I love getting thoughtful emails and I read every one of them. If you don't see an answer to your question in the FAQs below, feel free to contact me. 

Though I often get behind on email I will try to respond as soon as possible!

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Frequently Asked Questions

I often get the same questions throughout the week, so I have compiled a collection of my most Frequently Asked Questions.

I have applied everywhere and haven’t had any responses?

If you want a great job in architecture you have to be unique. What sets you apart from the sea of applicants? Many of the top architecture firms I speak with receive TENS OF THOUSANDS of resumes every year.

Work in an architecture firm is a very team oriented exercise. Finding someone the team works well with can often be more important than pure talent or experience.

It is human nature to want to interact with members of our own tribe. A tribe is a group of people connected to one another, connected by a common idea, someone to share interests. Hiring a known associate increases the likelihood this person will fit into the office tribe versus an outsider.

Building on your existing network of trusted friends and references within the architecture community will help you get your foot in the door.

Also check out: 7 Reasons Why Your Architecture Job Application Is Being Ignored

What is the best way to get an architecture job?

When I interviewed Zaha Hadid Architects on how they acquire new hires they gave their top 6:

  1. ZHA website
  2. Refer a friend
  3. Adverts on LinkedIn and other external sites
  4. Recruitment agencies (specific to the role)
  5. Headhunting campaigns driven by the HR department
  6. Graduate recruitment schemes

Should I apply with an online portfolio?

The short answer is no. I always get a lot of resistance on this subject. Usually because the applicant has already set up their online account, loaded their profile up with every project they have ever even thought about and sent their link to 200 offices. They then wonder why they are not hearing back from anyone.

Just use a simple PDF email attachment. This way you are not depending on the reliability of your host site or the office IT system. In fact, many firms, especially the large offices will block access and downloads from hundreds of sites, potentially including your host site.

Also by using a PDF it allows complete control over the appearance and formatting of your portfolio. Many of the free online host sites are littered with ugly advertising and pop ups. Not the greatest first impression. Printing from these sites can also be difficult, or impossible.

I cover more on portfolio's in The Two Page Architecture Portfolio.

Do you offer private architecture career coaching?

Yes, visit Zo Virax Resources for more information.

Should I work abroad?

I would recommend thinking about what you want to be doing in 5-10 years. Do you want to be at a large corporate firm doing high-rise residential or a small office doing single family homes?

Have a plan for where you want to be and chart a course to get there. Living abroad is a great experience (I have lived in Auckland, San Francisco, London and Madrid to name a few). However, just the fact you are in another country doesn't necessarily help your career.

For more information see my post on the topic:
Is Working Abroad Bad For Your Architecture Career?

What's the best way to explain your portfolio during a WebEx (screen share) interview?

I have done several interviews over WebEx and they are usually a nightmare. There is always some tech problem on their end or your end. If they insist on doing a screen share, make sure you send them a pdf of  your portfolio ahead of time. This way if it doesn’t go well they have something to look at.

Problems aside, try to keep each page of the portfolio as simple as possible. Like a Powerpoint presentation, more pages with less content per page is easier to explain. Be sure to speak slowly and as clearly as possible.

Also just a tip, make sure to disable any pop up email alerts, weird desktop backgrounds, etc. Since they can see your entire screen you wouldn't want an embarrassing pop up.

See also: How To Ace Your Web (Skype) Architecture Job Interview

How much do architect's make?

There are a lot of factors that go into an architect's compensation. As with any profession, if you are great at what you do you will never be without a job (not to mention paid very well).

The AIA has a salary calculator that allows you to input data such as position, firm size and location. However, keep in mind these are averages. Personally I would like to be above average. Right?

See also: How To Earn A Six Figure Architecture Salary

How do I negotiate my salary offer?

Generally speaking you should not give out the first number. You can say something along the lines of, "I don't have a firm salary in mind, it really depends on the whole package, I am sure you will make a fair offer". Be prepared to counter their offer.

I wrote some additional tips here: 11 Architect Salary Negotiation Tips

Who makes the final salary decision?

Who makes the final decision depends on the firm. If it is a large office there will be an HR department. Generally HR personnel do not make the final salary decision, that is usually management. HR will pass along the information between parties involved.

However, most HR departments have a known salary range for that particular position so they will be advising management on what to offer. Assuming your future boss is at the level of salary decisions he or she will be part of the negotiation, at least passively.  If it is a small firm the principal or director will make the decision.

Should I just make up [insert any part of application]?

The number one rule of the job search is not to lie. NEVER fabricate any part of your education, experience or qualifications. This will come back to haunt you, don’t do it.

Just ask this guy: Yahoo confirms CEO is out after resume scandal

Can you give me a reference?

I am sure you are a great candidate but if I don’t know you or your work this isn’t possible.  

How long should I wait to contact a firm after sending my application.

After a few days I recommend following up on the status of your application with a polite phone call.

Should I specalize in [insert architecture career niche]?

The idea that you become more employable as a jack of all trades and a master of none is not true. The best thing you can do is specialize and be the best within that niche.

Whether is is spec writing, BIM management or sustainability, what you choose to specialize in is up to you. Just make sure you layout a clear career plan.

If you don’t see an answer to your specific question here, feel free to email me at