Today’s job market is as volatile as it’s ever been. A tidal wave of significant external forces, from a global pandemic to widespread social and economic uncertainty, has sent shock waves through the work world. No industry or sector has been spared.
Simply put, we’re all living through a moment of uncertainty without precedent, and the challenges we’ll face on the road to defining our new normal have yet to fully unfold. That said, amidst the daunting headwinds and uncertainty, there are opportunities as well. Many among us, either by choice or necessity, are taking a serious look at our career paths in an effort to define what we want our professional lives to look like moving forward—and those among us who plan intelligently and seek out and seize available opportunities within the rapidly shifting work landscape are in the best positions to prosper.
Creative careers are having a real moment right now—many of us are eager to flex our creative muscles, perhaps in an effort to expand our horizons and explore new and engaging layers to our work lives, especially when many of us are working from home and are looking for ways to be stimulated by our jobs. Furthermore, companies are currently looking to staff their teams with folks who possess a wide array of creative skills—particularly now, at a time when businesses are operating with a lean mindset and are tasking their employees to wear multiple hats and deliver during critical “all hands on deck” moments. Sure, you may be a spreadsheet wizard or brilliant when it comes to analyzing data, but can you pitch in meaningfully during the next Zoom conference call when designing and presenting a new marketing campaign?
If you’re looking to break into a new creative career and are gearing up for a job search, consider using the following advice to help you get a leg up on the competition and achieve your goal.
Showcase your brand
Snagging a creative job these days often requires you to sell more than just your passion and personality while on the job hunt. Hiring managers and HR personnel are often looking for someone with an established brand presence that represents a good synergistic fit with their own corporate culture. They want to see a proven track record of creative output that fits their perception of how they want their own brand to evolve and grow moving forward.
If your goal is to pursue a creative job, make sure your creative voice and capabilities are easily searchable and clearly represent your aesthetic and perspective—because that’s what businesses are looking to bring aboard their teams when hiring. This can include work from prior jobs or clients, or even just well-polished portfolio samples if you’re just getting started or are making a career change. Never forget: if you go into an interview for a creative job empty-handed, chances are that’s precisely how you’ll leave.
Expand your network
The old adage that “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know” is often true when it comes to the world of work and hiring. Careers are often made (or not made) based on connections in a person’s network—either someone you know, a friend of a friend, a colleague who knows someone who is hiring for a job that you’d be absolutely perfect for. It’s never too soon to start networking and building your galaxy of individuals who may be in a position to help you climb your career ladder—either today or at some point in the future.
These days, you can build your network without ever leaving home, thanks to social networking and professional organizations in your field that host virtual meetups. Just make sure you remain active and engaged and don’t forget that shameless self-promotion and transparent self-serving motives are not the way to build a healthy professional network. Rather, your aim is to broadcast what you can do to help others and demonstrate your prospective value proposition as a creative professional.
Always be ready
Opportunities can come (or disappear) in the blink of an eye. The difference between “you’re hired” and “we’re sorry to inform you…” comes down to your ability to effectively seize the moment. This has never been truer than it is now, with video conferencing technology allowing us to schedule impromptu interviews and meetings at a moment’s notice, and with some companies moving at breakneck speeds to meet an immediate need and fill an opening for an urgent project. While you’re job hunting and connecting with potential employers, make sure you’re ready, willing, and able if the message comes to jump in on a quick meeting to show them what you’ve got!
If you’re at a crossroads in your career path and looking to build or advance a creative career, consider using the strategies and advice mentioned here to set yourself up for success. Be proactive, creative, and reach for what you want—effort goes a very long way, and it’s always evident when someone cares. Good luck!