Graham Jones is a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Buckingham and an Associate Lecturer at The Open University in the UK. Jones, B.Sc., B.A., Adv.Dip.Ed., MBPsS, M.Ed. M.Sc., is a qualified psychologist, the author of 32 books, and an award-winning writer and speaker, contributing regularly to a wide range of publications and speaking at conferences and events around the world.
Walk into any architect’s or engineer’s office and what do you see? Drawings. Design ideas, rough drafts, plans and a host of other materials that are drawn or otherwise put in a visual form. Engineers and architects love drawing. Indeed, that’s often what many of their professional development hours are spent doing.
But are drawings enough to convince employers that you deserve a new job? Are drawings the right kind of thing to convince clients that they should hire you for a project? In short, do drawings provide credibility?
To answer that, you can turn to studies on the psychology of credibility, which point to the notion that your believability is determined by a range of interconnected factors. The credibility of an architect, for example, depends on their qualifications and status, as well as the empathy they show and the message they put out. Drawings, of course, are part of their “message,” so what you draw can absolutely help.
But words are important. Lots of them, it seems.
Visual Is Not That Important
You might think, in these video-enriched online days, that people are rejecting words in favour of visuals. But research suggests otherwise. According to one study from The Economist Group, written material is valued more than visual content. It turns out that people really like reading. That’s backed by a study that looked at the amount of interest online materials received in terms of search engine ranking and sharing. This research revealed that it was the longer web pages, with more text, that got the bulk of the interest.
It seems that we tend to prefer longer articles, and we like to share lengthy webpages. The crucial thing to consider is why.
The Psychology of Risk Aversion
Human beings are risk-averse. We want to make sure, as best we can, that what we get involved with is going to be OK. That means we seek as much information as possible about anything we consider purchasing – and anyone we consider hiring.
Fifty years ago, if you applied for an engineer’s job, you’d have had a brief interview and probably not much more. Nowadays, you’ll have aptitude tests, psychometric analysis, and/or you’ll need to give a presentation to an interview board – on top of an interview or series of interviews. Those doing the hiring want to be sure of their decision, to reduce the risks of employing the wrong person.
People Check Out Your Writing
If someone wants to book the services of an architect, they’ll go online, search for the architect’s website, and check out his or her social media activity. The prospective client will look for articles written by the architect and will also read his or her blog, if available. They will try to find as much written material as possible. The more information that’s available, the more able a person is to reduce risk.
For engineers and architects, this means you need to get writing. Potential employers or prospective clients will want to check out the material you’ve produced. If there isn’t much material, they might go with that other architect or engineer with the well-written blog and published articles. Written works help those hiring assess your credibility and how much you really know about your industry. Drawings don’t achieve the same impact; one drawing has a lot less weight in our mind when compared with a lengthy written description. In a sense, a thousand words is worth a picture – not the other way round.
The more you write, the more credible you become. That means blogging, articles, white papers and a host of other written materials. Sure, you can (and should!) keep drawing, but keep writing, as it will boost your career and your business.
Another way of increasing credibility is to further your education. Consider any of a number of PDH approved courses we offer.