Artisan Blog

Dressing for Success: How to dress for an interview with Creatives

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Dressing for Success: How to dress for an interview with Creatives


A colleague of mine in Accounting recalls how she arrived at an interview for a large financial corporation wearing black suit pants, a dressy black sweater, silver flats and a matching silver purse.  After a great interview, she was told by HR that her “casual attire” was evidence that she didn’t understand their corporate culture and they would not be hiring her. 

A few weeks later she wore the same outfit when she interviewed with our company – a Creative and Marketing Recruiting agency.  Her outfit (which hinted at her creative personality) paired with her great accounting skills, helped us realize she was the perfect fit for us.  We made the hire and she’s been here for years now! 

Moral of the story:  What you wear to an interview can be a big factor in the impression you leave behind; make sure you leave the right one.

Whether we like it or not, research suggests that more than half of another person’s perception of you is based on how you look.  Therefore, if you don’t fit that “look” a company subconsciously expects of its employees, you will have to work much harder to prove that you are still the best person for the job.

This is why researching the company culture is vital before an interview.  If after conducting your research you are still not sure of the best attire, check with the Hiring Manager, Human Resources Representative or Recruiter who scheduled your interview. 

In the Marketing & Creative world, client environments can run the gamut.  In some organizations suits are still the rule, in others it’s business casual.  And while in most agencies jeans and graphic tees are the uniform of choice, there are still a few shops where board shorts and flips flops prevail. 

With every creative company being so different – is there any way to appease the masses? 

As a general rule, it’s better to be overdressed than underdressed. A safe bet when interviewing with a creative company is to don a slightly more conservative version of the typical “every day attire” in your target company’s office. 

A few tips:

  • Solid colors are usually better than busy patterns; Same goes with darker colors over lighter ones.
  • Jewelry should be limited to one or two key pieces
  • Make-up, hair and nails should be neat and well-maintained
  • Go easy on the perfume, cologne and aftershave

We also recommend that you find a way to show a bit of your personality – be it with a fabulous fashion accessory (shoes, glasses, purse or jewelry) or stylish haircut.

Jess Bedford, Marketing Manager

Artisan Gives Back

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Artisan Gives Back


Following the generous spirit embodied by Artisan’s President, Jamie Douraghy, many of the Artisan staff find great ways to make a difference in the lives of others.

Here is just a sampling of what we do as individuals to support local, national and international organizations.

Several of our staff participate in annual Susan G Komen Race for the Cure events and make regular contributions in honor of family members who have lost their lives to Breast Cancer and those who are still fighting!

One of our recruiters volunteers his time at Chrysalis to help homeless and low-income individuals get the support and resources they need to find and retain employment

One of our account managers had her wedding at the Keep Memory Alive Event Center where a large part of the rental fee for the hall will go towards Alzheimer and Autism Research. 

In addition to our staff's volunteer work and event participation, our team members also make regular cash donations to the following organizations:

Project Angel Food - Provide daily meals for people in Los Angeles homebound or disabled by HIV/AIDS and other serious illnesses.

AIDS Project Los Angeles -  In support of friends and friends of friends affected by AIDS

Red Cross - Helps communities around the world prepare for emergencies and keep people safe in the wake of disaster

St Jude Children’s Research Hospital - Pioneers in finding cures and saving children with pediatric cancer and other life-threatening diseases

March of Dimes - Helps protect against and lower the risk of birth defects by with education and research

Habitat for Humanity - Non-profit housing organization building simple, decent, affordable housing in partnership with people in need throughout the world.  One of our staff has plans to help build a house in a third world country sometime in the new few years!  We wish her the best with her goal!

Our staff members also make regular non-cash donations (clothes, appliances, books, household items, etc) to several other non-profit organizations:

Salvation Army
San Ferenando Valley Rescue Mission

We are always looking for new non-profit organizations to which we can dedicate our time, experience and resources. 

Tell us about your favorite ways to give back!

Jess Bedford, Marketing Manager

What Really Happens During A Reference Check?

Thursday, August 11, 2011


If you’ve never had to conduct a reference check for a perspective employee yourself – you may wonder what, specifically, employers ask your former managers, colleagues and friends about your work experience?

Or, if you’re a small buisness looking to expand, you might wonder what types of questions are best for checking the references of future employers.

In either case, we offer the following as a pretty standard reference check questionnaire:

  • Reference name, company and title
  • Please describe your working relationship with (potential candidate). How long did you work together?
  • How would you describe his/her working style?
  • What are his/her strengths? 
  • What set him/her apart from others in this role?
  • How does he/she face and overcome challenges?
  • How would you rate the candidate in the following areas using a 1-10 rating system (1 being Poor and 10 being Excellent)
  • Additional comments regarding any of these areas is always welcome:
    • Attendance/Reliability
    • Adherence to Deadlines
    • Conceptual Comprehension
    • Executional Capabilities
    • Knowledge of Programs/Systems
    • Leadership Qualities
    • Overall Quality of Work
    • Communication skills
  • Is he/she someone you would like to work with again?

The best way to conduct reference checks is over the phone.  However, when time does not permit, emailing these questions is acceptable.

If you are a talent submitting references to a potential employer, confirm that the contact information you provide is accurate and up-to-date. Also, make sure you notify your references that potential employers may be contacting them. 

If you doubt a reference can speak favorably about these specific areas – it might be better to address that up front or find another reference.

Other reference check questions?  Let us know!

How to Use Research Effectively in Your Job Search

Tuesday, August 09, 2011


Research.  The word probably conjures up bad memories from your school years where you spent hours in the library, leafing through books and periodicals to complete that paper you’d waited until the last minute to start.
Fortunately, with improvements in technology, more information is right at our fingertips via the world wide web then ever before.  We can access information about almost everything from our computers, tablets and phones.

So with all this information so easy to find – why are most jobseekers waiting until their interview to start researching?

Certainly, once an offer has been extended, it’s an excellent time to research a company’s history, annual reports, industry and events. However, knowing this information really doesn’t make you stand out above your competition.

Here are a few recommendations for using research throughout your job search to help you gain a competitive edge:

Find a problem you are qualified to solve, and use research to craft a custom resume to demonstrate it.  Show how you have previously:

  • Solved the problems a target company is facing
  • Capitalized on opportunities a target company is currently exploring
  • Overcome problems or roadblocks to achieve goals similar to that of your target company

Ask questions during your interview.  Engage an interviewer to discuss challenges that you have already solved.  

  • Figure out how you can turn company roadblocks into questions that address the problem.
  • Consider how to monetize the issue (“how much will you lose if the opportunity is missed?”) to further demonstrate how your experience is a relatively inexpensive solution to their problem  

Research the company culture to discover clues about the best communication style for your resume and in person interaction.

  • Review pictures on the company’s website and annual reports, read employee quotes, review LinkedIn Profiles, visit their company YouTube Channel, anything that can help you figure out the best dress style, office setting, level of formality, etc.

Now that you’ve seen how research can help your job search, here are a few places to help you find information on your target companies:

  • Organization Website
  • LinkedIn
  • The company's YouTube Facebook or Twitter pages
  • Pres Releases
  • Organization Blogs / Industry Blogs / Competitor Blogs
  • Glassdoor
  • Google
  • Quarterly / Annual Reports (for Public companies, regulated industries and some Non-profits, Hospitals and Educational institutions)

The Benefits of Giving (both personally and professionally)

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

The Benefits of Giving (both personally and professionally)

"Since you get more joy out of giving joy to others, you should put a good deal of thought into the happiness that you are able to give. " Eleanor Roosevelt

Giving back isn’t just something we do at Artisan. It’s a core value for both our company and our staff.Over the next few months, we’ll take a look at the way our team members are working to make their local, national and global communities a better place.

This week we start with our President, Jamie Douraghy

“Over the past few years, I've been asked to join several boards to help guide a variety of non-profits to achieve greater success in everything they do.

They range from the industry-related creative organizations (AIGA LA), to alumni groups, to remotely-located entrepreneurs, to helping grant wishes to children with life-threatening illnesses (Make-A-Wish LA).

What I found was that in order for me to give my best, I had to uncover the relevancy for what I was about to undertake. I did not want to enter into a commitment half-heartedly and not deliver to their expectations.

Through my involvement with these organizations and my leadership at Artisan, I was able to facilitate the growth of these groups, help promote their events and assist with their fundraising initiatives.

What surprised me about my work on these boards, however, was that my involvement didn’t stop there. By working with these non-profits myself, I was inspired to motivate others - my friends, employees and extended network – to find their passion and to give back.

Additionally, I wanted Artisan Creative to do more. As a result, we selected Kiva as our charity of choice to make regular contributions. We liked the fact that they are helping build local communities on a global level, supporting entrepreneurs as far as Tanzania and as close as Detroit.

So far, Artisan has already made six loans to aid Agricultural efforts in Ecuador and Rwanda as well as craftsmen & dressmakers in Peru.

You can help Artisan raise more Kiva funds here.

What I learned through giving back:
  1. Make sure the cause resonates with you personally. If you’re not passionate about the initiatives you support, it becomes more difficult to remain motivated and involved.
  2. Find a purpose within the volunteering you do. Remember that giving is a commitment not a convenience.
  3. Be open to change (both within and without) as a result of your engagement. You never know how helping others will help you, too."

Jess Bedford, Marketing Manager

Is there a UX Supply & Demand Imbalance?

Friday, July 29, 2011

Is there a UX Supply & Demand Imbalance?

Since late 2009, nearly every Web Design job posting we've seen has mentioned "usability" or "user experience."  Over time, the requests have become even more specific. Companies no longer request a Digital Design; rather, now it's specifically a User Experience Designer, UX researcher, IA/UI or Visual Designer.

Now, more than ever, the importance of User Experience is everywhere, as companies try to connect and engage with their customers in the best ways possible.

On jobs boards everywhere (ours included) we have seen a significant  increase for User Experience experts.  Some  of those requests take weeks to fill; others can’t be filled at all. 

Are we experiencing a UX supply and demand imbalance?

Yes! The demand for top usability talent is becoming greater than the supply of qualified and immediately available talent.  And, with the demand now shifting from web UX to mobile and Apps, the pool of talent is shrinking even more!

It’s not the first time we’ve seen this happen.  In fact, we’re often reminded of the market for Flash Developers a few years back. Jobs took weeks to fill.  Salaries were at a peak and good talent was definitely hard to come by.  

As recruiters, we had to quickly adapt new avenues for meeting qualified talent to introduce them to new available opportunities.

What does this mean for employers?  There are some options:

  1. Be specific about your needs.  Do you need a generalist? Or a specialist?  The UX world can have multi pronged discipline.  Know what you actually need - UX / UI / IA / UT ?
  2. Be competitive with your overall compensation package.  Both in dollars as well as  benefits, flex-time or telecommuting
  3. Be open to Relo.  Look at national and international talent.  Additional fees and quite a bit of paperwork could result – but it might be worth the additional effort.
  4. Hire a UX consultant.  Utilize the expertise of a specialist for the short term.  Ensure he/she has a team of your internal staff with which to work and knowledge share.
  5. Invest in more training.  Chances are your current team of designers would love to learn more about the growing HCI field.  Invest in their education.  Pay for courses.  Hire an expert to train them.   You get more knowledge and your employees might just ignite a new passion.

But it’s not up to employers alone to fix the problem.  Talent and Recruiters have responsibilities too.

Interactive Design Talent – Perfect your art.  Especially freelancers!  Invest in classes, seminars and software needed to grow.

Recruiters – We, too, must continue doing our part to seek out new talent.  We must work closely with Universities and other Education Programs to connect with recent grads in the space, attend MeetUp groups and networking events to meet new talent and continue to educate our talent and clients about the market to manage expectations correctly.

Let’s see where the world of user experience takes us in Q3 and Q4!

Jessica Bedford, Marketing Manager & Katty Douraghy, Managing Director

Portfolio DOs and DONTs

Friday, July 22, 2011

Over the years we've seen our fair share of creative portfolios.  Some AMAZING portfolios.  Others...well, not so much.

So what makes a portfolio really stand out?  Here are just a few tips to consider when sending your work out to potential employers!

Creative Portfolio DOs
DO Showcase your best/most impressive piece first. Remember that your portfolio is how potential employers first judge your creativity, skills and potential. Therefore, be sure to put your best work forward… start off with your proudest piece.

DO Go digital. Online Portfolios are the quickest and easiest way to market yourself.  Even if you have no online work to present, the online portfolio can help creatives reach a whole new audience.  There are a number of great portfolio sites out there that enable you to upload your work for a nominal fee, and sometimes at no cost.  We see talent work from Creative Hot List, Behance, Krop and Coroflot almost as much as we see unique urls.

DO Stay Organized. Make sure to establish some order by organizing your book or website into sections (advertising, logos/identity, brochures, etc.) or group by company or campaign depending on what’s appropriate.

DO Check the quality. Photo quality, that is. Make sure images are optimized and printed at the best resolution possible.
Explain your work. Including a brief synopsis of project details- outlining the client, project objective, your role and programs used is always appreciated.

DO Test those links. For online portfolios, make sure that your url links are working and the work is still yours and hasn’t changed.

DO Assume everyone heading to your site is technically challenged and impatient. Create a site that is easy to navigate and quick to load. A simple CSS style is a great way to go.

Creative Portfolio DONTs
DON'T Overload your book/site with every bit of work you’ve done over the years. Keep your portfolio concise . A well-organized portfolio with 10-15 pieces of your best samples will always shine.

DON'T Be outdated. Keep your book or website up to date with fresh and relevant work. If the work is more than 5 years old, it’s probably a good idea to leave it out.

DON'T Be Sloppy. Make sure that your book is clean, complete and free of torn, frayed or yellowing pages.

DON'T Be generic. Let some of your personal style peek through. Brand yourself by creating a logo, color palette and look and feel that represents you and carry it throughout.  

DON'T Forget your credentials. Make sure to include a copy of your up to date resume.

DON'T Forget your contact details.  What good is an amazing portfolio if potential employers have no way of contacting you.  For online portfolios especially, make sure there is an active email and/or phone number to ensure interested parties can connect with you.

Need more help putting together a killer portfolio?  We're always happy to review talent portfolios and provide feedback.  Who knows - we might even have an opportunity that could be a good fit.  Get in touch with us!

Jamie Grossman
Creative Recruiting Manager

The relevance of getting involved personally vs. digitally

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The relevance of getting involved personally vs. digitally


Over the years, with a quick hit of the "Accept" button, I've seen my digital network expand rapidly.  Beyond  "Recommendations" and "People you Might Know", I wanted to dig a little deeper as to "the why".

What I found was interesting: my network actually grew once I put myself out there physically and joined more groups such as the Entrepreneurs Organization (EO).

The more I participated physically in that group - joining the local board and eventually becoming chapter president - the more I discovered my digital network was rapidly growing as well.  For me, the correlation between the two was clear - as my human connections increased, so too did my virtual network.  Simply put, the more I gave, the more I got in return.

My tip this month: If you want to grow your digital network - start by participating in more actual events and activities!

Jamie Douraghy, President

Designer? I thought you said you were a Developer? | Becoming an Expert in your chosen field

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Designer? I thought you said you were a Developer? | Becoming an Expert in your chosen field


Q.  What do you do for a living?
A.  I'm a Web content copywriter.  A writer/producer, really.  I do some screenwriting.  But I'm sort of a writer/print designer hybrid.  I have an art gallery opening this weekend.  And I know CS5 really well.  Also, I'm an artist/electrician.  A plumber/horse-wrangler.  I can pretty much do whatever you need!  Find me a job!

In the creative services industry, a talent manager views and reviews hundreds of resumes each week.  Some resumes are clean and coupled with bold portfolios.  Other resumes are all over the place.
So, let's get right to the point:  If you're looking for work, pick your top two areas of expertise and stick with them.  Wear them on your sleeve.  In your cover letter/email, state exactly what you do best.  In your resume, do the same.  On a phone call, tell me exactly what you do best and NOT what you're CAPABLE of doing well.  

In delivering your message succinctly and repetitively, I will be able to know what you do, and consider you (possibly hire you!) again and again - as long as your work history is solvent.  If the position I'm looking at is not for you this time, we'll know it right away...But, if our conversation is good, we'll remember you in the future.

Not good: 
Do you remember that guy, Greg? 
He's the one with the marketing background, but he's trying to get into AfterEffects and Maya.
Well, what is it that he's actually doing now?
I'm not sure.  I don't think he really knows either.
Who else do we like?

Do you remember Scott?
The HTML/CSS coder?
Call him.  He'd be a perfect fit!

We remember the talent who specialize in something and do it well.  And we would remember Greg, too, if he'd just figure out what he's good at and focus on it.

Here are some example skillsets that work well together:
  • Maya/After Effects
  • Web Content Writer/Blogger
  • Broadcast Producer/Agency Producer
  • Corporate Communications Manager/Internal PR Manager
  • Print Designer/Graphic Artist
  • Traffic Manager/Print Production Manager
And so on . . .

So, when you looking for work - remember:  I don't need to know everything you've ever done.  I need to know precisely what you're best at doing.

Kevin Kahn
Talent Manager

Best Practices: Preparing for your interview

Monday, July 11, 2011

Best Practices: Preparing for your interview


I once read that if you do something 10,000 times - you are an expert. So with 15+ years successfully helping make matches between companies and candidates, I am well on my way to becoming an expert! 

I have to admit that the favorite part of my job is preparing people for their interviews.  Since not everyone has had the opportunity to work with a recruitment professional, I thought it would be valuable to share some keys pointers I've learned over the years. CONGRATULATIONS!  You got the what?
Do some research! 

I am often surprised to hear stories of how candidates have shown up unprepared....Regardless of the position, everyone must do the research! 

Here is what I suggest:
  • Read the company's website! You need insight into their culture and values, this is the best place to get it.  Pay attention to the ABOUT US section.  Do they have a Twitter or Facebook fan page?  Make sure  you know how they do what they do and where they are in the marketplace.
  • Research the people that you are meeting with.  You are not stalking them - just simply finding out more about them!  Maybe there is a common background or interest that you share and can feel comfortable about bringing up.  Use common sense though - don't bring up anything that could be sensitive or too personal!  The most effective tools I use include LinkedIn, Facebook, Google and Bing
  • Check out the company's location.  I like to use Google Maps.  See what companies, businesses and other venues are nearby.  Get a sense of their surroundings - as it could help you figure out what life working with the company might be like.
  • Write down talking points to bring up during the meeting.  This compliments all the research you do.  Just the fact that you did some research could make a big difference in you getting the job.
I hope that this helps to prepare you for your next interview! 

Carol Conforti, Sr Account Manager & Recruiter


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