An update on the hiring market for job seekers

The State of the Job Market for Creatives

We are not going to sugar-coat it—times are tough right now when it comes to getting hired. For new graduates, the projection is that only about 4% will be hired this fall (down from around 14% YOY). “The market is a little uncertain right now,” says our Director of Recruitment, Caroline Imhoff. “It’s balancing out, but clients are also nervous and careful about who they hire.” Want to know how you can compete in an uncertain job market? We asked Caroline, one of our seasoned recruiters, to shed some light on what she’s seeing in the job market right now and what creatives can do to help their chances of landing their next gig.

Budgets and rates are lower than in the last two years

About a year after Covid hit, many companies were scrambling to hire, using higher salaries and incredible benefits to attract new talent. But the boom of those years is gone and many companies have since gone through layoffs and managers are having to deal with extremely tight budgets. “Salary expectations are not meeting reality,” Imhoff says, especially of Junior Designers who are new to the market that was thriving just last year. Her advice? Flexibility is the name of the game right now. Talent will ultimately have to choose for themselves what makes the most sense for them salary-wise. And sometimes that means being flexible with your rate. “But don’t go lower than you are comfortable with, either,” warns Imhoff. It will set a bad precedent for working with your clients in the future. Instead get creative with your offerings, finding more affordable ways to deliver assets or using different tools (hello, AI) to cut down on the hours you spend ideating. 

Company shake-ups are disrupting hiring times

As we’ve mentioned, layoffs are an unfortunate ongoing issue. This issue is affecting teams on a daily basis, meaning that managers are juggling more than just their own workload. They’re also struggling to find time to, first, find the right candidates to interview and then find time for all those interviews. Hiring is taking a really long time. So what can you do? “Be easy to work with,” says Imhoff. First, ensure that your portfolio is simple, easy to scan, and puts all of the most relevant and best work front and center. Being easy to work with also includes not unleashing your frustrations on recruiters or the client. Be empathetic and trust that everyone in the situation is doing the best they can. Remember: the creative world is very small and people remember who they’d like to work with… and who they would never contact again.

Keep in touch with your most trusted recruiters

Did you know that recruiters can help you know exactly how to make your portfolio stand out to prospective clients? It’s true—but you have to establish a solid relationship first with one you trust. If you need help finding the right recruiter, check out this article. A recruiter knows exactly what the client wants skill-wise, but they also know a client’s preferences when reviewing work, too. “For Junior Designers, super artsy portfolios look great, but they’re hard to place with a client. You have to show what people are looking for—now,” says Imhoff. “Digital marketing assets, branding projects, and how you’d style a campaign are more practical ways to show your worth.” Recruiters can also help you prepare for interviews, letting you know what topics may come up and ensuring you’re prepared to answer. They’re rooting for you! Because placing you in the right job means they’ve done their job well, too. 

Step up your game—show and know the latest skills

“Client expectations are really high right now,” says Imhoff, which is why you need to be sure you’re up-to-date on all the latest software. If you’re a designer, you need to learn After Effects and Figma, period. If you’re a copywriter, you should show that you have experience writing everything from social media to 360-campaigns, but also that you’re capable of strategizing that next big campaign based on data. Research what current job openings are calling for and take some online classes to help you prepare before you apply to that next big gig. 

If you’re wondering what the latest job descriptions look like and what skills are in-demand, we’ve got you covered.

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