Artisan Blog

Artisan Spotlight: Amazing Talent - Nina

Laura Pell - Tuesday, March 17, 2015

“To thrive in 21st century business we need to be willing to shed our own skin, think more creatively and strategically, be collaborative and reinvent ourselves to change with the times.”

Artisan Spotlight is a new monthly feature dedicated to the amazing talent we work with. This is an opportunity for you, the talent, to share your career experiences and impart your knowledge and advice to others. Want to be featured here? Get in touch!

This month we spoke to Nina. We met Nina back in late 2013 at a networking event and have worked with her ever since. Nina works in Brand, Digital and Marketing Communications Strategy and specializes in strategically building brands to engage their audiences, start movements and increase their revenue and growth.

Why did you decide to shift from corporate to creative?

I started to observe and experience patterns in the corporate world, both when I was an employee and as a consultant. One being that all of the innovation, strategy and ideas, and creative thinking and design were being outsourced to creative firms and agencies and not coming from inside the organization (nor was it being asked of the internal teams).  There was also a pattern of downsizing the internal teams and those who were left were being tasked to function as project managers vs. strategic thinkers. 

I’m a visionary, strategist and creative thinker and while I was hired into companies for those talents, I found myself being pigeon-holed into being solely a project manager and becoming less valued for what I actually provided. I thrive in creative environments where I can invent and discover new and innovative ways to communicate and reach audiences. I found myself withering on the vine and becoming less engaged and enlivened by my career and utterly uninspired.

Some deep self-exploration had me start to identify these things and create a new vision for my career and the experience I was looking for.  Based on what I identified as important and my own personality and skill set; tech-start ups and creative agencies became the playground I was interested in playing in.  Their approach to business and creative problem solving is more aligned with mine.  I’ve discovered that I’m really a creative who knows business.

What were your biggest challenges during this time?

Shifting my own mindset

I had to stop thinking like a corporate person to create solutions and strategy and start thinking like someone in a small growing business and what their challenges might be and how they might approach creating a Brand/Marketing Communications strategy and execute it with smaller resources.  I also had to set aside what I “already thought I knew” to step into the unknown and be willing to relearn and upgrade my own operating system.   Disrupting one’s belief system and mindset takes something…and is probably the most important step in making a career change.

Saying No to what I didn’t want

The only work that was coming my way at first was corporate work and I knew that to truly make that shift, I had to close the door on my corporate life.  I started saying no to corporate opportunities. Which was very scary because that was the only income I had known and I was turning down work.  For a short time, no work was coming my way. 

Not giving up

I questioned my choices, particularly when I saw the drop in income…or at times no income.  But I knew that I had to follow my heart or I’d continue to live an uninspired life where my career was concerned.

How do the corporate and creative worlds differ?

The biggest difference that I see is that the creative world has the ability to be more agile and nimble.  There is a perspective of “let’s try this and maybe we’ll be wrong and fail, but let’s try and see what we learn, then we can reinvent.”  I’m also finding that in the creative and start-up worlds there is a 21st century approach to doing business that is collaborative, transparent and open to exploring partnership opportunities, even with companies and products that might be considered competitors.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to move into creative?

Be willing to completely reinvent yourself

Start from within. Study, learn, set aside what you know for awhile to learn something new…step outside of your own box…you can then incorporate what you already know into what you are learning.  Learn as much as you can, network and meet as many people as you can in the area you want to move into.

Surrender your ego over to your vision

Be willing to take a lesser position, less income or take a career step back to move into a new direction. Be willing to learn something new and have a beginner’s mind, no matter how experienced you are.  I have a friend who did that in his own career.  He’s now the CEO of the company he “took a step back” to join.

Don’t get discouraged

Keep the faith. Believe in your self. Keep moving forward and you will get there.


What's next for you?

I’m interested in moving away from consulting and creating a full time opportunity with a start-up or creative firm located on the West side.  I’d really like to make the investment and work with one company that is in a growth mode and help them fulfill on their vision. 

"Believe in yourself, keep moving forward and close the door behind you and take consistent action towards you vision, you will get to where you are going."

 

 If you are interested in booking Nina for an assignment, get in touch.

 

Networking: How to Navigate Networking Events with Ease

Laura Pell - Wednesday, March 11, 2015

We’ve all been there; standing at the side of an event hoping someone will strike up a conversation with us. Perhaps you’re the person hovering around the coffee machine or waiting outside until the very last moment? Networking events can be daunting, but they can also be a great way to challenge you to become an even better version of who you are now.

 Think of it this way, everyone is attending a networking event for the same reason; they’re looking to gain something. People are there to make connections, to chit chat about work and maybe a sales pitch here and there about you or your business. If you are attending these events and not putting anything into them, you’re not going to get anything back.  By making the first move and approaching people, it will not only put other people at ease, it will also help you to stand out.

“Everyone is already engaged in conversation, I don’t know where to begin.”

Walk around the room with your head held high and if anyone makes eye contact, be sure to acknowledge them with a smile or a hello. If people are stood in circles and already engaged in conversation, don’t push your way in. If you can enter a conversation without having to ask anyone to move, join them, listen and simply ask a question to the person speaking about their thoughts on the topic. It shows you have an interest in what they have to say and helps to keep the conversation flowing.

“I’m not good at making small talk. I don’t know what to talk about.”

Approaching someone at a networking event and asking “How are you?” is a frequent conversation starter but it can be a conversation killer, too. If like most of us, you often respond with “Yes, I’m great. How are you?” the conversation won’t really lead anywhere. However, what if you were to ask “How was your week?” instead? The possibilities for a conversation can lead anywhere at this point. You find out more information about them and what they do, plus it gives you an opportunity to ask more questions.

“I never hear back from anyone I meet.”

When you get back from a networking event, send thank you emails to everyone you met. You don’t need a sales pitch or any superfluous speech. Simply let them know you had a great time meeting them and that they can reach out to you if they ever need any help. Keep it short and sweet. If you want to keep a dialogue going, try sending a follow up email a few weeks later. It can be something as simple as “Hey, I just read this article and thought it was a great conclusion to our conversation at the event.”

“I try to speak to so many people at these events, I leave feeling overwhelmed.”

Keep in mind that quality over quantity is always the best solution with networking events. You don’t need to talk to everyone in the room. Go to the event with a goal in mind. Maybe you want to leave with 5 business cards or give out 10 of your own? It can be something as simple as holding conversations with 3 different people. Whatever your goal is, work towards it. If you are tied into a conversation and you’re missing out on your goal of chatting with others, politely excuse yourself and ask to continue the conversation on email.

Networking doesn’t come easy to everyone. The key things to remember are to ask questions, listen and look for ways to help people. What are your experiences with networking events? Share your thoughts in the comments below, we’d love to hear from you.

 

Laura Pell - Recruiter at Artisan Creative

Reflection in Your Day

Laura Pell - 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?

Laura Pell - 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?

Laura Pell - 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?

Laura Pell - 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

Laura Pell - 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 

 

Landing Your First Job in the Creative Industry

Laura Pell - Wednesday, January 28, 2015

 

Landing your first job is often a scary and exciting experience. Will your first job dictate the direction your career will go? What kind of benefits should you be considering? Have you already held several jobs and now want to transition into the creative world? What should you say during your interview? We’re sure you have many questions, so here are just a few important considerations to keep in mind when landing your first creative job.

Portfolio
Depending on the type of position you’re looking for, a portfolio will be a crucial part of your application process. Portfolio sites like Behance and CarbonMade are quick and easy to use. If you’re looking for design jobs, your portfolio must reflect your personality and skill-set. Does it show a broad range of work? Is it easy to navigate? If you haven’t had an opportunity to design, include mock-ups and sample work.

Mentorship and On the Job Training
We recommend that you read Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg which includes some perfect examples of how people go about finding mentorship and guidance. A mentor who has many years of experience will offer invaluable insight into careers and skills. If a mentor isn’t for you, find out if the company offers training. Some companies have an employee allowance to go on courses; others will let you train on the job.

Skill Sets and Marketability
Skill sets can be transferrable. If you’ve been managing clients at a corporate firm which involved extensive spreadsheets and budgets, you have the foundations and the base to move into account or even project management. With that in mind, how do you demonstrate that you should be hired to move into a creative role? General Assembly is often a go-to company for courses that quickly bring you up to speed and introduce new methods and skills. Volunteering with non-profts is also a wonderful way to give back while learning. Think about the skills required for your chosen career path and try to demonstrate how you’ve applied them to previous positions.

Network
Everyone you meet is a potential resource for finding new leads or gaining introductions to companies. Networking increases your chance of landing a job tenfold so send out follow-up and thank you notes to people you meet. Joining industry-specific groups can be beneficial for learning and finding a mentor. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice and guidance. People love to share experiences and help, ask about their careers and take an interest.

Do you have any advice to share on finding your first creative role?

Laura Pell - Artisan Creative

 


5 Online Courses to Make You More Marketable to Employers

Laura Pell - 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

Laura Pell - 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

 


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