The future is bright for careers in planning

Written by: Jennifer Jackson
Published on: 9 Sep 2015

The planning industry is more buoyant than ever as investment in regeneration projects all over the UK have kick-started the market and created record levels of job growth.

In this interview with Ben Goodson, recruitment sales manager for Planning Jobs, we find out why now is a great time to start a career in the planning industry, how candidates can set themselves apart from their peers and how employers can attract the best talent.

Ben Goodson

Ben Goodson: encouraging trends


Key trends

Job opportunities are expanding

The planning industry is experiencing a recruitment boom and the latest figures from the Planning Jobs website reveal a year on year increase of 56% in the number of jobs being advertised.* The local authority, consultancy and property sectors yielded the highest volume of jobs in the last 12 months, with the property sector seeing a year on year increase of 51% and the local authority sector seeing a 47% rise.

Goodson comments: “These trends are very encouraging and reflect the start of the planning industry’s recovery from austerity. As many local authorities’ budgets begin to increase again, they’re able to take on more ambitious projects and are therefore hiring more planning professionals to meet their growing requirements.”

Cross-sector collaboration is removing barriers

Another encouraging trend we’re seeing is more cross-sector collaboration, as different sectors look beyond their own to find the talent they need to help implement new projects. 

As Goodson explains: “We’re now seeing the invisible wall between local authorities and consultancies being removed as consultancies realise the value of regional knowledge and stakeholder engagement skills. Similarly, local authorities are increasingly valuing the influencing and negotiation skills that those with private sector experience tend to have.”

A shift from ‘making places’ to ‘making communities’

Job roles are becoming more diverse in built environment as a whole, in line with the government agenda to turn places into positive areas where communities can flourish. This is resulting in new job titles such as ‘urban designer’ which involves more than simply making a building but also making that building a great place to be in terms of look and feel.

For example, Kingston Council aims to drive positive change and growth for the royal borough through its planning team’s projects. As Eric Owens from the council’s development planning and regeneration team, said: “We aim to shape the environment in which we work - we want to make projects happen and see them through from conception to completion. We have high ambitions for the area.”

Goodson added: “A planning role is no longer about merely making places but it’s now more about making communities and ensuring that places are designed to attract positive footfall.”

Advice for candidates
With multiple candidates vying for each planning role, you need to make sure you have a USP and are prepared to sell yourself. Goodson offers the following tips for candidates:

  • When you apply for a job, think of it as a sales pitch
  • Make sure your CV is well written and concise - this will be your hook to get a prospective employer’s interest
  • Clearly articulate your career successes to date using bullet points
  • Keep your CV to under two pages long and avoid bulky paragraphs
  • Interview preparation is key: read up on the organisation, learn what makes them tick, understand what gives you a synergy with them and how your successes can translate into benefits for the employer
  • Be prepared to elaborate on your CV in the interview

Goodson also offers career advice for planning professionals: “Don’t be complacent in your role - every day, look for ways you can do things better and tap into the wealth of resources available to you to keep up to date with the latest industry trends. The more knowledgeable you are, the more effective you will be in your job and your career will benefit as a result.”

He adds: “Candidates with both private and public sector experience will make themselves more marketable in the planning industry and be at a distinct competitive advantage, as they’re able to offer the best of both worlds. Energy and sustainability is a bigger consideration than ever in planning projects, so those with experience in this arena will be very employable.”

How can employers attract the best candidates?

It’s a competitive marketplace for employers too, as the number of job openings outweigh the finite talent pool, so employers need a good sales pitch. Goodson offers these tips:

  • Work smarter, not harder, to find top talent. One way of going about this is to explore new tools that can help drive applications in addition to a jobs board listing. Working with a recruitment partner to find out more about creating recruitment campaigns to help you stand out from your competitors
  • Think about what your employees, stakeholders and customers think of you. Use the findings to put together an employer proposition that promises and delivers a distinctive employment experience that appeals to those who will thrive and perform best in your your organisation’s culture
  • Provide positive visualisations of what it’s like to work for your organisation - these can be descriptive words and/or pictures that you use in your marketing and publicity materials

What’s in store for the future?
The planning industry is abound with job opportunities UK-wide and the recent quarterly increase of 11% in the number of planning jobs being advertised indicates a healthy future for the industry.** 

Goodson concludes: “This rapid growth is set to continue, especially in the local authority, property and consultancy sectors. Job growth will be most prominent in the major cities of London, Birmingham and Manchester, particularly as the development of Brownfield sites continues to accelerate the growth of regeneration projects. 

“It’s a great time to be in the planning industry but there’s also a long journey ahead of us to meet the housing and construction needs of the nation. As a result, we’ll continue to see exciting projects being born throughout the country with diverse job opportunities across the public and private sectors being created. The brightest and the best candidates can expect lasting and fruitful careers in this sector.”

*Source: - figures for 12 months 18.08.14-18.08.15 compared with 18.08.13.-18.08.14
**Source: - quarterly figures for 18.05.15-18.08.15

To discuss your recruitment needs please contact Ben Goodson, recruitment sales manager for Planning Jobs, on tel: 020 8267 4738 / email: