Artisan Blog

Reflection in Your Day

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Recently I found my days slipping away far too fast and at the end of each day wondering "where the time went". I wasn't sure how to mentally slow things down. At least with our body, we can be intentional in controlling our tempo by adjusting to what we need to be doing at any given time: like the difference in pace between sprinting and running a marathon. I found that slowing my (at times very active) brain was not as easy.

 

Often we push our body to a point where we hit a peak and then allow for recovery time. If we don't listen to our body, it has a way of reminding us the next day, and now we have to slow things down a bit to adjust. After thinking about this for a while, what came to light was the importance of taking a similar mental break from a busy day through reflecting. By taking short breaks and using that time to reflect on what is important and giving the mind a chance to recalibrate, I end up having more mental energy for what I am going to do next, (like finishing this blog in a timely manner).

 

The few core areas I choose to reflect on:

  • What I just completed
  • Did it bring me closer to my goals
  • What I am most thankful for right now
  • What's the one small thing I can do today to help someone else succeed


How much time do you spend reflecting and how do you feel after that break?

 

Jamie Douraghy - Founder at Artisan Creative

You’ve Been Laid Off: Now What?

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The chances are that you’ve been exposed to lay-offs in one way or another. Whether it’s a colleague, a friend, or something you’ve experienced yourself, staff turnovers happen in every industry. Being laid-off can be scary, but you don’t have to succumb to anxiety and panic. Here are a few friendly pointers to help you through your lay-off and onto your next job.

Time Out
First things first, take a couple of days to regroup and clear your head.  Start thinking about your plan of action and make sure to relax. It can be hard to think straight when your emotions run amok. Your self-esteem may have taken an initial hit, however pick yourself back up and think of the exciting opportunities ahead.

Update LinkedIn and Facebook
Your social networks are full of contacts, some you may know, some you don’t. Update your LinkedIn to state that you’re looking for new opportunities. People are helpful creatures and will do what they can to make referrals and leads.

Accomplishments

Make a long list of your career accomplishments including detailed metrics of your last job. What did you improve? Did you exceed targets?  When you begin to interview, you’ll be able to discuss them more easily. It’s also a reminder for you to see how valuable you are as an employee.

References
Don’t leave your last job without getting at least one reference. We’ve read some heart-felt and glowing references from former employers who had to make lay-offs despite the great work their employees were doing. 

Don’t Burn Bridges
It’s normal to feel upset after being laid-off, but that’s no reason to let emotions get in your way. Take the high road when leaving your company; be respectful of employers and colleagues. Send out a thank you email to your department, it’s also another avenue to receive new contacts and leads.

Resume
This one’s a given – update, proofread, fact-check and proofread again before sending it out into the world.

Plan and Budget
Make a 3-month plan and budget accordingly. The next couple of months may not be a time of frivolous spending but with careful planning you will manage just fine.

 Once you’ve done all of the above, it’s time to start the job search. Treat your job search like a full time job. Speak with recruiters, former co-workers and follow up with any leads you’ve been given.

 Have you experienced a lay-off? How did you get through it?

 

Laura Pell - Artisan Creative

 

Does a Huddle Help?

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

 

Several years ago when we took our company virtual, we were initially concerned with losing that face to face connection. For a small company back in 2009, IM, dial in conference calls, and Skype were the tools we had access to. Knowing the importance of keeping our personal connections dynamic, we tried a lot of different communication tools over the years, and settled on Zoom, and we still use IM for the quick inquiries. So while the distances between our team members was a lot farther than the offices we used to occupy, the concept of daily short huddles and 3x a week more in depth huddles, remained intact.


The above image was taken at a sports event using teenage volunteers. One can easily differentiate between those that are paying attention, vs. those that had other things, (such as lunch) on their minds. Even in face to face huddles, distractions are commonplace.

Earlier this week, while waiting for my turn to go through the airport body scanner at 5:00 am, I looked over to my right and saw a TSA group doing their morning huddle. I’m sure they’ve done hundreds of these on a regular basis, yet you could sense that each one knew this huddle was important. Somehow I didn't think I should photograph this group.

What I took away from observing these two huddles:

    Huddles create connection
    All teams use them in some form
    They allow the leader to set the tone
    Huddles create a quick forum to review the plan for the day/event/competition
    Huddles block out noise and help bring focus inward to what the leader/coach is saying

During your huddles:

    Create a pulse check, are they present or not
    Ask what each person will do next to bring the team closer to goal
    Have an accountability check-in
    Just a few minutes is all that’s needed

Post event huddles

    Allow the team to redirect and recalibrate
    Ask what worked and what didn't for that day
    Set the expectations for the next one

How do you huddle with your teams? What tools do you use? Can you share a success with huddles you’ve participated in?

 

Jamie Douraghy - Founder at Artisan Creative

Resume Buzzwords: Are You Really a Dynamic Team Player?

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

A resume takes time to write. It should be well-crafted and every detail and word scrutinized and then proofread before sending out into the world. A tiny error can be the difference between getting an interview and getting rejected. As recruiters, we read hundreds of resumes each week. So how do you set yourself apart from the rest of the pack? Generic buzzwords can fill up space but they don’t really say a lot about you.

 

Take a look through LinkedIn’s most overused buzzwords. Are some of these on your resume or LinkedIn profile? If the answer is yes, it’s time for a refresh. There are also resume writing services such as our friends at JobJenny.com who are one of the best in the business for resume writing and also offer one-on-one sessions to get your resume in tip top shape.

Things to Avoid

You may actually be “a motivated and dynamic team player” but it really doesn’t explain how motivated and dynamic you really are. In fact, it doesn’t really tell us much at all. Stay away from job-seeking clichés. If you find you’re having to bulk up your resume, you need to re-think your resume strategy. Are you currently using any of these words?
-Dynamic
-Expert
-Extensive experience
-Motivated
-Passionate
-Team Player

 

What Should I Use Instead of Buzzwords?
Don’t be afraid to show personality, we are in the creative industry, after all. As recruiters we want to hear about your favorite projects or your most exciting campaigns and your hobbies outside of work. Include metrics of your greatest achievements and show how motivated you really are without actually having to say it.
A few examples:
-Increased a brand’s social presence by X% within one year
-Tasked with growing a digital department which generated X amount of revenue
-Mentored junior members by doing XYZ
-Exceeded targets by X amount

 
If you want honest feedback and guidance on your resume, have a chat with one of the Artisan team who can give you some insight. We want you to look your best! Take a look at your resume; if it’s filled with superlatives and empty words, it’s time to start thinking about substantial facts and achievements to really sell yourself.

 

Laura Pell – Artisan Creative

 

Meeting Recruiters: 5 Reasons to Meet Your Recruiter before a Job Interview

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

 


At Artisan Creative we aim to meet every candidate interviewing with our clients. It's a crucial part of the hiring process for both the client and the candidate (and our team at Artisan). It's also an opportunity to get to know one another better and build long-term relationships. We've been in the business for over 20 years so long-lasting relationships mean a lot to us.

Inside Scoop
It's a great feeling walking into an interview feeling prepared and confident. If you are working with a recruiter they should give you the inside scoop and the who's who of the company along with who you'll be meeting. They should set your expectations for culture fit, dress code, number of interviewers etc. ahead of time.  No one appreciates surprises -- especially on interview day. Your recruiter should prepare you for your best interview possible.

Beyond a Job Description

Job descriptions may tell you the requirements of the job but they can't really tell you much more than that. There's a ton of information left off including lots of little details such as who's on the team, key projects and what are the company's future growth plans. Meeting with your recruiter before an interview will provide you with extra knowledge, especially if your recruiter has a long-term relationship with the client.

Relationships and Networking

Building a good working relationship with your recruiter is key.  A good recruiter can be a great asset in knowing the openings in the job market, knowing the must-have's of job requirements and being an advocate on your behalf. Building relationships with a recruiter will not only expand your network but save a lot of time, too.  A good recruiter can be a strong connector.

Culture Fit and Non-Verbal Communication

You can learn a lot about a person from their non-verbal communication. Meeting face-to-face allows people to connect and learn about your interests beyond your work experience. If you love craft beers and surfing and choose creative over corporate environments that may not shine through over the phone. We like to know about your interests and find an alignment with a client to make the perfect match.

Market Insight
The job market can be a volatile place. If you're looking to change jobs or start freelancing, recruiters can give you crucial market insight. We handle multiple job opportunities daily and can often help to give you our views on any changes that may occur within the industry.  


Laura Pell - Artisan Creative 

 

5 Online Courses to Make You More Marketable to Employers

Tuesday, January 20, 2015


 

At Artisan we’re big fans of self-improvement and learning new skills which is why we’ve put together a list of our favorite online resources to expand your knowledge and make you more marketable to future employers.

Online courses are a perfect way to hone existing skills and build new ones if you don’t have the time or the money to do in-person workshops and lessons. The important thing to remember with online courses and discussing these with potential employers is that you must demonstrate how you used your newly-acquired skills e.g. “after learning X I then went on to create YZ.” Show that you can learn something on your own initiative and then apply it to something else. 

Excel
There aren’t many jobs we can think of in our industry that don’t require exposure to Excel at some point. While some may work in Excel day in and day out, if you don’t use it too often you can become rusty. “But I don’t use Excel!” we hear you scream. At some point, you probably will and nothing will win your employer over more than having someone on their team who can navigate their way around. Excel Is Fun is a comprehensive YouTube channel with over 2000 tutorials and clips led by Mike “excelisfun” Girvin, a business instructor. There’s also Reddit’s creation, Excel Exposure and Chandoo with extensive tutorials and advice.

Web Design
Udemy’s Introduction to Design course aims to teach you design principles and take you further than just using Photoshop. It’s free and includes over 12 lectures to bring you up to speed on design basics. If you want to take it one step further try Alison’s Applying Design Principles which is a more in-depth look at design including production and colors.

Languages
Learning languages doesn’t have to be about classrooms and textbooks when you have companies like Duolingo and Memrise. They both make language learning fun and entertaining by working with the theory that if you repeatedly learn, repeat and memorize a word, it will eventually stick. If you’ve just started working with a new client who is based in Europe, try impressing them on your next status call with your new-found vocabulary.

Photoshop
If you work in design, Photoshop should be second nature to you but perhaps you’re moving into a more creative role or you need to start file checking or updating documents. For just $19 you can take a 30+ hour course on Photoshop. This course aims to teach you the basics and beyond. If you’re looking for free courses, Adobe also offers a 13 hour introduction on how to quickly master Photoshop which we’re particularly fond of.

Programming
There are a huge amount of online courses for programming, it can be hard to know where to begin. If you’re looking to move into a pure development role, it’s best to look at intensive courses where you can be hands-on but if you’re wanting to expand your understanding and come to terms with the more technical side, an introductory course can be helpful. Code School is an interactive way to learn front end development. They teach you by doing, so you’re not just watching online tutorials but you’re putting what you learn into practice via lesson plans and coding challenges. They cover HTML, CSS, Responsive Design and much more. We also recommend Team Treehouse, too. With a beautiful interface and easy-to-understand modules, learning programming languages has never been easier.

Have you tried online courses before? Which of these courses is the most useful to you?

 

Laura Pell - Artisan Creative

 

First Day on the Job: How to Make Your First Day a Success

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

 

The first day at a new job is nerve-wracking for everyone and first day nerves should be expected as you prepare to meet your new team members, managers and departments. To make sure it's a positive experience for both you and your new company, we put together a few of our favorite points to make your first day an absolute success.

First day success falls into two categories:  Operational and Interpersonal. 

The first step for Operational success starts before the start day. 

What are the orientation or training plans?  Does your new company or assignment have an on-boarding plan in place?  Will there be a workstation waiting for you?  Will you be working on a Mac or PC?  Will there be a team of people or will you be the solo designer for the day?  If you are working with a recruiter, they should provide these details for you ahead of time.

Equally important are the Interpersonal skills such as meeting and interacting with your new supervisors and coworkers.  Before you start, take a look at LinkedIn and your new company's social media pages to get a sense of the team, interests and company culture.

 

Introductions

Introducing yourself to new people can be daunting, especially if you're an introvert, but making an effort at the start will have its benefits in the long run. First impressions are lasting impressions so make a point to introduce yourself to your new team and have a quick chat with people you meet in the kitchen, the elevator or just around the office. Ask questions about what they do at the company and what they like about working there. Let them know what department you are joining and offer to help if they need anything from your team.

Treats

We'll let you into a not-so-secret secret. Everyone loves cupcakes or some kind of treat. Taking in a box of cupcakes or candy for your team is a delicious little ice-breaker and gives you a reason to walk up to new people and make your introductions. Setup business lunches to make more formal introductions and learn as much as you can about the company and its people.

Positivity

At the early stages, it’s best to listen more than to talk. Get to know everyone’s communication styles and personalities. You should be absorbing as much information as you can and asking questions so you can quickly get up to speed. Don’t be afraid to say you don’t know something, there’s always a learning curve with new jobs and it’s usually expected. Show up 15 minutes early, grab a coffee and be ready to tackle anything thrown your way. Oh, and don’t forget to smile!

How was your first day at your new job? Did you try any of these tips to get you through your first day?

 

Laura Pell - Artisan Creative

 

Achieving Goals: Why a Theme is More Effective Than a New Year’s Resolution

Wednesday, January 07, 2015


How many times have you set a specific goal for yourself at the start of a year and achieved it? In a recent survey of over 1000 Americans, just 45% said they set resolutions for themselves. If you’re the type of person to say “I want to lose x amount of lbs” or “I’m going to read x amount of books each month” but have never quite attained your goals, consider setting yourself a theme instead.

 

What do we mean by theme?

A theme is an overarching mindset that you carry with you throughout the year – it can just be a single word. If your goal is to become healthier, ignore the introductory gym memberships and instead of setting rigid rules, try implementing healthier habits into your routine. With every decision you make, think of your theme or word.

This can be applied to just about any subject. If your goal is to find a new job this year, rather than set yourself the task of finding a new job, try thinking of a theme like “building relationships” or “making new connections”.  If you spend a whole year putting effort into business and personal relationships, at the end of the year you should have a much easier time with your expansive network.

Much like good design, you want to keep your themes simple. They need to be easy to navigate and clear. Without having to focus on specific measurables, you may find you’ve adopted new habits without even realizing it. Remember to stay open to new possibilities and changes in direction; the significant thing about having a theme instead of a resolution is that you never quite know where it will lead you.

Did you achieve last year’s resolutions? What theme will you set for yourself in 2015?

 Laura Pell - Artisan Creative


Managing Finances as a Freelancer: Five Tips to Better Manage Your Income

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

 

As a freelancer, part of your job is to keep on top of your money and your financial plan. Managing finances may not be part of your job description but it’s obviously an important part of leading a successful freelance career. How do you manage your income? Are you leaving it up to a third party or an accountant or perhaps you’re taking each week as it comes? We’ve compiled a list of best practices for you to better manage your income and keep you money in order.

Create a Budget
Make a list of everything you need each month, both business and personal and keep track of what you’re spending. Mint has a great free resource for budgeting and they even send alerts to let you know how you’re doing. Make sure you pay yourself and budget for your own personal allowance. If you have a few months where you come in below your budget, you may need to rethink your freelance strategy or take on more work.

Manage Expenses
Here’s where the bookkeeping comes in. Familiarize yourself with a program to help you track expenses with ease. We recommend QuickBooks or a similar software program -- when it comes to tax season, it makes everything that much quicker. Apps such as DocScanner are a wonderful little tool to upload documents from your phone and help you to de-clutter your office space. Ana Rubio, Artisan’s Financial Controller states, “Tracking income and expenses can also be easily done on a spreadsheet listed by each week so you know where each check is going ahead of time. Keep track of all cash expenditures for a month so you know where your ATM withdrawals are going!”

Save, Save, Save!
You may be working now, but what happens at the end of your current contract? Unless you’re very lucky, there may be gaps between jobs so having some kind of backup emergency fund to keep you going is the key to longevity. Try to have at least a few months of savings based on your monthly budget – by doing this it will mean you can afford to choose the next freelance job that you actually want, not one that you need.

File Your Taxes
Tax season can be a pretty confusing time, especially if you haven’t been too organized throughout the year. It can take hours to file so keep all of your 1099 (for independent contractors) or W2 forms (for temp employees) saved. Clients should send these out by January 31st so start chasing them if you haven’t received yours by February. If you’re able to pay your taxes quarterly, take advantage of being able to pay off small chunks throughout the year to avoid being hit with a big bill when April comes around. If it’s within your budget, hiring an accountant can save you a lot of worry and time but it does come at a price.

Open a Business Account
By keeping personal and business accounts separate, you can avoid overspending and keep track of your income more easily. Pay yourself from your business account to your personal account so you have a dependable and steady income.

What advice would you share with freelancers? Have you learned from any mistakes? Share your thoughts with us on Twitter @ArtisanUpdates.

Laura Pell - Recruiter at Artisan Creative

Goal Setting: 10 Best Practices for Setting Goals

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

 

Around this time of year, people start reflecting on the previous months and begin setting goals (and resolutions) for the coming year.

I’ve also always done this until a recent event changed my perspective completely.  It happened by chance on my birthday at the 180th Meridian, the international date line.  In a split second I was simultaneously standing in today and yesterday.  Quite amazing, however, it made me realize that a date is just an arbitrary number -- a line literally drawn on a map.

As I reflected on a new “birth year”, it made me realize that “start dates” can be counter-productive when it comes to setting goals and resolutions. Why wait until an arbitrary date in the future like Jan 1, or next week, or even tomorrow to make a change that will be impactful in your life or in your career?

Why wait to plan that once-in a-lifetime trip, why wait to plan your financial future, why wait to get healthy and fit?  All goals will require time and action steps to accomplish, so why delay the start until sometime in the future?

As human beings, we fall into a second trap of mistaking our daily to-do lists with our goals.  We often set too many goals and try to change too many things at once—and then we get busy with life and only accomplish a few of them.   Once we get busy, it’s easy to lose focus, and have the day-to-day to-dos of work, kids, school etc. take over the goals we want to accomplish.  How many times have we all said, “ I don’t have time to go to the gym”, or “I don’t have time to go on vacation!”

“You have to decide what your highest priorities are and have the courage—pleasantly, smilingly and unapologetically— to say “no” to other things.” -Stephen Covey

Here are 10 Best Practices for setting goals that I have learned:

1)     Set only one or two (maximum) Key Goals you want to accomplish in a certain period of time
2)     Write down your goal and WHY is it important for you to accomplish this goal
3)     What do you need to STOP doing in order to accomplish this goal?
4)     Set a specific timeframe & metrics needed to accomplish the goal
5)     Work backwards from the date above and calendar the steps below
6)     Set the specific, actionable and controllable steps needed to reach that goal
7)     Ask yourself, am I in control of these action steps, or are they dependent on someone else? If so, change your action steps because you can’t let someone else control your goal, or plan an accountability metric and share it with that person
8)     Set check points along the way to track your progress
9)     Share your goals and action items with someone else and engage them as your accountability partner
10) 
Don’t wait…Start today!

Without specific mini steps along the way, the goal has the danger of becoming just a wish.

 Katty Douraghy - President at Artisan Creative

 


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