Preparing for Your Next Creative Role

With the flux in the economy and labor market, many creative professionals are looking for new opportunities. If you are in between jobs or just interested in moving your career in a new direction, there are several actions you can take to get ready for that next position.

Update, Update, Update

If you’re like many people, you’ve probably put off refreshing your resume or updating your portfolio. It can feel daunting, but take it a little bit at a time. If you’ve been in a job for a while, it’s easy to get a little separated from current trends. Refresh your portfolio and resume so that it appears like a cohesive aesthetic product that communicates your design sensibilities. Even if you’re a producer, for example, and you don’t do any hands-on design, you can still provide examples that show what you do best.

For your resume, make sure it includes your most recent work and leaves off jobs in the distant past. The design aesthetic of your resume should be current and matching your portfolio. Look online for other resume and portfolio examples of creative professionals. Keep an eye on design trends for the industry that interests you.

The first step is to decide where you want to go. Is there a particular industry that interests you? Requirements and expectations can vary greatly depending on the industry. Pharmaceutical companies operate very differently than those in the entertainment industry. How your creative work looks and sounds needs to fit what those employers need.

Refresh Your Portfolio

For your portfolio, highlight your most current and relevant work. A potential employer and a graphic design recruiting agency want to see what you’ve been creating recently. Keep in mind that the purpose of a resume or a portfolio isn’t to demonstrate absolutely everything that you’ve done and everything that you can do – it’s to get you an interview.

What to consider for portfolio updates:

  • Understanding your industry and your target role is essential. Gear your work towards the job you want.
  • Organize your work into projects on your site. If you work in multiple industries, considering having work split into those industries or by client.
  • Make sure that your portfolio is functional and presentable on different browsers (Google Chrome, Safari, Firefox, etc.)
  • Mobile friendly is essential – make sure your work looks great on mobile devices like iPhones and Android phones.
  • An employer and a recruiter at a graphic design recruiting agency want to know what you’ve done in the last 5 years. Watch for details like an old copyright date and anything that looks dated.

What do I include in portfolio updates?

  • Copywriters: you can link to bylines you’ve written or include screenshots of your work. Show the kind of copy you’ve done, whether it’s short or long form.
  • Designers: include your best and most recent work. It should be obvious to anyone perusing your portfolio what your capabilities are and what you’ve recently created. Add information on what aspects you created if it was a group project.
  • Video / Multimedia Specialists / Producers: include a demo reel that showcases what you can do in different media. Include captions that show what tools you used (Autodesk Maya), your role (CGI artist), and the client name if appropriate.

Ask mentors and friends for feedback. Recruiters will also be glad to look and give some tips. Put your creative juices to work on your own content!

So Many Networking Opportunities

It used to be that networking meant going to some hotel conference room, eating mediocre food, and handing out your business card. Today there are so many opportunities to connect with people that don’t involve stale danishes and bad coffee.

With remote working and COVID, it’s easy to feel isolated. Building up your professional connections can result in a boost to self-esteem. You won’t feel that you’re in it alone. You can learn what’s working or not working for other people. It’s invaluable to have people to bounce ideas off. Seeing other people’s struggles can help you self-reflect too.

LinkedIn is a great place to begin. It’s much more than a job board. It’s a place to build your own brand and actively promote yourself. If it’s been a while since you refreshed your profile, then start there.

What do I include in LinkedIn profile updates?

  • Use the introduction to share not just your expertise but your passion as well. Highlight the experience that will drive recruiters and employers to your profile.
  • Ask former colleagues and supervisors to write recommendations.

How do I get started with the social aspect of LinkedIn?

  • Find LinkedIn groups in your creative specialty and engage with other professionals.
  • Follow influencers and repost their posts, adding your take on the content.
  • Post your own work – your successes and your journey.
  • Regular posting also keeps you top of mind for a graphic design recruiting agency, who by the way, also look for candidates in LinkedIn professional groups.

What about outside of LinkedIn?

  • Many creative fields have guilds (search for “guilds for creative professionals”). There are so many guilds for every kind of design out there and every industry.
  • Look for local Meetups that gather creative professionals.
  • Reach out to people with whom you’ve worked with in the past. Find out what they’re doing and let them know you’re open for work.

Whether it’s online or in person, staying connected and building friendships is so beneficial, not just for your career but for yourself. Sitting in a dark room and applying endlessly to LinkedIn jobs is depressing. If you can talk with others and even commiserate, it will make you feel a bit better.

Keep Learning

If you’re in between jobs, it’s also a great time for further education. Look for online courses, webinars, webcasts and certification programs – or even just play around with the software you do know to learn new features. Sometimes when you’ve been working with the same program for years, doing the same kinds of things, you don’t realize how the software has evolved.

In the creative field, certifications abound. Adobe, Google, Figma, and Autodesk Maya are just a few sources for design certifications. But also consider adding other skills to your portfolio like project management, data analytics, client relations, leadership, or design thinking.

If you want to take that next step in your career, devote the time to work on yourself. Nobody else will do it for you. Start with one or two of the suggestions in this article and gradually add more as you gain momentum. Here’s to that next great job!

Written by
Anissa Bryant
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