Hottest skills in town planning right now

Written by: Séan Thurgood
Published on: 15 Feb 2023

Penguin Recruitment

The town planning sector is growing. Being able to see the wood for the trees can be challenging as a sector grows, which is where specialist recruitment firms like Penguin Recruitment can help. Over the next year, it will be more important than ever to demonstrate your individual skills and talents. 

We spoke to Matthew Fraser, senior team manager - planning, heritage & urban design, at Penguin Recruitment, for his advice on the skills that make candidates stand out in town planning roles.

Hottest thing in town planning

Most important skills to stand out

When looking to hire new talent, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. “The answer will vary depending on the sector you work within – some companies value strong communication skills, resolve or commercial acumen above other traits, whilst others will say attention to detail or hard work,” says Fraser. “Certainly a combination of the above will make you a very strong candidate to any prospective employer.”

He also advises that depending on the role, the highest salaried positions usually seek planning degrees, RTPI status, and experience. So if you’re looking to begin or advance your career, consider this too.

Stay up-to-date with commercial knowledge

The industry is always changing and it’s important to keep abreast of new developments. While this can seem like a daunting task, Fraser suggests keeping an eye out each week as it’ll keep you ahead of the competition. “There are a variety of good websites such as Planning Resource that post articles regularly.” 

He also alludes to a few others, but suggests that a weekly Google search for planning developments should get you the knowledge you need to succeed. 

Keep your finger on the pulse for new opportunities

There’s a great many opportunities out there for town planners, at times it may seem a dizzying amount. Learning what each company values can be a daunting task which is why Fraser suggests using a recruiter. “Whilst job boards are the go-to place, working with a recruiter like Penguin Recruitment makes sense as we spend 200-300 hours per week speaking with the key decision makers of companies every week (we’ve often placed them!).” he says. 

As recruiters have an in-depth understanding of company structures, work pipelines and recruitment plans, they know how to introduce good candidates to great clients at just the right time that sometimes they might even create a role for them.

Build your network

To learn more about the industry it’s important to learn from experience while bringing in your fresh ideas. Building a network is easier than you might think, and the best place to start is with corporate events. Fraser says: “I’ve never seen an industry with so many conferences and events so you won’t have to look far to find a few in your region to get along to.

Beyond this, utilising LinkedIn will put you in good stead and also help with the earlier points about keeping your finger on the pulse, and seeking up-to-date knowledge for the sector. 

Communication, communication, communication!

To succeed in this business requires careful attention to detail, a level of creative thinking, but most importantly it requires communication. “Regular contact with clients to understand their pressures and needs (that can often shift through the lifecycle of a project) will help all parties to feel listened to, in control and productive,” Fraser says.

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