You’re ready to start actively seeking new opportunities and creative jobs and to take initiative to advance your career. What are the first steps you take in order to learn about existing job openings? Search LinkedIn? Ask your friends or link up with recruiters? Anyone can hand someone their business card and rattle off a few highlights from their career history of creative jobs. It can be more difficult to identify peers and contacts who will actively seek to hire you and will be instrumental for recommending you to others for your standout skillset.
What steps can be taken for those who want to stand out from the crowd and are seeking to create memorable links to new contacts working in creative industries? Are there simple steps that anyone can follow to ensure that they make a strong first impression, and stay on a potential employer’s mind for future opportunities? Take charge of certain factors to ensure that coveted creative jobs come your way!
Keeping it Social
Do you work from a co-working facility such as WeWork or The Yard? If you don’t, do you have a friend or colleague who does? Alternately, know anyone who belongs to Soho House or even New York City’s Neuehouse? Go out on a limb and attend a social event with them to meet the wider co-working community and rub elbows with your fellow creative professionals – business cards in hand, of course. Try to pick an event that includes a small group breakout and/or free activities component so you can have a chance to chat: or, if it’s a speaking event and/or performance, stay after or arrive beforehand for a reception.
Meeting your next coworkers or boss at a social event minimizes the awkward circumstances of other events such as hiring fairs or industry conventions and events. It is far easier to establish genuine connections when engaging in casual conversation in a relaxed environment rather than under the pressure of industry functions. By taking the initiative to enjoy events or engage in social activities side-by-side with others in the same field, your best qualities will emerge and speak for themselves.
Feel pressured by neverending work deadlines? Work odd hours? Find an opportunity to join a sports team or volunteer – not only to relieve anxiety and stress, but to meet others with similar values and commitment to general wellbeing. Great places to start could be New York Cares or ZogSports. Take your time to join the right team, and feel free to ask others for insights into their experiences! By identifying and joining the right organization, you’ll be working alongside a new team and realize ways to meet new connections, both across your industry and with others who could introduce you to your next career opportunity.
Creative Jobs, Creative Networks
Those in the know are aware that each industry has guilds and organizations open to professionals across creative fields including graphic designers, copywriters, illustrators and more. From the Society of Illustrators to the AIGA (The Professional Association for Design) , there are ample opportunities for working professionals to expand their direct contact with others in the field.
While many creative professionals seek creative jobs through alumni networks, it is always key to expand into a wider group of professionals outside of your known academic circles. When looking for employment with new, up-and-coming companies such as startups or seeking out international employment options, for example, alumni networks tied to a specific location or with more established companies only can only assist with job hunting so much in the expanded field.
Ultimately, your personality will guide you toward the right opportunity to network with creative peers. You may be more introverted, and prefer to go to an artists’ or author’s talk rather than engage in team sports. Or you may prefer team sports but not be super invested in hanging out one-on-one after a match. Do what works for you! The best advice for staying savvy is to stay true to you, and explore your comfort zones but approach new peers from a place of confidence. If there’s an event list such as on meetup or Facebook, try to take a peek at who is engaging with the event – is there a guest list that is public for you to view? Take the opportunity to position yourself within a cohort of other creative professionals if at all possible. Find a healthy balance between events that are directly in line with your professional career and other events that may not have a direct link but spark interest with others who are your peers.
Another expert tip? Go to an event where you can bring up an aspect of what you do, and discuss news or trade industry insights with your peers in creative fields. Attend events where you are knowledgeable about the players involved so that you can discuss with fellow creative professionals afterward, but also learn from them as well. A good listener makes the best impression, showing that they can take in information and respond accordingly – a necessary skill set for most creative jobs. Whether preparing a project brief or pitch deck based off research for a company or conversations held with a company’s in-house team, showing off your ability to listen along with your penchant for staying informed will take you far.
It can be tempting to assume that everyone you meet found their current jobs through family or personal/school connections. While this will never *not* be a part of the hiring process, take the steps that you can to expand your networks and make sure your skills are noticed. Dedicate yourself to a cause larger than your own interests and take the time to build genuine connections with the people in your wider community. Don’t hold back from showing off your skill set – and your people skills – with savvy inroads into your future work with creative jobs. Take the effort to put yourself out there – and once the opportunities start rolling in, make sure you prepare for when you secure coveted creative jobs interviews.
What are some organizations or extracurricular activiteis that have proved meaningful to you as you work to expand your creative networks? Where have you found your creative jobs in the past through savvy networking? Share your comments below!