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Thread: APA Jobs Online: indicator of bleak times for planners?

  1. #26
    Cyburbian beach_bum's avatar
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    NC

    We still have some job postings here in NC, although fewer and far between. There is only 1 master's program in the state in planning, with that being UNC. UNC's grads do not tend to stay in NC. Because of that if you have a master's and come here from out of state, you have a better shot. That is what I did. Good luck to those searching!
    "Never invest in any idea you can't illustrate with a crayon." ~Peter Lynch

  2. #27
    Cyburbian Raf's avatar
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    Yet another job posting today at the cal apa website, and yet another director position. Man, can't you baby boomers move on to senior management positions and leave the mid level positions to us whipersnappers?
    Men do dumb $hit... it is what they do to correct the problem that counts.

  3. #28
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by CPSURaf View post
    Man, can't you baby boomers move on to senior management positions and leave the mid level positions to us whipersnappers?
    Or just retire or die. Either way is fine with me really.

  4. #29
    Cyburbian CDT's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Tide View post
    I think it's a good time for mid to upper level planners to find jobs, it always will be with natural attrition. However, I do believe it will be tough for entry level planners right out of school for the next 2 years.
    This is what I am seeing too. We have several mid and upper level positions open in my area.

  5. #30
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    Quote Originally posted by Gatrgal93 View post
    I was thinking about different possible employment avenues yesterday and it occurred to me that for anyone who has strong research and analysis skills, one can most likely find work in careers that require this as a primary function. No - it isn't a specific planning job, but as the market is so tight, I think we're all within our right mind to look for places to go that make use of our transferable skills.
    ... does anyone else have any ideas along these lines?
    This is a good strategy. I lost my planning job in July. After many interviews and many many applications, I got tired of jobs disappearing before they got filled. Often, I would be well along the application/interview process only to hear back that they had restructured the department and eliminated the job entirely rather than fill it.

    Anyhow, I got tired of that game and branched out. Now I work for the IT department of a regional bank. I'm doing strategic planning for the lifecycle of some of the capital investments in IT technology and equipment. I'm also writing the management tools the company is going to use to put the plan into effect.

    Here's the thing: When it comes to organizations, nothing is as complicated as a city. There are so many facets that have to work together and there are so many different stakeholders in every single thing that has to be dealt with.

    No problem is as messy as what cities deal with on a daily basis. The typical planner is neck deep in scary-complicated stuff every day so there is no reason she couldn't step into a different kind of organization and contribute something of value.

    Sure, it's be tough to convince people that a planning backgroiund really means I have the chops needed to understand their situation and help them improve it. If all I get is one glance, the planning credential and background probably won't get me in the door. But, the first step in expanding my options in the job market is for ME to truly understand how broadly these skills can be applied.

    Anyhow. These skills are powerful tools for addressing complicated organizations and problems of all types, not just local government-related issues. Look for places where you can use your facilitation skills or your ability to take a long-range look at a problem to help solve problems.

  6. #31
    Cyburbian MacheteJames's avatar
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    Aporitic, this is great stuff and it's excellent to see someone who was able to transition from planning into another field after a layoff. I'm secure in my employment for this fiscal year but if the stuff hits the fan this December with the budget, I know I will be targeted for elimination given how badly this office was hit with last year's budget. New job openings in the New York area no longer exist for all intents and purposes. I haven't seen anything open up since late fall '08.

    Can you talk a little bit more about how it was you were able to convince a potential employer that the skills you developed in urban planning were transferable? How did you break down your the specific skill sets we employ on a day to day basis into something more universally applicable?

  7. #32
    NIMBY asshatterer Plus Richmond Jake's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by CPSURaf View post
    Yet another job posting today at the cal apa website, and yet another director position. ....
    Forget it. While that salary looks very attractive, it's not enough to survive on in Mill Valley. But you probably didn't need to be told that.
    RJ is the KING of . The One

  8. #33
    Cyburbian Veloise's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by MacheteJames View post
    Aporitic, this is great stuff and it's excellent to see someone who was able to transition from planning into another field after a layoff. ...
    Can you talk a little bit more about how it was you were able to convince a potential employer that the skills you developed in urban planning were transferable? How did you break down your the specific skill sets we employ on a day to day basis into something more universally applicable?
    It's all project management, IMHO. Figuring out what needs to happen in which order and how to fulfill the pre-requisites and requirments. After experiencing local politicking, almost any private entity is, well, permitted by right and admin review.

    Last week I was applying that skill set to a dance society committee meeting, and a neighborhood assn. Useful stuff.

  9. #34
    Cyburbian
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    After freezing salary in December, my firm announced a temporary 20% cut in payroll across the board. I am now making several thousand dollars less than when I started this job 3 1/2 years ago.

    All the more reason to get the hell outta this job, and I'm slowly beginning to think out of this profession.
    "This is great, honey. What's the crunchy stuff?"
    "M&Ms. I ran out of paprika."

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  10. #35
    Cyburbian Raf's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by nrschmid View post
    After freezing salary in December, my firm announced a temporary 20% cut in payroll across the board. I am now making several thousand dollars less than when I started this job 3 1/2 years ago.

    All the more reason to get the hell outta this job, and I'm slowly beginning to think out of this profession.
    brutal bro. hang in there.
    Men do dumb $hit... it is what they do to correct the problem that counts.

  11. #36
    Cyburbian beach_bum's avatar
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    We are all in a tough field right now...land development and real estate-related services and professions have suffered immensely with this recession because of the housing bubble. We are not the only sector of the economy doing poorly...hang tight everyone!
    "Never invest in any idea you can't illustrate with a crayon." ~Peter Lynch

  12. #37
    Cyburbian mike gurnee's avatar
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    I am making now what I made 14 years ago. And now insurance takes a bigger bite of that. But I have a job. Word has it that I will be capped at 500K

  13. #38
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by CPSURaf View post
    Yet another job posting today at the cal apa website, and yet another director position. Man, can't you baby boomers move on to senior management positions and leave the mid level positions to us whipersnappers?
    With the retirement savings of many people wiped out, I'm expecting that many older planners who were considering early retirement will hold on to their jobs. The result: less upward mobility in the profession, and thus even fewer job vacancies.

    Searching through Google News, I'm finding stories where some cities and counties are either laying off only planners, or that layoffs are hitting the planning agencies much harder than other departments.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  14. #39
    Cyburbian
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    I get down on my job and my paltry entry-level salary every once in awhile, but every day more and more of my 20-something lose their jobs. I know a LOT of people trying to get jobs waiting tables or substitute teaching. The fact that I have close to iron-clad job security makes me feel really good.

    For you guys trying to branch out into other fields, why not look into some sort of project management roles? What I do on a daily basis is pretty much manage projects, grants, and plans. It all depends on how you word your resume. I would guess that upwards of 75% of the population have no freaking clue what a planner is or what they actually do, so take advantage of that. Instead of saying you sit at a counter and review variances talk about how your idea for a tax subsidy landed your municipality a company that provides 200k in taxes every year or something.

  15. #40
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    I am ready to hand out shopping carts at Wal*Mart, but even they are not hiring. *gasp*

  16. #41
    Cyburbian Veloise's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by CubbieBlue View post
    ...For you guys trying to branch out into other fields, why not look into some sort of project management roles? What I do on a daily basis is pretty much manage projects, grants, and plans. It all depends on how you word your resume. I would guess that upwards of 75% of the population have no freaking clue what a planner is or what they actually do, so take advantage of that. Instead of saying you sit at a counter and review variances talk about how your idea for a tax subsidy landed your municipality a company that provides 200k in taxes every year or something.
    Why, I do believe there's an echo in here...
    here...
    here...
    here...

  17. #42
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by Veloise View post
    It's all project management, IMHO. Figuring out what needs to happen in which order and how to fulfill the pre-requisites and requirments. After experiencing local politicking, almost any private entity is, well, permitted by right and admin review.
    Whoops. Missed that one.

    Well, great minds think alike?

  18. #43
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by CPSURaf View post
    brutal bro. hang in there.
    I knew that the company was struggling for a few years, I just didn't know how bad things were until yesterday, Yesterday, they said they furloughed their own pay so far this year, shored up hundreds of thousands of dollars of their personal money over the past couple of years, and took a step pay cut last year (everyone else's pay was frozen for 2009). They have depleted their entire cash reserves, and their credit lines at the banks are gone.

    The 25 year old planning firm was sold to the current owners, 2 of which are landscape architects but no planners, back in 2000. They pretty much put the planning department on auto pilot ever since, and I have a had huge disagreements with their business practices since I started in 2005. At the time, they wanted to bring on a senior planner but it was always talk. They were more comfortable focusing in their specialties rather than diversifying their income streams. They attempted to build up the planning department by hiring a senior planner a few years ago in the hopes that her connections would change the department around. However, she is the most incompetent and unknowledgeable planner I have ever worked with, and probably added more overhead and headaches due to her disorganization than bringing in more work for my department.

    I am pretty sure they are teetering on the edge of bankruptcy, and at first it sounded like they were closing their doors for good. It might be a matter of months before things turn around, and I think it would take something like a very large project to turn things around.

    I know that everyone is suffering, and this is just one more story to toss into the heap. Yes, I am grateful for having a job, and that the owners have gone to great lengths to keep everyone on board. Whether it was planning or another struggling department, they needed to diversity their income streams and solidify those contracts in better economic times. They also undercut several proposals almost to the point of low-balling bids. Many of the contracts were also top-heavy with the principals eating up the contracts, leaving me with little to work with. Unfortunately, I will never know how much better the company would be today had they repaired damages years ago.

    I think it's very going to be very challenging to appear grateful and upbeat while dealing with years of deep resentment against their business practices. They are decent people who care about their employees. But business is business. They took an established 25 year old firm and bankrupted it in 8 years. If anything, this has given me a valuable first-hand experience in what NOT to do when I run my own firm.

    Oh well. It could easily be far worse. For the time being its just work, LEED NC studying, and looking for federal jobs. If anyone has any tips on the last item, I'd appreciate it.
    Last edited by nrschmid; 06 Feb 2009 at 11:49 AM.
    "This is great, honey. What's the crunchy stuff?"
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  19. #44
    Cyburbian azmodela's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Dan View post
    With the retirement savings of many people wiped out, I'm expecting that many older planners who were considering early retirement will hold on to their jobs. The result: less upward mobility in the profession, and thus even fewer job vacancies.
    I don't think this will necessarily be correct from that perspective. For 2009, sure, but look long term, which is what retirement is. Look around, within the next 10 years, how many will be there? Around here, that could be almost half the dept! Lots of places are offering early retirement to cut the ranks, which is helping to open up positions, but only usually filled by internal candidates. I think the bigger impact on upward mobility will come from the lack of new positions being created. The last two places I worked added brand new positions to keep up with the demand, on a yearly basis for five years! Now those positions are being eliminated!

    I've made the jump into infrastructure planning and CIP management. It's a lot safer, those monthly customer bills keep coming regardless of the number of permits that are issued. I'm much happier, I don't deal with upset customers who are only upset because of their lack of understanding, and best of all, I don't have to figure out how to justify a variance approval for a structure that's a few feet closer than it should be, but already built. Poop plants never smelled so sweet!

  20. #45
    Cyburbian Raf's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Dan View post
    With the retirement savings of many people wiped out, I'm expecting that many older planners who were considering early retirement will hold on to their jobs.
    Wiped out?


    **ignorant question time**

    Aren't most of the eligible for retirement age planners more than likely those eligible for pensions and not 401K like retirement savings? Not like one should rely on pension alone, but yanno
    Men do dumb $hit... it is what they do to correct the problem that counts.

  21. #46
    Cyburbian
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    For those planners looking to seek employment in another field, I can already tell you that it is very hard. I currently work in the education field and we are getting cut left and right just like all other municipal employees including planners. Don't hope to become a full time teacher next year unless you have plentiful experience and even then many districts have hiring freezes. As for substitute teaching, you may have better luck getting hired but little to no luck getting assignments. IT and finance are really hard it as well. We just lost our technical support technician who worked for four years.

    I am applying to planning school and hope to stay in there for the next two years. Hopefully, the job market will be better in 2011.

  22. #47
    Cyburbian Plan-it's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Dan View post
    With the retirement savings of many people wiped out, I'm expecting that many older planners who were considering early retirement will hold on to their jobs. The result: less upward mobility in the profession, and thus even fewer job vacancies.
    Yet another calmity you baby boomers have done to make us Gen Xers more bitter; and you wonder why we are a bunch of Debbie Downers
    Satellite City Enabler

  23. #48
    NIMBY asshatterer Plus Richmond Jake's avatar
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    As of this morning, there are no recruitments for public sector planners in Florida on either the APA or Florida APA web sites. That's gotta be a first.
    RJ is the KING of . The One

  24. #49
    Cyburbian azmodela's avatar
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    On the AZ Planning Assoc. website, there has only been one job posting in 2009, and the last public sector job posting was on December 1, 2008!

    It's definitely rough out there!

  25. #50
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    You may all go to hell, and I will go to Texas. - David Crockett

    OK, it's probably the most overrated quote about Texas in history, but the idea isn't a bad one for planners. Texas isn't quite the planning hell many perceive it to be. Dan is enjoying life in Texas these days, and it seems it is one of the few states with a significant number of postings appearing on the APA site and the state chapter site (www.txplanning.org). Cross-country relocations may be problematic, as far as unloading your current house, but might be worth looking into.

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

    - Herman Göring at the Nuremburg trials (thoughts on democracy)

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