Join Kristin Ellison for an in-depth discussion in this video Introduction, part of Diane Domeyer on Standing out in the Creative Job Market.
(calm music) - [Voiceover] With more than 24 years at Robert Half, a global leader in staffing services, Diane Domeyer is a noted career expert who has her finger on the pulse of today's career landscape. Currently, she is executive director of The Creative Group, a specialized staffing service for interactive, design, marketing, advertising, and public relations professionals.
In this position, she manages operations for the firm's locations in major markets throughout the United States and Canada. - We're here in New Orleans at the AIGA Conference, and I have the distinct pleasure of speaking with Diane Domeyer. Diane, thank you so much for being here. - It's an honor, I'm thrilled to be here. - Great, so currently we're in an extremely competitive job market. - Yep. - We have countless opportunities to promote ourselves and our work online. Tools and training are readily available, and it seems to me that, at least in the creative space, degrees are not as important as they used to be.
You know, it's really more about the work. So given those parameters, what are you seeing the most common traits in our most successful candidates today? - Well, I think first of all, what I would say, is I would clarify that it's not that a degree isn't important, because I think education in whatever form that it may come to you to help you build your technical skill set, is really what's valued. But above and beyond education, what employers are looking for, really, is the experience level that you have, the technical skills, but on top of that, versatility and soft skills.
So, more and more, as an example, designers need to have traditional design as well as more and more emphasis on mobile mastery, as an example. Or having interactive skills as well as traditional, so what employers look for is that you've got both the skill set, the experience, and the soft skills that it takes to really make an impact on an organization. - So what do you think are some of the most common missteps that creatives are making with their careers today? - I mean, I would say one that comes to mind is not staying recent and relevant with either new technologies or new trends, right? So, design has changed so drastically and will continue to change, and so one mistake is while you may build an expertise in a certain area, you need to constantly look above and beyond to learn new technical skills and stay current with the current environment, so I'd say that's number one.
I would say second of all, a mistake that professionals make, is maybe not putting themselves out there or asking for new challenges or new opportunities that will help them broaden their skill set. And I would say lastly, I would say not, maybe, asking for a raise. So this is an environment that is highly competitive, and as a result, average salaries for designers are going up for starting salaries, and one survey that we did recently actually stated that 89% of the people that we polled said that they felt they were deserving of a raise, but only 54% planned to ask for one.
So you know there's a divide there, right? So I think it's, get the skill set, make sure your skill sets are current, ask for new opportunities, and make sure that you're being compensated for the work that you do. - And this is a little bit to the side here, are you seeing that one gender over the other is better at asking for raises or asking for new opportunities, or is it pretty similar? - You know, stylistically, when you talk about gender, people approach things in different ways.
I don't know that we've got any specific research that shows differences in the way in which you ask, but I think what's, or who asks, but I think what's more important is the way in which you ask, right? So, in order to make a good business case, regardless or gender, you need to have A. Done your homework, B. You need to make sure that you've made a business case as it relates to your contribution to an organization, and C. You need to do it in a way that doesn't surprise your boss, in other words, proactively plan for the conversation.
And men, women, you know, both I see have challenges in preparing to ask for it, and if it's done correctly, you'll have a better chance of success. - And when you go to ask for that raise, do you have any tools that you can suggest for places you can go to get a good barometer of what your value could be or... - Yeah, well you really hit on an important point, which is, it is important that you know your market value, and in order to know your market value, you need to do your research.
So there are tools, like through the Bureau of Labor statistics, you can go to their occupational outlook. You can also access, you know, we publish a salary guide every year specific to marketing and creative professionals. And you can also look online at various job postings, and there are job posting consolidators, like Indeed, where you can see across various jobs boards, what average starting salaries may be.
So there's a lot of resources, and I think it's important that you use a variety of data points versus exclusively relying on one. - And that salary guide that you're talking about that you publish, is on The Creative Group website? - Yes, yep, yep, yep, so it's at creativegroup.com, and we publish it every year, and it is directly in result to, as a result of surveys and research that we've done with the hiring managers that we work with throughout North America. - Wonderful. - The other thing that's important, though, is aside from salary, is taking a look at the big picture, right? So, it's not just salary, you have to look at overall compensation, so consider the perks that may be offered, the benefits that are provided, but also going back to thinking about keeping skills fresh and being able to develop some of your soft skills, if you're in an environment, regardless of compensation, that provides that for you, that may help you propel your career forward, you may be willing to sacrifice something on compensation or salary in order to gain that experience.
- Right, have there been times when people say, "I need a raise, and that can't be met", but they counter with, "Okay, I would be "okay with more vacation", or something like that. - Absolutely, I mean, in today's environment with the unemployment rates the way that they are, and the demand for talent, employers are concerned about attracting and retaining their top employees. And so as a result, employers are looking at it holistically as well, so if you're in a position where you may ask for an increase in compensation, and it can't be granted at that time, a couple of things that you can do, number one, you can ask to be reconsidered at a later date or number two, you can get creative in things that may offset that lack of increase, like you said, either increase in vacation time, more organizations are offering wellness programs or gym memberships or they may provide tuition reimbursement, parking supplements, so there's a whole lot above and beyond just salary and benefits' compensation that play into that whole package, and so you can be creative in asking for other things as well.
- I like that suggestion of tuition, because I think that really shows that you're investing in yourself and in the company as a result. - Mmhmm, and whether it be tuition reimbursement, or being able to sponsor your involvement in an association, right, so it does two things, number one, it demonstrates your ability to have a desire to be very involved in your community and to learn, but it also gives back to the organization in the sense that it makes you a better employee with fresh skills and increased productivity, and so, if that's something you're investing in anyway, why not ask your employer and make a good business case as to why that could be of benefit to them as well? - So, personal branding, it's a hot topic these days, but I feel like there's a little bit of confusion about what exactly goes into a personal brand.
Can you help clarify that? - Well, when you think about personal brand, I would say there's two components, there's a visual identity, and there's a verbal identity, right? So when you think of a personal brand, say for a designer as an example, the visual identity may be a logo that you create for your personal brand. It may be, of course, your portfolio, it would be your online presence or your website, so you've got the visual identity, but the verbal identity is the collection, if you will, of your entire brand or your online presence.
In other words, what you may publish on a blog, what you may put out there in social media. The verbal identity may also be what groups and associations do you belong to. So, it creates a picture both in terms of your visual identity, but also who you are and how you're involved in the community that creates your personal brand. So with that, it's an ever-evolving work in progress. You never build a brand and have the brand and it's done, right? Your online presence in today's world is really a big part of what defines your complete brand or personal brand.
- And is it a good practice for a designer or a design firm to sit down and go through an exercise in the same way they would if they were branding a company? - Absolutely. - And say, "I want people to think of "this when they see me", and really build that out from the beginning so that then, when they are blogging or they are on social media and on Twitter, they can sort of map their actions towards their goals? - Mmhmm, just as any product would be, you'd create a, almost a creative brief for your own personal brand.
It is an exercise that is highly valuable, and I would definitely recommend it, whereby you define what are the adjectives that describe your brand, what is the personality that you want to come through, what is the experience that you want to convey, and then also, of course, the aesthetic aspect of your own design style. And so, if you take the time to write up a one-page summary of what you want your brand to be, now you need to test against it, right? So, we've found through our research that 70% of hiring managers do online Google search, LinkedIn search before interviewing a perspective candidate.
- Wow, that's a lot. - And so, it's a lot, 7 out of 10. And so, what they're looking for is your personal brand. So if you've created your creative brief, you now need to go out and run a Google search, you need to take a look at your LinkedIn profile, you need to look at your online website or digital portfolio and say, does what my image say convey what I've wanted it to convey? And then you need to work on that. So, and that can be done again, through your complete online presence.
Do you link to your website on LinkedIn? Do you post or post content via your various groups that you're a part of to demonstrate how you give back to the design community? So, it's just an ever-evolving process. - So, you talked about visual components and verbal components of the brand. How do you know if you need a visual component? - I would say, first of all, if you're in the design community, the expectation is that you have a visual component, right? So, part of that may be in designing your personal logo, but also, you know, your resume having an aspect of your personal brand, but as importantly, is portfolios these days are expected to be in the digital format, so your personal brand needs to carry through to your online presence as well as your offline presence as well.
- Great, so what makes a successful personal brand? - A successful personal brand is one that's going to demonstrate both your experience level, your style, but also an element of personality while maintaining a high level of professionalism. The other piece of it is, at least when looking for a job or presenting yourself for opportunities, is that you tailor what you showcase in your personal brand to the needs of the client or to the needs of the perspective hiring manager.
So, it needs to convey who you are, but it also needs to be versatile enough to be tailored to the needs, either of your organization or of a perspective employer. - So once you have that brand in-hand, how do you then put it to work in a robust way? - Well, I think like any good marketing program, I would say you should start with assessing what drives traffic to your brand, right? So, do the exercise of doing a Google search or take a look at what an employer may look at to see what do they find out about you, right? So, that'll get a good idea of whether you actually even show up, right, so do you have a good LinkedIn profile or Facebook or your URL, can you be found, right, first of all.
I'd say second of all, is making sure that your brand is promoted at every possible touchpoint. So what I mean by that is, if you've got your own URL, you know, of course, that should be on your LinkedIn profile, it should be on your business card, when you're at various events or organizations, you want to be promoting your personal brand by handing out business cards. So you want to make sure that it can be found, and that it's consistent throughout any touchpoints that may be found from a potential network, client or hiring manager.
- The common traits of successful candidates
- Staying relevant, staying active, and staying challenged
- Making a business case for a raise
- Knowing your market value
- What to do when you're turned down for a raise
- How to establish a personal brand (both visual and verbal)
- Creating a personal logo
- What to feature in a portfolio: diverse, recent, and relevant work
- Tailoring your digital portfolio for different clients and employers
- Resumes and cover letters: a traditional or creative approach?
- Following up after an interview
- Making connections with hiring managers
- Building visibility on social media
- Engaging with the design community
- Thinking about design across all mediums