As a creative professional, the job search experience can be drastically different from the that of of business, sales, or marketing professionals. After all, they’re often judged on things like “percent increase of sales revenue” or “monthly newsletter growth” while you are judged on the quality, style, and aesthetics of your work. Not every company will be a strong fit for your creative style, and that’s not a bad thing! In fact, a close analysis of your own style helps you truly narrow down the field of companies to the ones that are a truly good fit for you. That way, you’ll be able to laser-focus your job search and find a job that you’ll truly be happy with.
So whether you’re a writer, a designer, a photographer, or an artist, make sure you take an intelligent and dynamic approach to each company you apply to. Here’s how to best take advantage of the unique creative job search experience.
1. Take advantage of the internet
The nicest thing about being a creative professional is that it’s extremely easy to display the fruits of your labor. You have finished products, be they blog posts, articles, paintings, user interface designs, etc… and you have a global self-promotion platform at your fingertips. So take advantage of all that the internet has to offer - put together a portfolio of your work on a site like Behance or your own blog and share your work with other creatives.
Once you put together your online portfolio, you’ll have a dedicated link to your work available for the public to see. Take the time to promote it by adding your link to your resume, as well as on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and other social accounts. Every time you add a new piece you’re particularly proud of, share it on social media. Join relevant online discussion groups and forums and put your work to the test by asking for a critique (or help others refine theirs with your advice!). You’ll show anyone that does a simple Google search on you that you’re an active, contributing member of a community of creators.
2. Have a dynamic portfolio
A portfolio, whether online or in physical form, is a crucial part of your application efforts. However, it’s not enough to just show off what you consider to be your best work. Your portfolio has to be dynamic and easily adjustable to the specific job and company you’re applying to. Relevance is key, as you wouldn’t want to highlight your graphic design side projects when you’re applying for a web design job or your short stories when seeking work in long-form journalism.
If you’re applying to only one type of job, make sure that the top highlights are those projects and finished products that best display your talents for that role. For example, if you’re looking for work as a fashion photographer, promote those photo shoots that best display your work with fashion models. Don’t eliminate your other work from your portfolio, however! It shows that you’re a dynamic and adaptable professional who can work across functions.
And if you decide you want to expand your horizons beyond just one type of role, don’t hesitate to create a separate online portfolio account that is specifically catered to that role. That way, you can swap links into and out of your applications depending on where you’re applying.
3. Target your search
This is a great tactic for any job seeker, but it’s particularly important for a creative professional. As you search for job openings, it’s crucial to look for both companies and opportunities that are directly relevant to your skillset. That often means you have to go beyond a simple keyword search on one of the major job boards.
Start by targeting the specific companies whose creative style and voice matches your own. It’s crucial to make those companies your primary targets in your search - not only is your work most directly relevant to them, but you’ll also find that those companies are a strong fit for your career goals. The ability to decipher a company’s creative DNA and determine how well you fit into that mold can be the difference between finding a dream job and making a career mistake.
Once you create and target your list of companies, go a step further and find job boards that are specifically relevant to you. Niche job boards give you significantly higher quality targeted roles and eliminate all the noise that comes with a keyword search on major boards. So find the right job board for you and find only the most relevant listings.
Some good job boards to try:
4. Go all out!
Sales professionals are supposed to show business savvy and conversational comfort and adaptability. Engineers are supposed to show technical knowledge and problem solving skills. As a creative professional, don’t hesitate to go all out in your job applications and show your creativity! Anything that will help you show off your talent will get you noticed and can help you find that next great gig.
So if you’ve got great web design chops, go ahead and build an interactive resume. Got a knack for filmmaking? Make a short Youtube video cover letter. Musician? Write a quick song about yourself. Creative writer? Write a short dramatic story version of your resume and add some comic or dramatic flair. Whatever you create, make sure it’s your best work and showcases your talent effectively. Use it as a companion piece to your standard resume and portfolio when applying.
While the basics, like catering your application to a specific employer and sending thank you notes after interviews, apply across field and industry, there are key differences to the job hunt for creative professionals that allow them to approach employers in a unique way. So stop approaching the job search like any other candidate! Show your style, highlight your talents, and you’ll get noticed.