Finding the right job requires a mix of talent and marketing savvy
In August, the Local Government Association and Creative Industries Federation reported that the creative industries could be the key to the UK’s post-pandemic economic recovery. On one hand, artistic work provides a sense of hope and community for society. But on the other, creative businesses contribute a whooping £111 billion to the UK economy. Getting them back to 100% could drive up nationwide employment. In other words, there’s a growing demand for creative professionals, but if you’re trying to take advantage of the upswing, how do you stand out?
Focus on your relevant experience
This may seem like a no-brainer, but one definite way to catch a hiring manager’s attention is with relevant experience. If you’re a recent graduate, ensure you’ve taken on a creative internship, apprenticeship, or traineeship. These programmes are available in a wide range of artistic fields from museums to fashion, and they offer you a chance to gain real-world experience and form meaningful connections. You can also search for graduate schemes, which can help you make inroads at one of your industry’s top companies or firms. If you’re more seasoned, update your CV to ensure it only contains the work experience that’s most applicable to the job you’re applying for.
Connect your work to business results
It’s one thing to create a portfolio that’s visually appealing – it’s quite another to show how the samples in your portfolio generated revenue. Creative job applicants tend to focus on how their work looks but not necessarily how it performs. However, this is extremely important for a potential employer. Connecting your work to ROI demonstrates just how valuable your skills are. If you designed a digital ad campaign, share how many customers it converted. If you revamped the company website, include metrics about how the new layout improved the customer experience (e.g., time spent on the site, improved bounce rate, etc.). Prove that you know how to get results.
Be an industry expert
When you apply for a job, it’s quite common to research the company and the hiring manager you’re interviewing with. But it’s also critical to know your industry. Extensive knowledge of trends, news, and major developments in your field shows that you have passion for what you do and that you’re focused on continued growth. There are plenty of ways to increase your industry awareness. For example, if you’re in advertising, track major agencies or companies to see the content they produce, and subscribe to the most notable newsletters and publications (e.g., The Drum, Campaign, etc.). Also, be sure to demonstrate what you know during the interview process.
Personalise your portfolio
It’s tempting to create one portfolio and submit it with every one of your job applications, but this doesn’t work. You should make changes to your work samples, the same way you’d tweak your CV to match a particular job or company. Learn a bit about the position and the company culture, and then add or remove projects to ensure you’re making the best impression. If you’re applying for a concept design role at a video game company, for example, don’t just build a single creature. Build out a complete environment and show different variations of your creature within that environment. Use your portfolio to provide insight into your creative process and display the depth of your skill.
Make your CV pop, but don’t go overboard
Recent years have seen creatives dressing up their CVs with infographics, photos, and other design elements. This trend makes sense – a plain, black and white CV won’t catch anyone’s attention, nor will it show how imaginative you are. However, it’s possible to add too many fun details and distract the hiring manager from finding the information they need. Instead of a complete redesign, try updating one or two elements that are most pertinent to your field. For example, in media, choose a typeface that’s bold but easy to read and keep the layout simple and clean. For journalism specifically, keep your descriptions concise to show that you can communicate big themes effectively. Also, think about the best way to post your application materials online. Make it easy for hiring managers to access your portfolio and CV but keep the above design principles in mind.
And generally speaking, try to avoid using clichés, check your work for errors, and find the name of the hiring manager so you can avoid addressing your application package to “whom it may concern”.
While the creative industries are competitive and filled with talented professionals, there are plenty of ways to stand out from the crowd and land the job.