Recruitment and talent retention is the number one most challenging issue for architecture firms, so in order to attract good talent that doesn’t only fit your brand but also elevates it overtime, you have to invest in marketing efforts, sometimes thinking out of the box.
Something that not many architecture practices think about is that: recruiting and marketing go hand-in-hand. In this competitive landscape for talent, managers are working with both recruiting departments and marketing departments to bring in talent and fill positions with their firms. It’s hard. Really hard.
There has never been a more pressing time for business education, to help us navigate through business related issues, especially in fast-changing markets, like today. The idea of “great resignation” is spreading like a plague, with its noxious predictions of employees leaving and AEC practices struggling even more then now for talent recruitment and retention. In order to overcome this issue and better prepare for the future, architecture recruiters and marketers have to get smarter. This spring 1-5th May brings you a virtual 5-day Disrupt Business of Architecture Symposium. The event gathers major players in the Architecture industry, C-level executives from architecture firms such as SOM, Gensler, BIG, Snohetta, Perkins and Will, UnStudio, Zaha Hadid Architects, OMA-AMO, ARUP, Safdie Architects, Woods Bagot, Amanda Levete Architects, WallaceLiu, to help you navigate through your practice’s challenges.
The ultimate goal here is that you have to make it an absolute no-brainer for people to come and work for your firm and that you can grow exactly in the direction you see fit! For the purpose of this article, let’s deep-dive into main efforts you can implement today in order to help you save time, money and give yourself a good shot at reaching your brand’s highest potential.
1. Don’t be hard to find.
Have you ever opened an internet browser, searched for a company and did not find their website? In today’s digital area, it’s a strong ‘red flag’ both for clients and your future employees. Therefore if you want to attract the right talent to your business you need to focus on your communication strategy and best practice for ideal client attraction. Having a website today is like exchanging a business card in the 70s – a good standard and the right type of affirmation! If you are visible and your message is crafted towards the attraction of the right projects, you will be communicating with clarity, both to your clients and potential employees. The serious problem begins when none of them can find you. Not many architecture businesses think of putting themselves on Google maps, and yet they should. Why? Because your average client, looking for a local architecture firm will most likely type “architect near me” in google. Potential employees will also want to find you easily, or for the minimum see that you’re searchable on Google. To avoid getting lost in the sea of data resembling the name of your firm you can keep a google review practice alive. Ask your past clients to give you a public testimony. Get away from paying for visibility with google and get the attention you deserve for free. The current infrastructure of commercial search engines works against businesses that choose not to participate in the “pay for visibility” marketing game. The way algorithms work is a mystery that keeps changing all the time, therefore to stay in the game becomes a demanding, expensive and a sophisticated hassle. SEO is a second good thing to look into. Think of all the data you generate or all the information your projects represent. A simple communication strategy can help you be more visible both to potential clients and your future employees. The moment you start publishing information that others are searching for, the more visible you become. But it needs to be there, on your website, in your blogs and social media profiles.
2. Make sure you’re serving convenience before anything else.
What Amazon, Twitter and your local coffee shop have in common? They all provide convenience to their users and customers via offering an easy subscription model. Do you have an opt-in form on your website? Do you have a contact us button on the top of your page? Do you have a chat widget where people can drop you a quick message to ask about your service? People don’t want to wander around your website before they find a way to communicate with you. Truth is, that in today’s society people have to see your business around 16 times before they decide they are interested in engaging with it. If you are not a massive firm with fame, you certainly need to educate your future employers about who you are and why you have the right working environment for them. Because as sad as this might be, not all potential candidates will be sure that they want to apply to your firm, from the get to. They might need time to know you. Make it easy to apply to your firm through your website. That can be filling out an application or attaching a resume. Explore also including this form of application in your mailing list.
All these simple efforts of data collection which you can easily install on your website lead you towards building your own personal fan base of potential clients and employers that now you can begin to educate about your business. Make your email campaign value-based, educational, exciting and easy to get involved with. It might take you a few months to convince someone to apply to work for you, so don’t underestimate the power of an email campaign.
3. Speak the language of your employees.
The key to passively attracting employees is to make them fall in love with your company and design processes, before they even meet you. Revitalize your communication strategy. Speaking about your office culture and your team values will be a powerful attraction point for your future employees, but also will make your potential clients feel more comfortable and included. Especially if they share similar values. People’s first approach always works because it’s oriented around the principle of relatability. Therefore the language you use will be more personable and understood by the people that most resonate with your message. Best way to do so is to speak about your current team, express what you value about them in your blog, on your website. Feature their individual accomplishments, celebrate their diversity and uniqueness. Have employees give testimonials and stories about working for your firm. Put pictures of your employees completing community service or celebrating at a company function. All these things will bring your company to life and make applicants excited to work for your firm. You can also revitalize the way your website visitors can filter your portfolio by enabling your future employees to find the type of projects they are looking to be involved with. This way their experience will be more personable. Some companies provide sorting and filtering tools to help filter through their portfolios such that your website visitors can easily navigate through projects that are most relevant to them. People oftentimes are looking for something that resembles their need. In the case of potential talent, they as much as your clients want to know what is your purpose, what kind of projects you work on and have it easy to navigate through to the most relevant piece of information, to them.
4. Don’t be (un)consciously biassed
Let us assume you nailed all the points above, but are you led by equal opportunities principles? Only 4% of S&P 500 companies’ CEOs are women. 2022’s Pritzker Prize winner Francis Kéré is the first African architect to be awarded since 1979 and only five women were awarded since inception of the program. Unconscious bias is stopping most companies from pushing the needle. Instead of searching for new employees via ‘adjectives’ that they wrote themselves: “Experienced”, “Skilled”, “Passionate about sustainability”, what you really need to do is vet candidates through their own portfolio work. Don’t let anything such as their genre, ethnic group, age or specific background distract you from what they really are – excellent project coordinators, front-end designers, technical architects, passive house enthusiasts, sustainable design gurus or computational architects. The stereotypes and strong preconceptions can affect your views, actions and decision making that can cost you a great candidate who will thrive under someone else’s leadership. Digitally, you can also use start-up platforms such as Tunarch or DAAily jobs, which even at the beginning of its journey orients itself on the principle of helping you showcase your works and attract employers based on nurturing inclusivity. Tunarch uses an intuitive and accurate sorting and filtering engine that works to connect the right projects with the right people. In DAAily jobs, users can find the latest offers from architecture to interior design to project manager to civil engineering. In other words, anywhere where architectural toolkit/design thinking is needed. Moreover, people can filter by only-remote job positions according to their interest or even search for specific company’s applications.
5. Mobilise your current inner-network
You certainly have emails of all your existing employees. They are already an excellent source of potential candidates available to you as they understand company culture, know the challenges, and can champion the benefits of working for your practice. They are also likely to know many people with similar attributes to those that make your current employees such an asset. Create an employee referral program online and send out an email to all your employers offering lucrative dividends. This encourages your best employees to introduce the best talent they know to you and it can be easily managed, digitally. You can even create an employment form online, which you sent out in this email, to facilitate applications internally.
6. Reach out to candidates via an automated campaign on Linkedin.
We all know that LinkedIn is the best hiring tool there is, but what if you don’t have time to manually search through everyone and reach out to people offering employment? Using tools such as expandi.io or ulink you can set up automated email campaigns that come out to potential candidates who are commenting under relevant linkedin posts or applying to competition. These tools enable you to target comments and likes under certain posts, by automatically adding people to your network and even sending them an automated message informing them about an on open opportunity at your office, and inviting them to apply. That way you can grow your outreach and connect with high-quality candidates. All this whilst using LinkedIn Search Navigator to look through levels of experience, geolocation, education, accomplishments, current salary expectations and more.
7. Benefit from your unbuilt projects
I believe that one of the strongest stigmas in our industry is seeing unbuilt projects as unsuccessful endeavours. Think of Bjarke Ingels – unbuilt projects practically laid the foundations of his studio’s BIG success (pun intended). Unbuilt projects tell much more about the designer than any of the executed ones. The explanation is simple – an unbuilt project has zero compromises. The vision is exactly as intended and nothing is stained by reality of costs, procurement, materials, structural limitations to name a few. Every built project is a one big compromise and even pritzker awards needed to make a few. Unbuilt projects are your untapped potential, as they contain your pure design intent and philosophy. Even the most abstract concepts can be explained or quantified.
Make sure you keep a good balance between communicating what matters to your future employees and clients vs. the value which matters for you and your brands like your project work and culture.
Your firm’s communications is a broad topic that touches on many elements as it aims to bring attention to your brand from diverse individuals, including future employees. We discussed that on our last weeks live roundtable discussion broadcast, streamed to Archdaily FB page, amongst Assistant Head of Global Communications at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) Finn MacLeod, Jeff Echols – Director of Brand Strategy, EntreArchitect – Host of Context & Clarity LIVE, Christian Trampedach – Founder at Restless Architecture and Bryon McCartney – Chief Creative Strategist at Archmark Branding & Marketing for Architects.
To know about them go to www.disruptsymposium.com and sign up to our newsletter via the pop-up window. Or just get your ticket already and join us at the big event in May!
This content was originally published here.