9 Qualities to Look for in a Drafter

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The drawing assignments are piling up, the schedule keeps switching around what needs be done first, and your production is slowing.  You have decided to hire help in getting your drawings done.  You think this new drafter is going to help you in the long run with time, cost, and work load on your current employees, so that the good help you have doesn’t get over loaded and quit on you in a critical time.  What are the best possible qualities that could benefit you the most in this new hire?

1. Honesty

Above all, honesty is the best policy.  Nothing is worse than hiring a person who has a great interview and finding out that they want to make cover ups for their mistakes or clearly blame others.  You are paying this person, why should blatant lying be acceptable on your watch?

Tip:  When hiring, after reviewing the applicant’s resume, ask them to explain more about a few of their bullet points.  For example, if they worked on a project and wrote this down for you to see, ask about their role, work flow, and the people they worked closely with.  This should give you a lot of essential info.

2. Transparency

Similar to honesty, the employee should make it possible for you to know what they are working on and how long they plan on working on these items if you ask.  This way, even if they are off in their estimation, you can get a feel for the next steps that will happen in production.  After all, drawings are the first major step towards successful production, aren’t they?

Tip:  Break a large project down into pieces and send the source drawings.  Ask the drafter how long it will take them to get all items taken care of, or give ETA date(s) and ask if this time is good or not for them.

3. Communication

Setting up a system to communicate effectively is one of the toughest challenges that face companies.  Remember, your help should be making your life easier, not harder or more confusing.  If they are not filling you in on what they may need from you, or not understanding, this could lead to big mistakes and more time devoted to a revision that could have been prevented.  For example, it’s a business day.  You send out email A to your new drafter.  They don’t respond for 3 hours.  You send out email B.  Another hour goes by.  They finally get back to you, but only in response to email B.  Did they get email A?  The world may never know… but this is the way email goes.

Tip: Establish a system to talk to one another that you both can agree on in the time frame of your business’s hours.  Don’t underestimate the power of phone calls.

4. Punctuality

Consideration for your time should be your drafter’s first priority.  This applies to responding to emails, completing assignments, showing up to work when you expect them to, and being physically and mentally available to communicate with you on the hot button issues when you need them.  Unfortunately, many people do not take punctuality seriously in a professional environment.  We all know that one (or at least one) person that comes in late prrretty often and either doesn’t make anything of the situation or laughs off the lateness when they’re SUPER late.  That is frustrating when you actually care about your business.  (This also applies to turning in assignments on time.)  Punctuality carries a lot of weight when showing how much the person wants to be committed to helping you.

Tip: Simply establish times that they need to be available, and come to an agreement in the beginning of the time you know this person.  Over time, you will see if they live up to your standard.  If you are well into the professional relationship, the sooner you pull this person aside privately to talk about the issue, the better.

5. Flexibility

You try not to do this, but once in a while there is a time when more needs to be done in less time (or maybe that’s every day- it depends).  This special situation comes up on Thursday or Friday, and you are in a rush, and you don’t want your client to not trust you.  Maybe a drawing set needs multiple changes, and the material needs to be on site Monday or Tuesday.  When you turn to your drafter, a great quality for them to have is a flexible attitude towards making the project happen on time for your company.

Tip: You can’t force people to work when you want them to, but you can negotiate for overtime pay- even if the drafter is a consultant.  Or, switch the time they may be working.  If you want them to work over the weekend, maybe the week is lighter for them.

6. Politeness

Sarcasm. Talking about others. Making rude comments.  Throwing someone under the bus.  We all do it sometimes, but keeping it at bay is always going to be the best thing for reputation, production, and professional relationships.  How many times have you been subject to these out of nowhere by someone you thought you could trust?  Your drafter should be able to be patient in uncertain, high pressure, and changing times, and not become stubborn to the 16 revisions needed for your project because the architect or contractor found out new site info.

Tip: Strong personality or not,  there’s no excuse for treating others like dirt.  If your drafter is not doing so hot in the politeness department, be direct and tell them to cut it out.  This might give them a reality check on how they are not only treating you, but others in the company, or give you the info. you need to determine if they will comply.

7. Drive and Effort

We all have lives outside of our jobs and keep up to date on the latest news about friends and acquaintances.  Ask yourself, “How flexible can I be, and what should be the limit?”  At the same time, is your drafter actually invested in his or her job to do the best they can?  Is this the industry they have a passion about?  If the answers to these questions become unreasonable, is it worth your time to keep this person on board?

Tip: 6 months is the absolute minimum in letting a drafter get to know a new job, how the systems work in the drawings, and how the drawings should be done to explain in the clearest of ways what needs to be built.  Evaluate how they are doing by talking to the people who work closest with them, and look at your bottom line after a certain amount of time.  You may find working with this drafter has been a pleasure to have on board, or they are dead weight you’d rather leave behind moving forward.

8. Quality and Quantity

Your new drafter should be aware that, aside from you needing drawings ASAP, they should be making sure to go over everything at least once after “finishing” the assignment.  Speed comes with time when getting more comfortable with the job and assignments.  Quality should not be overlooked.  In fact, having quality drawings will save you time in the long run!

Tip:  If your drafter is getting a ton of assignments done, but no one can work with the drawings, that’s obviously going to set you back.  At the same time, if they spend too much time on one thing, you’re not going to move forward.  Ask your drafter what their general workflow is like.  Do they have a self-check system or at least something they do quickly to review their work before sending it on to you, in order to minimize mistakes or missing information?

9. Creativity

In my experience, drafting work doesn’t always revolve around working solely with construction documents or architectural drawings to draw shop and fabrication layouts.  There may be other tasks associated with the drawings that the drafter becomes responsible for, such as material take-offs or tagging items on a drawing.  Also, it is expected that these assignments get done in a short, and sometimes next to impossible time span.  Creativity comes into play, not with the assignment itself, but how the drafter should approach it in a tiny time span.  Does your drafter have anyway of automating certain aspects of the assignment to get things done quicker?  Would they be up to the challenge of thinking about changing their workflow to meet their and your company’s needs in the best way possible?

Tip:  If you had to choose between two candidates, one that may draft in a mediocre manner and has a creative background, and one that drafts with high quality and aesthetics, but doesn’t have an extensive background in making other tasks possible, go with the former.  Creativity and a well rounded background will benefit you more, because this candidate will likely be more adaptive to do the assignment not only the way you want it done (in other words, will be flexible enough to accept other ways of doing things), but may come up with other options to get things done faster that you had not thought of.  Hopefully, you will find the drafter that is the best of both worlds.




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