Artisan Blog

Tips for Active Listening

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Artisan Creative is celebrating 20+ years in staffing and recruitment of creative professionals. Over the years we have a learned a thing or two that we'd like to share with you. We hope you enjoy the 419th issue of our weekly a.blog. 

 

MIA: When in conversation, do you listen, or do you just wait to talk?

VINCENT: I wait to talk. But I'm trying to listen.

 -Pulp Fiction, 1994  

Active listening requires that we set aside our own egos and imperatives as we listen to another person speak,  in order to be fully engaged with what that person is communicating, both verbally and nonverbally.

When done in good faith, active listening gives rise to an atmosphere of cooperation and mutual respect. At work, it can help mitigate conflicts and facilitate better teamwork and higher morale.

When listening actively, use these five principles until they become second nature. Don’t worry too much about whether or not you’re doing it correctly. Simply open yourself up to the conversation before you.

1. Notice body language and sub-communication

Communication is about much more than what is said out loud.

In order to really listen, you must get beyond the stated facts and pick up on the tone and emotions behind them. The same speech can have two entirely different meanings depending on whether it is delivered with self-assurance, with a knowing smirk, or with lots of filler words ("like," "um"), crossed arms, and erratic eye contact.

To actively listen, stay open, withhold judgment, and take in the sum of the spoken and unspoken communication.

2. Repeat, rephrase and ask questions

Before you respond, make sure you understand what has been said.

You can do this by repeating the speaker's key points, and restating them in your own words. This will give the person an opportunity to clarify or add more information. This way, before you respond, you can be fairly sure you fully comprehend the other person's point.

Before you offer a rebuttal, ask thoughtful, open-ended questions to clear up any lingering misconceptions. This can open a productive conversation and lead into fruitful areas of discussion neither one of you anticipated.

3. If you get lost, start over

Have you ever been having a conversation and suddenly realized the other person had been talking for a long time and you stopped paying attention some time ago? It's okay to admit it.

Just be honest. Say, "I think I lost you back there somewhere. I was with you up to a point. Would you mind clarifying this one area?" Make sure you are getting all the information you need to hear and understand the speaker in context.

If you are indeed listening in good faith, pay attention to what is being said, keep up with the content as it’s shared, and quiet your own inner voice.

4. Don't rehearse or think ahead - stay in the moment

When you're ready to listen, take a deep breath, and take a moment to let go of your own thoughts, opinions, ideas and perspective. Be fully present with the other person's experience. Perceive their feelings and get to know the human behind the voice.

If you begin formulating a response while you are pretending to listen, you are bound to miss important subtext and implications. You risk sounding dismissive or defensive. People can tell when you aren't listening. Don't interrupt. Wait your turn. Listen to others the way you would have them listen to you.

5. Care

The best way to connect, listen and learn is via genuine curiosity about other people's experiences and to have empathy.

Empathy is a learned skill that requires constant honing. Practice active listening, and you may find that other people's experiences resonate with you far more than you ever expected. You may discover a spirit of cooperation within yourself that you may have been too nervous, defensive, or distracted to appreciate before. 

At Artisan Creative, active listening is the key to creating trusted relationships with our talent and clients.


Tax Time Checklist for Freelancers

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Artisan Creative is celebrating 20+ years in staffing and recruitment of creative professionals. Over the years we have a learned a thing or two that we'd like to share with you. We hope you enjoy the 418th issue of our weekly a.blog.

 

According to 2016 statistics, freelancers make up 35% of the American workforce, contributing around $1 trillion to the economy. If you belong to this freelancer economy, you freelance because you want to, not for a lack of other options. This doesn’t mean you can’t use a little help with your taxes.

If you have not started working on your 2016 taxes, or you are running behind, now is the best time to get started. Check off these steps and you’ll be squared up with Uncle Sam in no time.

Determine what kind of return you need to file. Are you a freelance business as an LLC, or are you an independent contractor? Or did you work as a W2 with staffing agencies like Artisan Creative? Make sure you find the correct forms to file based on your business, as well as corresponding state and local forms.

Know the tax rules that apply to freelancers. First of all, and somewhat confusingly, you need to pay both income tax and self-employment tax. If you are new to freelancing, you may be surprised to find that you are essentially taxed twice, once as yourself, and once as a 1099 contractor. However, half of your self-employment tax is deductible as a business expense. If you haven’t set aside enough money to cover the cost of your taxes, start saving immediately so you can pay off at least some of your bill.

If you made more than $600 from any client, make sure you get a 1099. If you earn $600 or more from any one client, you need to report that income on your tax return. You should receive a 1099-MISC Form from each client by February 2. If not received, you may contact them and request one.

Research tax breaks. The IRS offers a substantial number of tax breaks which give freelancers a wonderful chance to get some additional deductions they’ve spent on their business. Deductions change from year to year, so research your deductible expenses. For example, if you work from home, you can deduct the cost of your internet bill, as it’s used to generate income. The IRS and Lifehacker have good information to review.

Organize receipts and expenses. To help maximize tax deductions and keep the IRS happy, it’s best to stay organized and keep updated records of receipts, expenses, and payments. Have all these things stored and easily accessible to reduce the stress of filing. For instance, if you’re creating a digital archive, Shoeboxed is a great app for storing, processing, and organizing pictures of receipts on your phone.

Stay on schedule. Do not wait until the week before April 15 to file your taxes - if you haven’t filed as a freelancer before, you may not expect it to be so intense! Use calendars - from Google to iCal there are plenty of choose from. Set aside enough time to complete a set of tasks, such as determining deductions or adding up your total income or expenses from 2016. Filing taxes is never exactly fun, but it’s less stressful if you’re prepared.

If you need more time, you can apply for an extension of time to file using Form 4868

Get help from a seasoned tax professional. Since tax deductions change so often, it may be best to hire a CPA to help so you can take advantage and save money. NerdWallet is an excellent educational blog to help you make smarter financial decisions and can tell you which tax breaks you’re qualified for.

Set yourself up for next year’s success. After you’ve filed, be sure to rest, hydrate, and celebrate capping off a year of hard work and accomplishment. If you find that this year’s filing has been stressful, be better prepared for next year! You may want to create a separate bank account for your business and pay any business expenses such as insurance and tech maintenance through that account. Then use your organization system to keep track of receipts, as well as how much you think you’ll need to set aside to pay next year’s taxes.

If you’re struggling with the stress of running your own shop, other members of your local freelance community may be able to help, or at least commiserate. You can find professional guidance and peer support through freelancer meetups in your area, or by talking to a representative at Artisan Creative. If you work for yourself, don’t do it alone!


Agency vs. In-House: Which Is Right For You?

Tuesday, March 07, 2017


Artisan Creative is celebrating 20+ years in staffing and recruitment of creative professionals. Over the years we have a learned a thing or two that we'd like to share with you. We hope you enjoy the 415th issue of our weekly a.blog.

In order to thrive as a creative professional, start by seeking the right teams and culture that best match you. Whether you pursue a variety of freelance roles with different companies or decide to take on a full-time job, you’ll have the choice of working with in-house creative teams or as part of a creative agency. Either option carries the potential for learning, growth, and professional fulfillment, yet they have distinct differences.

Is #AgencyLife the Life for You?

A creative agency is a service-based business that works for a variety of clients and brands. These teams of creative professionals tackle different projects for multiple clients. Many agencies have their own distinguishing approaches and values, and some are famous for the distinctive flair they bring to their work.

If you work for an agency, you may work on the agency multiple brands. You may have the opportunity to be in a client-facing role and pitch your team’s ideas to influencers and executives. Even if you don’t attend client meetings, your work will depend on the client’s specifications and feedback, and mutual respect is the key to a productive relationship.

The best agencies have an electric creative atmosphere that has influenced pop culture, launched online communities and real-life meetup groups such as 99u and Creative Mornings, and inspired the Twitter hashtag #AgencyLife. For many creatives, working for the right agency is a professional dream come true.

Finding a Home In-House

Many large and small companies have their own creative teams, consisting of design and marketing talent. If you're a professional who wants to be part of an established company, or to work and grow one brand consistently, you may want to consider working with an in-house team.

Depending on the size of your company, you may interface with a variety of internal & external stakeholders or work on a range of collateral that includes B2B and B2C deliverables. You can build great rapport with the brand over the years on a variety of different projects and become an expert in a specific vertical.

You should consider joining an in-house squad if the values of a particular brand align well with your own. Working through the years on perfecting one brand’s messaging can bring great personal satisfaction if it’s a brand you truly believe in.

At Artisan Creative, we have worked with many creative professionals, and we've helped them figure out what settings are most in sync with their skills and goals. Get in touch and we'll share our expertise.



Avoiding Digital Miscommunication

Wednesday, February 22, 2017


Artisan Creative is celebrating 20+ years in staffing and recruitment of creative professionals. Over the years we have a learned a thing or two that we'd like to share with you. We hope you enjoy the 413th issue of our weekly a.blog.

 

Do you get confused reading certain emails because you can’t decipher the writer’s tone? Have you ever been surprised at how different a person can sound depending on whether they’re using the phone or speaking face to face? Have members of your team asked you to clarify a memo or email when you thought you were 100% clear?

Well, you could be caught in that trap of digital miscommunication.

As we have embraced globalization, virtual offices, and meetings conducted via Zoom, or chatted using Slack, we have had to rapidly adapt to new forms of communication. “The medium is the message,” as futurist Marshall McLuhan wrote, and the nonverbal cues we use in person don’t always translate via this new medium.

Communicating clearly through any method is an essential requirement for any career advancement, your team’s success or developing interpersonal skills. It’s often a process of trial and error, and here are a few general rules that will help avoid costly misunderstandings.

Clear, concise communication is a strength and one that all job descriptions ask for. For some it comes naturally, for others the following tips can be beneficial:

Write like you talk

Avoid confusing jargon and ensure that your point gets across in the simplest possible manner.

For practice, read your emails aloud before you send them. As you get used to editing yourself, you will sharpen your thinking as well.

Keep it simple

If you write and speak clearly you will earn the respect of your colleagues by saving their patience and time.

If you’re a long-winded writer, run your text through Readability Score to make it more concise before you hit “send.”

Be present

As you keep your message simple and brief, make sure you don’t leave your colleagues guessing about essential information. Your colleagues and communications deserve your full attention. A simple mindfulness meditation practice can train you to focus on what’s in front of you right now and in turn tune out what’s not currently important.

Be Empathetic

The Harvard Business Review suggests professional empathy as a way to disarm potential misunderstandings. When you connect with another person, no matter what the medium, try to see things from that person’s perspective and interpret the world through a language that person uses and best understands.

This isn’t just for salespeople and therapists; active listening can help anyone establish more meaningful and effective connections and reduce team friction.

Ask Questions

If you are unclear, asking direct questions will get better results than making assumptions and pretending you know more than you do.

Asking the right questions gives you a chance to learn how other people communicate and think. As a result, your own communication will become much more effective when you understand how your colleagues approach their work.

Asking questions conveys curiosity and enthusiasm which indicates active participation in the world around you. When you think the conversation is almost over, asking one more question can yield a key insight.

Communicate Visually

Along with asking questions and adapting to your audience (or “reading the room,” as comedians call it), Supervisor Essentials suggests that you learn to communicate your ideas visually. Digital communication is growing increasingly visual, and there are many new tools that will enhance the experience for all, from infographics to animated gifs.

Studies suggest that 65% of us are visual learners. Even if you don’t think of yourself as a designer, you’ll be better equipped to get through to your visually inclined colleagues if you can master the basics of visual communication. It can also help you make those (at times) rather dull web conferences more useful and engaging.

At Artisan Creative, we help creative professionals connect with clients and opportunities, and we know that effective communication is the essence of a good connection. As you build your communication skills and become fluent in the language of business, we can provide resources for growth, put you in touch with industry leaders, and help you build a career you’ll love. Get in touch today to learn more.

5 Signs You Are an Artrepreneur

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

 

Artisan Creative is celebrating 20+ years in staffing and recruitment of creative professionals. Over the years we have a learned a thing or two that we'd like to share with you. We hope you enjoy the 410th issue of our weekly a.blog.

Are you trying to connect the dots between what you’re passionate about creating and what people want?

Do you want to turn your passion into a career and use your ideas to enrich the lives of others?

If so, you might be an artrepreneur.

We’re all creative. It’s part of being alive. Yet, not every artist is an artrepreneur.

Artrepreneurs work hard, as hard as any other professionals. They’re generous and love to collaborate. They can thrive in the right creative environment, as part of the right team.

On the blog Millennial Type, Declan Wilson defines an artrepreneur as "anyone with a desire to better others through their art but still have the business savvy to make it a sustainable venture. In most cases, artrepreneurs are artists like painters and musicians. This concept can apply to a much larger group of people who might not view themselves as artists. Today, many people online are artrepreneuring via blogging, podcasting, writing, and content-creating."

If that sounds familiar, you may be ready to take the artrepreneurial leap and start mixing work and play.

Here at Artisan Creative, we work with artrepreneurs every day, and we’ve found that they have a few things in common. Here are five signs you may be an artrepreneur.

1. You create to connect

You believe your work creates value by improving someone’s life. You want a larger audience because it means you can help more people. When you brainstorm new ideas, you think of desires and needs that aren't being served. You know you've succeeded when you've helped others get what they want, or better yet, helped them shed light on what they didn't even know they wanted.

2. You are interested in human behavior

You’re intrigued by others and are curious about why they do what they do. You love learning about the psychology behind marketing campaigns, purchasing decisions, and consumer motivation. You approach the creative business from a place of empathy with a desire to understand the perspectives of others.

3. You know that being independent doesn't mean being alone

You know your best work never happens in a vacuum. Your sharpest thinking happens when you break out of isolation. When you find the right team, you contribute your strengths, learn from people with different skills, and generate work that is more powerful than what anyone could have pulled off alone. You appreciate the bigger picture and thrive when you participate in a larger process.

4. You are the master of your ego

You’re not defined by any one project, rather the integrity and spirit you bring to your work defines you better. For you, life and work are processes of continuous improvement. Although you’re not afraid to defend your ideas, you embrace constructive feedback. Critique is an opportunity to see your work from a different angle and make improvements you may not have known were possible. Every person has a different piece of the puzzle, and opening yourself to the ideas of others, empowers you to succeed.

5. You think like a pro

You agree with the famed screenwriter Steven Pressfield, who writes in The War of Art that “the most important thing about art is to work. Nothing else matters except sitting down every day and trying.”

While others are trying to catch lightning in a bottle or waiting for inspiration to strike as they binge on Netflix, you show up and do the work, every day. You cultivate a practice, hone your skills, and keep producing and shipping work, with no excuses. When you do get inspired, or your dream project finally hits your inbox, you’ll be ready.

Are you an artrepreneur? Please share your thoughts, and join our community of other artrepreneurs!


Integrating Action Into Your Goal Setting Process

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Artisan Creative is celebrating 20 years in staffing and recruitment and over the years we have a learned a thing or two that we'd like to share with you.   We hope you enjoy the 406th issue of our weekly a.blog.

You’ve set your goals, created your vision board and have gathered all the momentum and excitement you can muster to get everything accomplished right now…. so how do you keep your determination going to see your goals come to fruition?

Once you set your broader vision for the year, the next step is to break down each goal into actionable steps. Otherwise,  just the thought of how to get started can rapidly become overwhelming.

Below are 5 tips to help integrate action into your goal setting process.

1. Work with the end goal in mind.

What action steps are needed to happen daily or weekly in order for the goal to be accomplished? For example, if your goal is to learn a new language, the actionable steps may be:

  • research online classes or sign-up for physical classes
  • download the Duolingo app
  • study
  • join a meet-up/group

2. Be Specific: Add a timeline or date for accomplishing each step.

For example:

  • research and sign up for onlineor physical classes by 1/15/17
  • download the Duolingo app by 1/5/17
  • study 1 hour per day ( or 7 hours per week) at 4 pm each day
  • research meet-up/groups by 1/10/17, join a group by 2/1/17

3. Protect the time on your calendar.

It’s easy for urgent matters to take over what is important. Schedule time for the important items, otherwise the weeks will fly by with little attention to the steps needed to attain your goals. Make an appointment with yourself and set a reminder!

4. Get an accountability partner.

Share your goals with friends and co-workers. Ask one of them to be your accountability partner and plan a monthly check in with them.

5. Celebrate your wins along the way.

Be proud of your accomplishments—no matter how small… as long as they are on the right path to help you accomplish your goals, then it’s worth a celebration.

An action plan and timeline for accomplishing each step will put you on the right path to accomplish your goals

Please share any tips on how you set goals and develop plans for accomplishing them.

7 Tips for Researching a Company

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

 


 

Artisan Creative is celebrating 20 years in staffing and recruitment and over the years we have a learned a thing or two that we'd like to share with you. We hope you enjoy the 402nd  issue of our weekly a.blog.

Do you have an upcoming interview that you need to prepare for? Researching a company ahead of time gives you valuable insight for asking key questions and making an informed decision about the role and company.

Here are 7 tips for researching a company in preparation for an interview:

Website: This may seem obvious, but starting with the company’s website to find out history, focus, leadership philosophy, products and customer base are key to getting familiar with the basics. This will show you care enough about the role to prepare.

News and Recent Events: Has there been a recent merger, senior hire or product release? When appropriate, reference it during the interview to show the interviewer you are familiar with the company and product offerings. It will show you are a thorough and detail-oriented candidate.

Company Blog and Social Pages: Blogs provide great information about a company’s culture. What do they blog about? Is their company voice casual or corporate? Understanding culture and brand is crucial to succeeding in an interview. It will show you are aligned with the company culture.

Team: Perusing your interviewer’s LinkedIn profile is a must-do. Review where they’ve worked or schools they’ve attended. Do you have any connections in common? What are their interests and hobbies? Do you know any other employees in the company? Try to find some common ground. This will give you a better chance of connecting during your interview.

Current Hires: Is the company hiring multiple roles or filling a replacement position? Take a look at other open positions. This will give you insight about the company’s growth and focus.

Inside Info: Take a look at Glassdoor to read company reviews and discover information about a company’s hiring process, employee responsibilities and employee reviews. This will give you additional feedback from present and former employees.

Arrive Early: When it comes to interview day, arrive 10-15 minutes early so you have an opportunity to sit and wait in the lobby and get a good feel for culture and office environment. This will give you an opportunity to interact with some of the other team members and see the culture in action.

Are there any other research tips you follow before an interview? Don’t forget to read the rest of our interview advice before your next interview.

 

 


Play to Your Strengths

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

We hope you enjoy the 401st issue of our weekly a.blog.

In our 20 years of running a successful creative staffing agency, we’ve met some companies who spend a lot of time and money focusing on an employee’s weakness and helping them overcome those weaknesses through ongoing training.

At Artisan Creative, we decided to focus on our team’s strengths instead. We believe the best way to keep team members engaged and productive is to develop and invest in their individual strengths. By consistently playing to everyone’s natural talents, our team has become better at collaborating and communicating with our clients and talent.

This year we selected StrengthsFinder to create a common platform to build and communicate from. Each team member first took the on-line test and with the help of a certified coach, we reviewed the finer details during an in-person session to help find and align the collective strengths of the team.

This created an open line of communication within our A. Team and has enabled us to better understand ourselves, our behaviors and reactions to situations.

Here are a few pointers from StrengthsFinder that we now use on an ongoing basis:

1. Know your own strengths.

To best develop other people’s strengths, we must first understand our own. Only then can we help our team develop theirs. This applies equally to the candidates we screen and help throughout their careers.

We each have our own unique strengths and no two people are identical — and everyone is at their best when there is a focus on a strengths-based approach to working.

This practice fosters an environment where people feel comfortable discussing their strengths authentically. It also helps recognize team communication, natural strengths and how to maximize those strengths.

2. Understanding one's own strengths gradually leads to effective use of those strengths in the workplace. 

We can help our team understand and utilize their strengths in internal communications with other members and external communication with vendors, talent and clients.

By building on one another's strengths and accepting and accommodating differences, teams gain a keen awareness of how their strengths support their peers.

3. Help people who aren't using their strengths.

When people don't apply their strengths to a task or revert to focusing on their weaknesses instead, we can redirect attention to what they do best naturally to create their best pathway for success.

4. Harmonize team strengths.

Any team can be positioned for success when team members understand and leverage one another's strengths. We can further optimize groups by bringing together teams with complementary strengths to balance and improve performance.

5. Keep strengths top of mind.

At Artisan, we review and recap instances where a strength was beneficial in a given situation: For example, how did someone’s strategic talent provide input for a new marketing initiative, or how another team member’s “developer” talent helped one of our talent in their career path.

Understanding one another’s natural strength has enabled us to stay connected, communicative and collaborative.

What strengths do you focus on?

 


Body Language - What Does It Say?

Wednesday, November 02, 2016


The expression “actions speak louder than words” is often true when it comes to interviewing. Body language expert Amy Cuddy states in her TedTalk “our bodies change our minds, and our minds can change our behavior, and our behavior can change our outcomes.” So what does this mean when you’re going for that all-important job interview?

Interviewees must walk a fine line during job interviews. How do you convey confidence, without gloating; friendly but not overbearing; talented but not arrogant?

What are you revealing with your body language and how can you make sure your messaging is what you want it to be? Using a few simple tricks and tips can impact the outcome of your interview and help forge relationships.

Direct “face” contact: We’re often told that direct eye contact is key to building relationships and showing that you’re actively engaged. Research shows that this is not accurate. Our eyes instinctively wander around a face, jumping between a person’s eyes and mouth. Do what comes naturally to you and don’t get hung up about staring at your interviewer.

Be expressive: Sitting on your hands or staying too still can be a sign of nervousness or insecurity. Use your hands and arms to express yourself. Showing your palms can be interpreted as a sign of engagement and honesty, too. However, watch the over-gesturing.

Good posture: There are few things more unnerving than interviewing someone with bad posture (see also: limp handshakes). Sit upright in your chair, but make sure you’re comfortable and not too rigid. Lean in every now and then to show that you are engaged, but remember to be mindful of your interviewer’s personal space.

Mirroring: You may be familiar with mirroring and how it shows that someone is subconsciously interested in you if they begin mirroring your body language. This works in reverse, too. Mirroring your interviewer can help create a sense of ease and maintain rapport.

You and your interviewer are relaying more information to one another non-verbally than verbally. If you are paying attention, you can understand the information being shared and influence the information in your responses.

Do you have an upcoming interview? Check out our interview advice on the Artisan Creative website.

Working with a Recruiter in Your Job Search — Why it's a Good Decision

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

 


 

Artisan Creative is celebrating 20 years of creative staffing & recruiting. Over the years we've learned a lot and will share our experiences with you in our 20/20 series: 20 blogs celebrating 20 years of creative recruiting!Enjoy!

In this day of fast-paced applicant tracking systems and online job submission portals, getting feedback about your qualifications, or input on the job is often a challenge. Frankly,  it’s hard to know if anyone has even had a chance to review your submission.

As the automated world of online resume portals has become frustrating for many, you may want to consider working with a recruiter in your job search.

Below are 8 reasons why working with a recruiter is a good idea in your job search:

 

  1. A recruiter is a consultant acting on your behalf. They are as committed to finding you that perfect new role as you are. They are pro-actively advocating for you and thinking of new opportunities.
  2. A recruiter often understands the company culture and processes that would be much harder to find out on your own. Your own research can only go so far. Recruiters often provide details not listed on job descriptions.
  3. A recruiter can negotiate salary and benefits on your behalf, based on the parameters you have shared. They are also knowledgeable about a client or a specific role’s salary range and benefits offering so they can remove the guess work.
  4. When recruiters are engaged on a candidate search, resumes from recruiters go to the top of the pile (assuming your recruiter has a good relationship with the client).
  5. An extra set of professional eyes on your resume or portfolio is incredibly important (especially, when there are employment gaps or just to eliminate those typos). They can consult on needed edits or changes.
  6. A recruiter has access to opportunities not listed on job boards.
  7. Your recruiter can help you prepare for the interview when the time comes.
  8. A recruiter with a great reputation for representing outstanding talent adds value to your brand.

 

Having a recruiter on your team can be the difference between landing the perfect role and sitting home by yourself wishing for that great job. Consider signing up with a recruitment agency who places people in your area of expertise. You’ll be glad you did!

If you are looking for a role in the creative or marketing area, see how Artisan Creative can help.



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