Industry insiders’ advice on how to secure a job in the current economic climate

  • Obfuscation. I like this word for two reasons. First, more than is the case for many words, it needs to be spelt properly. Clear communication. Attention to detail. Second, its existence is almost an oxymoron. Nobody expects you to be a one-person design machine – evidence of teamwork is good. Many CVs I receive are as convincing (and illuminating) as that wonderful combo of alcohol and breath fresheners. Oh yes, and know your design history. I once interviewed someone who explained that they’d gone for a ‘Punky feel’, but couldn’t tell me why, or what Punk was about. Not good.
    Ian Allison, Creative director, Bell Design
  • The main issue with the number of design candidates applying for each design vacancy is one of quality. As the grip tightens on our industry the demand for excellence will be paramount. The jobs available will be given to the top idea-generators who can immediately have an impact on your clients’ business. Clearly, there are more designers out there looking because of the economic climate, especially freelances who want to secure fixed-term contracts. But, regardless of the downturn, it’s the same old story – there will always be work for great people.
    Glenn Tutssel, Executive creative director, The Brand Union
  • We all respond well to the unusual. Beyond proven experience, I look for personality, inventiveness and even a touch of humour. Good recent examples include someone pretending to write to us from his prison cell and a young creative introducing herself with a rejection letter to us. Nice twist. Mature candidates have to be knowing, friendly and confident, turning contact into conversation. Juniors should be inventive, honest and grounded. Gut reaction still cuts HR techniques, and a more relaxed approach to trial periods benefits both parties.
    It’s a good time to play with casual relationships while yearning for a happy marriage.
    Tim Elliott, Creative director, Jack Morton Worldwide
  • Finding work in the creative industries always requires determination, and it’s important not to be overwhelmed. Stay practical – not everyone will be maximising their chances, so make sure you maximise yours. There are fewer jobs and more competition.
    Simple maths says you need to apply more, spread the net wider. Job mobility and recruitment often rely on your address book. In a recession many of your contacts will move around more. Establish connections with people outside of their office so you don’t lose them (but not by stalking on Facebook). Be flexible and persevere. Recessions end.
    Laura Woodroffe, Education and professional development director, D&AD
  • At entry level, every design group needs fresh blood. The design industry thrives on new and different ways of thinking, especially in the digital age. [As a junior designer], your energy and enthusiasm should motivate and inspire everyone around you. That’s why you can offer value for money, even in these difficult times. At senior levels, all consultancies are looking to cut costs. Try to demonstrate that you will bring a level of creativity and experience. That will mean cracking the brief quicker, with fabulous, technically achievable design.
    Mano Manoharan, Joint managing director, LFH
  • There are still chances during the credit crunch. For the senior, it’s freelance work. It’s not unusual for those who have been made redundant to end up in the same jobs on a freelance basis, earning more. It’s ‘human recycling’. Target the types of organisations you’re used to. If you’re young, get in there with an amazing CV: a nice, simple, leave-behind idea. Target those you really want to work for, read up on the groups before you turn up and don’t give up on those who are making cuts – they will be recruiting again. And quit smoking and start cycling. You’ll feel less stressed. And it makes you really happy.
    Marksteen Adamson, Founding partner, Arthur Steen Horne AdamsonKey trends

    • Salary takes priority over non-salary benefits
    • In demand/ Digital, brand identity, packaging and fmcg, TV and graphics, client services, new business developers and corporate communications
    • Going down: Print specialists, corporate branding, retail interiors, graduates (designers and account handlers), and account executives
    • Freelance rates are already coming down, and recruiters are predicting further drops in rates of up to 20%. But freelances might lead the vanguard of recovery
    • Permanent salaries are expected to remain frozen over the next 12 months

    Design Week Magazine

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