Creative professionals should see more hiring activity in the months ahead, according to new research from The Creative Group. One-third (33 percent) of advertising and marketing executives surveyed said they will expand their creative teams in the first half of 2015. This is up 21 points from six months ago. Fifty-six percent plan to maintain current staff levels in their organizations. Only 5 percent project hiring freezes and 6 percent expect to reduce the size of their staff
The national study was developed by The Creative Group, a specialized staffing service for interactive, design, marketing, advertising and public relations professionals. It was conducted by an independent research firm and is based on 400 telephone interviews — 200 with marketing executives randomly selected from companies with 100 or more employees and 200 with advertising executives randomly selected from agencies with 20 or more employees.
Thirty-three percent of advertising and marketing executives interviewed plan to add new positions in the first half of 2015, up 21 points from six months ago.
Forty-one percent of advertising and marketing executives said it’s challenging to find skilled creative professionals today. Hiring managers at large advertising agencies (100+ employees) expect the greatest difficulty, with 59 percent of respondents who reported it is somewhat or very challenging.
Web design/production, social media, content marketing and brand/product management are the top areas executives plan to hire for during the first half of 2015.
“Customer experience drives many business strategies given the power of today’s consumer. As a result, companies are looking to refine every aspect of their offerings in the new year,” said Diane Domeyer, executive director of The Creative Group. “In particular, in-house departments and agencies alike seek creative professionals who can help strengthen organizations’ online branding via compelling websites and real-time interaction with virtual communities.”
Marketing and Advertising Specialties in Demand
When executives were asked in which areas they plan to add staff in the first half of 2015, web design/production topped the list (28 percent), followed by social media (23 percent), and content marketing and brand/product management (19 percent each).
Marketing and advertising executives were asked, “In which of the following areas do you expect to hire in the first half of 2015?” Their responses:
Web design/production: 28%
Social media: 23%
Content marketing: 19%
Brand/product management: 19%
Media services: 18%
Print design/production: 17%
Marketing research: 17%
Account services: 17%
Public relations: 12%
Creative/art direction: 12%
Mobile development: 11%
About The Creative Group
The Creative Group specializes in placing highly skilled interactive, design, marketing, advertising and public relations professionals with a variety of firms on a project and full-time basis. Other resources that can be found on The Creative Group’s website include online job-hunting services, candidate portfolios, and TCG’s blog. Gain insights into the latest hiring and salary trends in the creative and marketing fields at The Creative Group’s Salary Center.
After failing to get a single job offer after 40+ interviews and following the traditional advice for job-seeking, USC economics grad Daniel Seddiqui figured there had to be a better way. Sure enough—by being creative, resourceful, and determined – he found ways to get 50 jobs, in 50 states, in 50 weeks.
His resume now includes stints as a photographer in Alaska, a hydrologist in Colorado, a rodeo announcer in South Dakota, a coal miner in West Virginia, an Amish woodworker in Pennsylvania, a theme park entertainer in Florida, a cheese maker in Wisconsin, a seafood restaurant cook in Maryland, a model and modeling agent in North Carolina, an Internet marketing specialist in New York, and an auto mechanic in Michigan.
Many creative pros use personal projects to help them land the type of opportunities they want. But if you aren’t convinced it’s possible to create your own career opportunities, read Daniel Seddiqui’s book “50 Jobs in 50 States: One Man’s Journey of Discovery Across America.”
While the book is geared toward college grads who feel uncertain about how to jump-start their careers started, “50 Jobs in 50 States” is a fascinating, inspiring read for anyone who wants to redirect their career in a more satisfying direction. In each chapter, Seddiqui describes the highs and lows of his experience in each state.
What makes the story so compelling is the raw honesty with which Seddiqui tells it. He talks about the pressure he felt from his parents, the self-doubt created by his inability to get a job right out of college, and some of the 5,000 rejections ( and laughter!) he heard as he tried to convince people to hire him for just a week. When he embarked on his quest, he only had a 10 jobs lined up. But he resolved to do whatever it took to line up the other jobs as he went.
Because he hadn’t been able to get sponsors to help fund his adventure, he had very little money when he set out from his parents home in California.
So sometimes he slept in his car and showered at the local YMCA. On many weekends, he drove 800 to 1,000 miles to get from one gig to the next. He struggled through exhaustion, difficult working conditions, and illness.
As with any well-written story, this one features a strong and determined protagonist who overcomes a series of conflicts and obstacles to get what he wants. The journey proves to be an eye-opening, life-changing experience – with a happy ending.
By the time he completed his journey, Seddiqui had received offers of full-time jobs from 48 of the employers he had worked. (He also met the woman he would become his wife.)
In a speech Seddiqui presented in Cincinnati, he talked about the five factors that helped him succeed in his quest: adaptability, perseverence, endurance, risk-taking, and networking. He urged job-seekers not to limit themselves by applying only for jobs in their majors or in fields recommended by friends or family.
Here are four key points that struck me as I read the book, interviewed Seddiqui and watched his speech in Cincinnati:
A college degree doesn’t entitle you to great job.
Although college marketing campaigns might lead you to believe otherwise, a degree is not a golden ticket to secure, well-paying job. “But if you have faith in yourself and your mission, good things can come your way,” said Seddiqui. He advises students to graduate with a positive attitude and show your willingness to work and be trained.
You don’t need a professional publicist to get national and international press coverage.
When Seddiqui called his local newspaper to tell them about his project, the editors put the story on the front page and it soon hit the news wires.
Media organizations that covered parts of his journey included ABC’s World News Tonight, CBS, CNN, MSNBC, Time, NPR, The Today Show, the Chicago Sun Times, Fox News, and the Los Angeles Times.
Over time, Seddiqui used his ability to attract media coverage to his advantage. In some cities, the prospect of attracting media attention made it easier to persuade targeted employers to hire him for just a week.
Having an open mind is important.
“You won’t realize new opportunities unless you’re adaptable to changing circumstances,” said Seddiqui. Throughout his journey, he experienced different lifestyles, religions, foods, and hobbies He also accepted the living arrangements of the employers or families who hosted him. While working as a park ranger In Wyoming, he lived in a trailer. As golf caddie In South Carolina, he lived in a posh resort on Kiawah Island.
After finishing the 50-week trip, Seddiqui realized he had learned about 50 different ways of life and how much America has to offer. He was amazed to see how much the local environment shape who we are and how we spend our time
Networking is incredibly powerful.
Everywhere he went, Seddiqui met people who were willing to help him achieve his mission. “I quickly learned that if you prove yourself and your capabilities to people, they will remember you and connect you to others.”
Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory started following Daniel Seddiqui on Facebook after seeing him featured on the Today Show. They met at en event in Washington, DC, and the Mayor invited Seddiqui to speak at an August 26 forum at Cincinnati’s Museum Center.
Since publishing the book “50 Jobs in 50 States,” Seddiqui has been “Lecturing the Map,” sharing what he has learned with other young people. (See this speaker promotional video below.) He has also developed a semester-long program to expose college students to a wider range of career possibilities and industries.
For his next book project, Seddiqui has been traveling to some of the struggling or secluded communities throughout the U.S. to get an up-close view of what might be required to initiate social change. He has visited immigrant camps in the San Joachim Valley of California, an Indian reservation in South Dakota, and small towns in the Appalachian Mountains of Eastern Kentucky.
Seddiqui tells college students and recent grads that failing those first 40 job interviews was the best thing that ever happened to him. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have started on his journey and discovered opportunities that better fit his personality.
Most importantly, he learned not to fear failure. Despite all the hardships and setbacks he faced along the way, Seddiqui says, “I was optimistic about the journey and focused on the light at the end of the tunnel,” says Seddiqui. “I learned that each rejection moved me closer to an acceptance.”
In the book, Seddiqui concludes that “Even if people walk away from you, ignore you, tell you no, or shoot your dream down, the power lies within you to create an opportunity for yourself.”
Do you aspire to a career in the red-hot, fast-morphing field of digital marketing? If so, where in the digital-marketing ecosystem would you feel most excited about working?
Two wildly different resources from SoDA and The Creative Group can help creative pros better understand whether they would prefer to remain as independent contractors or strive to seek employment with a company marketing department, agency, or digital production company. Neither report was intended strictly as a “career guide” yet each provides insights that can help you choose a path that might make more sense for you.
The 2013 SoDA Report: Digital Marketing Outlook
The Society of Digital Agencies (SoDA) is an international association that that provides a forum for digital marketing leaders to share issues unique to today’s new generation of advertising. The organization’s members include 70 top digital agencies and production companies that have offices in 22 countries on five continents. Their latest report, released February 28, 2013, integrates the results of a Digital Marketing Outlook (DMO) Survey with dozens of articles, interviews, and case studies on topics such as agency ecosystems, innovation, experience design, agile marketing, and the rise of the marketing technologist.
Reading all 238 pages of the SoDA Report can give you insights into the types of people you will be working with in digital marketing. You will see how the client/agency relationship is evolving in a world in which there have never been so many different marketing channels and methods of gaining insight into customers.
The report is brimming with buzzwords such as engagement, micro-segmentation, humanizing data, complex personalization, and the psycho-dynamics of experience design.
You will also get a sense of how disjointed and unsettled the digital marketing world seems to be. One observer finds it exciting that “things are always changing, so that what was an accepted practice one week can seem outdated the next.” Another observer contends that marketers must abandon certain tactics because audiences can tell when they’re being scammed: “The world of marketing has moved to a place where authenticity and doing good work matters.”
The articles were written by SoDA members and guest contributors including CMOs, editors, and senior executives from organizations such as General Mills, Adobe, Dollar Shave Club, Marketing Week, The Art Directors Club, and Econsultancy. The case studies showcase innovative work SoDA members have done on behalf of international brands such as Google, Avis, Coca Cola, Barneys, Nike, Fox, Samsung, Icon Fitness, Unilever, Intel, and Cisco.
The Digital Marketing Outlook Survey featured in the 2013 SoDA Report is based on responses from 814 digital marketing professionals who work at digital agencies, full-service agencies with digital capabilities, digital-production studios, consulting firms, and consumer brand and B2B marketing organizations.
Only 11 percent of clients rely on a lead agency to handle all traditional and digital assignments. More than 50 percent either use a mix of highly specialized digital agencies (search, mobile, social) or a mix of full-service and highly specialized digital agencies.
The survey found that many clients are “insourcing” the set-up and maintenance of currently existing digital services while relying on agencies for highly specialized or innovative services. About 40 percent of the agency respondents have set up innovation labs and incubators. The survey also found that nearly one-third of agency respondents are providing education and training services to clients who have developed internal groups for digital production and maintenance.
When it comes to hiring and retaining talented people, agencies understand that money isn’t always the decisive factor. In terms of job satisfaction, employees rated the following factors as very important:
Interesting Work (76 percent)
Culture (75 percent)
Good Work-Life Balance (62 percent)
Salary/Flexibility (50 percent)
“We believe the 2013 SoDA Report will provoke meaningful dialogue about where the industry is headed,” said SoDA Executive Director Chris Buettner. A free iPad version of The SoDA Report is currently available for download from iTunes. A free PDF copy can be downloaded through Slideshare and at other sites. Additional tablet and web-browser versions are being developed (of course!).
The Creative Group Infographic on The Future of Freelancing
If you have in-demand creative or technology skills, maybe you would prefer pursuing project work as an independent freelance professional instead of aligning yourself with a single employer. The Creative Group (TCG) specializes in placing a range of highly skilled interactive, design, marketing, advertising and public relations professionals with a variety of firms on a project and full-time basis.
“Many companies are strategically supplementing their advertising and marketing teams with freelance professionals,” said Donna Farrugia, executive director of The Creative Group. “This approach allows employers to quickly get the support they need and access skills that might not be available internally. In many cases, project professionals are able to impart their specialized knowledge to a company’s internal staff.”
A recent survey by The Creative Group suggests that the freelance talent pool has grown stronger. Nearly three-quarters (74 percent) of advertising and marketing executives interviewed by The Creative Group said the caliber of independent creative professionals has increased in the last five years. Among those, nearly one-third (31 percent) said it has increased significantly. Respondents cited “access to specialized skills or knowledge” as the greatest benefit of using freelancers.
The research included more than 500 telephone interviews — approximately 375 with marketing executives randomly selected from companies with 100 or more employees and 125 with advertising executives randomly selected from agencies with 20 or more employees.
The research also showed that contract work is an attractive option for many people in the creative industry: Nearly half (49 percent) of advertising and marketing executives said it’s likely they would work as independent professionals at some point in their career.
“Freelancing jobs can pay well and provide greater flexibility and variety of work,” Farrugia said. “We’re seeing more professionals with in-demand skills pursue project work. And if you partner with a specialized staffing firm, its representatives can market your services and manage the administrative side of your business, such as billing and collections.”
The Creative Group published the results of the research in the form of an infographic. Along with various statistics, the infographic includes four questions that can help you decide whether or not you would be a good candidate for freelance work:
1. Do you prefer consistency or constant change?
2. Do you consider yourself a team player?
3. Can you perform under pressure?
4. Are you comfortable tooting your own horn?
As a freelancer, you must be able to market yourself, work well within a variety of different work cultures and organizations, and understand that freelancers are usually called in during peak work periods when the deadlines are tight.
Nearly four in ten (39 percent) of the marketing and advertising executives interviewed in a national survey said they have difficulty finding skilled creative professionals. In addition, one-third (33 percent) of respondents said they are looking to fill design or marketing roles in the first quarter of 2013, with advertising executives (51 percent) more likely to hire than their marketing counterparts (33 percent).
The national survey was developed by The Creative Group, a specialized staffing service for interactive, design, marketing, advertising and public relations professionals, and conducted by an independent research firm.
Other Key Findings
Hiring managers at midsize advertising agencies (50-99 employees) reported the greatest difficulty finding skilled creative pros, with 61 percent of respondents saying it was somewhat or very challenging.
One-third (33 percent) of those surveyed said they are looking to fill design or marketing roles, with more advertising executives (51 percent) than marketing professionals (33 percent) on the hunt for creative talent.
Midsize agencies, in particular, are expected to see the most hiring activity, with 62 percent of advertising executives reporting they plan to add staff.
Account services, social media, and media services are the specialties in greatest demand.
Survey respondents said they most value teamwork and collaboration skills when hiring creative professionals, over creativity and attention to detail.
“Companies seek professionals who can help improve their online presence and interactions with customers and clients,” said Donna Farrugia, executive director of The Creative Group. “In many cases, there is a shortage of creative people with the right technical expertise and soft skills, making it difficult for employers to fill open jobs.”
Marketing and Advertising Specialties in Demand
When executives were asked in which areas they plan to add staff in the first part of 2013, account services ranked first, with 13 percent of the response, followed by social media and media services (each with 9 percent).
Marketing and advertising executives were asked, “In which of the following areas do you expect to hire in the first part of 2013?” Their responses:
Account Services: 13 percent
Social Media: 9 percent
Media Services: 9 percent
Brand/Product Management: 8 percent
Public Relations: 7 percent
Print Design/Production: 7 percent
Web Design/Production: 7 percent
Copywriting: 6 percent
Creative/Art Direction: 5 percent
Marketing Research: 5 percent
Mobile Applications Development: 5 percent
Interactive Media: 5 percent
(Note: Multiple responses were permitted.)
Skills Employers Seek
When considering applicants for creative roles, hiring managers seek more than just professionals with extensive technical skills. In fact, nearly four in 10 (39 percent) marketing and advertising executives said teamwork and collaboration skills are crucial.
Marketing and advertising executives were asked, “When hiring advertising/marketing professionals, which one of the following factors is most important to you?” Their responses:
Teamwork and collaboration skills: 39 percent
Creativity: 16 percent
Attention to Detail: 16 percent
Reliability: 14 percent
Drive: 10 percent
Don’t Know/No Answer: 5 percent
Farrugia noted, “More and more, design and marketing professionals are teaming up with colleagues across an organization to execute campaigns and brainstorm solutions for business problems. As such, the ability to relate to and work with people who have different backgrounds and experience levels is important for any creative professional.”
About the Survey
The national study was developed by The Creative Group and conducted by an independent research firm. It is based on more than 500 telephone interviews — approximately 375 with marketing executives randomly selected from companies with 100 or more employees and 125 with advertising executives randomly selected from agencies with 20 or more employees.
Technology and changing business practices have fundamentally altered the way we work, build careers, and search for talent. While other parts of the world have caught on to this movement, the U.S. seriously lags behind when it comes to understanding this revolution and what to do about it. That’s the theme of “The New World of Work: From the Cube to the Cloud”, a new book written by Tim Houlne and Terri Maxwell and scheduled to be released by Inspire on Purpose Publishing on January 1, 2013. Houlne and Maxwell believe that those who embrace the new world of work can succeed in jobs without boundaries or buildings.
Although the book isn’t written specifically for creative professionals, any writer, designer, or photographer who does freelance work can benefit from understanding some of global workforce trends presented to hiring managers, marketers, and project managers in “The New World of Work.”
The authors contend that competing in this new world of work requires a fundamental shift in thinking. Once you can see and accept how work requirements have changed, you can create a better career for yourself.
For example, the authors envision a world in which professionals who have the right mindset and skills can choose jobs they are passionate about rather than settling for whatever jobs exist within a 50-mile radius of their homes. They write that when we create our own jobs, “We can put together workstreams of projects that we enjoy, rather than being forced to do tasks considered part of the ‘other-duties-as-assigned’ aspect of our job descriptions.”
The Global Talent Competition
The book explains that after the 2008 economic meltdown, our global economy spawned an entirely new way of organizing work. Work has been fractionalized, careers have been virtualized, and talent has been globalized.
“Routine work has been broken down into small tasks,” says Houlne. As a result, most companies will be hiring fewer full-time workers and outsourcing more routine tasks as contract projects.
Cloud technology is “virtualizing careers” by enabling professionals to work anywhere. The combination of fractionalized work and virtualized careers means that smart businesses can get talent from anywhere and at any time. They aren’t limited to hiring the best-qualified applicants who live within a 50-mile radius of their offices.
“While this is clearly an advantage for those businesses that can adapt, it is an even biggest opportunity for professionals who learn how to complete effectively for this work,” says Maxwell. “And, in a world with no boundaries, learning to compete for this work is paramount.”
Houlne and Maxwell believe that the speed of business and technological change has outpaced the ability of many workers to adapt, resulting in a mismatch between work and the skills required to fulfill the demand for certain jobs: “The jobs are there—in fact, businesses are crying out to fill them—workers just need to gain the necessary skills and attitudes to make those jobs their own.”
They point out “Work has spread across the globe because companies can source talent easily, and talent will compete for the work–not based on price, but on the quality of their work.”
Even though this means we all may face stiffer competition from others, some companies will compete for the best talent by providing interesting projects at competitive pay.
Stop Blaming Others and Move On
In the book, Houlne and Maxwell say it’s time to stop blaming corporations or the government for not protecting our jobs. Instead, we must accept that something much bigger is going on, set aside our fears, and prepare for the future.
They point out “The lack of good jobs is truly the most pressing issue in the industrialized world, but this challenge can easily be solved if companies and workers begin to think differently. The work still exists, but the jobs we once held do not.”
In the book, the authors present a roadmap for navigating the new world of work. For starters, they recommend that you start thinking more about the type of work you are most passionate about and the types of roles in which you can be most effective. “Professionals who want to compete in the new world of work have a huge advantage if they can stop worrying about their jobs and build new career strategies.”
About the Authors
Tim Houlne is CEO at Working Solutions, a virtual agent and technology solutions provider in Dallas Texas. Terri Maxwell is a consultant to businesses and entrepreneurs seeking to accelerate growth. She has built numerous successful companies and created the Succeed on Purpose business incubator in Irving, Texas. Together, they have 50 years of leadership experience.
According to the recently released 2013 Salary Guides from Robert Half Technology and The Creative Group, several positions in the information technology (IT) and creative fields are likely to see above-average salary gains in the coming year. The increase in compensation levels is due to high demand for these professionals as organizations enhance their digital presence and boost investments in IT infrastructure.
“Salaries are rising for candidates who can help organizations leverage new technologies to increase efficiencies, gain business insights and produce superior customer experiences,” said John Reed, senior executive director of Robert Half Technology and The Creative Group. “In some cases, there’s a shortage of individuals available to fill these highly specialized positions, which is driving up starting compensation levels.”
Below are six hot design and technology jobs in 2013, along with their anticipated average starting salaries in 2013. (The salaries are U.S. national averages based on data published in the 2013 Salary Guides from Robert Half Technology and The Creative Group. Actual salary ranges may vary depending on location.)
Mobile applications developers: As companies strive to reach consumers on smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices, they need professionals who can develop for the small screen. Average starting salaries for mobile applications developers are expected to rise 9 percent, with compensation ranging from $92,750 to $133,500.
Interactive creative directors: As companies of all sizes add interactive roles, they seek professionals with superb leadership skills and digital expertise to manage these growing teams. Interactive creative directors can anticipate a 4.9 percent bump in base compensation, with average starting salaries ranging from $95,500 to $160,000.
Interaction designers: The best interaction designers step into the shoes of a company’s customers and maximize their online experiences. These professionals understand the connections between people and products. Those with one to five years of experience should see a gain of 4.9 percent, to between $52,250 and $77,500.
User experience (UX) designers: Since so much customer interaction happens online, companies are looking for workers who can create positive digital experiences. UX designers can expect a 4.8 percent salary increase, with starting compensation of $73,750 to $110,500.
Business intelligence analysts: These individuals assist firms in making critical business decisions by gathering and analyzing data to better target marketing efforts. Business intelligence analysts should see a gain of 7.3 percent, with starting salaries ranging from $94,250 to $132,500.
Network architects: These individuals provide the backbone of a company’s communication infrastructure. They assess business and applications requirements for corporate data and voice networks, making it possible for data to be shared. Network architects are forecast to receive a 7 percent starting salary boost, to between $102,250 and $146,500, on average.
“The appetite for creative image makers is voracious” in this content-driven world, says Kevin Landry, president of New Horizons of Southern California. He points to the explosive growth of publications, web resources, and video outlets such as YouTube and Vimeo. Yet Landry believes that significant numbers of job and business opportunities go begging, primarily because employers want creative people who can deliver it all: artistic and inspired image capture combined with post-production skills, and asset-management expertise.
So, New Horizons has launched a Digital Arts Training Program for photographers and videographers. The program’s mission is to develop creative leaders who can deliver the WOW in visual content for employers or succeed as self-employed visual artists.
The Digital Arts Program is a linear education system that emphasizes the development of new visual voices, says Cindy Sutherland, Vice President of Career Development. She defines WOW in digital content “as the visual magic that stirs the soul, makes your juices jump, causes you to smile, or to bleed with tears.” She says WOW is the essence of art, and how you create and deliver emotional range and new points of view or dramatize dynamic visual stories and imagine the unimagined.
Students who qualify can choose Certificate Programs in five specialties: Wedding, Portraiture, Fine Art, Videography and Adobe Post Production. Each program requires 200-300 hours of classroom, studio lab, and real-world application assignments.
Certified instructors, who are recognized creative leaders in their fields, teach students foundational subjects in digital image capture. Then students progressively advance their skills in lighting, posing, narrative, character, video, and postproduction arts in Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom, and Adobe Premiere Pro. In the final classes, students learn personal and business marketing applications for their chosen genre.
“The training is fun,” says David LaNeve, Digital Arts Program Director, “but it is also rigorous and market driven. Students receive intensive classroom, studio, and location instruction within a hands-on mentoring environment. Upon successful completion, students will have a professional portfolio or video reel that displays their skills and creativity, New Horizons and Adobe Certifications, and real world assignment experience for their resume.”
New Horizons of Southern California is a network for five computer-learning centers in Anaheim, Burbank, Carlsbad, Chula Vista, and Los Angeles. It is part of the New Horizons company that has been offering computer-related training and certification programs for 30 years. New Horizons operates 300 training centers in 70 countries and has trained 30 million students.