Last Monday I found myself unemployed, again. While it’s been over 5 years since the last time I was unemployed the pain, frustration and disappointment was still the same. What was different, however, was the fact that I wasn’t stressing too much about finding another job. Five years ago, we found ourselves in one of the worst economic times our country had seen in decades. More people were getting laid off than were getting hired. The country’s economic state had hit rock bottom. And the profession of architecture was in a downward spiral. Five years ago, there were no job prospects. Today it’s different. Today’s job market is different – architecture firms are busy and people seem to be hiring again. For me, the question wasn’t whether or not I was going to find a job it was more a matter of when I was going to get another job. Call me optimistic for thinking that, but my gut feeling was that it was all going to be okay.
My optimistic view on the subject maybe influenced by the fact that I have done my due diligence in maintaining a healthy network over the past several years. Connecting with individuals on LinkedIn, grabbing coffee with a friend, going to ACAD happy hours, sitting on the AIA Denver Board, and attending AIA events throughout the years are all things that have helped me stay connected. These connections have helped me know and understand the current job market in Denver – I have a good idea of what firms are busy, who’s working on what projects, and who might just be looking for someone at my level to hire. I guess you could say that I have stayed in the “know” even when I wasn’t looking for a new job. It’s something that has proven to be a good decision and it’s something that I would encourage everyone to do as well. Being connected allowed me to reach out to friends, past coworkers, colleagues, and acquaintances as soon as I was laid off last Monday. It’s helped me set up meetings with a number of firms, it’s allowed me to pass my resume along to potential employers, and it’s given me an optimistic outlook on my current situation.
The reality is that as architects we are subjected to getting laid off – our profession is one that rides the waves of the economy and a downturn that leads to more layoffs is bound to happen again during our careers. Whether or not you are currently looking for a new gig it never hurts to continue to build your professional network –you never know when those connections will become the most important connections you have. So, next time there is an AIA event, attend it and make a new connection. Register for the AIA National Convention and use it as, not only an educational experience but as a networking event. Run for a position on your local AIA chapter board. Set up a coffee meeting or grab a drink after work with an old college buddy just to say hi. Never stop networking and making connections, always take that 7:00 coffee meeting even if it seems too early to roll out of bed, and keep your LinkedIn account up to date. Our profession is built upon networking and if you haven’t learned that by now, then now is the time to recognize it and make it happen!