04 Nov The Future looks bright for the Graduate Town Planner
It seems not so long ago, but when I checked it has been 8 years since my first day as a Town Planning Recruitment Consultant. I remember being nervous and worrying about having to call all these people to talk about something I had, frankly no idea about.
Early morning I was asked to contact some Graduate Town Planners in order to hone my technique ready for the ‘more important’ calls to a Senior Town Planner and a Town Planning Director, which I was going to try to headhunt later in the day. I remember that first conversation, speaking to a guy who had just graduated and was desperate for his first chance in the Town Planning industry after graduating from their Masters course. My scripted questions were monotone and designed only to get 10 ‘crucial’ pieces of information – salary & location expectations, whether they had been to any interviews, which other recruiters they had contacted, etc.
What struck me straight away was the enthusiasm and flexibility this candidate had and that they had been turned down by so many other recruiters as they were not a ‘commercially viable product’ but they were doing their best to remain positive. I made it my mission to do my very best by this candidate and managed to secure an interview with a growing planning practice. The company had really wanted a more senior candidate but was willing to take a shot on the young graduate, if they were exceptional.
I was still nervous when they went to the interview, miles away from their home. I just hoped that he would do well, both for my own reasons but mostly because I knew the guy wanted the job so badly. He did very well and he managed to beat two more senior candidates to the post and got offered the job, which he accepted. It showed the value of being enthusiastic and flexible and those are things that don’t exist in everyone. It showed the value of being resilient. The right opportunity will come about even if you can’t see that it will at the time.
As the years have passed I have placed hundreds of Town Planning candidates at all levels but have always loved working with candidates at the beginning of their careers who will go to extraordinary lengths to get their first chance in Town Planning. The recession has been cruel to a whole generation of young Planners with very few chances to shine and for a lot of people its been too much and they have left the industry – possible for good. The recession meant that Directors have been doing Senior’s work and Senior’s have been doing Graduate’s work. Fees have been harder to achieve and pay cuts, job losses, low job satisfaction, minimal professional development have all been commonplace.
So then 2014, what has it got to bring for the Graduate Planning Consultant? The top heavy structure during the recession of many leading Planning Consultancies is being addressed and this is fantastic news for Graduate Planners. Most of the leading Planning firms have been hiring throughout the second half of 2013 and that trend is set to continue for the foreseeable future. After all with a recovering, and now growing, economy in the UK there is a critical shortage of skills supply in the Town Planning industry.
So now is the right time to make a mark in your Town Planning career. You still need to demonstrate the same level of enthusiasm, flexibility and resilience as that original candidate I spoke with 8 years ago (who is now an Associate Director of that very firm!)but there are more Assistant Town Planner and Town Planning Consultant jobs coming on to the market than any other level at present. Clients understand that graduates and licentiates are the future of their businesses and some of their training and APC programmes are fantastic for the newly graduated Town Planner, as they move towards MRTPI status.
You already have the base level of technical skills and qualifications and if you combine this with the right attitude you will do just fine. Remember be enthusiastic, flexible and resilient and look forward to a long and rewarding career in Town Planning.