Urban design CVs: The good & the bad


Planned Resources recruit across the niche markets of planning, engineering, architecture and design, property, and government support. We operate​ across private and public sectors in Melbourne, Victoria, and Australia. Here, Planned Resources Director Russell Locke looks at the good and bad of urban design CVs. 


I’ve been recruiting for a few Urban Design clients recently, so I’ve been looking at a lot of CVs and folios from Urban Designers – and I’ve noticed there’s a couple of things that differentiate the good from the bad. 

Knowing how you can tailor your CV to an urban design position can increase your chance of being noticed – for the right reasons! So here’s some tips on how to avoid the bad…

It needs to look “pretty” functional

I don’t mind if an Urban Designer’s resume is in a traditional format or a more adventurous layout; but part of an Urban Designer’s job is to tell a story using infographics so formatting your resume so it’s aesthetically pleasing (“pretty”), while being functional (easy to read and quick to understand) should be something that comes second nature to you. If the first impression you give a potential employer doesn’t demonstrate these skills, you’re likely to find your application at the bottom of the pile before they even get to your folio.  

At a minimum:

Format your resume using a design package like InDesign, rather than Word. This proves that you can use the software (n.b. ironically, I’m happy to receive CVs from Architects in Word where a higher skill of using design software is expected, however there’s an expectation that an Architect’s folio will be “swisher”).

A recruiter also needs to see any key messages quickly, so this means a clear: (a) Chronology of your work history, and (b) Link to your folio.

Proof of claims

As an Urban Designer’s CV can be more adventurous than many other professions, there’s often a temptation to cram a lot of information into small amount of space. Many people choose to use the ‘skills’ section to highlight their attributes as a way of saving space, and this works well for things like illustrating your experience with design packages, or languages you can speak, etc. 

However if you use the ‘skills’ section to cover other competencies, there needs to be an inference of proof; for example, simply giving yourself 5 stars for “Design Skills, Project Management, Negotiation or Teamwork” doesn’t cut it. Proof doesn’t need to be absolute, only hinted at, so it can be as simple as outlining where you have demonstrated a task on a particular project/role. Showing proof also doesn’t need to be contained in the skills section, it can be included elsewhere in your CV or folio – and remember, the purpose of an interview is to also expand on your competencies.

Urban Design specialism

Many Urban Designers come from an architecture or landscape architecture background. If this is you, make sure your folio is ordered in a way that highlights Urban Design. Architectural scale projects may distract the reader from your Urban Design work, and potential employers may question if your career focus is for Architecture or Urban Design.

Any architectural work should be to the rear of the folio (or removed totally). There’s nothing wrong with showing your passion and understanding of built form, but keep the work high level – an Urban Design client is more likely to be interested in concept work rather than a full set of construction documentation or specific detailing.

Finally, get feedback

Beyond these points I’m reasonably comfortable with any resume that’s put in front of me – however getting another person to read your CV can also be valuable. Gaining feedback from an impartial person will help you to understand how your CV will be perceived by the reader – what’s confusing, what’s clear – all of which will help increase the chance of your application being noticed.

Feel free to send your resume to myself, or a member of the Planned Resources team, for feedback. We’re happy to provide free advice as to what looks right/wrong on your resume – and you can rest assured that all resumes are treated in the strictest confidence.


Written by: Russell LockeDirector

Russell established Planned Resources in 2010 and continues to work in the business as both Director and recruiter.


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Contact: 0407 111 364, Russell.locke@plannedresources.com.au



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