Hiring a new graphic designer is easy, right?

Creative62 is a brand, design and communications agency specialising in delivering effective solutions for marketing communications. Our requirement was simple, we wanted to hear from designers with a minimum of two year’s working experience, and those who felt they had creative flare. For a candidate with two years’ experience one would suspect there’s still a transition going on. The experiences of university will still be prevalent but in a new environment, decisions will be formulated regarding the current employer and job will be evaluated. Those that are looked after will stay, and those that are not will seek pastures new. Two years’ in a creative role is a good start, much learning is still to being done and hopefully they are on the right path.

For our own recruitment needs we obviously needed all the basics covered; straightforward you would think, lots of applications to choose from. However, let’s just say we were a little disappointed.

We decided on this occasion to use a specialist creative online recruitment service. There were approximately 1,500 applications of which 275 met some of the requirements. If you squinted 75 were shortlisted. Not one candidate (or portfolio) enamoured us. We then looked to a popular creative publication and received a further 100 applications. We met with four candidates and thankfully made two offers that saved the day.  However, the experience was onerous to say the least and not particularly exciting.  

The challenges and problems facing businesses like ours when we come to recruiting are significant.  Without pulling any punches, I would place the blame firmly at the door of the universities. Firstly, it was very clear many of the applicants cannot write a decent covering letter; one that is creatively written, grammatically correct and demonstrates flare and makes you want to read it again. Secondly, I was very surprised at the lack of simple creativity, it was just not there in the majority of cases when it was, it was average and failed to stand out and grab our attention. Some PDF folios were overly short, others far too long. How can graduates spend three years’ learning and honing their creative skills only to leave without the most important of skills. How to apply for a job?

I remember my final year lecturer taking the time to pass on a few nuggets of wisdom. He said, “make sure your covering letter is well-written and reads well; make it interesting. Your folio should be 10 pieces, no more, and comprise of your best work; the work that will grab the interviewer’s attention and encourage a conversation!” He also added that, if you let the job find you it is already ‘too late’.  There needs to be a competitive hunger to find the right job and impress the employer.

Whether you’re applying for your first job fresh from college, a work experience, placement or a more senior creative role, the approach is the same. This should be a pre-requisite of college or university life. Creatives are creative for a purpose. We create for a living and can create the situations if we put in the effort.

 It’s a simple message to lecturers: get your graduates ready for entering the workplace

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When writing this, two articles appeared in the press that I thought were interesting. 

The first, ‘Call for business leaders to be made head teachers’ here: http://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/call-for-business-leaders-to-be-made-head-teachers-bsj900gng, by Nicola Woolcock, at The Times. 

The second titled, ‘A better return on education?’ here: http://www.leicestermercury.co.uk/opinion-a-better-return-on-education/story-29894275-detail/story.html by Tom Pegden of the Leicester Mercury.