Artisan Blog

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 a 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 or a freelancer speaking with a potential client, an interview is your opportunity to showcase your skills. 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.

By the time you step into a hiring manager’s office, you’ve researched the company, rehearsed your pitch, and thought through the personal stories that share your experiences. From this moment on, listening is paramount.

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 company and the opportunity 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. How can you add value to the company and make the interviewer’s job easier?

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 interviewer’s question. 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 interviewer will give you a clue if indeed additional clarity is needed.

 

If you are looking for a new job, and to get better advice to boost your interviewing skills and confidence, contact Artisan Creative today.

 

6 Things to Stop Doing

Wednesday, April 12, 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 420th issue of our weekly a.blog. 

 

In life, the time we spend with ourselves and others is all we have. How we make the best use of our time drives us as individuals. To make more efficient, productive, and mindful use of our time is among the most important goals we can pursue.

As with any self-improvement practice, it’s possible to go overboard with time management. Being able to use time more wisely doesn’t require dramatic personality, behavior or lifestyle changes as excessive ambition can backfire.

As you endeavor to make better use of your time, here are a few common pitfalls to avoid. This time we felt that a top  “don’t do list” would resonate more than a top “do list”:

1. Don't expect miracles

"We can stretch our personalities, but only up to a point," writes the author Susan Cain. "Our inborn temperaments influence us, regardless of the lives we lead."

Some of us are natural daydreamers and do our best thinking in loose, casual environments. Others work comfortably at a slower, more deliberate pace. We can all make modest adjustments to better use our time, but if we expect to fundamentally transform our habits and patterns all at once, we are being unfair to ourselves and setting ourselves up for disappointment.

Set reasonable goals you know you can hit. Then ratchet them up over time.

2. Don't over think it

The more time we spend poring over productivity literature, exchanging time-management tips online, and imaging ourselves as whizzing, hyper-disciplined superheroes, the less likely we are to get started. Take realistic steps, to get things done in the real world. When we're planning for greatness in the future, we let dust collect on the work that's due today.

When in doubt, forget about who you want to be. Do something concrete right now and get one mundane task out of the way.

Don't get stuck in the planning stage. Avoid analysis paralysis. Do something.

3. Don't wear yourself out

Coffee and sleep deprivation are best used in extreme moderation. And the most dangerous poison of them all may be “workahol!”

Simply put, to make the best use of your time and do your best work over the course of your career, take care of yourself. Court burnout at your peril.

Sometimes, this means stepping away from a side-project that sucks you dry. Sometimes, it means firing a client who asks too much for too little. Protecting our long-term health by all means possible is something we all need to be doing every day.

4. Don't lose focus

The best way to save time and energy, to get more out of your life and live it with greater self-respect, is simple: get used to saying “no”. Say "no" to things you don't want to do and opportunities that don't align with your core values or fit into your larger projects.

Determine your core mission. Boil it down to one or two sentences. Then take an inventory of your activities. Cross out the ones that aren't mission essential. Next comes the hard part: stop doing them. And, if you are offered the opportunity to take on new responsibilities that don't resonate with you on a fundamental level, turn them down. Say "no thank you," say it often, say it proudly, and stand behind it.

You will save your bandwidth and will give other people the opportunity to do the things you don't have the time or inclination to do well.

5. Don't jump around between different systems and fads

Time management is big business, and new gurus are constantly making the scene, with new “systems” that they promise will blow everything else out of the water. Needless to say, skepticism is in order.

None of these programs have a monopoly on wisdom. Most of them boil down to the same few bits of useful, practical, time-tested advice. You can waste a lot of time following trendy advice that isn't right for you, attempting to change horses mid-stream, or signing onto a program that works for someone with a completely different life.

If you decide to embrace a time-management system, commit to it, at least long enough to test its efficacy.

6. Don't beat yourself up

Life is an experiment. Your career is a work in progress. Your mistakes are best understood as learning experiences.

If you fail to make the best use of your time or you can't stick to your plan, don't give up. Take an honest look at how you can improve. Consider how you can play to your strengths and work with your natural personality, rather than against it. And congratulate yourself for taking on the hard challenge of self-improvement and your willingness to adapt and grow.

The best way to manage time is to cultivate relationships that play to your strengths and make things easier.

At Artisan Creative, we understand how world-class clients and talent can make the best use of their time together. Contact us today, and we'll give you a boost on your way to the next level.


4 Steps to a Successful Networking Event

Wednesday, March 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 417th issue of our weekly a.blog.

 

To make the most of a networking event, it’s important to remember one simple rule: enjoy yourself. This means keeping your mind and your options open, as you’ll only hold yourself back if you stick too rigidly to a rehearsed script.

If you’ve ever struggled with networking events and you now want to get more out of them, keep these four items in mind before, during, and after the event.

Have a Clear Objective

Everyone is attending a networking event for the same reason; they’re looking to gain something. People are there to make a connection, have a conversation about what they do, maybe share an elevator pitch, and meet someone new they have something in common with

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

Have a Good Stock Opener

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

Be Polite and Confident

Walk around the room with your head held high and if anyone makes eye contact, be sure to acknowledge them with a smile or a hello. If people are in circles and already engaged in conversation, don’t push your way in. If you can enter a conversation without having to ask anyone to move, join them, listen and simply ask a question to the person speaking about their thoughts on the topic. It shows you have an interest in what they have to say and helps to keep the conversation flowing. If you are interested in a conversation topic asking permission to join the group can be a viable solution. “This sounds like an amazing topic, may I join you?” can be a good introduction into the group.

Have a Process for Following Up

If you have managed to put all of that together and meet some people, here are our tips for making those ten-minute conversations spent at a networking event, the beginning of a possible working relationship:

  • Use your database. Whether you collected paper business cards or QR codes in your smartphone, add that information to your contacts and don’t forget to note where and when you met and a word or two about what you discussed.
  • Follow-up. Put each person you met into a category for a particular level of future contact. Do they need a simple “It was nice to meet you at…” or do they warrant an invitation for coffee or a request for an informational interview?
  • Follow through. Did you offer someone assistance? Get in touch with them first thing the next business day so they know you were serious. And then follow through. It's very easy to let offers like this fall through the cracks, those are missed opportunities.
  • Send Linkedin invitations. Invite your new contacts to connect with you on social media. Be sure to personalize invitations and remind them where you met and what you talked about.

At Artisan Creative, we help professionals get the most out of their careers, which includes building a robust network. Check out our resources page or follow us on social media for updates on groups and networking events in the area. 

 

Adult Learning Styles

Friday, March 17, 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 416th issue of our weekly a.blog.

 

Whether you are training new hires or making a presentation to a large group, it’s important to communicate your ideas properly.

Adults have different ways of learning and information may not necessarily resonate with everyone in the same way. Presenting the material in different styles can transform frustration into an epiphany for some members in your audience.

Some people form vivid visual memories and learn best through pictures. Others love jokes and metaphors, while some learn best through reading or listening to an oral presentation. Some may have trouble sitting still for hours and may learn better by doing group activities.

Most of us learn best through a combination of pictures, sounds, and feelings, that compliment our dominant learning style. This idea is crystallized in an educational theory called “VAK,” for “visual, auditory, kinesthetic.”

If you facilitate training, onboarding sessions or make frequent presentations consider experimenting with visual, auditory, and kinesthetic modalities and notice how participants respond.

Auditory Learners

Auditory learners learn best through language; when something makes sense to them, they may say, “I hear that!". If your training materials are text-heavy, encourage participants to take turns reading the material aloud. Use the Socratic method - ask questions and let the group paraphrase the core ideas in their own words. Invite compelling guest speakers to share their stories and teach in different verbal styles. E-learning materials can include audio books or podcasts that can be consumed on the go. Use repetition or clever wordplay to help the material “click.”

Skilled copywriters are well positioned to help you speak your audience’s language and get them talking.

Kinesthetic Learners

This type of learner likes to move around, do things, and take a “hands-on” approach to learning. Reading a book or watching a video may become a challenge if they can’t get involved and connect to the ideas being presented. Kinesthetic learners will retain more information if they take notes by hand, work with three-dimensional models, or interact with others in the group. To engage kinesthetic learners, let them change seats, or stand as needed for part of the presentation or provide frequent breaks for snacks and fresh air.

The right experience designer or instructional designer can help design modules to create more interaction.

Visual Learners

Visual learners love stylish presentations, slideshows, videos, flowcharts, and infographics. To engage them, use color, diagrams, photographs, and information architecture to break up heavy text. They have keen aesthetic sensibilities and see the symbolism in imagery that others may overlook. When explaining themselves to others, they may say, “look here,” or “let me draw you a picture.”

To engage visual learners, work with the best designers and presentation specialists you can find.

 

If you’re ready to experiment with different learning modalities, reach out to Artisan Creative. We work with creative professionals with experience in a range of media who can make your project shine and appeal to a variety of audiences.



14 Design Apps We Love

Tuesday, February 14, 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 412th issue of our weekly a.blog.

Most designers try out dozens of apps before they find the ones that best suit their work habits and enhance their creativity. When love takes root between a designer and an app, it’s the beginning of a long, fruitful, and sometimes passionate relationship.

In honor of Valentine’s Day, we like to share fourteen design-related apps that we can’t live without (and wouldn’t want to).

AutoDesk Sketchbook

One of the most versatile and popular drawing apps, Sketchbook includes a collection of tools that would cost hundreds in the three dimensional world!

Behance

Adobe’s portfolio showcase has become an important hub for the design community and one of the first places to spot UI trends.

Pixelmator

Pixelmator is basically a scaled-down version of Photoshop and is one of the most robust and useful free design apps around.

Pages

This simple and stylish word processing app is designed by Apple and comes with fancy templates and features. Despite significant changes between versions, Pages retains its passionate following.

Canva

Canva has become enormously popular as a means for marketing mavens and other non-designers to create eye-catching collateral of their own. With some practice, only a pro will know the difference.

Phonto

Even if you’re not a visual artist, Phonto can hone your creativity by adding cool captions to photos on the fly.

Coolors

Whether you’re new to color theory or your cat is named Pantone, this simple mix-and-match palette generator provides a quick shot of inspiration for design and branding projects.

UX Companion

This educational app provides enough definitions, examples, and in-depth resources to make anyone conversant in User Experience ideas, with a fittingly inviting and intuitive interface.

Glitch Lab

If you want to digitally garble, mangle, or otherwise mess up your photos, this is one of the most powerful toolkits for that. Join the pop art vanguard, use it for inspiration, or just have some fun between projects.

Pixite Complete

For a scant eight bucks, this suite packs six popular photo-editing apps and plenty of stylish effects to facilitate counter intuitive combinations.

Font Candy

This fashionable photo-editing app is built for quick captioning and creates assets that are ready to travel on social media.

Marvel App

Marvel is a soup-to-nuts Swiss Army knife for designing mobile apps on mobile devices.

Exify

When your iPhone photography habit is more than just a hobby, Exify has a full set of features to help you manifest your visions.

Coffitivity

While not functionally a design app, Coffitivity’s portable coffee-shop ambience will perk up your inner creative, even when you’re stuck in the office.

End Time-Wasting Habits

Tuesday, February 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 411th issue of our weekly a.blog.

Procrastination is a choice. You may let yourself believe you're just sending a few more harmless texts, frittering away another hour by “taking a break” on Facebook, or putting off your goals for one more day. What you’re really doing is letting valuable time evaporate.

You’re smart and talented enough to use your time more effectively, and you have to first understand your habits in order to change them. Poor productivity isn't the fault of Mark Zuckerberg and his team of programmers. It's something you can change when you call it by its name. 

Here are five big categories that encompass our little time-wasting habits. When you see yourself falling into these traps, call yourself out. As you learn to correct counterproductive tendencies, you’ll be on your way to a better body of work, better career opportunities, and more self-confidence.

1. Analysis Paralysis

It's time to make a decision, yet you continue to wait until all the facts are in. You need more data, or more research, or one more class that will make you a master and hopefully eliminate any apprehension for good.

Analysis paralysis is the result of a fear of failure. We are trained to avoid embarrassment, and we'd rather postpone big risks that may not play out the way we want.

To get past this, accept that you will never be prepared for every possibility. You can learn a lot through trial and error, experiences that you can't glean through any amount of preliminary study. When it doubt, do something, see what happens, and be willing to embrace it fully.

2. Self-Sabotage

You put off a big assignment until the last second, forcing yourself to rush it and turn in mediocre work. You distract yourself, creating conditions where you know you will do less than your best. You give 70%, resenting every second of it.

There are false benefits to engaging in self-sabotage. When we know we're not giving it our all, it allows us to fail without damaging our egos. "I could have done a great job," we often say. "I just didn't have the time, or the energy, or the commitment."

To get around self-sabotage, try this exercise:

Visualize the consequences of neglecting your responsibilities. Maybe you will lose your job, lose the respect of colleagues, or miss out on future opportunities. Feel that pain and frustration as fully as you can.

Now turn that image black and white, and make it smaller until it disappears. Replace it with a new image, bursting with color, one that celebrates you successfully completing your work. With that image in mind, tackle your work wholeheartedly, take pride in your follow-through, and integrate new things you learn from the experience of getting the job done.

3. Micromanaging

As a manager, you are familiar with every process. You know how every part fits into the company's broader mission. You could do everyone's job better if you only did it yourself; you just don't have the time.

The best supervisors know how to free up a lot of time by delegating tasks to others and empower their teams. If you have trouble doing this, it may indicate a lack of trust.

Remind yourself that employees are there for a reason, and you trained them well. If you simply let go and let them do their jobs, you will have more time to handle your own responsibilities. In turn, the company will run more smoothly, and your team will feel more appreciated.

4. Interpersonal conflicts

Eleanor Roosevelt famously said, "Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people."

She did not mean that great leaders lack empathy. On the contrary; our best ideas come from understanding the lives and experiences of others. Excellent thinkers channel their interest in humanity into their work; they do not engage in office politics and idle gossip.

Engaging in status games or worrying about who is in the boss's good graces is at best a waste of everyone's time and a distraction from the important work that needs to be done. At worst, being too concerned with how you're perceived can make you harder to get along with which will hinder fluid teamwork.

5. Trying to do too much

"Specialization is for insects," wrote Robert Heinlein. There's much to be said for being a "scanner" and having a broad range of interests and experience. The danger kicks in when you try to do so much, that you find yourself unable to focus on anything long enough to see it through. 

If you need to correct this tendency, we recommend rigorously limiting your to-do list. Give yourself no more than four big things to accomplish in any one day. As time goes on, these little accomplishments will add up to a larger sense of accomplishment leading to well-earned confidence.  More information on being productive can be found here.

If you are short handed and need help to get the job done please let us know. Get in touch to learn more about how the a.team can help find your dream team.

Boost Your Productivity by Managing Digital Clutter

Wednesday, January 25, 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 409th issue of our weekly a.blog.

2017 started off with one mission in mind: manage my clutter, specifically digital clutter.

Somehow digital clutter crept up without me realizing it (or more likely ignoring it). My computer and I were slowly being taken over by multi-version documents and needless copies of files from years back. Digital clutter was leading to distraction and reduced productivity.

An (un)fortunate laptop mishap led to losing all my data. This newly-clean-and-devoid-of-any-files-laptop had an unexpected silver lining causing a fresh start.

A “de-cluttered” digital life became a priority, and I needed a plan to start with.

Duplicate Files

If you aren’t already using proper naming conventions, start now. It’s too easy to get bogged down with multiple file versions with slightly different names. Choose a file naming convention process and stick with it. Whether you start with the name or date, stay true to it and implement it across your team or department.

If things have gotten out of hand, a manual intervention may not be possible. In this case, duplicate file management apps like Gemini or a variety of version control options such as Git will solve your problem. If you are a creative use Adobe Bridge or DAM to manage those assets on an ongoing basis.

Backup and Delete

Once your files are organized, then back them up to the cloud, or to a drive. Back it up and have the peace of mind that you can always find that one elusive file. Delete all non-current files as well.

Say Goodbye

Unsubscribing from emails and newsletters that are overflowing your inbox will give some breathing space. Whether you change the frequency of newsletters or divert them to their own folder, change this flow of digital noise to something that is both manageable and realistic for you. You can use Unroll.me to batch unsubscribe and remove email subscriptions you no longer need.

Unfollow Posts

 Information overload from social media adds to digital clutter. Unfollow any pages that you no longer care about and turn off notifications. Not only do they add to digital clutter, they expand digital noise pollution too.

Inbox Zero

 It’s liberating, it’s invigorating and it’s hard to start, however, once you achieve inbox zero, you’ll never want to go back. A few easy steps can get you organized and help build a workflow so you can get to inbox zero. Tools like Sanebox help manage all those LinkedIn invites, or Basecamp notifications.

2017 is already looking better!

What best practices can you share to managing digital clutter?


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