Becoming recognised as an ‘expert’ within your profession can be invaluable to advancing your career, opening up new opportunities and aiding promotion. But in a profession as broad as planning, how do you go about it? Martha Harris collected tips from planners to help you on your way
1. Becoming a chartered town planner
It sounds obvious, but this is a key step in becoming well respected in your field. Becoming a chartered town planner with the RTPI acts as a guarantee of your professional competence with potential clients and employers, enables you to move up the job ladder and can open up myriad new and challenging experiences. For details on how to achieve chartered status, visit the RTPI website.
Maintaining a personal blog, or becoming a contributor to an established built environment blog, is a great way to show that you are engaged in the wider planning landscape, and can lead to your work being republished in professional journals and national press.
Zoe Green, manager of urbanisation and development at PwC, says blogging can be a great learning tool. “I began blogging five years ago with a short piece on ‘smart cities’ [for The Global Urbanist], which was well received, so I began contributing regularly. I found that as I started preparing pieces, I began to learn more about a subject and broaden my professional understanding.”
Green offers three tips:
“1) There are two sides to every story. It’s important to reflect these and but also form your own view.
2) Keep it current. The most interesting articles reflect the latest news and debate.
3) Make it personal. What makes blogs so readable is that they reflect personal insights and share personal experiences.”
3. Contributing to publications
Offering to contribute to other built environment publications can also get your name out there, and help you become recognised as the go-to person on a certain topic.
Former chief planning inspector Chris Shepley writes a regular column for The Planner, and says writing is as much about maintaining a personal interest in the profession as it is about aiding career progression. “I have contributed comment pieces to many publications not only because I enjoy writing, but because it keeps me interested and involved in the broader issues.”
But, says Shepley, you have to have something to say. “You have to make sure that your writing has substance, and I would recommend being selective about the pieces that you contribute” don’t oversaturate the market.
A degree of dedication is required. “You need to be committed if you want to become recognised. You can’t see planning as a 9-to-5 – it needs to become something of a hobby, as well as a job.”
Chris Shepley is principal at Chris Shepley Planning, former chief planning inspector and a former RTPI president. See Chris’s column every month in The Planner.
Zoe Green is a former RTPI Young Planner of the Year, and manager, urbanisation and development, at PwC. She is a regular contributor to The Planner. Zoe tweets at @urbanist_zoe
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