You’ve completed your coursework or have made the decision to pivot into a creative career. Your job hunt went swimmingly, you have a winning creative portfolio, and you’ve aced your creative job interview. Finally, you’re embarking on your first job in the creative field. Below are some helpful tips that will help you get ahead of the pack & make a strong first impression in your first creative job.
Most companies do a great job introducing their new hires to the team, office or company. Make it your job to go above and beyond and introduce yourself to your new teammates, individually. Fully immersing yourself into your team dynamic, at your first job, can be difficult, especially with a well-established group. An important thing that’s often overlooked, is saying good morning to your coworkers as you pass by them and actually listening to their response. A little kindness goes a long way. Invite your coworkers to go for a walk, grab a coffee, lunch, or open a conversation with them in the break area (at an appropriate time). Developing relationships with individuals is important to truly mesh with your team.
Be a Sponge
In the beginning, your first job may be slightly overwhelming, and that’s ok. The important thing is that your skills and impeccable personality have impressed your new employer and you’ve joined the team. After you’ve settled into your new digs, make sure you’re listening, asking questions and retaining all the information shared with you. Your new team will welcome you with open arms and open minds. New hire orientation has different forms in different companies, but one thing that I’m pretty sure of, is that companies will have you shadow key employees, to better understand the lay of the land. During these situations, it’s paramount to dig deep and ask why your mentor is doing things the way they are. You could uncover company best practices, preferences of a higher up or a super secret process that’s streamlined efficiency over time. Beyond shadowing, it’s a good practice to get to know your coworkers work style, design aesthetic and preferences. During the first few group critiques, meetings and ideation sessions, bring your honed observation skills, when you’re not directly contributing. You’ll discover the way people interact with each other, he does and don’ts and who, on your team, brings strong ideas. If you know what your team responds positively to, bring that to the table, every time.
Pro-Tip: Approach your manager and ask them to walk you through their portfolio, if it hasn’t been shared with you previously. You’ll gain strong insight into their aesthetic and what they’re likely to respond to, in your work product.
Put Your Best Work Forward
It goes without saying that you should always put your best work out there, especially during your creative job. It’s paramount! When delivering on a brief, make sure you’ve done your research, explored all iterations and have fleshed out all of the viable options before preparing your final deliverable. When you present your work to your team, be prepared to defend the creative choices that you’ve made. Critiques are meant to be constructive, not an attack on your work. Be open and receptive to other’s input and feedback and apply it to your work.
Additionally, when you’re not actually presenting your work to the team and simply delivering or submitting your work, it’s a good practice to submit options. If the brief asks for one option, deliver three strong options: 1. Conservative (less creative) 2. Direct (directly related to brief) 3. Creative (a bit more of a creative example). Your team will appreciate that you had the forethought to create multiple options for the same deliverable.
Moreover, when you find yourself with available time and bandwidth, make it a point to reach out to your teammates and manager and ask if there are other projects that you can assist with. Offer to collaborate on a project. Lending a hand to another project or team will show that you’re invested. Bounce ideas off each other and never be afraid to toss around an idea, no matter how off the wall it might seem. Remember, in group collaborations, it’s important to bring your A-Game.
Extra-Curricular Participation is Important
Most companies place tremendous value on culture and culture can be fostered both inside and outside of the office. Companies offer formal programs, like a charity day, where individuals or groups can volunteer to give back to the community – in the community. Additionally, there are less formal initiatives, like happy hours, office parties, perks (who doesn’t love foosball and ping pong) and smaller team building activities – like escape rooms (love a good escape room). It’s important that you attend some of these outings/activities and be an active participant. You’ve already shown that you can be a valuable member of the team, during business hours. Having a bit of fun with your team, outside of the office can help bridge the gap during the conversations, walks, lunched and coffees we mentioned earlier in this piece. By keeping these tips in mind, when working through your first creative job, you’re sure to stay ahead of the pack and make a strong impression on your team.
Are you a hiring manager or do you work in HR in the creative industry? Know some tips for those new to the creative jobs market? Share your thoughts here in the comments!