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.
Unexpected events or big life changes have a way of disrupting our normal routines, jolting us out of our comfort zones and prompting us to question how we want to lead our lives. No wonder, then, that the COVID-19 pandemic has led many marketing and creative professionals to re-evaluate their careers.
Working remotely, learning new skills or, in some cases, being furloughed have scrambled the status quo. New research from The Creative Group, a staffing division with Robert Half, and AIGA, the professional association for design, suggests that one in two creatives could be looking for a new job in the next 12 months.
The recovering U.S. economy may make this a good time to change jobs. But should you? Can you? Would a change within your current company increase your job satisfaction, or do you need to look elsewhere? Here are some things to consider.
1. Are your skills in demand right now?
Ninety-seven percent of marketing and creative leaders polled by Robert Half said they they found it challenging to recruit the skilled professionals they need. And more than half (51%) of firms are looking to add new positions in 2021. You will be in the driver’s seat if you decide to take the plunge, especially if you have some of the most in demand skills. Throughout the pandemic, marketing and creative professionals have played a key role in helping firms expand digital services, improve the customer experience and promote new offerings in a socially distant world. With the acceleration of e-commerce expected to continue, innovation on the rise and immersive technologies becoming more mainstream, demand for tech-savvy creatives will remain high as firms seek to roll out digital-first business strategies.
Additionally, more organizations are putting design at the core of their growth strategy. If you can demonstrate how you have applied the creative process to solve complex business problems with measurable results, you will have an advantage in the hiring process. And even if you feel good about your chances from a functional perspective, have you also developed strong interpersonal skills?
In a business world now alert to the potential for sudden and widespread disruption, soft skills such as resilience, adaptability and empathy are more valued than ever. Think of any times over the past year when you’ve called upon skills such as these to help your team continue to meet deadlines.
2. What work environment brings out your productivity and creativity and makes you happy?
While plenty of offices will at least partially reopen, a full return to on-site working seems unlikely for most firms. Creative professionals have proved they can work productively from home, and only 8% of those polled by The Creative Group and AIGA say they’re keen to return to the office full-time. Is your current or new position likely to be on-site, remote or hybrid (a mix of the two)?
While many employees have found homeworking improves their quality of life, some have struggled to adapt. Video call fatigue, background distractions and the challenges of juggling work with personal responsibilities can take their toll.
If you’re just as happy working from home as you are in an office, you can leverage that flexibility to your advantage, chasing opportunities not only in your local area but also around the country and even the world. If applying for a fully remote position, just bear in mind that around a quarter of firms plan to adjust salaries to the market the employee works from — even if that means a pay cut.
3. What values are important to you?
Do your current or prospective employer’s values match your own? The pandemic has given many workers a new perspective on their career priorities. Nearly nine in 10 creatives surveyed by The Creative Group and AIGA say they would not accept an attractive job offer with a company whose values were incompatible with their own. Does your current company’s corporate culture and mission align with your values? Do they practice what they preach? Consider the same questions for a career change to a new company, too. Reaching out to employees at the prospective employer via social media, for example, would give you the opportunity to gauge a firm’s corporate culture.
4. How will this opportunity advance your career prospects?
When discussing an opportunity with a recruiter or hiring manager, ask about career development. What opportunities will you have to stretch your abilities and gain new technical or professional skills? What trainings are offered, and will you have access regardless of where you’re based? Leadership style and experience can also have a significant impact on your growth and career prospects. Will you be mentored, and if so, how?
5. Are you looking for an improved and healthier work-life balance?
Consider how a new role will impact your mental and physical wellbeing. Does the opportunity you’re considering embrace flexible schedules such as windowed working or a compressed work week? What about wellness initiatives such as reducing stress, proper nutrition and mental health? Does it offer an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) that includes therapy, counseling and coaching services?
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we live and work. Don’t ignore an opportunity to reassess your professional goals and emerge with a sharper focus on what you hope to achieve, and remember to first evaluate whether an internal change with your current employer can meet your objectives. Whether you were already considering a career change, or the pandemic has brought these feelings to the surface, now is the perfect time to explore new challenges.