Artisan Blog

Best Practices For Working With Recruiters

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

As you build your creative career, you are likely to interact with many recruiters, from those employed by large companies to those who work for third-party agencies such as Artisan Creative.

Over time, recruiters can become strong allies in your quest to build your portfolio and reputation, interface with potential clients and employers, and find the work opportunity that best suits you.

At Artisan Creative, we continue to work with a wide range of clients and talent. During our 20+ years in business, we have learned what makes talent and recruiter relationships work well together. Here are a few best practices for fostering productive and mutually beneficial relationships.

Transparency

The more upfront you are with your recruiter, the more they can help.

A good recruiter can help tailor your resume and cover letter for specific opportunities based on insights they have about a role. It is your responsibility to present yourself honestly and accurately in every detail.

If you know you are stronger in some skillsets than others, let your recruiter know. If you are not that interested in an opportunity, or a commute is too far, talk to your recruiter. If you have multiple offers or are interviewing for an Out-of-State role, keep your recruiter in the loop.

A recruiter is your advocate, and they can help if they know the full picture by offering suggestions on your resume and portfolio and advising on interviewing, job search and other best practices. 

Once you get the job, and you settle into a new position, keep your recruiter abreast of any concerns regarding scheduling, compensation, or issues on the job. Part of your recruiter's role is to help manage your relationship with the client – make sure to keep your recruiter in the loop and let them support you during your orientation time period.

As long as you are transparent, there is no harm in working with several recruiters at once. You should always work as hard as you're able to build your own career - the stronger a candidate you are, the more recruiters can and will want to help you. The key is to be upfront and let your recruiter know if you have already been submitted to a specific role, or if you are no longer interested in an opportunity.

Communication is key to an open, mutually respectful working relationship.

Focus

At Artisan Creative, we focus on digital, creative and marketing roles. We love seeing good creative work get rewarded, and hard-working creatives build long and satisfying careers. We are fortunate to have established long standing trusted relationships with many of our talent as they grow in their careers and often become our clients!

Your best experiences with recruiters are likely to happen with those who are focused on your field of expertise. If you are building a career in a creative field, working with a specialized creative agency such as Artisan will give you inside access to connections and resources you might not be able to find on your own.

Other fields, such as accounting, or admin have their own specialized, long-running recruiters who know the peculiar ins and outs of their industries. Work with recruitment agencies who specialize in your area of expertise.

Reciprocate

If you find that you work well with a particular recruiter who generates great opportunities for you, you can help your recruiter succeed, too.

Recruiters love to see talent do well. If you find yourself excelling in a position that's just right for you, let your recruiter know - it will mean a lot!

Many third party recruiters such as Artisan Creative offer referral bonuses to those who refer other strong candidates. This is a great way to reward another person with more opportunities while also benefiting yourself.

The creative fields are always changing, and we succeed best when we join forces to learn from each other and work together to thrive in a shifting landscape. At Artisan Creative, we are always looking for new creative talent to take advantage of the tremendous opportunity this work offers.

 

Artisan Creative's a.team is here to help you find your dream team.  Contact us today to learn more and join our social network to hear about upcoming job opportunities.

Artisan Creative is celebrating 20+ years in staffing and recruitment of creative professionals. Over the years, we've learned a thing or two that we'd like to share with you. We hope you enjoy the 437th issue of our weekly a.blog.

 

How to Write Compelling Job Descriptions

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

At Artisan Creative, we recruit for a wide range of creative, marketing and digital roles, and therefore post an array of job descriptions to our Open Jobs page.  We write job descriptions every day and would like to share some best practices with you.

When you’re writing a description, we recommend using the following pointers to ensure you attract the best candidates--not only from a skills perspective, but someone who is also the best culture fit with your team.

As a hiring manager, how you write a job description will make an enormous difference to who is attracted to your company and role. 

Pick the Right Title

Start with a job title that reflects your company’s needs and culture.  Craft a description that portrays the role specifically and accurately. Job titles and expectations change with technology, time, and shifts in the landscape of your industry. If you are hiring for a new role, do some research to see how the job market is searching for this kind of position. Make sure the right candidates gravitate towards your opportunity with clear awareness of how they might fit in with your team.

Be Specific

It’s important to identify key responsibilities. Your candidate must be willing and qualified to do handle the must-have requirements. Remember it takes every new hire time to get up to speed in a new role - your aim is to identify potential talent who can minimize that learning curve as much as possible.

Eliminate jargon and buzzwords and replace them with more concrete and concise language. Use strong action verbs and relevant words that communicate passion and values. Tell a story! Borrow tested formulas from storytellers and marketers to make your job descriptions connect.

Use Strong Keywords

While you want to use fresh and exciting language, you must also consider what potential candidates look for online, and how search engines will spot and rank your description. While tired buzzwords can obscure your meaning, popular keywords can be useful in luring qualified talent.

SEO and social media play essential roles in the modern job search. To ensure that your job description will be seen by as many eyes as possible, read similar job descriptions online and use keywords that are specific to your related industry. Remember to include the titles of their potential coworkers as they will be working closely or reporting to them. Additionally list programs they will use, or the trends they should follow.

Also. be mindful of how your job description will appear to mobile users, as their ranks are steadily increasing. If your current company website or job portal site isn’t mobile friendly, consider updating it.

Requirements

If a skill is "nice to have" but not "required,” make a point of noting the difference – some candidates will make up for a lack of prior knowledge with high adaptability and an eagerness to learn.

Highlight Your Company Culture

We are currently in a candidate driven market. If you are trying to attract a candidate who may have multiple opportunities, or may be considering leaving their current role, think about “why” they would be attracted to your firm and list those details. For example, if you have a friendly pup roaming the office halls, or your office is next to the beach or offers flex scheduling… mention these great differentiators.

The clearer you are in your job descriptions, the more targeted your candidate pool will be. For more guidance in finding the right candidates and building the right team to fulfill your mission, contact Artisan Creative’s a.team today.

Artisan Creative is celebrating 20+ years in staffing and recruitment of creative professionals. Over the years, we've learned a thing or two that we'd like to share with you. We hope you enjoy the 433rd issue of our weekly a.blog.

4 Tips for Navigating Group Interviews

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The typical job interview is one-on-one, usually a conversation between you and a hiring manager or potential supervisor. But this isn’t the only type of job interview you’ll encounter. If you’re seeking a job in a creative field, it's highly likely that you'll experience some version of the group interview.

Group interviews fall into two main categories: interviews with one candidate and a panel of interviewers, and interviews with multiple candidates. Beyond that, there is an infinite variety of possible dynamics.

Potential employers may hold group interviews for a number of reasons. A panel interview can save a companys time and give human resources, management, and prospective team members a chance to get to know you simultaneously. This can be a clue that efficiency and collaboration are a part of the company culture.

Group interviews with multiple candidates can be effective for jobs that require collabration, teamwork or steady interaction with diverse team members or clients. These can give you a chance to demonstrate how you function in interpersonal situations.

With a bit of preparation, you can approach any group interview with confidence and ease. In case you find yourself in a group interview scenario, here are a few tips to bear in mind.

Be Attuned to Group Dynamics

Find out who you'll be interviewing with ahead of time so you can familiarize yourself with their names, positions and backgrounds. If you’ve prepared for your interview well in advance, you’ll have an easier time “reading the room,” as comedians and other live performers call it.

Whether you're addressing a panel of interviewers or being interviewed as part of a slate of candidates, social graces will pay off.  Make eye contact with all of the interviewers naturally and use their names now and then during the interview to establish rapport. Do what you can to make sure everyone in the room feels included in the conversation - if anyone seems quiet or shy, provide an opportunity for that person to jump in. Pay attention to how people relate to each other.

If you're addressing a panel of interviewers, be open to all of their ideas and look for the areas their interests intersect. Think of group interviews as your opportunity to demonstrate that you are at ease working in groups, eager to help bring out the best in everyone, and able to turn strangers into collaborators.

Be Confident and Respectful

Speak up when you have something to say, but be careful not to talk over others. Use your active listening skills to make sure you hear and understand everyone else in the room and keep the conversation on track. Make sure you ask some well-thought out questions toward the end of the interview to demonstrate your interest in the role and company. Strike a balance of assertiveness and humility, and show that you thrive in an atmosphere of mutual respect and positive interaction.

Take the Lead

If you're in a group interview with other candidates and you don't have a naturally dominant personality, don't worry. A good leader is not someone who views others as competition in a zero-sum game, but someone who empowers everyone in a group to do their best. If you are asked to work together in a group project, look for opportunities to set up your teammates for success, and let them take their share of the credit.

Follow Up

As with any interview, when it's over, thank everyone involved and let them know that you appreciate the opportunity and their time — this includes the administrative assistant who helped you. Reach out to each member of the panel with a personalized thank you email or note. If you connected with another candidate you interviewed alongside in a group, consider exchanging information and staying in touch. You never know when you might be able to help each other. It’s a small world out there!

To find the best job opportunities and for guidance on how to handle even the toughest interviews, contact Artisan Creative today.

 

Artisan Creative is celebrating 20+ years in staffing and recruitment of creative professionals. Over the years, we've learned a thing or two that we'd like to share with you. We hope you enjoyed the 429th issue of our weekly a.blog.  You can find more articles here.

 

6 Tips for Interviewing Creatives

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Artisan Creative is celebrating 20+ years in staffing and recruitment of creative professionals. Over the years, we've learned a thing or two that we'd like to share with you. We hope you enjoy the 428th issue of our weekly a.blog.

 

Preparing for an interview is a two-way street that requires both parties to be present and engaged in the conversation.

In previous blogs, we highlighted general best practices for interviewers such as active listening techniques. As interviewers we must set the stage and tone of the interview to reflect our company culture and team dynamic.

Interviewing and hiring creatives adds an additional layer of intricacy since the portfolio plays a key role in the dialog.  Here are some important skills that interviewers can practice when looking to interview and hire creative candidates.

Smile  A welcoming smile is worth more than a 1000 words.

Prepare   As interviewers, it’s our responsibility to be prepared for the meeting by reviewing the candidate’s resume and portfolio in advance and crafting targeted questions to learn more about them, the projects they’ve worked on, and build better rapport. Take notes beforehand to keep things on track and stay upbeat and positive.

Listen   Active listening is essential to getting the information you need. Make eye contact with the candidate and listen to their tone - as well as their words. The best creative work is often a result of successful communication - make sure you get the most out of your conversations with candidates.

Ask open-ended questions  Questions that start with "How", "What" or "Can you explain" are generally more useful than “yes or no” questions when interviewing for creative roles. Open-ended questions allow candidates to tell stories about their experience, and ideas. Ask about the candidate’s design thinking and creative problem solving process to get a better sense of their conceptual skills.

Keep track of time   Always leave time in an interview to address any questions the candidate might have about your company and the role. This will give you some insight about what's important to them. You can often learn more from the questions candidates ask than from any other aspect of the interview.

Arrange next steps   If an interview goes well and you think you have the right person on the other side of the desk, say so. Enlighten them on the state of your interview process and set up a second interview with other hiring authorities or team members, as needed.

If the interview did not go well - or it's too early in the process to determine a fit - let the candidate know when a decision will be made. Transparency around your hiring process helps keep candidates engaged.  If a candidate isn’t a good fit, letting them down gently gives an opening to pursue other opportunities that they might be better suited for.

Hiring a new team member makes a huge difference to the future of your business. If you have questions around these high performing priorities, you can always ask an expert.  At Artisan Creative, we are experts in interviewing creatives. Happy to help you with your next hire.

7 Sites to Get You Creatively Connected

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Artisan Creative is celebrating 20+ years in staffing and recruitment of creative professionals. Over the years, we've learned a thing or two that we'd like to share with you. We hope you enjoy the 427th issue of our weekly a.blog.

Design is a field of study, it’s a career path, it’s also a way of life and a way of looking at the world. Design can be inspiration, collaboration, thinking differently and seeing things others don’t.

However, if you are a freelancer working by yourself and without a team to bounce ideas off of—where do you go to get inspiration or find collaborators?

Online communities such as Dribbble or Behance, make it easier than ever to find excellent, cutting-edge visual design and to connect with other like-minded designers and artists. In this blog, we’re going to focus on a few sites that are more about the larger ideas that shape the design world, and the community that inhabits it. This is where we go for design inspiration beyond the aesthetic.

Creative Mornings

Creative Mornings, created by Tina Roth Eisenberg, is a series of talks by creative leaders in cities around the world. The talks start early and are almost always filled to capacity. Over the years, Creative Mornings has expanded to encompass a podcast, a smart and funny email newsletter, and a tight-knit, enthusiastic community that helps professionals in all creative fields get more from their lives and careers. Their website includes an archive of talks for countless hours of inspiration.

PSFK

A consultancy that drives innovation in retail, advertising, and design, PSFK also maintains a long-running active, and addictive blog. It’s a go-to for quick hits on global creative events, bizarre and controversial marketing campaigns, glimpses of potentially world-changing technologies and innovations. PSFK is always good for a reminder that we are all part of this weird and wonderful carnival of creativity.

A List Apart

Digging beneath its simple and humble design into its archive of articles, it quickly becomes obvious how influential A List Apart has been on the past few years of web design. Between its blog and series of books, it has showcased the writing of numerous luminaries in UX, Information Architecture, Design, Development, and more. For challenging and informative “long reads” on a range of topics in digital design, A List Apart merits regular reading and revisiting.

99u

99u is an expansive educational site owned by Adobe, with content addressing all the aspects, challenges, and joys of the creative business. It features a comprehensive event calendar, interviews with the most intriguing and successful minds in advertising and design, think-pieces that upend conventional wisdom and point in new directions, and a mission to help creatives do better work, be more effective citizens, and help commerce and society move forward.

Brain Pickings

Brain Pickings isn’t about design per se - it’s about, well, everything. In her ongoing attempt to understand the sweep of culture, philosophy, science, creativity, and the human experience, Maria Popova has honed a remarkable penchant for connecting different ideas to each other. The joy of Brain Pickings comes from falling into a digital rabbit hole, bouncing from a piece on privacy to a profile of eccentric scientists to the lost illustrations of Ralph Steadman, electrifying the parts of the brain that take joy in unusual patterns.

AIGA

One of design industry’s oldest and largest professional organizations for design—25,000 members strong, this community is a great resource for learning, collaboration, and community! Look for a local chapter and attend events, read blogs and meet other creatives in your community

Artisan Creative’s Resource page

We’ve compiled a running list of professional organizations, portfolio sites, and freelancer resources to help you connect with other creatives. Our blogs page has over 400 articles on interviewing, freelancing, time management and much more. And our open jobs page connects you with open roles.

The best content starts conversations. Did we miss one of your favorites above? Let us know in the comments!

Tips for Developing Your Design Portfolio

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Artisan Creative is celebrating 20+ years in staffing and recruitment of creative professionals. Over the years we've learned a thing or two that we'd like to share with you. We hope you enjoy the 425th issue of our weekly a.blog.

When seeking to fill a creative role, hiring managers often request a portfolio that shows the body of work a designer has successfully compiled over the years. However, if you are beginning your creative career or looking to break into a new vertical within creative, you may have to think of news ways to add relevant samples to your portfolio.

It may seem like a Catch-22: the only way to gain experience is to already have it.

Here are several options to develop your design portfolio further, gain more experience or try a new vertical:

Ask Friends & Family

Look within your network. Ask your friends and family for referrals to other small businesses and colleagues. Who do they know who can benefit from your creative expertise and may not have the resources to go to a design firm or agency?

Explore Personal Projects

Have you ever wanted to re-brand a favorite product? Have you ever said, I would love to work for that brand? How would you tackle an assignment if you were to land a project with a favorite company? Here’s your opportunity to take creative license and give your favorite brand a new look! (Note: Make sure you are clear in your portfolio that this was a personal project or add a special section for exploratory work to your portfolio.) 

Consider Non-Profit work

Accepting pro bono work for a non-profit or for a cause you are passionate about is a good way to build experience in a new vertical. Many nonprofits and community organizations need the skills and savvy of creative professionals to get their message out, although they may not have the budget to do so. This creates ample opportunities to take on exciting and challenging projects that look great on your resume, in your portfolio and give you an opportunity to strengthen your community.

This also enables you to try out different ideas, discover what type of work you enjoy, and hone your unique voice and vision. Because of the unique marketing challenges they face, nonprofit organizations provide creative professionals the opportunity to develop some truly remarkable and memorable projects.

As a creative professional, you have the power to change the way people think. If you want to harness that power for good, pro bono work for a non-profit may give you the opportunity to do just that.

As a job seeker, you have heard many times about the importance of a personal brand or a meaningful story that ties together your work. By taking on pro bono or passion project opportunities, you can explore the issues that matter to you.

How to Get Started

Opportunities for pro bono creative work are everywhere, look around and ask. Contact organizations you admire and, if they are receptive, pitch your ideas to them directly. Or, you can go through the Taproot Foundation, which helps creatives and nonprofits find each other. (It's like Artisan Creative, for the nonprofit world.)

And, of course, we are here to help you define your goals, build your skills, gain clarity on your mission, and seek out all sorts of professional opportunities. Contact us today to learn more.

 

The Art of Marketing Your Skills

Wednesday, April 26, 2017


Artisan Creative is celebrating 20+ years in staffing and recruitment of creative professionals. Over the years we have learned a thing or two that we'd like to share with you. We hope you enjoy the 422nd issue of our weekly a.blog.

Our work landscape is changing rapidly and we have to be prepared to change with it. Whether you're looking for new freelance opportunities or a full-time job, it’s important to think like an entrepreneur.

Even if you've never thought of yourself as an entrepreneur, one who often has to be the top salesperson, the marketing expert, as well as the billing and collections agent, you can create more opportunities and open yourself up for greater success if you think of yourself as an entrepreneurial brand. That means it’s your responsibility to market yourself and flex your creative muscles in new ways to bring fresh clarity to your priorities, values, and goals.

As you become more comfortable with marketing yourself, here are some core principles to keep in mind drawn from the work of respected marketing authorities and tested in the crucible of international business.

Own Your Own Niche

Being the first one in your category is the first law of Al Reis and Jack Trout’s 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing.

Inventing your own category gives tremendous advantage and allows you to make the rules that your competition must follow. If you can't be the first in a broad category, claim a subcategory, and be the best to market in your own distinct niche.

For example, your focus may be web design. Although you may not be the first web designer in your city, you may still have an opportunity to focus on a specific clientele base or have an expertise in a vertical. To build your reputation in a specific niche, attend industry and networking events, study hard, learn a lot and become a subject matter expert.

Think Like a Storyteller

Even if you're not trained as a storyteller or fiction writer, you've probably loved enough films, novels, and anecdotes to intuitively appreciate the power of a good yarn.

When you describe your career trajectory, victories won, and challenges overcome, try thinking in terms of the "mono-myth" of "The Hero's Journey." Fiction writers, filmmakers, and marketers have used this structure to guide them down many different paths.

Share your story, your inspiration, your process—tell the story of why you stand out in your field and how you differentiate.

Start looking for the "Hero's Journey" structure, and you'll see it everywhere. It has shaped careers, lives, and civilizations. How can you harness the power of story telling to tell your own tale?

Be Candid

A candid approach highlights your sincerity and shows you have nothing to hide. A sense of humor or a quirky personality will resonate better with potential clients and employers with a similar sensibility. If you are clear as to who your target audience is, then it’s easier to be yourself.

Some brands have had tremendous success by poking fun at their own shortcomings. Avis struggled for years to overtake Hertz, to no avail. Finally, it increased its profile and drew a lot of new customers when it embraced the slogan, "We're #2, so we try harder."

Be your best self, and be proud of it. This gives you the freedom to be comfortable and honest.

Continue Learning

When defining your unique combination of skills, keep one eye on how relevant you expect them to be in five years. In the digital world, bubbles form and burst often. Job titles may change, so build continuously on your core competencies and adapt.

Continued education is key in many industries and the creative and marketing industry is no different. Be sure to continue your learning and sharpen the tools of your trade.  Sites such as Lynda.com or General Assembly are great resources.

Continuously iterate on your own marketing message. Use methodologies such as A/B testing to refine your ideas, build on what others respond do, and discard what isn’t working.

Represent Yourself

As you blend your range of skills and experience into a coherent, memorable storyline, make sure the story reflects who you really are. Heed the advice of marketing guru Seth Godin, to "under promise and over deliver."

If you make promises you can't keep, you will find yourself in positions you aren't qualified for, or assignments you aren’t excited about.

A well-branded portfolio will continue to support your story and be a representation of your skills. The story of your creative thinking, along with a display of your most current work, your involvement in a project, and your collaboration with other team members will speak volumes. If you are unable to create a website for yourself, there are wonderful options in the marketplace such as Dribbble or  Behance.

When using social media to market your skills, make sure it’s well branded with a cohesive message woven through all channels. Whether it’s LinkedIn or Instagram—create a unique branding voice that represents you.

Bring your own unique story to life and share it. If you need additional help marketing your skills contact Artisan Creative for representation. We work with hundreds of clients in different verticals who are looking to hire new talent. Your next assignment could be waiting!

 


Tips for Better Interviews : Listening

Wednesday, April 19, 2017


Artisan Creative is celebrating 20+ years in staffing and recruitment of creative professionals. Over the years we have learned a thing or two that we'd like to share with you. We hope you enjoy the 421st issue of our weekly a.blog. 

Whether you’re a job seeker interviewing for a full-time position, a freelancer speaking with a potential client, or a hiring manager looking to add to your team, an interview is your opportunity to connect and learn the most you can about the person sitting across from you. While this may sound like you need to do a lot of persuasive talking, what it actually requires, is your focus on the more difficult side of the equation: listening.

Here are three quick guidelines to keep in mind.

1. Give the speaker your complete attention

Attune yourself to the speaker’s nonverbal cues. You can learn much more about the person than just what meets the ear.

Stay focused and avoid preparing your answer while they are talking. As you’ve already done your research and preparation beforehand, you are now free to give the speaker the attention and respect they deserve. Sometimes the best cure for nerves is to pay attention to another person’s concerns and questions.

Suddenly, it’s not all about you. And that’s a relief!

2. Use your body language

You can show that you are listening attentively by nodding, reacting with a facial expression, or saying "mm-hm" or other confirmation sounds. Just don’t overdo it. Forcing particular nonverbal cues can be more awkward than just letting your body behave naturally.

The most effective way to marshal your best body language is to cultivate a relaxed, positive mindset, letting your body and mind work in sync. If you approach your interviewers with an attitude of openness, helpfulness, and optimism, it will reflect in your calm and attentive demeanor If you come from a place of curiosity and generosity, you will be less likely to close up and get nervous.

To make things easier, try improving your body language a bit every day. Borrow a trick from life coach Jordan Harbinger, called the “doorway drill.” Every time you pass through a door, take a moment to look your best. Straighten your shoulders and back, take your hands out of your pockets, shake off any tension, and smile. Practice this exercise every day, and soon it will be your default.

3. Pause

Only when their question is finished is it the right time to gather your thoughts, and respond.

Take a moment to think about the question asked. Sit with it. Breathe. This is a conversation, and you are letting it unfold at a comfortable pace by listening carefully, understanding thoroughly, and putting appropriate thought into your answers.

And, when you're finished with your answer, take a pause. No need to jump in with more detail, if your answer was complete and well-prepared. The other person will give you a clue if indeed additional clarity is needed.

 

If you are a candidate looking for a new job, or your are a hiring manager looking to add to your team, contact Artisan Creative today.

 

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 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 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!



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