Artisan Blog

How to Network on LinkedIn

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

networking-linkedin

In terms of networking for business, LinkedIn is the clear winner. Whether you want to recruit talent, grow your personal brand, explore interesting content, or find job opportunities for yourself, LinkedIn enables you to build a powerful network of professionals. However, you have to know how to network in order to make the most of it. Here are some tried and true best practices for growing -- and keeping -- your LinkedIn network healthy and happy.

Treat your profile like a snapshot of your professional life. This is your first LinkedIn impression, make it a good one!  Add relevant and current job information. Post an appropriate profile image. Much like your resume, portfolio, or social media accounts, use it to put your best foot forward.

Get people to recommend you! The best people to endorse you are those that have actually worked with you. They’ll be able to speak about your skills and experience in glowing terms and with specificity that can’t be matched by tenuous LinkedIn connections.

Recommend others! Writing valid and relevant recommendations for other people will help you get back in touch with colleagues who you could connect with later. Besides, it’s a nice thing to do! Remember the golden rule!

Ask for connections from people you know. Former colleagues, old friends, and new acquaintances all build towards a great network. However asking for connections from strangers won’t help much. If you don’t know them, explain why they should want to connect with you with a personal message crafted just for them instead of a standard one.

Be part of groups -- but choose carefully. Being part of a LinkedIn group can help you join up with other professionals in your area, or connect with others in your business. Pick groups that are most relevant to your interest, and stay active by posting introspective responses to interesting discussions. Leave the ones that don’t lead anywhere or aren’t fulfilling.

Contribute to more than yourself. Starting a discussion or posting a link should give value to your profile, your groups, and the community at large. You want to relate to and identify with your network. Don’t just use LinkedIn for self promotional purposes.

Relationships, including online ones, take time to develop. If you want to become closer with someone via LinkedIn, then invest time. Setup a professional meetup to talk shop, or find out what common ground you have based on your profiles. What can you offer these connections? How can they reciprocate?

Are you following Artisan Creative on LinkedIn? Get the latest job updates, exclusive content, and more!


Tax Tips for Freelancers in 2016

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Did you know 38% percent of millennials freelance? That means twenty and thirty-somethings who work differently from their parents, also need to do their taxes in a very different way from their folks.

While freelancing offers flexible work hours, creative opportunities, and a level of independence, it also means having to become your own HR department. Although tax season is several months away, freelancers can start preparing now by organizing expenses, 1099s, and more. Check out these tips and tools to make your 2016 tax season a breeze:

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.

$600 or more means you need a 1099. If you earn $600 or more from any one client, you need to report that income on your tax return using a 1099-MISC form. So if a client has yet to send you these forms by February 2, contact them and request one.

You need to pay both income tax and self-employment tax. While this may come as a surprise to freelancers, 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 owed taxes. And if you determine you need to make estimated tax payments, make quarterly estimated tax payments on estimated income tax, including estimated self-employment tax.

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 look up common ways to determine your deductible expenses. For example, if you work from home, you can deduct the cost of your Internet bill, as it’s used while you work. Freelancers Union helps sort through this in its in-depth tax blog.

Set reminders. Do not wait until the week before April 15 to file your taxes unless you love stressing yourself out! Use calendars -- from Google to iCal to the Sunrise app and more, there are plenty of online choices to keep track. Set aside enough time to complete a set of tasks, like determining deductions or adding up your total income or expenses from 2015. Filing taxes is a pain, but it’s an even bigger pain to do it under a tight deadline.

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.

Get help from a seasoned tax professional. Because 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.  Just make sure if you hire a CPA, they are accredited and come recommended. The last thing you want is someone who’s untrustworthy handling your tax information!

Set yourself up for next year’s success. If you find that this year’s filing has been stressful, help take out some of the work for 2017 by setting yourself up to function more as an independent contractor next year. Create a separate bank account for your business to funnel payments through that account as well as pay any business expenses like insurance and tech maintenance through that account. Then use your organization system to keep track of receipts and such, as well as how much you think you’ll need to set aside to pay next year’s taxes.

With these tax tips, your freelance tax season will be the most time-saving -- and money-saving -- one you’ve had yet!


Are You Overqualified for That Job?

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Have you ever been told you were told you were “overqualified” for a job?

Overqualified?! What does that mean? Can someone really have too much experience? Surely that must be a positive thing, right?

When a job seeker is considered overqualified, it means there is not a right match between the available position and that person’s experience level. For example…

  • The candidate may have more experienced than the supervisor
  • The candidate’s experience may be intimidating to others on the team
  • The candidate’s years of experience may warrant a higher salary than the company is able to pay
  • The candidate may not be challenged by the job in the long run
  • The candidate may get bored and leave the role (this is a big reason why hiring managers are cautious of hiring someone with more experience than the role warrants)

However, you’ve worked hard to gain valuable experience you can apply in a myriad of roles. Your skills are likely transferable from one industry to another, especially in the creative industry, so if you are going to accept a role more junior than your skill level, be honest with yourself as to why you want this position.

And if you are truly interested in a specific role, even if you are more experienced than the job description indicates, then you can highlight your experience so it is an asset:

  • Update your resume to highlight relevant experience specific to this role
  • Write a cover letter that expresses why you’re genuinely interested and excited for the role, even if it seems like your career is further along than the position would require.  For example, if this allows you to learn a new industry, or learn a new skill
  • Highlight how your experience can be an asset and help the team or manager

Keep in mind that your resume and cover letter are just tools to help you stand out among a sea of candidates also applying for the same position. Once you are granted an interview, the real work begins.

Looking for work? Make sure to follow us on social media and check out our open job listings for freelance and full time roles in a variety of industries!


10 Best Practices for Your Resume

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

10 Best Practices for Your Resume

We’ve talked at length about the things to include on your resume. However there are  just as many things to avoid if you want to land an interview. Given that you’ve a mere few  seconds to impress a hiring manager, your resume needs to stand out! Here are 10 things to eliminate from on your resume in order to highlight your work experience, skills, education, and achievements to be distinctive:

1. Objectives. These descriptions at the top of a resume not only feel antiquated, but they don’t add anything to your resume. Moreover, they focus on what want rather than what you can offer to the company. If you feel this job is the best next step for your career, talk about it in your cover letter.

2. Photos. Unless you’re auditioning for a TV pilot or modeling gig, don’t include your photos.  Chances are your online portfolio, website, or LinkedIn profile already includes your photo.

3. Subjective traits. You may feel you possess amazing leadership skills or are an innovative thinker in design, however employers ignore these subjective traits because they can’t be measured. Instead, focus on objective facts and metrics If you really are an amazing leader, include how many team members you’ve managed, or include a quick example in your cover letter explaining how you’ve led your team to success, or achieved ROI in a campaign.

4. More than one page. We’ve debated this, but the short answer is--either in OK.  It all depends on your work experience, whether you have been freelancing at multiple places or been at the same company for several years.  The key is to include relevant, accurate and current information.

5. Salary history. This is a major faux paus, as well as a bad idea, as it compromises your ability to negotiate for a higher salary later! Leave it off so you can have some negotiating power later.

6. Short-term jobs. You don’t want to come across as job-hopping, so make sure to emphasize freelance or contract in the job title.

7. Leave out overused words. Here’s just a sampling of words that are redundant and don’t give employers concrete information: capable, skillful, effective, hardworking, innovative, and motivated are all qualities they hope you already have without you having to say so. Instead, search for synonyms that more closely fit your personality. For instance, as an “effective” employee you “engage in creative tasks”.

8. “References Available Upon Request”. If an employer wants references, they will ask. Save precious resume space for other accomplishments rather than including this sentence at the bottom.

9. Education. If you’re just out of high school and applying to your first jobs, it makes sense to include the information. Otherwise, focus on college and graduate information as well as degrees earned.

10. Misspellings, grammar issues, and typos. We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again -- proofread, proofread, proofread! Nothing can make the resume  less professional than resume errors.  

A resume is a snapshot of your work experience -- not only should it be well written, it should highlight the best possible version of your experience and how you will be contributing to a new team. Take out irrelevant information, and polish up your resume so represents your experience in the best light possible.


How to Take Time Off from Freelancing Over the Holidays

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Maintaining your freelance work during the holidays can be really stressful. Along with holiday shopping, travel, social events, volunteering, and so on, you have to juggle multiple clients and projects that may very well be likely wrapping up by the end of the year.

The challenge and beauty of freelancing is that it is unpredictable. It may be hard to predict when the next assignment will take place, so how can you enjoy the holidays without worrying about the bottom line?

Schedule moments of free time: Carve out specific calendar time for yourself, family, and friends throughout the holiday. You’ll feel less guilty about taking off an evening for a party or running errands if it’s been scheduled as time off already.

Post date all your work: Schedule social media, blogs, and emails in advance. Use tools like Hootsuite, Buffer, and Boomerang to take care of emails to clients or tweets for the company in advance.

Take advantage of free time: If work slows down on its own, consider it a gift of time to spend with your loved ones. Even if your cards are mailed and your cookies are baked, you can still enjoy other festivities or just take some time for yourself!

Work on next year’s work: Chances are your clients are out for the holidays as well, so use the quiet time to do things such as updating your portfolio, sprucing up your website, or working on personal projects. You’ll get a head start on your New Year’s resolutions without worrying about taking time away from work!

Plan for another time: It might be too late to take time off this year, but you can make a plan to take a vacation during the winter, spring, or next holiday. Figure out your expenses to cover the costs of your travel or time off, and then put a plan in action to make it happen. You deserve a break, even if it’s not during the holidays!

From all of us at Artisan Creative, have a wonderful and merry holiday season!


How Important Are the Requirements in a Job Description?

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

submit-resume

Here at Artisan Creative, we read a lot of job descriptions. I mean, a lot of job descriptions! It’s part of what we do. And we also write a lot of job descriptions.

While we focus more exclusively on helping designers and creatives find jobs with our clients, job requirements in general seems to always sound like they’re difficult to meet! Whether it’s an entry-level copywriting position that needs two to three years of experiences, or a senior designer that needs over 10 years of management experience, job descriptions universally sound hard. Even if something sounds like an ideal fit for your background, there might be something else you’re not as familiar with, like a CMS system or Adobe Illustrator.

So, exactly how important is it that you meet every requirement in a job description? Well, it all depends on your experience level, your education, and special skills. Let’s explore further:

  • Experience: If a job listing needs someone with five to seven years of experience, they’re looking for someone who’s experienced. That means those with only one to two years of experience aren’t the best match. However, if you’ve got three or four years under your belt, plus some major accomplishments worth sharing, it might be worth exploring further.

  • Education: Among creatives, your degree can sometimes come second to your experience in the field. For instance, if you have five to seven years of graphic design experience but actually got a degree in English, it’s probably fine to apply. However, keep in mind that some companies do require a college degree. Please do list graduation dates and degrees received. If you’re in the middle of finishing a degree, you can always list your degree as “in progress” with an expected graduation date. This info is looked at during background checks, so be as clear as possible.

  • Skills: Those who have at least several years of experience have likely amassed a number of skills that are transferable from one industry to another. That said, sometimes the job description requires a specific background. If you have a background in fashion, it’s probably unlikely you’re a good fit for a job with an insurance client. Yet you might be a great candidate for a job in entertainment, even though it’s not exactly the same. Pay extra attention to required software skills such as Javascript or 3D Studio Max and highlight your skills in those specific areas.

Generally, a good rule of thumb is that if you meet 75 percent of the requirements listed in the job description, it’s worth applying or talking to your recruiter about your qualification. Your recruiter will have a better idea of a role’s "Must-Haves" versus the "Nice-to-Haves" and can share more insight about the requirements.

Remember, your resume needs to be proofread and highlight your previous responsibilities and achievements, while your cover letter must be effective. If you’re armed with these tools, you’ll be ready to apply to any job you’re qualified for!


Interview Preparation Tips for Anyone in Any Creative or Design Job

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

interview-prep-creatives

Your resume is perfect. Your cover letter is amazing. However without a strong interview or without research and preparation, it can be a challenge to find your next perfect role. Here’s our quick guide to prepping yourself for any job interview, for any company, at any point in your career:

Do your research. No matter the company, become familiar with it before the interview. Understand the job description and what they’re looking for. Read over the mission of the company, as well as other company details. Are you interviewing for a position with a large digital agency that works mostly with fashion clients, or with a up-and-coming startup that needs someone who falls in line with their values? Does this company have product lines or do they offer services?

Anticipate questions. Come up with appropriate answers and practice them before the interview so you can be prepared. Align yourself with the prospective employer. Moreover, come up with 2-3 questions you want to ask about the team, the role or the company.  Do not ask questions about the salary, vacations and other benefits in the first interview.

Consider image. Dress for the part—even if it’s a video interview. Wear what will best fit in with the culture and expectations of the company. You can always ask what that is before the interview, but it’s always safe to aim for business casual with a creative touch.

Remember nonverbal messaging. What you say without saying anything can make a big impact. Offer a firm handshake and stand tall. Pay attention to eye contact, tone of voice, posture, and gestures.

Keep your responses concise. Don’t ramble about a particular achievement when you can sum it up in a few sentences. Don’t talk over the interviewer. If they ask for more explanation, talk a little more, but your answers should still be to the point.   

Know your metrics! Back up your answers with quantifiable data. Instead of mentioning how you grew a company’s social media presence to “a lot more”, make mention of how a specific Twitter campaign helped increase followers by 25 percent. Alternately, offer examples of your leadership skills with numbers. You weren’t just a manager -- you were the manager of a 12-person team who helped the company succeed with innovative and collaborative ideas, or you managed X number of presentations.

Know your key strengths and repeat them. Don’t brag, but do praise yourself and your accomplishments. It’s essential to confidently articulate what you’re best at doing! It also helps the interview know whether you’re a great fit for the job.  

Share your success stories. Oftentimes, interviewers ask about a project you were proud of or a role where you had to overcome adversity on the job. Reflect on your past jobs and write out a few times you set out to execute a campaign, presentation, or idea, and how you were able to demonstrate your skills.  For example share how you won a pitch, achieved ROI, or reduced redundancy.

Visualize.  Can you see yourself as part of the team or company?  Use "we" vs. "them" as you discuss questions or specifics about a role. It helps to “see” yourself in that setting.

Bring your portfolio. Having a physical (or virtual, if you bring your laptop or tablet) representation of your work to show off your technical or design skills, as well as past projects. This will also help you explain those success stories in further detail.

Good luck on your next interview!  


Best Practices for Video and Phone Interviews

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

video-phone-interviews

Interviews can already be a nerve wracking ordeal, and telephone and video interviews can be as uncomfortable as in-person interviews. Yet they’re a great "first step" in many interview processes, especially for candidates who are in another location. Screening calls can be one-on-one, or with a committee. Either way, the same rules apply as in-person interviews: make your best impression. 

Telephone Interview Tips

Here’s how to prep yourself telephone interviews:

  • The criteria is not the same as an in-person interview. Instead of eye contact, you’re using your voice and its tone to communicate how you feel.

  • Talk concisely. Your experience, accomplishments, and achievements are worth celebrating, but you don’t need to launch into a diatribe about each one. Clear and short responses will do just fine, and keep the interviewer engaged.

  • Be friendly! Just like an in-person interview, you want to convey enthusiasm. Smile over the phone. When you smile, they’ll hear it!

  • If there’s dead air during the conversation, use the moment to ask a prepared question. Find out about the company’s culture or more about the team.

  • Listen closely. Without body language cues, you’ll have to engage in active listening to “hear” between the lines. Take notes if it helps, and concentrate on what they tell you about responsibilities and expectations.

  • Don’t discuss salary or benefits. You’re talking to them to connect about the basics of the job. If you get into second and third interviews, then consider talking about it.

  • Make sure you are in a quiet place without technology or connection issues.

Video Interview Tips

Likewise, video interviews via Skype, Zoom, Facetime or Google Hangout come with their own best practices.  Here’s how to prep:

  • Practice questions before the interview. Have a friend talk to you via video so you can work out any tech kinks in advance.

  • Look at the camera! If you look at the screen, you’re not making eye contact. Remember to apply in-person interview eye contact to a video one as well.

  • Dress like you’re meeting the interviewer in person.

  • Make sure your space is well lighted. If you’re in a darker room, move a lamp nearby so they can see your face.

  • Pay close attention to what is being displayed on the wall behind you.  Ensure you have clean, professional backdrop.

  • Keep up the pace. Like on the phone, you want brief and memorable answers to their questions. Be mindful of how long it takes you to respond, and be aware of the time.

  • Confirm timezones, especially if you are in a different timezone that the other person.

  • Be mindful of tech issues. Check your microphone and Internet connection prior to the interview start.

  • For creative roles, you may need to screen share and show your portfolio. Be prepared with a clean, uncluttered desktop and have your portfolio ready to go!

What are your tried and true interview tips?


Getting Creative With Your Job Search

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

creative-job-search

Let’s face it -- the job market is competitive. While some job seekers use extreme tactics to get noticed, like billboards or brewing their own beer, there are plenty of other ways to get creative with your job search. Follow these tips to find more opportunities beyond standard job hunting websites and boards that could lead you to the position you’ve always wanted!

Using Social Media to Find Jobs

We’ve talked extensively about how LinkedIn, Twitter, and other sites can help your search. Here are some key takeaways you can apply to any social media platform:

  • Share your valuable content. Use these platforms to discuss topics you care about and want to share with the world. Whether it’s graphic design you admire, marketing campaigns you think could use some improvement, or your own artistic creations, use social media to express your opinions and insights. If you feel you’re too busy to tweet all the time, use social media schedulers like Hootsuite and Buffer to do it for you.

  • Use search features. We post links for jobs all the time on our social media channels! Search for the jobs you want by trying different combinations of keywords. For example, “los angeles creative jobs” may yield different results than “UX jobs los angeles”

  • Network. Join groups on LinkedIn and interact with influencers. Reply to folks on Twitter, or strike up a discussion in Facebook. Keep your thoughts professional and courteous, but feel free to engage with others. Eventually, you’ll be more connected than ever -- and your potential job network will grow in the process!

Using Email to Find Jobs

You can job search right from your inbox! Do you want to work for a specific company? Set up a Google alert for your target organizations and what jobs they have open. You’ll be the first to see what new positions they have. Similarly, sign up for job notices from select websites that will offer you hyper-focused opportunities. And of course, always check Artisan Creative for new job openings every day and subscribe to our RSS feed.

Moreover, referrals are a great way to get in the door, and your family and friends are just the people to recommend you. Rely on them to help your job search. Send out emails to close family and friends asking them to keep an eye out. Then, work your way outwards by contacting old colleagues, mentors, college friends, and whoever else you think could help you out. And don’t forget to reach out via LinkedIn and add recommendations, as well as see who is connected. Someone might be willing to make a virtual -- and possibly in-person -- connection on your behalf!

Using Your Website to Find Jobs

If you’re looking for creative jobs, an online portfolio will highlight your amazing work. It’s the quickest and easiest way to have someone find you! Remember to add your URL to your email signature or social media profiles. If you’re not sure where to start, check out SquareSpace or WordPress to help build your own site, or there are many online portfolio sites such as Behance or Coroflot. Furthermore, start blogging! Become a subject matter expert in your field. Much like with social media, blogging is a terrific way to share insights while positioning yourself as an expert in your field.

A helpful hint: if you’re applying for a specific position, pay attention to the company profile and skills they want. Fashion companies want to see fashion samples instead of health care samples, so create space on the site to showcase those samples and make it easy for hiring managers to see relevant work right away.

Using Networking to Find Jobs

When it comes to job searching, your alma mater is a goldmine of possibilities. Connect with alumni by emailing or connecting online. Go to alumni meeting and grow your network, adding new alumni every week. Network and discuss your work to improve your job search opportunities, or suggest ideas of your own for their company they might want to hear.  Reciprocate and help them out where possible.

Another way is to connect with people is through events. Professional organizations, charities, and meetups are great ways to meet new people and get the word out about your valuable skill set. Talk to at least a couple of new people at each meeting you haven’t met yet, and follow up (without imposing) to continue growing the relationship. Volunteer where possible and get connected within the community you are interested in.


How To Say Yes At Work Without Driving Yourself Crazy

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

As a creative, your unique set of skills is in high demand! What’s great about this is that there’s always a business or organization that needs you. On the other hand, when friends or acquaintances need some help designing a website or crafting copy, they may turn to you when your plate is too full. Or perhaps you’ve added several new clients who take up a lot of your time, but you love working for each one. We all want to say “yes” to as much as possible, but how can you say yes without feeling like you’ve taken on too much?

Before you take on the next big thing, consider some of these factors so you can continue to balance work and life while taking on the best and brightest opportunities:

  • Passion: Is this project for a cause you believe in, or area of interest you love? If it’s something you’re passionate about, chances are you’re going to pour more of your heart into it since it’s personally fulfilling. For instance, those who are committed to a healthy lifestyle may likely have a better time creating logo designs for a new health or fitness client rather than a fashion one.
  • Development: Taking on projects that help you grow your skills is a smart move. Whether you’ll be working with someone who can help mentor your career or add new strengths to your resume, a project where you’ll learn is a great way to gain new experiences and fill in any gaps in your work history.
  • Fear: Think long and hard about whether you feel like want to decline a project due to time constraints, or because you’re afraid to take it on. Never fear! The jobs that scare us a little are often the ones where you learn the most!
  • Being a Team Player: Your job might want you to take on a few extra responsibilities, and as long as they’re doable and you can devote attention to them, it makes sense to showcase your ability to work in a team rather than saying no. However, if these responsibilities start to encroach on your existing job duties, you may want to bring up the idea of an intern or assistant with your boss.

Of course, we’re working to make money, but there are so many other factors beyond a paycheck that make an impact.. The best case scenario is a project you’re excited about that also pays well! But don’t turn down a project with less pay if it’s something that energizes your spirit.

If you do have to say “no” to a project, it’s better to politely decline than risk burnout. It’s better to evaluate your commitments and choose the ones you love best rather than take on new projects that might lead to a drop in productivity. Allow yourself to continue working on projects you care deeply about, and keep an eye open for the opportunities you to take on!



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