Working in an organization with little regard for creative career development is a tough place to be. That’s why I've outlined these 6 steps specifically for creatives, so you know exactly how to take control of your creative career development––even if your managers don’t.
1- Get it in writing No one likes filling out a long brief or intake form. I get it. But launching any project without a clear understanding of the objective is going to lead you into the land of disappointment and frustration. We’ve all been there, and it’s indeed a desolate landscape. Creating a space for open-dialogue with managers, stakeholders, and clients will help you not just meet expectations, but also go above and beyond because you know exactly where the bar is set. This will also help you creatively challenge yourself a little more each time.
2- Solicit the RIGHT feedback on your work. Sure, the sales guys love it. And the finance people think you’re an absolutely genius. But the feedback that’s going to help you accelerate your skills as a creative professional actually needs to come from other creatives. Because they know exactly what it’s like to be in your shoes, and what this profession requires. They will force you to challenge yourself in new ways, and give you the honest critical feedback (and support!) required for continual career growth.
3- Understand how your creative performs. You may not have the ability to get hard data on everything you create, but asking for updates on a project that went live a month ago should become part of your routine. As creatives, we can’t just send it and forget it if we want to improve our problem solving skills and challenge our minds. Additionally, knowing the efficacy of your work will help you showcase it more effectively in your portfolio and turn the heads of hiring managers.
4- Show up for the C-suite. It’s not a secret that creatives aren’t usually involved in high-level business discussions in most organizations. But learning exactly how your leadership views creative (ex. key brand differentiator vs. internal service provider) can help you show the potential business value of what you do every day. Additionally, creating a quick weekly or monthly creative report for leadership puts you on the radar, and shows you have a clear understanding of business objectives. (FYI: I’ve done this at several large organizations, and it definitely works.)
5- Learn about the business. I know, I know––this part is boring to most creatives. We’d rather just come up with a million amazing creative ideas and execute them, instead of sitting in meetings about revenue projections or company goals. But good creative should solve a business problem, and if you don’t know what those are, then your work isn’t going to offer that much-needed solution. Making sure you understand exactly how your work fits into the larger scope is also going to impress those who hold the cards when it comes time for that promotion.
6- Find the right mentor or coach. Seeking mentorship or coaching doesn’t mean asking your roommate to look at your portfolio, or reading endless Reddit threads on how to become Art Director. Good mentoring means you need to seek the advice of a creative professional who truly understands your future goals, what you love to do, your current creative skillset, and who you are as a person. Anyone who doesn’t have knowledge in these four critical areas is not going to be able to steer you in the right direction, because they are working from their own personal opinions, stories and experiences, not yours.
I hope this provides some clarity on how to take control of your creative career so you feel less frustrated and more empowered in your daily life.
If you would like more detail on any of these topics, please reach out to me, because I would love nothing more than to help you get the creative career development you deserve. 💖