Congratulations if you have recently attained MRTPI status! The town planning sector is certainly short of chartered planners so your admittance to the institute will certainly be welcomed by the planning consultancies and their clients across the UK.
But what difference is it making to YOUR life on a day-to-day basis? One of the frustrations we hear frequently from recently chartered professionals is that, aside from being able to add the letters after their names on business cards, not much changes to their workload. These frustrations typically manifest themselves in one or more of the following three ways:
Responsibility: The quality of work and level of responsibility that you are given should be stepping up on achieving chartered status, whether that is handling larger, more complicated projects, taking the lead on client accounts and working without direct supervision.
Perception: So you’re now MRTPI, but still viewed as the office junior who started as a graduate 2 years ago? This is a particular frustration for those who have been with the same firm since university and it’s sometimes hard for work colleagues to shake off the view that you know nothing and have it all to learn. This might be quite blatant, for instance by not being invited to meetings or included on projects but is often intangible, just a perception from your colleagues that is hard to describe or pinpoint.
Remuneration: Make no bones about it, for those working in consultancies, MRTPI status means you become a more valuable commodity and can be charged out to clients at a higher bill rate… so is this reflected in your remuneration?
In reality these things won’t change overnight but it’s important to make sure your career is keeping up with your qualification. Many private consultancies and public sector bodies will have a structure in place to deal with the matter of remuneration, some by giving an automatic review on chartership or soon after. The market forces are such at the moment that any newly chartered planner falling behind on salary will soon be attracted to competitors, so seek advice on what a chartered planner can command and don’t be afraid to raise the issue if nothing is forthcoming from your employer.
In terms of changing perceptions and taking responsibility, the first step is to make sure YOU view yourself as a chartered planner. Are you putting yourself in front of the right people internally? Are you contributing in meetings? Have you let go of the apron strings and not still “just double checking your decisions” with others? Larger consultancies and public sector bodies are likely to provide access to training focussed on personal development which can be invaluable at this stage in your career. If this isn’t on offer with your current employer, it is worth raising to see if they can support that internally or if there is external training you can access.
Hopefully this advice will help elevate you to be a chartered planner in action and perception as well as in name, but if you are finding the same old frustrations are occurring time and again despite your efforts then this could be the time to look at new opportunities where you will be viewed as a chartered planner from day one. Whatever your next steps, make sure you’re making the most of the chartership you’ve worked so hard to gain.
Sara Burton is director at Cobalt Recruitment