Crafting a Concise and Impactful Architectural CV and Portfolio: Guidance for Architectural Assistants

Screenshot of Janaina Roehlenhers professional webpage shared during a video conference.

Jenna, your initiative to share your CV and portfolio for review is a significant first step toward refining your presentation to potential employers in the architecture field. The feedback provided offers a constructive framework for enhancing your documents, ensuring they communicate your skills, experience, and potential effectively. Here’s a tailored guide to help you streamline and elevate your CV and portfolio.

CV Optimization

Cover Sheet Considerations

  • Efficiency Over Aesthetics: While cover sheets can add a professional touch, they might not be the most efficient use of space. Consider eliminating the cover sheet in favor of diving directly into the substantive content of your CV.

Content Clarity and Precision

  • Quantifying Skills: Clearly state the duration of experience with each software or skill. This specificity provides a clearer understanding of your proficiency levels.
  • Language Proficiency: Instead of broad descriptors like “advanced” or “basic,” specify the number of years you’ve been using each language. This quantification adds credibility and clarity.
  • RIBA Stages and Dates: Detailing your experience with RIBA stages and providing explicit dates for each role (e.g., “September 2017 – October 2018”) will offer a clearer timeline of your professional journey.

Educational Achievements

  • Grade Inclusion: If you’re proud of your academic grades, include them. This adds another dimension of credibility to your educational background.

Portfolio Refinement

Reducing Sheet Count

  • Attention Span Considerations: Keep in mind the limited attention span of employers, who often juggle multiple responsibilities and candidate evaluations simultaneously. Aiming to condense your portfolio to around 15 sheets forces you to curate only your most compelling work.
  • Best Hits Approach: Think of your portfolio as a greatest hits album—each project included should demonstrate a unique skill or achievement that contributes to an overarching narrative of your capabilities and design philosophy.

Strategic Content Selection

  • Diverse Project Showcase: Ensure the projects selected showcase a range of skills, from conceptual design to technical detailing. This diversity will illustrate your versatility as an architectural assistant.
  • Highlighting Key Projects: Prioritize projects that align with the job roles you’re applying for. If you’re targeting positions with a strong focus on sustainable design, for example, highlight projects that showcase your experience and innovation in this area.

Visual and Textual Balance

  • Engaging Presentation: While your portfolio should be visually engaging, avoid overcrowding pages with too much information. A clean, well-organized layout allows each project to stand out and speaks to your design sensibilities.

A Portfolio and CV That Resonate

Your CV and portfolio are not just documents; they are personal marketing tools that communicate your story, skills, and potential to future employers. By implementing these suggestions, you can create a more impactful and memorable presentation of your professional journey and aspirations. Remember, the goal is to intrigue and engage potential employers, prompting them to learn more about you in an interview setting. With a concise, well-curated portfolio and a clear, detailed CV, you’re setting the stage for a successful career in architecture.