Artisan Blog

7 Ways to Integrate your Life and your Work

Wednesday, July 06, 2016


Achieving optimal work and life integration is one of the great life challenges we all face. Theoretically, it’s possible……. But can it -- will it -- ever happen? It can and it takes a lot of planning and up front effort to make it all come together. Here are seven ways you can start out with:

1. Declutter. Minimize your workload by getting organized. Cut down on communication waste -- send an IM instead of another email. Organize similar meetings and tasks together so you can focus on one thing at a time. Get your inbox down to zero. Use the Pomodoro method to focus on work, then take brief breaks before refocusing.

2. Ask about telecommuting. For those with a 9-to-5 gig at the office, there might be a chance to telecommute. Even working from home for one day a week can help. For example, it can reduce the stress caused by traffic. Ask!

3. Schedule dedicated time with others (and yourself). Whether you’re in a relationship, married, or have a group of friends, it’s essential you schedule everything. If you schedule an appointment for a haircut, what about an appointment for a date night? This will help decrease the odds you’ll have to cancel. The same concept applies to you. Set aside time to unwind at the spa, run a marathon, catch up on Netflix -- whatever you love doing by yourself, give yourself that gift!

4. Plan for vacations. If you’re a freelancer, you know how stressful it can be to take time off work to enjoy life. Taking time far away from work can help rejuvenate your spirits and improve your productivity, allowing you to return to work with more energy. Figure out what it’ll take (in terms of time and money) to take the vacation -- or multiple trips -- you want. Have a plan for what you’ll do as soon as you return.

5. Wake up earlier. Mornings are a staple of productive types. That doesn’t mean just rolling over and answering emails. Try waking up earlier than usual and spending a set amount of time (as little at 15 minutes or as long as a few hours) doing other things: going for a jog, making breakfast, reading a book that’s not work related, writing your thoughts and commitments for the week in a journal.

6. Get involved in a project outside of work. If your job is wearing you down, think about hobbies, pursuits, and meaningful passions. Look for opportunities to volunteer, ways to expand your education, or find outlets that allow you to express creativity in a non-work setting, like building furniture or taking an improv class.

7. Cut some slack. Those shirts that say “Beyonce has the same 24 hours in a day as you” forget that she has a huge team of experts and professionals helping her! Instead of trying to do it all, be honest with your time, demands, and priorities. Make a list of things that are important to you, like seeing your kid’s ballet recital, and make that moment happen. You might not make every event due to work commitments, by making it a priority to do so, and that will help motivate you.

Even if work seems to overwhelm your life (and your sanity), there is so much value in building in a healthy interaction between time spent at work and time spent living.

Artisan Creative is celebrating our 20th year staffing and recruiting Creative, Digital and Marketing roles. Please visit Roles We Place for a complete listing of our expertise.

Click here if you are looking to hire. Click here if you are looking for work.

For information on hiring best practices, interview tips and industry news, please join our social networks on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

7 Ways to Create an Outstanding Creative Portfolio Online

Wednesday, June 29, 2016


Creating an amazing creative portfolio that highlights your skills and experience is a necessary one! As a creative professional it’s best to keep your portfolio up-to-date and ready-to-go in case a prospective project or client comes your way. Here are some best practices to create a successful portfolio:

1. Determine your goals. Are you trying to get hired, boost business, or just showcasing your work? Is this a portfolio designed for building relationships or your brand? Clear criteria will help serve you best. If you want to get hired, display work that is relevant and current to get hiring managers at your dream company to notice you.

2. Put your best design forward...within limitations. Hiring managers (and everyone else) want to see your best work, but they also need to review lots of potential applicants in a hurry. Feature your best work prominently on a user-friendly site that showcases your work front and center.

3. Be concise. You may feel the need to say a lot in a small amount of space. However, best to keep it simple and organized, and repeat the “less is more” mantra. If you’re a freelancer who offers multiple services, or has several skillsets, try your best to demonstrate the key pieces or case studies.

4. Think about situations where you solved a problem. Was it a creative challenge? Were there limited resources? Look at samples that have a story behind them and list clear objective and how you resolved the design challenge.

5. Consider who you want to work for. Are you looking for work in a corporate field like finance or law? Present clean, successful design instead of edgy or artsy work. In other words, select portfolio pieces which are in line with the work you are seeking. (Remember, multiple portfolios, or organized tabs might be useful if you’re interested in working within multiple industries!)

6. Usability trumps artistic vision. While it might look really cool to change the navigation on your online portfolio, it can also be really confusing. Stick to web standards that keep the portfolio organized and implement SEO in case someone is searching. Consider readability, typography, and ease -- what will be easier to update on a regular basis?

7. Make it yours! Whether you’re designing something for conservative or nontraditional clients, your portfolio needs to be 100 percent you. Infuse your personality into the design of the portfolio, let your creativity do the talking, and have fun in showing the world what you can do. If you don’t have the time or resources for your own website, then utilize the many portfolio sites that offer free resources such as Behance, Coroflot, Krop, etc.

Lastly, it should be easy to contact you, so make sure your contact information is easy to find!

Do you have an outstanding portfolio? Share it with us! We might be able to help land your next gig!

Artisan Creative is celebrating our 20th year staffing and recruiting Creative, Digital and Marketing roles. Please visit Roles We Place for a complete listing of our expertise.

Click here if you are looking to hire. Click here if you are looking for work.

For information on hiring best practices, interview tips and industry news, please join our social networks on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Portfolio image by Sean Halpin.

6 Not-As-Common Interview Prep Tips

Wednesday, June 22, 2016


We know the things you have to do for every job interview (dress appropriately). And we know the things you should never do in an interview (don’t be late!). But what are ways to go above and beyond? Read these six interview tips to prepare for the next (and possibly biggest) interview:

1. Research the company’s blog posts. Let’s say you have an interview with a well-known tech company. And let’s say they ask you pointed questions about the company. You could name drop a product, or you could mention something specific you read, like how much you love that they won a humanitarian award. Neither is a wrong approach, but talking in specifics shows you’ve done your research. And doing your research shows you actually care about the position and the company.

2. Schedule your interview for… Tuesday at 10:30am. According to Glassdoor, this is the ideal time to have your interview. It’s great because it’s not bookended by the weekend, it’s not around lunch, and it’s after everyone’s had a chance to have their coffee and perk up. However, if the job needs to be filled fast, take the soonest available slot.

3. Answer the weird questions. Some companies are famous for asking out-of-left-field, oddball interview questions. This is done to test how you think on your feet, but it can really throw you off your game if you don’t have something in mind. Figure out what you would say if you were asked…

How would you double $1,000 in 24 hours?
What would the name of your debut album be?
How many basketballs would fit in this room?


4. Who tells your story? Many interviewers start by asking about yourself, or for you to walk them through your work experience. Craft a story statement that stands out. What influenced you in your childhood to make you work in advertising? Why did your last job inspire this specific design? Make sure your story includes a bit about your life before work, why you do what you do, and how you want to make an impact in your current field.

5. Psych yourself up. You might get nervous before an interview, so find ways to get amped like athletes do before games or actors do before shows. Listen to a great playlist of take-on-the-world songs. Primal scream in the car. Concentrate on the emotional -- what do your friends and family believe in you? Whatever works for you!

6. Be bold! This is a very gutsy move, but it can work. Before your interview ends, ask this: Is there anything you feel is missing from my background or resume that I may be able to expand on? If you ask honestly, it shows you’re self-assured, passionate, optimistic, and willing to take a risk, which are all highly regarded qualities in any employee. It also gives the interviewer an opportunity to clarify anything they like. Remember, fortune favors the bold!

Get more interview tips by subscribing to the RSS feed on our blog or following us on Twitter -- and check out our open job listings for new and exciting freelance and full-time creative careers!

15 Ways to Jumpstart Your Creative Process Now

Wednesday, June 15, 2016


As a creative professional, it’s your job to create. But sometimes, that creative spark you’re known for just won’t ignite. Here are 15 ways you can jumpstart your creativity, right now and later:

Right Now:

  • Go for a walk. Physical movement can get your brain going in a way that staring at the wall cannot. If you meditate, consider a walking meditation to clear your head space. 
  • Listen to music. Whether it’s classics you love, something new, or even ambient noise, fire up a playlist. It’s about getting in the right mood to free your mind and get ideas flowing.
  • Read something new. The Internet has a seemingly endless supply of content that goes beyond cat videos or Buzzfeed quizzes. Give yourself a time limit and go down a creative wormhole by searching designers, writers, and other artists you admire. (Our Pinterest page is full of illustrations and designs that inspire us!)
  • Change colors. Blue activates a “promotion focus” and helps enhances performance on creative tasks, according to this study. Change your desktop background picture, or study nature-drive photos of blue oceans, skies, and so on.
  • Doodle. Even if you draw for a living, bust out a pen and paper and draw. Don’t think. If you prefer to free write instead, do that. Or play a game on your phone, or use your desk supplies as wannabe Legos. Enjoy the physical sensation of touch, and let the mind wander.
On the Weekends:

  • Turn off your brain. Watch a silly movie, an uplifting documentary, or some crazy reality TV to give your brain the break it deserves. 
  • Keep a journal. Even if you don’t write in it religiously, having a journal (or a sketchbook) is a great way to express your inner thoughts and feelings. Something you jot down as a half thought could become the start of something big!
  • Do the dishes. Tasks like sweeping, vacuuming, or mowing the lawn allow your subconscious to do its thing and not think too hard so new ideas can enter. 
  • Make a list. Sometimes the simple act of writing it all out can free up brain space. Write down everything you think you need to do -- and be specific! If you’re preoccupied with redecorating your bedroom, list out each item and its task (go to the store, choose paint color, buy paint, etc)
  • Go outside your comfort zone. Branch out. Have lunch with a different friend. Try a new form of exercise. Read a book you wouldn’t normally buy. Plan a trip to a museum. Head to the beach if you’re a “mountain” person. It might be your next source of inspiration.
In General:

  • Exercise! Release those endorphins and help boost your creativity.
  • Don’t try to be perfect. The more you focus on trying to make something perfect, the more likely you’ll drive yourself crazy. Allow yourself to be messy, unpolished, and well...unperfect. You can always edit or change something later. Just try to go with the creative flow!
  • Silence your critic. Your inner critic -- the voice that tells you “this isn’t good enough” -- is just as bad as perfectionism. Color outside the lines and tell that negative voice inside of you to be quiet until you’re finished drawing. 
  • Reverse think. If you’re struggling with a specific problem, go at it from another angle. Try reversing your assumptions about the issue at hand, and see what ideas pop up from that. Getting to the point where you can effectively describe a problem’s contradictions will get you on your way to solving it. 
  • Look for connections. Combine something you’re thinking of with something that inspires you. Through idea generation exercises, force unrelated ideas to fit, and see if anything sticks.
  • Carve out time for you. To the best of your ability, think ahead and carve out some “me” time at the office. It doesn’t have to be long (it could be as short as 15 minutes), but it does have to be time for you to breathe and be, without worrying about meetings, emails, or busywork.
How to do recharge and reboot your creative process? Share your tips and tricks with us on our Facebook page!

Using the "Active Voice" in Your Resume

Wednesday, June 08, 2016
resume-active-voice

Using the passive voice -- where the subject is acted upon by something else -- is not impactful on a resume. Yet it happens all the time!

While we may express ourselves daily using the passive voice, the problem with using it on a resume is that it downplays your accomplishments. You are responsible for your own career, so why make it sound like you stood on the sidelines and watched it happen when you were directly involved? You must use the active voice in order to take responsibility for your actions and prove you get results.

Typically, you don’t use “I” on a resume, so how can you tweak statements to show your active voice? Start each bullet point with an action verb that connects your work to what goals you accomplished. For example:
  • Increased Twitter engagement by six percent
  • Created wireframes for new company website
  • Implemented new design standards for the department
  • Hired new interns as part of creative team
  • Managed copywriting calendar
By phrasing each achievement in the active voice, it makes your involvement and accomplishment clear and easy to understand for the hiring manager. You didn’t experience an increase in social media engagement -- you led the growth. That distinction is the thing that can set you apart. Of course, you should include “my or our team” or something similar when it applies to a group effort, however the active voice lets you take credit for your best work.

Remember, your resume has a very finite amount of real estate, yet limitations can breed creativity!

Ignore the passive voice and use action verbs that will define your specific and unique skills and experiences.

Looking for a new freelance or full-time job? Send us your resume. We'll help you land the next gig!

The Real Point of Having a Polished Resume

Wednesday, June 01, 2016
resume-ready

Many of us have a resume ready to go in case someone should ask, especially those of us who work as freelancers and are constantly approached (or are approaching others) for work. But the resume that’s in your digital desk drawer may not be impeccable, or even adequate for a hiring manager! Let’s talk about the real point of having a polished, ready-to-go resume:

Tactical only goes so far. Sure, you may know you need to list your experience, education, and achievements at previous jobs, but your resume is a snapshot of your work life. It needs to express depth and breadth in a meaningful way, as well as further showcase your personal brand. Consider a full rewrite of your resume that’s strategically written instead of just written to exist.

It’s likely a human being will read your resume. Some companies use keyword screening software to help sort through resumes, but many companies, particularly mid-sized and smaller ones, have someone else read them. Therefore, your resume needs to be written in a way that anyone could understand. Was there some aspect of a previous job that might be harder to explain in detail, like running a social media marketing campaign? Find a way.

Introspection is your friend. Take the time to review your illustrious career before rewriting your resume. What challenges did you face? What actions did you take to solve problems? What results did you gain thanks to your initiatives? For example, list team building and leadership roles and use this time to tell the story of a unique person with highly enviable opportunities: you!

You need specifics. Command the hiring manager or recruiter’s attention by building up your reputation via specific, measurable results. It’s not just about whether you were in charge of a team -- how many people did you manage on a daily basis, and what did your department do to help the company overall? Did your design overhaul on a website directly lead to an influx of new sales?

Pay attention to the basics. Make sure your page margins and spacing are all in order. Include contact info. Take out “orphan” words that are hanging on a line by themselves and rewrite those parts. Use a basic font and bullet points to create a cleaner, more readable look. If you’re a designer, consider a more graphically oriented resume that shows your creative side. And always proofread and spell check, no matter what!

To best position for future roles, create a polished resume that exemplifies your career expertise with passion and practicality. Being personable, performance-driven, and pragmatic all on one page will not just make it clearer whether you’re a great cultural fit at the next great company, but it’ll also lead you closer to your dream job!

How to Create a Strong Workplace Culture

Wednesday, May 25, 2016
company-culture

Although managing a team might come naturally to some, retaining a team is another story. Building employee retention in a creative environment is key to keeping a strong creative team together. Happy and engaged employees are motivated, productive and have a positive impact on company culture. Below are some best practices to foster a good workplace culture for creatives:

Cultivate shared values and a strong mission. Hire and work with people who demonstrate your shared company values. Doing so helps support your company culture and gives employees a stronger sense of investment in their jobs. This is especially true for the millennial workforce, who want to know their work makes a difference. Have a purpose that’s bigger than the company, and be mindful of seeking to do good when you can.

Allow for employee empowerment. Micromanaging doesn’t help solve problems. Give your team the autonomy to resolve issues and express themselves. Consider an open-door policy so everyone’s ideas feel respected, and each team member can impact the company in a positive way. Besides, you never know when the next big idea could come to someone!

Give -- and ask -- for feedback. Yearly reviews are fine, but weekly, monthly, or quarterly check-ins can help prevent your creative team from feeling disconnected. A regular check-in can help smooth over any miscommunication, improve workflow procedures and create overall engagement. In addition to giving feedback, ask for some of your own. It’s a commitment to honesty and transparency that’ll open up communication between you and your team.

Engage with each other. If you’re quickly growing or offer the opportunity to work remotely, it’s essential that your team interact via Skype, GChat, Slack, or some other form of daily or weekly communication. Not only does this strengthen connections, it also helps everyone contribute to the overall mission. Team collaboration and engagement is key to creating a positive, open work environment.

Embrace your team’s passions. Encourage team-building opportunities. For instance, have an “art sale” for your graphic designers and let them share their work with the rest of the company, or start committees that bolster community and show off skills, like a baking club, community service opportunities, employee-led fitness classes, or a meditation group.

Celebrate successes. If your team wins, celebrate! Everyone wants to feel a sense of accomplishment when they achieve goals. Recognition, and an opportunity to celebrate a colleague is key to building a strong team.

Perks are great, but there is more to creating a happy work environment. Listen to your team, nurture their passions, and support the company culture to keep creatives on board for years to come!

Looking for great creative talent? Talk to us and we can help!

Are Cover Letters Necessary?

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

cover-letter-needed

If a job listing asks for a cover letter, you might wonder why is a hiring manager asking for it? Will anyone actually reading these?

Yes. Yes, they are. And they’re reading them for several good reasons.

First off, every part of an application needs to be as strong as possible. If your resume is a little weaker than you’d like (maybe you’re applying for a more senior role or a job within a different industry than you’ve experienced), a cover letter could provide additional information to a hiring manager about your capabilities.

Secondly, if a job listing requires a cover letter, it’s one way to see whether a candidate follows directions and reads the entire listing. Companies want to hire thoughtful individuals -- no matter your talent or experience, not following the simplest directions signals that you don’t really care.

If it’s between you and several other candidates, a great cover letter can make you stand out from other qualified candidates. Plus, a well-crafted cover letter shows off your writing skills. Even if your job doesn’t require writing, effective communication is a cornerstone for any position, creative or otherwise. Moreover, a cover letter allows you to demonstrate that you’ve done your research on this company or job, and can articulate why you are the best candidate.

What information should be included in your cover letter? Make sure it is not boilerplate. A generic cover letter will look like just that -- standard. You want to stand out, so share details about why you feel you’re a good fit for the job. If you’re looking at a graphic design job at a fashion company, explain how you started taking sewing lessons or how you follow trends closely.

Highlight successes at previous jobs. If you were responsible for driving traffic to a new website, your resume can only convey so much of that information. However, a cover letter offers you the opportunity to discuss your achievements in more detail (for example, you increased web traffic by 36 percent in a 9-month period).

Finally, a cover letter is a great way to show off your personality. Your writing style and what you choose to include helps paint a picture beyond your resume and portfolio. How are you a leader? What story can you tell? What makes you a great cultural fit for this environment?

In short, your cover letter is your calling card and can demonstrate additional information not readily available on your resume.

Looking for a job? Artisan always has open job listings for creatives!

10 Tips for Active Listening

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Between texting, phone calls, emails, tweets, LinkedIn posts, Slack messages, Pinterest boards, Gchat, and so on, communicating with each other is at an all-time high. However, communication requires really, truly listening -- and active listening is a skill that tends to get lost in the sea of technology noise.

The good news is that anyone can improve their active listening skills. By doing so, everyone can build better relationships, resolve conflicts and understand issues, whether in the workplace or elsewhere. In short, becoming a great active listener can yield amazing benefits for your career and relationships.

The most important thing to remember is to try and NOT problem solve on the fly. Try and quiet your problem solving mind. When you are thinking ahead to the answers, or what to say next, you are no longer truly listening!

Read on for 10 tips to help you develop and hone active listening skills:

1. Maintain eye contact. Don't be distracted by the ping noise of your phone, or scan the room to see what else is happening. Give them the courtesy of your full attention. Better yet, put your on airplane mode when in conversation with someone in front of you.

2. Relax. On the other hand, paying attention to someone simply means that: pay attention. It doesn't mean you need to maintain a serious or fixed stare. Carry on as normal, nod, but remain attentive by being present.

3. Be empathetic. The soul of active listening is empathy. If the person you're listening to is sad, happy, fearful, or angry in your conversation, put yourself in their shoes. Pay attention to power words and repetitions such as, "I was really, really upset" or, "I was ecstatic to get my promotion".

4. Look for nonverbal cues. Their cadence, tone of voice and body language can offer a lot of information. Look for small signs of nervousness, enthusiasm, or anxiety for example in their mannerism, gestures, and posture to help determine how they really feel.

5. Create a mental image. If you're having trouble following along or paying attention, paint a visual image in your head to help stay focused.

6. Avoid interrupting. Sometimes, it seems like a good idea to finish someone else's sentences, especially if you think you know what's coming. Yet this can derail their train of thought or come off as impatient. Moreover, interrupting can also come off as aggressive or competitive, as though you're trying to "win" the conversation. Slow down to their speed so you can listen attentively.

7. Stay in the moment. It might seem like a good idea to jump ahead mentally and plan what to say next. However, doing so means you're not actively listening and only  listening only to part of it, while devoting mental energy to your next move. Rehearsing and listening at the same time doesn't work, so give your full attention to the other person.

8. Wait for pauses to ask questions. If you don't understand something, ask for an explanation, but, wait until there's a pause. Additionally, if your question takes the conversation off-topic, gently help steer it back on the right track.

9. Offer feedback. "Congratulations!" "What an awful ordeal!" "You must be excited!" show that you understand their feelings. You can also just nod along and show your understanding with facial expressions that match their emotion, like a smile or a frown.

10. Don't judge. Even if you feel like something they said was alarming or should be pointed out, resist the urge. Likewise, don’t jump to conclusions. A story with a rocky start may indeed have a happy ending!

Resignation Best Practices

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

A few times in one’s career, it may be necessary to write a resignation letter. Yet the resignation process can be intimidating, or even disheartening. How do you tell your employer goodbye and stay on good terms, especially if you’ve worked for them for a long time?

1. First off, figure out why you want to leave before you officially resign. No matter if it’s the salary, the commute, the team you work with, your manager, your responsibilities, a lack of creative challenge, or the desire to strike out on your own as a freelancer or entrepreneur, you sought after a new position for a reason. Be clear with yourself --it's not always about a salary! Know what's important before accepting any offer, as you might realize that your current position is still better than a new job for the interim.

2. Schedule a time to speak with your manager. Set up a resignation meeting with your current employer. Present your resignation letter which states your last date and reason for leaving. Wish your manager and the company continued success in the future.

3. Plan your exit strategy. Prepare your exit strategy before meeting with your manager. Create a plan for all the items you are currently handling. Provide a list of all assets, passwords, and works in progress. Have a succession plan -- your exit can provide a great step up for someone else on your team. Reassure your manager that while you will no longer be employed, you want to begin the hand over process as soon as possible. Offer your cooperation on training or documentation for ongoing projects or projected plans. Once you know what needs to be done before you leave, continue working as normal. Although you might feel “senioritis” at your job, don’t change your work ethic!

4. A word on reactions... While many employers will act respectfully upon hearing a resignation, some may not. However they react, you should remain calm and professional. By being prepared for your exit, you can help alleviate some of the stress your manager may be feeling.

5. Don’t accept a counteroffer. If the reasons you stated in point #1 are valid, then accepting a counteroffer doesn’t make sense. Not only does your employer know you’ve been looking to make a move from your current position, but they may think you only wanted more money. And if there are other things you’re unhappy about in your position, like the team or the responsibility, those won’t change even if your salary is higher. Your decision should be final, so don’t leave them room to talk you out of it!

Before deciding to make a move, be certain of your own motivation and opportunities for growth. Once you are certain, it will become easier to plan for your resignation professionally.


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