Hey CDs and senior designers -- how many interviews did you conduct last year? Five? Ten? How about 450?
Kate Gilman's job at creative staffing agency 24 Seven, Inc. has her scrutinizing graphic and interactive designers, marketers, design directors, and a slew of other creative professionals at the rate of two per day on average. Coupled with her own design background (she holds a Graphic Design degree from RISD), this makes her exceptionally qualified to explain what does and doesn't work in creative hiring. As the first of our four panelists at the upcoming San Francisco Coroflot Creative Confab, we posed Kate a pair of questions on the topic recently Here's what she said:
In the months since the economic downturn, how much of shift have you actually seen in the creative hiring patterns of your clients?
I noticed the downturn start in the fall of 08, and everyone was on a freeze until January 09. Little did we know what we were in for...the beginning of the year was not good for recruiting in the advertising industry, to say the least. The market was saturated with top talent, funds were frozen, and jobs just weren't available. Lucky to have a job, my role at work became much more about consoling and advising people how to get through this, rather than fielding calls from my clients.
But a few months into it, marketing and advertising executives started realizing that they couldn't keep churning out the same marketing content: billboard designs, websites, catalogs, advertisements, direct mail, etc. had to be updated. So we've seen a rise in hiring since then, though it's definitely shifted towards freelance and temporary work, with direct-hire positions only trickling through. Budgets seem to get approved one project at a time, and people are hesitant to commit long-term. Designers have shifted too, and those who were only considering full-time jobs previously have widened their search.
Your job has you interviewing an enormous number of designers, ranging from seasoned directors to kids fresh out of school. Underneath the answers they give to your questions, is there any kind of underlying tone or attitude you're looking for?
That's a simple answer: I am always looking for the basics -- eye contact, enthusiasm, and applicable experience -- yet they remain elusive in the majority of interviews. It's not easy to fake those qualities, and you cannot get a job without all of them.
You'd be surprised at the number of people who show up to interviews late, don't know what position they are interviewing for, forget their portfolio, fail to bring a copy of their resume, keep their cell phone on, sunglasses on their head, etc. If I am interviewing someone who is qualified for the job that conforms to the basic rules of interview conduct, they are truly in the 1% range. Candidate interviews conduct themselves!
Gilman, along with directors and recruiters from IDEO, LinkedIn and Aquent, will form the core of the San Francisco Confab, a day-long informational and networking event for designers, creative directors and recruiters from the product, media, branding and interaction design fields. Check out the Confab page for details and registration info.
Coroflot's Creative Employment Confab
Wednesday, October 21, 2pm - 6pm (workshops: 10am - noon)
The Autodesk Gallery
One Market Street, San Francisco, CA