2016 Hiring & Salary Trends: Hot Jobs & Skills In Demand

Guest Blogpost by Diane Domeyer, Executive Director, The Creative Group

In the creative field, it’s not always easy to know what’s hot and what’s not – or how to land that next great design gig. To help you understand the career opportunities available today and in the near future, you need a guide. One helpful resource to consult is The Creative Group Salary Guide. It’s filled with timely information about the latest hiring trends, which skills to brush up on or acquire, and salary ranges for more than 120 positions in the industry. In fact, the Salary Guide is so well trusted that the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has incorporated the data in its annual Occupational Outlook Handbook. What can you expect to learn? Here’s a taste.

Job Seekers Are In Command:

The unemployment rate for designers is well below the national rate, and companies are competing head to head to recruit top talent. As a result, creative professionals with in-demand skills have an advantage in benefit and salary negotiations, whether with a current or prospective employer. If it’s been some time since you reviewed the average salary range for your position in your area, start researching. Our Salary Calculator allows you to quickly customize compensation data for your city. This information will help you gauge how much extra pay you might deserve.

The Hottest Job:

So what skills do employers seek? Largely, individuals with digital proficiency. For example, if you’re a graphic designer who also possesses coding, user experience (UX) or social media expertise, you’re in an enviable position. Five creative jobs expected to see substantial increases in average starting salary in 2016:

1. Mobile Developer
2. Multimedia Designer
3. User Experience (UX) Specialist
4. User Interface (UI) Developer
5. Mobile Designer.

Check out the Salary Guide for actual dollar ranges.

Skills in Demand:

Not pursuing one of these career paths? You can still improve your marketability – and salary potential – by expanding your inventory of job skills. Here are some areas of expertise requested frequently by today’s hiring managers:

1. Coding, including CSS, HTML and JavaScript
2. Content management system (CMS), such as WordPress, Drupal and Joomla
3. Customer experience
4. Search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM)
5. Social media, particularly in the growing B2B space
6. Soft skills, including strong communication, problem-solving and collaboration abilities.

Make 2016 the year you take your career up a notch. High-paying job opportunities are out there for those dedicated to ongoing professional growth. Learn a new language or work on your presentation abilities, and then refresh your resume. Already working for a company you adore? Develop your skill set so you can increase your chances of landing a promotion and raise.


Make The Ultimate New-Business-Year Resolution

Guest Blogpost by Corina Ludwig, President, FunctionFox Systems on why to try a free demo and/or take advantage of deep holiday discounts (use offer code GFGD15) on North America’s number one ranked web-based timesheet and project management software.

The end of the year is a time when many of us step back from our daily grind to think about ways to make next year a better one. We resolve to make personal changes that will improve our lives, like eating healthier or exercising more. The sad truth is, though, that most of us have difficulty keeping these worthy resolutions beyond the first few weeks of January. Why? Often it’s because we’re trying to do it on our own. Without someone to keep us accountable, and support us as we work towards our personal goals, we find it far too easy to give up and slip back to old habits.

It’s the same at work. The creative industry demands quick reaction to emerging challenges, meeting crushing deadlines, coasting on the high of creativity, and letting the boring business system stuff slide. Looking back at the end of the year, we see more clearly that we need to focus our New Year’s resolutions on improving the way we handle the ‘business’ of creativity.

Time is the ultimate New Business Year resolution. You need time to do your best work and develop ideas to their fullest, time to reflect on past projects, current and future clients, and staff productivity, time discover new markets and technology, to get a feel for emerging trends, and to focus on better ways of doing business. But to find time for all this, you need to know where you’re spending your time now. You need to conquer, once and for all, the time-tracking and project management conundrum, embrace timesheets, learn what they can do for your business, and choose an effective time tracking and project management system.


Here are 6 tips to help you find the right time tracking and project management system for your company:

1. Scribble, Ponder, and List.
Every time you think of something you need in a time and project management product or system, scribble it down. Think about the specific pain points you need to address, and make a list of must-have and nice-to-have capabilities, as well as features you definitely don’t need or want. A system that is too complex is almost worse than one that is too simple.

2. Search and Select.
Familiarize yourself with the options, and think about the way your particular business works. Look for a system that has a reasonable cost/benefit ratio, that is quick and simple to set up and that doesn’t have an overwhelming learning curve for your team. If it’s not easy to use, no-one will use it!

3. Read and Review.
Schedule time to review your research, add new information, collate your research and fine-tune your list of requirements.

4. Shortlist, Delegate, and Test.
Build a shortlist of the systems that seem most appropriate to your current needs, and that provide flexibility for the future. You can delegate in-depth research of a system or systems to others, or delegate some of your usual tasks so you can do software and systems research yourself. Look for demo versions of your shortlist systems and put them through their paces to see if they do what they claim.

5. Contact.
Call your shortlist of time and project management suppliers to ask any questions you may have. This is a crucial step because it gives you such insight not only into the product or system itself, but also into the kind of support and service you will get if you buy. You should be able to talk with a real person – someone who knows the product inside out, and who can answer your questions quickly and knowledgeably.

6. Decide and Buy.
That is what makes an effective New Business Year resolution. Don’t put it off. Once you’ve done your research and settled on a system, keep the momentum going by making a decision, purchasing and getting it up and running. The sooner you decide, the sooner you’ll start to see the improvements you are looking for.

Every New Year’s resolution involves a change in behavior, but once a new habit is in place, it often spurs additional positive changes. For example, improved fitness often leads to healthier eating, losing weight encourages you to get more exercise, and quitting a bad habit gives you time and money to take up a new interest.

It’s the same with your New Business Resolution. Implementing an effective time and project management system will not only give you more time to focus on building your business, but will also lead to better planning and estimating for every project you undertake, improve workflow, increase transparency and boost relationships with clients, and perhaps most importantly, increase profitability and productivity across the board.

Where to start? Right here, right now. This post is sponsored by FunctionFox, the leading provider of time and project tracking for small creative companies. TimeFox, its web-based timesheet and project management software, is the number one ranked time-tracking system in North America. Try a free TimeFox demo today and take advantage of our terrific end-of-the-year Holiday sale with offer code GFGD15.


Webinar Presents Practical Advice On Color

I hear from many, many designers about many, many of their challenges. A common gripe is how hard it is to choose optimal colors and color combinations, especially when designing for the web.

That’s why I am happy to share with you that Monotype is addressing just this topic. Entitled Color Is Relative, this free webinar follows up on Monotypes very popular webinar focused on web fonts. As I am sure you know, the company is a leading global provider of typefaces, technology and expertise for our community. In describing the color-themed webinar, Monotype states: “In design, we rely on color to accentuate key tasks, indicate links, differentiate data and sometimes just bring the pretty. So what happens when the colors we pick aren’t the colors the reader sees?

coadyIn this free webinar, designer and illustrator Geri Coady explains how important color is to imparting essential information, and how chromatic choices create more confusion than clarity.”

Coady is a self-described “color-obsessed freelance designer and illustrator (and occasional photographer)” is a well-known author and speaker on the topic, as well as a design advisor to many high-profile clients. She will cover, among other things: (1) The different ways people perceive color (2) How those perceptions can affect a site’s UX and usability and (3) Practical advice on how to create attractive, accessible designs.

I have watched the Color Is Relative webinar, and I would recommend it highly. Registration and download are free and easy.


GDUSA’s Ilana Greenberg Featured At InSource Event

We here at GDUSA could not be prouder or more excited. Ilana Greenberg, our  Creative Director and the brains behind our increasingly multi-media brand, is a featured speaker at the upcoming InSource fall signature event. The date is November 18, 6-9 pm, at the SVA Theater in Manhattan.

Join InSource for cocktails and networking before three guest inhouse leaders — Martin Schott, Director, Creative Services at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts; David Lesué, Creative Director at Workfront; and our own Ms. Greenberg— present short perspectives on their careers and on the current challenges in the inhouse arena.


InSource is an organization committed to leadership excellence and effective business management in the ever-growing in-house creative community. Membership has grown to reach thousands of inhouse creatives around the globe, providing a platform to share best practices to enhance the value inhouse teams add to their organizations and brands.

Register now for the November 18th event to get an earlybird rate and save 10% by using the code SigEvent2.


Custom Carpets For Branding and Marketing

Guest Blogpost by Del Williams, a marketing and technical writer based in Torrance, California.

Designers, event planners, and marketers looking to visually brand, market or promote a product or organization at trade shows, special events, or building entrances can now transform floor space into an attention-getting canvas with custom, digitally printed dye-sublimated carpets. While posters, banners, and other display media have long been used to reach out to prospects in interior spaces, traditional wall space is often over cluttered. In contrast, interior floor space is uncluttered by design. 

Now designers and event planners are taking advantage of the new “blank canvas” they have found to visually brand, market, and promote products or organizations. “The floor is a huge empty space that can be transformed into your personal advertising medium with custom digitally printed carpets, which represent an exciting new promotional channel,” says Ilene Haber, Creative Director at the Marketing Project, a New York City-based marketing specialist of healthcare and nonprofit organizations. “Customers interact with your visual brand – your logo, your message, your mascot – because in this novel format it draws the eye in; they walk over it and they touch it. The surface becomes an event in itself.”


Trade shows, convention centers, schools, colleges, universities, museums, corporate offices, retail spaces, and concert tours are just some of the venues where custom, digitally printed carpets have been used for branding, marketing, and promotion. Designers are exploring the new possibilities – from Aladdin’s magic carpet in Disneyland to a yellow brick road themed carpet in a New York City Furla Fashion Week event; to a promotional New York Jets football field carpet, lined and numbered like the real gridiron; to carpet displaying earthquake fault lines at a California museum; to inlay carpeting of the UConn Huskies’ mascot showing school pride in the basketball locker room.


“Today digital dye-sublimation printed carpets can be printed in the full color spectrum from any electronic image in sizes and shapes limited only by the designers imagination,” says Jim O’Connor, CEO of Enhance a Colouran innovator in the large format digital printing industry. “If a designer can create an image on the computer screen, we can create and color match it perfectly in a variety of carpet grades.” The company’s promotional grade carpet for trade shows and short-term events is available at up to 10’x 50’ lengths, and can be laser cut into smaller size “tiles” which can be put together to create any size visual display required. Circles and irregular shapes are also possible. Such promo grade carpet with a rubberized back is good for 60 days of use. Heavier, Ultra carpet, designed for corporate settings, museums, schools, retail spaces and anywhere requiring longer term use, can be created in 10’x12’ sections and “tiled” for larger displays.


“From portable to permanent, the branding opportunities available with Enhance a Colour’s custom digitally printed carpets are wide open,” says Haber. “Their logos and visual detail pop with photorealism. They’ve done great work for not only Tiffany’s and Macy’s, but also Nintendo, and the medium is inexpensive enough to be used for trade shows, pop up stores, and special events.” While promotional carpet was available to designers previously, it was limited in size, function, and color matching capability. In the past, for instance, some vendors printed in solvent ink, which could not be walked on, and was not color fast or washable. UV inks were a little better, but still not washable. In digitally printed dye-sublimated carpets, however, the carpet colors are actually transferred into the fibers of the carpet using extreme heat and pressure during printing, a process the company pioneered by designing and building its own custom machinery. This means that the carpet colors are color fast. The carpet can be shampooed, machine washed, or steam cleaned.

Traditional carpet inlay that was sewn together in several pieces seldom matched colors well. In contrast, carpet inlay using dye-sublimated printing can exactly color match even a one-of-a-kind logo, mascot, or insignia. When the UConn Huskies basketball team chose Enhance a Colour’s inlay carpeting to cover their locker room, for instance, the company powerfully presented the university team symbol with the dye-sublimated print process before the logo was cut and inlayed into the main locker room carpet. This not only filled the basketball team with school pride, but also served as a recruiting tool when prospective players visited the university.


Co-workers in business training

5 Tips For Getting the Most Out of Your Graphic Design Mentor

Guest Blogpost by Diane Domeyer, Executive Director, The Creative Group

Being a successful creative professional involves always seeking out development opportunities and keeping your skills current. Finding the right graphic design mentor can take you to the next level. Once you have found that person, the following are five tips for extracting the maximum benefit from this relationship:

1. Be enthusiastic.
It’s invigorating for mentors to work with professionals who are excited to advance their careers as opposed to those who drag their feet.

2. Set goals.
Share your career goals and discuss what steps you need to take in order to achieve them. Your mentor may have other suggestions based on his or her professional experience, so listen with an open mind. 

3. Communicate regularly.
The mentorship won’t bear fruit unless you connect and communicate on a regular basis, so get check-in dates on the calendar.

4. Go all in.
Prepare to be challenged in your role as a mentee. You won’t excel unless you are willing to take risks.

5. Be professional.
Be punctual, prepared and responsive to job requests. Treat your mentor with respect and courtesy. Listen attentively to feedback. 

For more advice, visit the TCG Blog.

The Creative Group (TCG) specializes in placing a range of highly skilled interactive, design and marketing professionals with a variety of firms. 


HIDC Boston: Visual Design + Technology November 5-7

Are you an in-house web designer ready to take your design career to the next level? Join us at the How Interactive Design Conference – Boston Visual Design + Technology November 5 – 7 at the Seaport Hotel & World Trade Center. Meet expert web design practitioners to get a clear understanding of the most important technology developments impacting interactive design. Also, gain a deeper understanding of how current patterns in visual design intersect with these emerging technologies.

The conference kicks off in a fun and relaxed way to connect with colleagues, led by HOW favorite Stefan Mumaw’s HOW Connection. The line-up of speakers are stars of the web design field from Ethan Marcotte (Laziness in the time of responsive design), Bryan Zmijeewski from Zurb (Using Frameworks to Design Products Faster), Joshua Jensen and Paul Morris from State Farm (Lessons from a Large In House Interactive Team) and Husani Oakley from Goldbeam as the closing keynote speaker. And for the first time, you’ll be able to “Chat with a Speaker” during the Speaker Chat Happy Hours on Thursday and Friday.

Speed Coaching and Breakfast topics are also included during breakfast on Friday and Saturday. Grab some food and join our speaker experts for one-on-one, 10 minute personal sessions. Get career advice, talk through a sticky project or ask for feedback on your portfolio. Sign up early. These sessions fill up quickly.

Take the knowledge back to your team and continue your education through HOW University courses worth $500 for attendees. As one HIDC attendee said, “Really blew my mind. Heard so many new things and terms I never heard before. Was very inspiring and I’m looking forward to the next level in my career because of what I will be implementing because of this event.”

Don’t miss the opportunity to experience HIDC. All options including one and two day are available. Register here and receive $100 by using the code GDUSA15. See you at HIDC-Boston!


My Night at the AirBnBodega

Jill Yoe Graves, design director and former GDUSA Person to Watch, recently spent the night at Jesse’s Deli. Together with her daughter, Jill participated in a staged “bed-in” to protest the rising rents and gentrification of the Boerum Hill neighborhood in Brooklyn, NY.

Jesse Itayim, a proud delipreneur is offering a “cozy semi-private 7×4 bedroom” in his Atlantic Avenue deli in an effort to save his 25 year old business. After his landlord raised his rent by 2.5 x, local patrons and concerned citizens, Doug Cameron and Tommy Noonan of DCX Growth Accelerator stepped in and devised a brilliant marketing campaign to help out their local deli.

The team (full creative credits below) developed a series of comic posters selling deli items at 2.5 x the regular price to bring attention to the 2.5 x rent increase pushing this local establishment out of the neighborhood. (Jesse is pictured below in the “Breakfast Coffee Maker” poster.)



The satirical protest continued in partnership with Air B &B where a room at the deli is being offered in a fictional rental listing for $329 a night, the average price it will take per day to afford the $10,000 a month rent (2.5 x the current rent). 





Here is Jill’s account of her night at the AirBnBodega:

“The old air conditioner hums a rhythmic “tick, tick, tick” every few beats as sweet accompaniment to the pre-war air that is starting to blend with the smells of strong coffee and the bacon popping on the large griddle. My daughter starts to rustle in the bed next to me as the morning sun peers through the window along with the eyes of passersby. I feel refreshed, maybe a little achy from the air mattress, but I am thankful we have a Doritos and Lays chip stand full of snacks, light bulbs, Slim Jims and sheer panty hose to give us a little privacy as we get ready to start the day. “What more does a girl need!” I think as I reach and carefully open the somewhat unhinged refrigerator door just a few steps from our air mattress to grab a refreshing Tropicana OJ. I call on my personal chef and deli meat slicer to whip up a couple of his famous bacon, egg and cheese bialys and consider buying a lotto ticket. I have to say, there is really nothing quite so spectacular as waking up in your local corner deli!”

The campaign was created as a spoof to promote the “Bed-In Selfie” and hopes to gain support for the Bill de Bodega (#BillDeBodega), aka Small Business Jobs Survival Act. Please sign the TAKEBACKNYC and tell @BillDeBlasio to support it, too. Anyone can participate, so if you’d like to show your support for small business in NYC you can go to the airbnbodega page for more details and information about staging your own “bed-in” at the bodega. 

Jill Yoe Graves is a design director and you can see more of her insightful ideas on her blog Design is for Sharing.


AirBnBodega Creative Credits:

Chief Creative Officer: Doug Cameron
ECD: Tommy Noonan
Copywriters: Doug Cameron and Tommy Noonan
Art Director: Tommy Noonan
Digital Strategist: Paul Aaron
Technologist: Ronan Kenny
Account Director: Patrick McCormick
Producer: Darcy Donelan
Photography: Elicia Castle
Publicist/Content Writer: Erin Levi
Publicist: Rachel Van Dolsen


With Pencil & Paper Tad Carpenter is Champion of Craft

Mohawk is a leader in supporting, encouraging, educating and recognizing the creative community. For North America’s largest privately-owned manufacturer of fine papers and envelopes, the tradition continues in 2015 through — among many activities — a year long initiative in the pages of GDUSA entitled “Champions of Craft.” In each edition of the magazine, Mohawk presents storytelling insert exploring the work of aspiring and seasoned designers. The initiative kicked off back in January when Mohawk served as exclusive sponsor of GDUSA’s 52nd Annual People To Watch editorial feature. 


The latest Champions of Craft insert features Tad Carpenter Creative and appears in the October edition of GDUSA magazine. Tad and his wife Jessica Carpenter founded the firm in Kansas City, where they have thrived and garnered an array of high-profile clients including Target, Macy’s, West Elm and AMC Theaters. The Carpenters are advocates of drawing as a foundation, and all projects begin with a pencil and paper. Tad says that he teaches that, first and  foremost to his students at the University of Kansas, because it will benefit them and the way they think throughout. 


Of his own work, he says: “That feeling, that high you get from seeing your work on a billboard or in a national commercial is hard to compete with. At the end of the day, though, developing concepts, collaborating with a client and developing strong work can be just about the same, big or small, and I like it that way.”

Look for Champions of Craft in the new edition of GDUSA, arriving around the country this week. The latest insert is designed by San Francisco’s Hybrid Design the award-winning firm which also helped develop the resonant Mohawk Maker campaign. The insert is produced on Mohawk Loop Inxwell Super Smooth Digital with i-Tone 80 Lb. Cover, printed on a Xerox iGen 150 press. You can learn more about the paper grade, and other Mohawk offerings for designers, by reviewing the mill’s newly redesigned collection of swatchbooks.

We are honored that, throughout the year, Mohawk is using our pages as part of its celebration of the creative industry, its support for the maker community, and its introduction of the pleasures of print and paper to a whole new generation.


InDesign Conference Builds Skills and Careers

Is there a more important creative tool than InDesign or more important moment to ramp up your InDesign skills?

The answer is clear: it’s the right tool at the right time. InDesign has become the “go to” software application  for the print and digital realms, and has become even more critical since the recent release of Creative Cloud 2015. And that’s not just me speaking: Forbes Magazine recently noted that InDesign (and, by the way, Photoshop, too) has become “a highly sought-after skill for many types of positions” including graphic design, editorial roles and social media management.

An exceptional opportunity to improve your InDesign skills is coming soon. The InDesign Conference is set for November 16–18 at the Marriott City Center in Denver CO. With three days of non-stop learning and networking, you’ll discover what industry experts and members of the Adobe development team suggest you know to power up your on-the-job InDesign skills. GDUSA readers who have attended in the past tell me that they come back filled with useful tips, in-depth knowledge, and excitement to enhance their jobs and careers.

The organizers have put together an all-star lineup of speakers. These include, among many others, InDesign gurus:

• David Blatner, co-host of PePcon and, the publisher of InDesign Magazine, and the author or co-author of 15 books including Real World InDesign

• Russell Viers, a frequent speaker at publishing events including the HOW Conference, The InDesign Conference, IFRA, and PePcon, who has taught many major publications and designers to work faster and improve quality

• Michael Ninness, currently Sr. Director of Product Management for the Design products at Adobe, including InDesign, Illustrator, and Muse, with 20+ years of experience at Adobe, Microsoft and

• Anne-Marie Concepcion, known as “Her Geekness”  she is a co-producer of PePcon, a digital publishing expert and owner of Seneca Design & Training and, along with partner David Blatner, co-founder of, and co-publisher of InDesign Magazine and CreativePro.

Among the dozens of skill-building sessions are: InDesign Power Tips; Tables, Troubleshooting and Long Document Techniques; Interactive PDFs That Work Everywhere; Brilliant Type: Crafting Beautiful Text;  Best Practices: Image Workflow and Editorial Workflow; and so many more. The list of sessions is too long to note here, but you can see the entire schedule on the site.

All in all, it’s a terrific opportunity for graphic designers to strengthen your skills whatever your skill level; to stay relevant in an fast changing industry where new products and techniques emerge daily; to learn the future of InDesign as Adobe rolls out new features this Fall; get face-to-face with Adobe product managers and engineers; and to make valuable connections with lots of networking opportunities.

Interestingly, the InDesign Conference is co-located with The Photoshop Conference so you can Register for one or both of the events. Use discount code GDUSA for $50 off any multi-day pass at either InDesign Conference or Photoshop Conference.

The Photoshop Conference is (finally!) an event oriented to designers, production artists and publishers — in other words for those who create and edit images in Photoshop more than shoot them. It’s a chance to see many Photoshop masters in one place — think Deke McClelland, Nigel French, Colin Smith, Lesa Snider — and to learn skills such as Creating and Adapting a Logo with Photoshop and Illustrator, using RGB in a CMYK world, Photoshop Retouching for Designers, Vector Madness: Combining Pixels and Paths, and Compositing and Masking.

Seating is limited so Register today. Remember to use discount code GDUSA for $50 off any multi-day pass. My take is that you’ll learn, you’ll make connections, you’ll be inspired — and, perhaps most important, it’s a positive step for your job and career.