The creative industries are, and have been since the dawn of time, some of the hardest to break your way in to. There are far more creative graduates than there are jobs, and not everyone has the bags of cash (or local parents) required to be able to take up internships in London. It’s almost as difficult for people who do have experience, and though it’s been predicted that the economy will grow over the next two years we’re still quite firmly in the grip of the double dip.
As someone who’s been applying to plenty of jobs recently, I’m sharing some tips that (fingers crossed!) have been working for me and getting me interviews.
1. Look in the right places
There are so many sites dedicated to creative jobs that it can be a little daunting. For designers, there are job boards on design blogs such as It’s Nice That and FormFiftyFive which are great for finding studio jobs, and many of the more popular agencies advertise there. Design Week is a great resource as it’s easy to filter down to a specific role and location, and once you’ve registered the site saves your CV so that it’s easier to apply for new jobs. You’ll find a lot more jobs here, and a much more varied range – agency, in-house, all levels of experience, temporary and freelance contracts… everything. Similarly, the Guardian jobs board has a good range of roles, although you’ll have to filter more carefully as the jobs cover a much wider range of industries. Finally, Creativepool specialises in the creative industries, and has the added bonus of an online profile and portfolio that’s visible to recruiters.
In my experience, you get the most positive responses from companies that are advertising directly – applying for positions that are being managed by recruitment agencies tends to result in lots of phone calls about numerous other positions that you may or may not actually be qualified for. Most positions will be managed in this way and so it’s a bit of a necessary evil. The positive side is that your CV is sent out to companies on your behalf as soon as roles come up, and therefore is potentially seen by more employers.
2. Fill the gaps in your portfolio
It’s a simple concept, but sometimes a difficult one to remember: make sure your portfolio reflects your skills. If your CV says you can design websites, write SEO-friendly copy or build HTML emails, an employer is going to want to see some proof, at least on your website if not in your portfolio. This isn’t always going to be possible, of course; but why not fill up any gaps with pro-bono work or self-initiated projects?
3. Make use of your contacts
If you’ve managed to build up some contacts in the industry you want to work in, now’s the time to utilise them. Send out a simple email, inviting them to look at your newest work; design a nice printed piece to send out or simply give them a call. If people aren’t hiring, they might be willing to have a look over your portfolio and offer some advice. Make sure to be polite, thank them for their time and USE SPELLCHECK.
If you don’t have any contacts, now’s the perfect time to make some! Get your butt to some networking events, strike up some interesting conversations on Twitter and attend any relevant conferences and workshops that you can.
4. Personalise your applications
Try not to send a standard cover letter and CV to every job you apply for. You’re applying to a creative job, so get creative with your application. I once applied to a job that involved creating email send-outs and infographics by designing an infographic containing statistics about my career and why the company should hire me, and built it into an HTML template I could send to the relevant people at the company. It went down well and certainly got my application noticed, with the added bonus that I could track views and see how many times it had been forwarded.
I’m definitely not saying you should go over the top and send your potential employers flowers, chocolates and champagne to be noticed, but put some thought in to each application and tailor it to the job you’re applying for. A little research in to your potential employer’s company can go a long way with helping you here. And please, please use spellcheck! Have somebody read your application over, sit on it for a night and read it again the next day… just make sure your spelling and grammar is spot on, as any mistakes that get noticed will place doubt upon your ability to spot mistakes in a work environment.
5. Keep your portfolio/blog/social media feeds up to date
Not only does regularly updating your site help your Google ranking, it also stops any prospective employers from thinking you’re stagnating and not using your skills. Adding a weekly or monthly update to your blog about what you’ve been working on is a relatively simple way of keeping your site fresh without having to spend too much time. You could also highlight other creatives that you’ve been admiring recently, weigh in on any current news in your industry and review relevant books or events. In terms of social networks, keep your statuses relevant and try not to overload people in a bid to fill up your feed, but keep them updated. Regularly review your portfolio and add any work you think will improve the quality, as well as removing any pieces you think will detract from your better work.
Finally, good luck!
Are you applying for a creative job, and do you have any tips to add?
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