By Diane Domeyer, Executive Director, The Creative Group, a specialized staffing service placing creative, digital, marketing, advertising and public relations talent with the best companies on a project, contract-to-hire and full-time basis.
The impacts of COVID-19 have created career challenges for many creative professionals. So, is now a good time to be looking for a job? This might sound counterintuitive, but yes, it absolutely is.
The recruitment landscape has shifted, but companies are still hiring. Prior to the pandemic, there were skills shortages in several creative areas. Many hiring managers are now looking at this as an opportunity to seek talent that was previously unavailable. Others have seen an increase in their team’s workload based on industry or business shifts and are considering hiring. Stay positive and tailor your job-hunting strategies to the current situation.
Here are 10 ways creatives can create new career opportunities:
1. EMPHASIZE YOUR DIGITAL PRESENCE.
From LinkedIn to your digital portfolio, your online profiles should be professional, current and consistent. Highlight qualifications or aspects of your work history that might catch the eye of an employer in today’s market — having extensive experience working remotely or collaborating with dispersed teams, for example.
2. SHOW OFF YOUR SOFT SKILLS.
While employers have long known the value of soft skills, it’s at times like these that qualities such as resilience, self-motivation and a problem-solving mindset can set you apart. Previous research from The Creative Group shows that 55% of creative and marketing managers see the demand for soft skills increasing, with an emphasis on strategic thinking, leadership and communication. Make sure these traits come across in your online profiles, as well as in any conversations you have with potential employers. Be sure to back it up with evidence. Blandly stating, “I’m a great communicator,” suggests you’re anything but. Provide examples, such as a punchy summary of how you recently set up a Slack channel to collaborate with other remote workers.
3. GO BACK TO SCHOOL.
Have more time on your hands? Use it to hone your skills and bolster your qualifications. Online learning platforms like Coursera and Udemy are offering many courses either free or for a reduced rate — so if you want to master social media ad design or Adobe Lightroom, now’s your chance. Not only will you be making yourself more employable, but you might also make some useful connections among your instructors and fellow students.
4. GROW YOUR NETWORKS.
In-person events will likely be canceled for a while, but it’s more important than ever to expand your professional network. Some conferences have gone virtual, and social media platforms are a great way to connect with industry leaders, former colleagues, school friends and prospective employers. Vocational groups and Slack communities can introduce you to others in your field. Invite your contacts to meet for a virtual coffee. It could result in a lead.
5. INCREASE YOUR EXPOSURE.
Virtual conferences, webinars and forum discussions are chances to share interesting news and gain industry knowledge. Stay digitally active by attending online events, liking and commenting on posts, connecting with speakers, responding promptly to questions, and contributing relevant articles or infographics that demonstrate your expertise.
6. CREATE SOME GOOD KARMA.
During the pandemic, many creatives have used their skills for the greater good by contributing to causes through design, like creating informative animations and images of support to share online. Not only is this an effective way to spread a valuable message, but it might also help you get noticed.
7. BE CAMERA READY.
Most employers and recruiters have quickly pivoted to video interviewing, and they may not always schedule these meetings in advance. Whether you’re invited to a video interview that day or the following week, do everything you can to make sure it goes smoothly. Find a quiet room with a work-appropriate background, test your webcam and audio, and practice looking into the camera when you speak. As with any interview, dress the part, promptly join the meeting and do your best to avoid distractions. Demonstrating you can uphold your professional demeanor and communicate persuasively from a remote location could give you an edge over less prepared or less tech-savvy competitors.
8. KEEP IN TOUCH.
Stay connected with the hiring manager throughout the recruitment process — and follow up with a well-crafted thank-you email and LinkedIn connection. Ask what you can expect for next steps, and if you haven’t heard anything by that time, reach out via phone and email. Furthermore, if you come across news about the company or content relevant to a previous discussion with the hiring manager, you can use that as a reason to touch base.
9. ASK FOR HELP.
Reach out to your network and inquire about work opportunities or career guidance. Most people will be sympathetic to your circumstances and offer help if they can. Share your situation socially to cast your net as wide as possible.
10. KEEP YOUR PASSION ALIVE.
A creative career takes talent, hard work and dedication. Remind yourself why you love your job by asking your clients for feedback on your work. Speaking to a satisfied customer boosts your confidence, and any endorsements can be added to your online portfolio, with permission. Feedback can also identify areas for improvement.
Job-hunting is tough, but especially with the effects of a global pandemic still hanging over the business world. Tenacious creatives who continue to build relationships, share ideas and improve their skills are ideally positioned for career success now and in the future.