Category Archives: Career Advice

The Talent War: 3 Tips for Job Candidates

So, hiring managers know how to navigate competition for the best candidates, but what about the hirees? What’s to be done when you’re fortunate enough to be the rope in a multiple-company tug-of-war? First things first, pat yourself on the back – this situation is not an easy feat.

1. Don’t burn any future bridges. When a company offers you a position, it’s like the business version of “I love you.” They’ve exposed themselves, they’ve said they want you, they’re just waiting for you to say it back. Even though it might seem like the interview process, a brief professional courtship, isn’t enough to form a real attachment to this company, you owe them a prompt response. If you think you’ll be hearing back from another company in a day or two, tell this company you need more time. Anything less (not responding for a few days, for example) appears unprofessional. This industry is all about networking and you never know who might be a solid resource in the future.

2. Know what you want. If both jobs sound appealing, it’s time to get down to the nitty gritty. Is there a commute (will you need to buy a transit pass – more $)? How long is the commute? It seems like secondary information, but the average American spends ten hours a week commuting. If travel time is something that will make you miserable, acknowledge that. As for the job, are you willing to sacrifice a more stable work environment for contract work on a big brand’s hot project, or would you rather give up a creatively stimulating position so that you have steady benefits?  Know yourself, or be prepared to figure it out once it’s down to the wire.

Boston Commuting Time

Commuting times for the Boston area. Dark purple = 60 min. (source)

3. Don’t be afraid to leverage. You should be wary of how much information you divulge, but it can be beneficial to let a company know you either have another offer or you’re waiting to hear from another company so you can weigh your options. Be polite about it, and don’t let on that either company is your first choice. Chances are they’ll understand your need for more time. Desirable candidates are, well, desirable, and companies know it’s usually worth putting in the extra effort to nail down a new employee.

Good luck! I know you’ll make the right choice. Just play your cards right.

The Talent War: 3 tips for employers on the hunt for top talent

As we’ve touched on recently, the landscape of the creative industry is in a constant state of motion. As jobs become available, candidates must adapt to the changing views of employers, all while employers are struggling to do the same. We have a saying around CM Access: “When you’re good, you’re gone.”

Talent wars and counter-offers are commonplace, but how  should they be navigated? Hiring is a game for both sides, and this week we’ll focus on how an employer should play it.


(credit: Mikey Burton & Mike Pierce)

  1. Don’t sit on a candidate. If they’re “perfect” for the position, they are probably perfect for a few other companies as well. If you offer a candidate the job, and they don’t respond right away, or skirt around an answer, state a deadline. Say you’re willing to give them some time, but you’ll need an answer by ____. You could lose other talented candidates by putting all your eggs in one potentially-perfect-employee basket.
  2. Be flexible. If you’re replacing a recently-departed employee, don’t pigeon-hole yourself by seeking a replacement to fill those exact shoes. Sure, you’ll still need to be able to walk in these shoes, but if you’ve lost a sneaker, don’t be afraid to consider what a sandal could do for your company. Just because a candidate hasn’t perfected one aspect of the To Hire laundry list doesn’t mean they can’t. Being more open-minded than a competing company can better your chances of winning.
  3. Give a sneak peek. Sometimes it’s hard to look past what’s right in front of your face. Sure, your company probably has a plethora of great projects, but to this candidate, the here and now is what will stick in their mind. Give them a taste of what they’d be working on, throw them a bone, and you’ll pique their interest. If they’re deciding between you and another company, it could come down to the project they’d be working on, so by golly give them a good one, eh?

Catching Up With Kristin (Pt. 2)

Hmm, where’d we leave off? Oh, right. Creative industry unemployment is looking up, digital, video, and mobile jobs are in demand, and we started delving into the world of acquiring and retaining employees.

So, alright. It seems like opinions about the value of creative departments have been changing a little bit lately. Any thoughts on that?

Creative departments often look for the perfect, all-knowing candidate. A superman of creative skills, if you will. Though their intentions are in the right place, a shift is starting to occur where directors are realizing the professional value of developing the needed skills within their current employees, rather than spending excessive amounts of time seeking candidates that have all the necessary skills. They’re starting to consider the solution of maintaining a steady, solid staff, and supplementing it with more specialty-experienced contractors.

Does that mean the market of employable creatives is shifting towards contract-work?

Yeah! We’re actually finding that the recession has steered a lot of companies and creatives towards more contractual work. Since the economy has begun to recover, a little over half of all new roles have been contract roles. 40% of in-house agency Creative Directors plan to hire freelancers this year as well. Perhaps the best part is that it’s given these directors the opportunity to hire temp-to-perm. 75% of my clients grow their creative department this way.

With a decent percentage of agencies and companies competing for freelancers, what advice would you give them to ensure they’re getting the cream of the crop?

Simply put: compete. Put forth the best, most interesting work and the freelancers you attract will reflect that. Treat your contractors like a full-time member of your team, give them opportunities to develop their skills, and be honest and up front about setting expectations. Also, be open to hiring for aptitude and culture over hard and fast skills. People that are both adaptable to your company culture and capable of learning quickly will be valuable members of your team, even if they don’t fulfill your grocery list of technical skills.

We will be checking in with our lady-in-the-know regularly from now on, so stay tuned!

10 Interview Tips from AMC’s Mad Men

Well, looks like Mad Men withdrawal has set in, everyone. It’s only been a month or so and I’m having a hard time with it.

From an outsider’s perspective, Sterling Cooper appears to be half circus, half perfect-place-to-work. Afternoon drinks get the creative juices flowing, people don’t hold back opinions, and everyone there is charming, in their own little way. You’d work there, right? Honestly, if I could carry Roger Sterling around in my pocket for the rest of my working life, I’d be a happy lady.

There’s a lot to learn from this show, so we’ve gathered some Mad Men gifs for advice on nailing your next interview.

1. You got the call!

Mad Men Sally Draper

Somebody wants you. Or at least was intrigued enough by your resume that they’d like to meet the personality that goes along with it. Keep your cool. When they ask about your availability to interview, pretend you don’t have an excessive amount of free time in your schedule. And if you actually don’t? Even better. A company wants someone who is also wanted elsewhere.

2a. On Interview Eve, get a good night’s sleep..

Mad Men Don Draper

2b. ..followed by an excellent breakfast the next morning.

Mad Men Peter Campbell

People don’t realize, but getting enough sleep, especially the night before an interview is crucial. You’re sharper, quicker with answers, you don’t fumble, and you look alive. In this interview, you may only be representing yourself, but if you’re hired you’ll be representing the company, and they want someone who can take care of themselves.

Maybe Don’s not the best example here.

3. Arrive within the Goldilocks window of time.

Mad Men Peggy  Olson

Don’t arrive late, but don’t arrive too early. Five minutes is perfect. Any earlier and you’ll spend an awkward amount of time with the receptionist, not to mention you’ll rush (and annoy) your interviewer.

4. Stay calm.

Mad Men Pete  Campbell

Your pulse might be going a mile a minute, but keep that to yourself throughout the interview. Speak clearly and deliberately. Don’t eagerly throw your answer in their face, let it roll off the tip of your tongue. Gives you time to really think about what you’re saying.

5a. Pay attention.

Mad Men Roger Sterling


Mad Men Don Peggy

Notice the workspace, notice what the people wear, what they’re talking about, and what’s important to this company. Context clues. Are the walls blank or covered with posters? Do they have the latest and greatest technology? Be aware of your interviewer’s personality. Blanket advice can’t be given as far as how to interact in an interview – you have to read the signs. If the person across the table from you is very professionally dressed and speaks formally, you’re expected to do the same. If they’re a little more casual or easygoing, you can let your personality show a little bit more. Don’t push it– it’s still an interview, and it still dictates your future at the company, but it means they’re probably very interested in the type of person you are as much as the type of worker you are.

6. Show ’em what you got.

Mad Men Roger juggling

And if it’s orange juggling, best of luck to you. No matter how the interview has gone up until this point, keep your confidence level high. Be proud of your work, and make sure to explain it well.

7. Be polite.

Mad Men Roger Peggy clapping

If you need to meet with several people and your smile died after Person 2, keep up appearances. Be just as friendly as you were with your original interviewer. They all probably have a say in this decision, otherwise you wouldn’t be meeting with them.

8. Say goodbye.


A solid handshake will do. A “thank you” will also do. And a follow-up email reaffirming your interest in the position will mandatorily do.

9. If it went well, postpone the Happy Dance. 

Mad Men Lane Joan dance

Not in the elevator. Not even in the parking lot. This also applies to any sort of victory phone call. You don’t know who you’re sharing an elevator with, and there’s a fine line between confidence and arrogance.

10. Don’t harumph if you don’t hear back immediately.

Mad Men Peggy

Interviewing is a long process sometimes. However, if they promised you a call “either way,” and if they didn’t follow through, you’re welcome to politely inquire.

So there you have it. Surely, this doesn’t cover everything, but it’s an excellent place to start. You can survive the interview process until Mad Men’s return next year.

The 30-Day Career Workout – 5 Tips to Becoming a More Marketable Creative

WorkoutA friend recently called saying she needed to find a new job and asked me to provide a referral to a former boss.  The first thing I did was ask to see her portfolio, resume and of course (as we were speaking on the phone) took a look at her LinkedIn profile.  As I was clicking on her name, she proceeded to tell me, “Don’t look at my LinkedIn profile since it’s not updated and I’m still trying to figure out what it should really say.”  If that wasn’t enough, she said that her resume hadn’t been updated in years, and her portfolio wasn’t current either.

Hmmm…she didn’t sound too serious about a new job, nor did it seem like she would be a marketable job candidate given her current state.  So how can you maintain or develop your professional persona or brand to get your career where you want it to be?

Simple! Invest in yourself. And it starts by taking a few minutes to read our 5 tips:

  1. Clean up your LinkedIn profile – Recruiters and hiring managers use LinkedIn to check out your professional profile as a complement to your resume and other credentials. If it’s outdated or not aligned with your resume, you’re doing yourself a disservice. While you’re updating, ask your colleagues for a few endorsements and recommendations that will speak to your credibility as a valuable asset to any team.  And it goes without saying, but be sure your resume is always up to date.
  2. Sharpen Your Skills – Fill a void in your skills gap with online learning to strengthen your skills or bridge the gap to expand your career.  How Design University has great options for creative and designers.
  3. NetworkRelationship building throughout your career is a must. If you haven’t reached out or attended a formal event in a while, then it’s time to get to it. Setting a goal of adding and interacting with new professional contacts on a regular basis is all part of maintaining your marketability.
  4. The Business Side – Marketers are expected to leverage data; teams need creatives who can effectively communicate with internal and external teams, deliver killer presentations, understand ROI and have superb time-management skills.   In many creative roles, business acumen is just as important as your creativity, so take stock of where your deficiencies may be and work to develop and improve these skills now.
  5. Be Well Read – Understanding industry trends via social media and picking up a book that other creative professionals are reading will help to round out your professional growth. A couple of our favorites are The Accidental Creative: How to Be Brilliant at a Moment’s Notice by Todd Henry and Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind (The 99U Book Series) by Jocelyn K. Glei.

As you finish reading this article, set a date on your calendar for a month from now to revisit your professional development. It’s a good way to check in with yourself to be sure you’re following through.

Self-improvement is always a good idea, so let us know how you’re doing!

Survey Says: Digital is on the Rise!


How are companies spending marketing dollars in 2013?

Gartner, an international information technology research and advisory company, surveyed over 200 marketers from US-based companies with more than $500 million in annual revenue to understand how they are allocating their budgets and which activities are contributing to their success.

Key Findings:

  • 6%  growth in marketing budgets expected in 2013
  • $25  million dollars are spent on digital marketing for every $1 billion in revenue with a 9% increase in 2013
  • 12.5% of digital marketing budgets are allocated to digital advertising, followed closely by content creation and management
  • Up to 50% of all digital marketing activities are outsourced
  • 40%+  confirm these top three keys to marketing success: digital advertising, social marketing, and corporate website

Which types of digital marketing technology will increase investment in 2013?

Digital Marketing

Image via

What’s that mean for you? Good news:  As digital budgets and efforts rise, so does hiring and demand for digital marketing professionals, so now is a great time to take stock of your expertise to ensure your digital skill set is strong.

Ready for your next digital gig?

Yahoo! and the Telecommuting Debate

Today - Season 62It’s no surprise that many are taking notice and reacting strongly to Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer’s new ban against telecommuting. Her decision is largely against the growing tide of companies embracing flexible work schedules in their policies. Mayer’s argument? According to a leaked copy of a Yahoo memo from its head of Human Resources, Jackie Reses, “Some of the best decisions and insights come from hallway and cafeteria discussions, meeting new people, and impromptu team meetings.”

Creative professionals are often ideal candidates to work from home, so this debate really got us thinking. Would teams collaborate more effectively and produce better, fresher ideas if they were physically together? Well, there’s support that’s not the case.  NBC News’ John Schoen reports: By focusing more on measuring how well employees are doing their job, and worrying less about where the work gets done, companies with flexible work policies are seeing productivity go up, according to human resources experts.

In a Forbes article, “4 Reasons Marissa Mayer’s No-At-Home-Work Policy Is an Epic Fail,” Peter Cohan points out that Yahoo employees are feeling demoralized. Demoralized employees aren’t likely to give their all, and we’d bet Yahoo is going to see an exodus of unhappy workers on the look-out for a company that supports them both professionally and personally.

We’d love your input: Does your creativity spike when physically surrounded by other creatives? Where do you feel you get the most work done? How important is working from home to you?

Let us know! Unlike Yahoo!’s recent tones, we value what our employees have to say.

Serial multitasker? Not so fast

You’re probably accustomed to working on many projects at once, while also tweeting, texting and rocking out to your favorite Spotify playlist. There’s never enough time in the day for all that you want to design, write and accomplish, and Multi-tasker has practically become your middle name.

Wait, slow down – unless you’re one of the elite 2% considered “super taskers,” research suggests you’re doing more harm than good. The other 98% lower their IQ by 10 points, lose two hours a day to interruptions, and suffer from distractions every 10 minutes.

In a humorous TED Talk, designer Paolo Cardini makes the case for monotasking versus multitasking and challenges, “Just how efficient is multitasking?”

We love Cardini’s conclusion and wise words of advice, “Find your monotask spot within the multitasking world.”

What do you think?

How Interactive Design is a Lot Like Joke Writing…

Huh? If you’re curious about the title of this article, check out How Jerry Seinfeld crafting jokes is like interaction design, by Joshua Porter. Porter is the Director of UX at HubSpot and founder of Bokardo, (follow him on Twitter @bokardo.)

Porter creatively links parallels between the UI design process with Seinfeld’s joke writing process, how Jerry works on a joke, refines it, and makes sure that it tests well before considering it done is a lot like the steps that UI designers go through. “  As Seinfeld demonstrates in his video, joke writing is no joke – it’s an art form, just as is the creative process of interactive design.

This article grabbed our attention, as we work with interactive talent for our clients’ temporary and permanent hiring needs every day.  We hope you enjoy it too!


With 2012 rapidly winding down, it’s a good time to take stock of your career in 2012.  Did you — stay in a job, lose a job, look for a job, and acquire new skills for a job you wished … Continue reading