees want to know if there's an alignment between what you value and what they value; between the way they like to work, and the way you work.
Team: New talent want to know who they might be directly working with (How big is the team? Who is responsible for what? What part do they play in the 'bigger picture'?), and what type of leader is in charge (Do they seek input? Do they implement feedback? Do they champion proactivity, innovation or have a more structured work approach?)
Growth potential: What scope will the candidate have to grow? What sort of projects do you currently have on offer and in the pipeline? How will these help them expand their skills?
Benefits & perks: A good compensation package, great culture and challenging work are likely to win out over any perks and benefits. But having said that, if you have flexible work hours, that is definitely one to trumpet!
Review your online presence
Architects and Interior Designers want to know as much about your business as they can to help them decide if you're a good fit for them. And of course they will search online to find out. What does your online footprint say about you?
If you don't think it matters that much, Glassdoor study statistics show just how important your online presence is in making a good impression on potential applicants.
1. 61% of job seekers read online company reviews and ratings before making the decision to apply
2. 79% read social media profiles when applying for a job
3. 69% wouldn't take a job if the company had a bad reputation (even if they were currently unemployed!)
4. 84% percent would consider leaving their current job for a company with an excellent reputation A 2017 CareerArc study also found a huge 55% of job seekers abandoned a job application after reading a negative review.
Some keys ways to check the health of your online presence:
Google your company (and yourself): Where do you currently stand? If you find negativity, it is worth responding to it in a logical and respectful way, using examples to illustrate why you don't agree. After your initial response, take the conversation offline. Should the reviews contain valid points, think about what you can to do to address them in your firm. While these changes will take time, you will be rewarded in the long run.
Review your social accounts & strategies: Do they align with your firm's brand? Confusion between the things you espouse on your website and on your social sites can send up red flags to potential candidates. Review your social strategy and align with your website if needed, particularly when it comes to core components like your values and work culture.
Review your website: Are your values, mission and culture clearly defined? Does your website capture all that makes you great to work for? Perhaps consider asking some of your happy team members, clients or customers for a video testimonial. Or if you have a great work space, film a virtual tour. Your current staff may even be interested in penning some blog articles to help establish you as a thought-leader in the Architecture and Interior Design space. Up-to-date content is must to keep your website relevant and impress potential employees.
3. MAKE SURE YOU UNDERSTAND THE JOB'S REQUIREMENTS
The best way to sell a great Architect or Interior Designer your job is to intimately understand it yourself. As a firm owner, it's likely you're up to speed on all the nuances of the role. However, it still pays to spend some time to reviewing the following and perhaps asking for feedback from current staff:
- The specific & regular duties of the job (workflows, team responsibilities, expectations)
- How the person's job performance will be measured
- The role's salary, benefits and perks (you can use the input from steps 1 & 2 here)
- How the position adds value to the practice
Being armed with this knowledge will assist you during the important interview phase. You can easily and knowledgeably answer any questions candidates put to you about current projects in your pipeline, autonomy when project planning etc.
Put yourself in the shoes of a top candidate. If you were in their position, what would you be most interested in knowing about the role?
4. WRITE AN ENTICING JOB AD
Your job ad must clearly outline why an Architect or Interior Designer would choose to apply for your job over others. In other words, what is your unique selling point? Use what you've accumulated so far from the previous steps to help you here.
Another way to approach this is to first spend time writing your position description (PD), and our article will guide you when doing this. You can then use your PD to create your job ad and accurately target the right candidate. While writing, keep in mind that your recruitment search should be focused on what the job offers the candidate, not what's in it for you.
5. WRITE A JOB DESCRIPTION
Often, the things that deter a great candidate from saying yes to a job offer occur during the recruitment process, before even getting to the offer stage.
Potential hires use the interview process to review their would-be boss just as much as an employer uses the interview to screen the candidate.
Good interview etiquette is based on common sense but in the interest of giving you a well-rounded checklist, here are some things to keep in mind:
- Thoroughly prepare for interviews
- Be punctual (consider their nerves and don't keep them waiting for an excessive period)
- Be friendly and enthusiastic (be mindful of body language. No slumped shoulders, frowns etc.) Turn off all tech (mobiles, computer notifications etc.)
- Follow the 80/20 talking rule (80% them, 20% you)
- Paraphrase key answers back to the interviewee to ensure you understood their meaning Ask them if you have answered all their questions
- Invite them to tour your office & meet key team members
- Always follow-up after interviews to keep them in the loop
It's a good idea to have one central contact point throughout the interview process. This helps the candidate build a relationship from the get-go, and reduces the chances of misinformation and/or confusion.
6. THOROUGHLY VET EACH CANDIDATE BEFORE AND DURING THE INTERVIEW
By now, you should have a detailed understanding of what many great Architects and Interior Designers want in a new role, as well as what your position offers in that area. It's now time to understand your candidate so you can sell what you have to offer on a personal level. It also has the added advantage of enabling you to quickly spot if someone isn't a good fit for your job.
Knowing the candidate's passions is the key to tailoring an offer to excite them. If you can show them you can give them what they most desire, it's highly unlikely they'll turn you down.
Perhaps they're passionate about working from concept to completion on a single, large scale project, or maybe they like having multiple smaller projects on the go that offer ample room for innovation? If there is scope in the role and your firm to accommodate their interests, then you will not only attract them, but once they accept, gain a valued team member keen to stay for the long term.
It is therefore important to do some reconnaissance work on your interviewee. Their resume, LinkedIn or perhaps their referral source, are all great starting options.
The next step is during the interview itself. The team at Kappa Executive Search have put together a comprehensive Interview Guide for Architecture and Interior Design Hiring Managers, you can read it here.
If your role requires them to perform similar tasks projects to those they've worked on previously, ask them how they would do things differently if they had the chance to do it again.
If it's a new task for them, ask how they will approach it. Getting them thinking out loud is a good way to glean insights into their work style, personality and whether what you have on offer will be a good match.
7. PREPARE THE PERFECT OFFER
The perfect offer is not always all about the money, even though that is a crucial component. It must be tailored to get the candidate's emotional buy-in.
You have plenty of data by now about what the candidate is really looking for. Meld their desires to the opportunities in your role to increase your chances of them saying yes. Perhaps you spoke about a particular project during the interview that got them excited, or they mentioned they have children? In your offer, you should mention assigning them to that project, or include flexible work hours to allow them to do the school run.
When putting together the job offer, ask yourself:
- Have you personalised the salary, benefits and perks to appeal to the candidate?
- Have you benchmarked the salary against competitors and industry standards?
- Have you built in flexibility to allow the candidate to negotiate (salary, start date, perks, benefits, etc.)?
It's likely the candidate has met some of their potential colleagues during the interview stage (if you aren't considering doing an office tour during the interview, you should. Countless studies show employees' opinions about their workplace culture far outweigh those of management). If possible, invite the candidate into the office to present them with your offer, but tack on a casual 'drinks and nibbles' meeting afterwards. It's just another informal opportunity for the candidate to get a feel for your firm and envision their place within it.
7. CLOSE THE DEAL
Once you've extended the offer, there are a few things you can do to help seal the deal:
- Clearly articulate why you feel they are ideal for the role
- Take your time explaining the offer, ensuring you explain each benefit
- Welcome and address questions
At this stage, you need to move fast. Addressing any questions or concerns in a timely manner will help ensure the candidate says yes to your offer before any other offers come their way.
Getting the best Architect or Interior Designer to say yes can be tricky. But following these steps should put you firmly on the path to success. Should you need further support during your recruitment search - whether it's in developing your recruitment materials, tips for interviewing or putting together the best offer to capture 'the one'- we'd love to help.