Jobseekers - Making the right decision

You’ve jumped through all the hoops and been offered the job. But it’s worth taking some time before deciding one way or another if it’s really right for you.

If you applied for the job, you must have liked the sound of the role and the practice. But what impression did you get of the culture of the studio when you were interviewed? Can you see yourself fitting in there?

Practices will know what the industry salary levels are and what they’ll want to pay so don’t get too carried away with ambitious salary demands. While you need to be happy with the salary, it’s worth looking beyond the size of the paycheck to see what else a practice can offer that may turn out to be far more valuable in the long run. While large practices may initially seem more appealing in terms of prospects and variety, don’t discount the benefits of small practices.

‘We tend to recruit relatively young architects and we can offer good Part 3 experience,’ says Ann Lakshmanan, director of Shepheard Epstein Hunter. ‘And because we’re small we can offer good opportunities to take on responsibility sooner than you’d get in a larger practice. Also, we tend to work on traditional contracts so can offer that experience. Our 35hr week, flexible working culture can be attractive too, especially if applicants are coming from a practice where they end up working all hours.’

Simon Cottingham, director of London practice MEPK Architects, has also found that a small practice is an appeal.

‘We stick to the office hours and can promote a better work-life balance. Because we’re a small practice, we can offer an opportunity for young architects to develop. Potentially they could be running the practice in 10-15 years while in a big practice, there are so many more layers. With us, we can offer them the opportunity to contribute to the business,’ he said.

‘We can offer a great working environment overlooking the Downs,’ adds Mike Lawless, director of Brighton LA Architects. ‘We say to applicants you will get good experience. You will be involved. You’ll be part of creating really good buildings. We’ll care about you. And if you don’t want all that, you wouldn’t fit in.’

Ask about employee benefits, flexible working and prospects for advancements before agreeing to the job. Don’t overlook the value of practice location – after all, you will be spending a good chunk of your week there. And ultimately, you have to listen to your intuition.

Decision checklist

  • Does the role appeal to you?
  • Does the practice and its work appeal?
  • Does the job offer the prospects for progression that you’d like?
  • Is the salary acceptable?
  • Do you think you’ll fit in and enjoy working there?
  • Does the culture of the workplace – hours, benefits etc – appeal?

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