For all the talk of influence, artistic expression, innovation, and impact of the architecture and design industry, there is a rather inconspicuous undercurrent that rarely gets the attention it deserves.

The truth is that architecture and design is one of those areas that only reflects, like no other, the changing concerns, attitudes, and trends of the society it’s serving. This means that by nature the field of architecture and design is constantly evolving and constantly being redefined- from the outside in.

There’s No Room for Career Ostrich

Those who have chosen to make their careers in this industry should pay attention or else they may suddenly find out that their skills, experiences, and even career path have become out-dated and obsolete. The past decade, in particular, has seen unprecedented advances in design technology, the construction process, and the use of composite materials. We have also experienced great upheavals in the global economy and gone through deep sociocultural shifts. All of these factors have significantly affected the way projects are conceived, designed, and built.

In such a climate, architecture and design candidates need to take a good hard look at how they are positioning themselves in the industry. They must take the time to consider if they are really getting the experiences and developing the skills they need to ride with these major currents of change.

There are three main points that architecture and design candidates today need to consider:

  1. Recent experience is given more weight. Studios and big architecture firms alike are putting more attention on what candidates have done recently in their careers. In today’s intense and crowded job market, hiring managers are becoming more intolerant of drawn-out resumes and portfolios that take up too much of their valuable time. Older architecture professionals in particular need to realise that their experience past ten years out will not have the impact in the job market that it used to.
  2. Technology savvy isn’t an elective. The architects and designers who do not embrace at least some of the technological innovations that are currently redefining this industry will eventually send themselves into extinction. This includes: building design software, mobile workstations, as well as the growing prevalence of virtual and augmented reality and even 3D printing in the design process.
  3. Relevant expertise outside of the fields of architecture and design is gaining in importance. Today, it’s not just about the depth of a candidate’s knowledge that employers are looking at, but also it’s breadth. Those who go in to their job search with some understanding of the various roles, players, and supporting functions of the design and construction processes have a clear advantage over their peers. In other words, strong candidates just know more. In the coming months and years, architecture and design professionals as well as the firms that hire them, will be taking on multiple roles at once. We are already headed in that direction with the growing number of firms seeking to be a one-stop-shop for their clients.  

Bottom line: those who want to be successful in the ever-changing and evolving architecture and design industry will be the ones who will learn how to change and adapt.