Artisan Blog

Earth Day: How Are You Celebrating Today?

Laura Pell - Wednesday, April 22, 2015

 

Earth Day is a celebration and a recognition to show support for environmental protection. Celebrated in more that 190 countries, the aim is to educate and activate an environmental movement through campaigns. 

Whether you want to save the bees or take note on climate change, there are a number of ways to get involved. Here in LA the Arts District is having an Earth Day Community Clean Up beginning at 5.30PM today.

Will you be participating in Earth Day today? If so, how to you celebrate?

Filing Taxes as a Freelancer: How to Make Your Life Easier

Laura Pell - Wednesday, April 15, 2015


Keeping track of your income and every single expense throughout the year can be tricky unless you stay organized. Financial decisions may be daunting, but they don’t have to be when you follow these handy tips to get you through the next fiscal year.

Keep records of clients and payments - If you work with multiple clients over the course of the year, it’s a good idea to keep a list of each client and how much you made while working for them.  There are a number of invoicing programs out there to assist with this such as Harvest, Freckle and MarketCircle.  NOTE: If you go over $600 for any one client, they should send you a 1099 in January.  This list can help you follow up with any late documentation come February or March.

Know your deductions – Expenses can add up, especially if you drive client meetings or deliver work to your clients, keep a record of trips back and forth. You can’t count commuting miles, but if you work offsite, mileage to and from clients can add up to a hefty sum. Client lunches, parking, healthcare, Internet and entertaining all fall under the deductions category.

Create a dedicated office space - You can only take a home office deduction if your space is used exclusively for work. But it doesn’t take a lot of space to count as a home office. Dedicating a small area of your home to work can help with deductions for part of your rent and utilities expenses.

Keep your receipts - Save your receipts and work with a tax professional to help you determine what can actually be written off as part of your business.

Save some money - Depending on your situation - you may end up owing some tax next spring.  You don’t want it to be a surprise. Therefore, it's always best to put a bit of each paycheck into a separate account - just for tax payments in the following year. If you have nothing to pay - you can always give yourself a refund.


Do you have any helpful advice you adhere to each tax season? Share your thoughts in the comments.

 

Job Interviews: Questions to Ask During an Interview

Laura Pell - Wednesday, April 08, 2015

 

You’ve found the perfect job, sent your resume to the company and you’ve been invited for an interview. Now what?


We recommend that you prepare by reading our blog on the six things you should be doing during your interview and then start thinking about a few questions to ask the interviewer to help you learn more about the company and the role for which you are interviewing.
Sometimes the answers to these questions, and the way in which they are answered, can provide you with vital insight into whether an opportunity is really the right fit.
It’s perfectly acceptable to write down interview questions and refer to your notepad during an interview, in fact we encourage you to do so as it shows you’ve really prepared for your interview and given thought to your questions.

Questions about the Role / Position / Department
•    How would you describe the work environment?
•    Can you describe a typical day?
•    Can you share more about the department and the team I would be working with?
•    How do you envision this department in 6 months / 1 year / long-term?
•    How large is the department (how many designers, marketers, etc.)?
•    What is the hierarchy/org chart when it comes to decision-making in my dept?
•    What have been some of the most exciting projects we’ve worked on?
•    What was your personal favorite project here?
•    What are your expectations for this position?
•    What is the growth potential of this role?

Questions about the Company Culture / History
•    What is your history with this company?
•    Can you share more about the company culture?
•    Can you share more about the company history and/or clients?
•    What is the hierarchy/org chart when it comes to decision-making in the company?
•    How would you define the management philosophy of this company?
•    How do you envision the company in 6 months / 1 year / long-term?

Questions about your Skills / Qualification
•    What is most important for you in this position in terms of skills and personality?
•    What qualities do you feel someone needs to be successful in this role?
•    What metrics for success do you implement?
•    What makes someone a top producer in your eyes?
•    What in particular in my background made you feel I was a good fit for this position?
•    Do you have any concerns about my experience?
•    What do you foresee any challenges for me in this role?
•    Is there anything you feel is missing from my background/resume that I may be able to expand on?

•    How can I grow my skills in this position?

At the end of your interview, don’t forget to ask our favorite question which is “Do you have any reservations about hiring me?” This is your final chance to sell yourself one last time and also iron out any concerns the interviewer may have about your experience.

Do you have any go-to interview questions you like to ask? How do you prepare for your interviews? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below or on Twitter @artisanupdates.

 

Cover Letters: Do Hiring Managers Really Read Them?

Laura Pell - Wednesday, April 01, 2015

 

Cover letters: Some job seekers swear by them, others don’t use them at all. Are cover letters really a necessity when applying for a job and are hiring managers even reading them? Opinions are divided. We recently read this article on The Guardian with these handy sample letters and thought we'd offer some handy advice when applying for jobs.


As recruiters, we’ve seen it all. We’ve received generic letters where only a company name is changed, or 2 pages of background info on an applicant, or sometimes quirky little notes with funny anecdotes. So what should you be doing when applying for a job?

Keep it short & sweet.
This is the place to list a few highlights from your experience gained across several positions. Don’t rewrite your resume! Read through the key responsibilities of the job you’re applying for and highlight your experience as it relates to the key points. You don’t need to go into too much detail here, just think of it as a summary of your best bits.

Use formatting to emphasize key items.
Bullet points, bold, underline, or italics can help readers very quickly see keywords or sentences that are crucial to the job you’re applying for. Go easy on the formatting, though.

Be specific about your experience. Avoid overused phrases like “team player” or “excellent communication skills". For more information on words to avoid, read our recent blog on buzzwords. Instead, explain that you’ve “managed a team of X”, “collaborated with cross-functional departments” and “led client presentations”.

Go beyond the resume. Let’s face it – you can’t put everything on a resume. An introductory email provides a platform for mentioning relevant projects you might have worked on, hobbies or passions you may have and an opportunity to explain any issues with your resume such as a gap in experience, moving jobs frequently, etc. Make it easy for the hiring manager.

Keep it personal.
Address your email to the actual hiring manager for the position. Avoid “To Whom it May Concern”. Even if you don’t know names of those hiring, ensure you customize the letter with the company name, locations and industry references to show you’ve done your homework.

Check your spelling and grammar. Nothing puts your resume in the “NO” pile faster than innocent spelling or grammar mistakes. Use your Spellcheck – but also have a set of human eyes review it for you.

Now put those skills to the test. See one of our jobs that might be right? Apply today!

 

Personal Branding: How to Rebrand Yourself and Your Career

Laura Pell - Wednesday, March 25, 2015

 

We often hear the phrase “personal brand” being used-- but do each of us need one? And if we do, how do we go about getting one? We recently chatted with Nina who has rebranded herself in order to transition from the corporate world to the creative one and it got us thinking --what are the benefits and what should we be doing to foster our personal brand?

When thinking about your personal brand and how you want to present yourself, both online and offline you need to first think of a broad picture, and then narrow it down to the specifics.  As Nina discussed with us, you need to think about your vision, where do you want to be in the future?

“I took the time to do some deep exploration and to inquire into some important questions.  What made me happy?  What was I passionate about?  What was I good at?  When I was I most inspired in my career?  What was my purpose? What were the common themes, and patterns in the direction of my own career?  What was I known for?  How did I want to be known?  Who was my audience and where did I provide them value?”

Before you embark on your journey of personal branding, here are a few tips to get you started.

Vision

What are your goals and passions in life? What can you do as a brand do to build a future for you and your prospective employers, jobs or clients? If your niche is working for startups and your passion is tech, and you also love vegan food, build your brand around that. Add value for others who share the same passions. You need a hook that will make you memorable, so you can become the tech guy who works for startups and the go-to guy to ask about vegan food.

Marketing

What do you need to market a brand? A website, social pages, advertising, perhaps some copy are usually commonplace.  A personal website is a great way for people to get to know you, especially if you have a portfolio of work to show. How can your business cards stand out at a networking event? We work in the creative space, so it's all in the details.

Consistency is needed across your social media profiles. We suggest using the same profile photo on each platform to be easily distinguished.  Podcasts and blogs can be a fun and smart way to meet thought-leaders in your space as guests or interviewees. Your digital footprint is a hard one to erase so the content you are putting out into the world should be respectful, educational and entertaining. We love sites like Buffer and Feedly to assist with automating content.  

Audience

Who are your audience and what can you do for them? Ask questions, get to know them and invite them to share their thoughts on your niche subjects. This is the fun part of personal branding as you get to know your followers and make friends. Think about how to add value. What do they want to know? What are their interests?

How did you build your own personal brand? Do you think they are a necessity when job searching?

 

 

Artisan Spotlight: Amazing Talent - Nina

Laura Pell - Tuesday, March 17, 2015

“To thrive in 21st century business we need to be willing to shed our own skin, think more creatively and strategically, be collaborative and reinvent ourselves to change with the times.”

Artisan Spotlight is a new monthly feature dedicated to the amazing talent we work with. This is an opportunity for you, the talent, to share your career experiences and impart your knowledge and advice to others. Want to be featured here? Get in touch!

This month we spoke to Nina. We met Nina back in late 2013 at a networking event and have worked with her ever since. Nina works in Brand, Digital and Marketing Communications Strategy and specializes in strategically building brands to engage their audiences, start movements and increase their revenue and growth.

Why did you decide to shift from corporate to creative?

I started to observe and experience patterns in the corporate world, both when I was an employee and as a consultant. One being that all of the innovation, strategy and ideas, and creative thinking and design were being outsourced to creative firms and agencies and not coming from inside the organization (nor was it being asked of the internal teams).  There was also a pattern of downsizing the internal teams and those who were left were being tasked to function as project managers vs. strategic thinkers. 

I’m a visionary, strategist and creative thinker and while I was hired into companies for those talents, I found myself being pigeon-holed into being solely a project manager and becoming less valued for what I actually provided. I thrive in creative environments where I can invent and discover new and innovative ways to communicate and reach audiences. I found myself withering on the vine and becoming less engaged and enlivened by my career and utterly uninspired.

Some deep self-exploration had me start to identify these things and create a new vision for my career and the experience I was looking for.  Based on what I identified as important and my own personality and skill set; tech-start ups and creative agencies became the playground I was interested in playing in.  Their approach to business and creative problem solving is more aligned with mine.  I’ve discovered that I’m really a creative who knows business.

What were your biggest challenges during this time?

Shifting my own mindset

I had to stop thinking like a corporate person to create solutions and strategy and start thinking like someone in a small growing business and what their challenges might be and how they might approach creating a Brand/Marketing Communications strategy and execute it with smaller resources.  I also had to set aside what I “already thought I knew” to step into the unknown and be willing to relearn and upgrade my own operating system.   Disrupting one’s belief system and mindset takes something…and is probably the most important step in making a career change.

Saying No to what I didn’t want

The only work that was coming my way at first was corporate work and I knew that to truly make that shift, I had to close the door on my corporate life.  I started saying no to corporate opportunities. Which was very scary because that was the only income I had known and I was turning down work.  For a short time, no work was coming my way. 

Not giving up

I questioned my choices, particularly when I saw the drop in income…or at times no income.  But I knew that I had to follow my heart or I’d continue to live an uninspired life where my career was concerned.

How do the corporate and creative worlds differ?

The biggest difference that I see is that the creative world has the ability to be more agile and nimble.  There is a perspective of “let’s try this and maybe we’ll be wrong and fail, but let’s try and see what we learn, then we can reinvent.”  I’m also finding that in the creative and start-up worlds there is a 21st century approach to doing business that is collaborative, transparent and open to exploring partnership opportunities, even with companies and products that might be considered competitors.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to move into creative?

Be willing to completely reinvent yourself

Start from within. Study, learn, set aside what you know for awhile to learn something new…step outside of your own box…you can then incorporate what you already know into what you are learning.  Learn as much as you can, network and meet as many people as you can in the area you want to move into.

Surrender your ego over to your vision

Be willing to take a lesser position, less income or take a career step back to move into a new direction. Be willing to learn something new and have a beginner’s mind, no matter how experienced you are.  I have a friend who did that in his own career.  He’s now the CEO of the company he “took a step back” to join.

Don’t get discouraged

Keep the faith. Believe in your self. Keep moving forward and you will get there.


What's next for you?

I’m interested in moving away from consulting and creating a full time opportunity with a start-up or creative firm located on the West side.  I’d really like to make the investment and work with one company that is in a growth mode and help them fulfill on their vision. 

"Believe in yourself, keep moving forward and close the door behind you and take consistent action towards you vision, you will get to where you are going."

 

 If you are interested in booking Nina for an assignment, get in touch.

 

Networking: How to Navigate Networking Events with Ease

Laura Pell - Wednesday, March 11, 2015

We’ve all been there; standing at the side of an event hoping someone will strike up a conversation with us. Perhaps you’re the person hovering around the coffee machine or waiting outside until the very last moment? Networking events can be daunting, but they can also be a great way to challenge you to become an even better version of who you are now.

 Think of it this way, everyone is attending a networking event for the same reason; they’re looking to gain something. People are there to make connections, to chit chat about work and maybe a sales pitch here and there about you or your business. If you are attending these events and not putting anything into them, you’re not going to get anything back.  By making the first move and approaching people, it will not only put other people at ease, it will also help you to stand out.

“Everyone is already engaged in conversation, I don’t know where to begin.”

Walk around the room with your head held high and if anyone makes eye contact, be sure to acknowledge them with a smile or a hello. If people are stood in circles and already engaged in conversation, don’t push your way in. If you can enter a conversation without having to ask anyone to move, join them, listen and simply ask a question to the person speaking about their thoughts on the topic. It shows you have an interest in what they have to say and helps to keep the conversation flowing.

“I’m not good at making small talk. I don’t know what to talk about.”

Approaching someone at a networking event and asking “How are you?” is a frequent conversation starter but it can be a conversation killer, too. If like most of us, you often respond with “Yes, I’m great. How are you?” the conversation won’t really lead anywhere. However, what if you were to ask “How was your week?” instead? The possibilities for a conversation can lead anywhere at this point. You find out more information about them and what they do, plus it gives you an opportunity to ask more questions.

“I never hear back from anyone I meet.”

When you get back from a networking event, send thank you emails to everyone you met. You don’t need a sales pitch or any superfluous speech. Simply let them know you had a great time meeting them and that they can reach out to you if they ever need any help. Keep it short and sweet. If you want to keep a dialogue going, try sending a follow up email a few weeks later. It can be something as simple as “Hey, I just read this article and thought it was a great conclusion to our conversation at the event.”

“I try to speak to so many people at these events, I leave feeling overwhelmed.”

Keep in mind that quality over quantity is always the best solution with networking events. You don’t need to talk to everyone in the room. Go to the event with a goal in mind. Maybe you want to leave with 5 business cards or give out 10 of your own? It can be something as simple as holding conversations with 3 different people. Whatever your goal is, work towards it. If you are tied into a conversation and you’re missing out on your goal of chatting with others, politely excuse yourself and ask to continue the conversation on email.

Networking doesn’t come easy to everyone. The key things to remember are to ask questions, listen and look for ways to help people. What are your experiences with networking events? Share your thoughts in the comments below, we’d love to hear from you.

 

Laura Pell - Recruiter at Artisan Creative

Reflection in Your Day

Laura Pell - Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Recently I found my days slipping away far too fast and at the end of each day wondering "where the time went". I wasn't sure how to mentally slow things down. At least with our body, we can be intentional in controlling our tempo by adjusting to what we need to be doing at any given time: like the difference in pace between sprinting and running a marathon. I found that slowing my (at times very active) brain was not as easy.

 

Often we push our body to a point where we hit a peak and then allow for recovery time. If we don't listen to our body, it has a way of reminding us the next day, and now we have to slow things down a bit to adjust. After thinking about this for a while, what came to light was the importance of taking a similar mental break from a busy day through reflecting. By taking short breaks and using that time to reflect on what is important and giving the mind a chance to recalibrate, I end up having more mental energy for what I am going to do next, (like finishing this blog in a timely manner).

 

The few core areas I choose to reflect on:

  • What I just completed
  • Did it bring me closer to my goals
  • What I am most thankful for right now
  • What's the one small thing I can do today to help someone else succeed


How much time do you spend reflecting and how do you feel after that break?

 

Jamie Douraghy - Founder at Artisan Creative

You’ve Been Laid Off: Now What?

Laura Pell - Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The chances are that you’ve been exposed to lay-offs in one way or another. Whether it’s a colleague, a friend, or something you’ve experienced yourself, staff turnovers happen in every industry. Being laid-off can be scary, but you don’t have to succumb to anxiety and panic. Here are a few friendly pointers to help you through your lay-off and onto your next job.

Time Out
First things first, take a couple of days to regroup and clear your head.  Start thinking about your plan of action and make sure to relax. It can be hard to think straight when your emotions run amok. Your self-esteem may have taken an initial hit, however pick yourself back up and think of the exciting opportunities ahead.

Update LinkedIn and Facebook
Your social networks are full of contacts, some you may know, some you don’t. Update your LinkedIn to state that you’re looking for new opportunities. People are helpful creatures and will do what they can to make referrals and leads.

Accomplishments

Make a long list of your career accomplishments including detailed metrics of your last job. What did you improve? Did you exceed targets?  When you begin to interview, you’ll be able to discuss them more easily. It’s also a reminder for you to see how valuable you are as an employee.

References
Don’t leave your last job without getting at least one reference. We’ve read some heart-felt and glowing references from former employers who had to make lay-offs despite the great work their employees were doing. 

Don’t Burn Bridges
It’s normal to feel upset after being laid-off, but that’s no reason to let emotions get in your way. Take the high road when leaving your company; be respectful of employers and colleagues. Send out a thank you email to your department, it’s also another avenue to receive new contacts and leads.

Resume
This one’s a given – update, proofread, fact-check and proofread again before sending it out into the world.

Plan and Budget
Make a 3-month plan and budget accordingly. The next couple of months may not be a time of frivolous spending but with careful planning you will manage just fine.

 Once you’ve done all of the above, it’s time to start the job search. Treat your job search like a full time job. Speak with recruiters, former co-workers and follow up with any leads you’ve been given.

 Have you experienced a lay-off? How did you get through it?

 

Laura Pell - Artisan Creative

 

Does a Huddle Help?

Laura Pell - Wednesday, February 18, 2015

 

Several years ago when we took our company virtual, we were initially concerned with losing that face to face connection. For a small company back in 2009, IM, dial in conference calls, and Skype were the tools we had access to. Knowing the importance of keeping our personal connections dynamic, we tried a lot of different communication tools over the years, and settled on Zoom, and we still use IM for the quick inquiries. So while the distances between our team members was a lot farther than the offices we used to occupy, the concept of daily short huddles and 3x a week more in depth huddles, remained intact.


The above image was taken at a sports event using teenage volunteers. One can easily differentiate between those that are paying attention, vs. those that had other things, (such as lunch) on their minds. Even in face to face huddles, distractions are commonplace.

Earlier this week, while waiting for my turn to go through the airport body scanner at 5:00 am, I looked over to my right and saw a TSA group doing their morning huddle. I’m sure they’ve done hundreds of these on a regular basis, yet you could sense that each one knew this huddle was important. Somehow I didn't think I should photograph this group.

What I took away from observing these two huddles:

    Huddles create connection
    All teams use them in some form
    They allow the leader to set the tone
    Huddles create a quick forum to review the plan for the day/event/competition
    Huddles block out noise and help bring focus inward to what the leader/coach is saying

During your huddles:

    Create a pulse check, are they present or not
    Ask what each person will do next to bring the team closer to goal
    Have an accountability check-in
    Just a few minutes is all that’s needed

Post event huddles

    Allow the team to redirect and recalibrate
    Ask what worked and what didn't for that day
    Set the expectations for the next one

How do you huddle with your teams? What tools do you use? Can you share a success with huddles you’ve participated in?

 

Jamie Douraghy - Founder at Artisan Creative


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