Essential Interactive Design Career Advice & Hiring Trends

KristenJohnsonpicAfter two spectacular editions of the HOW Interactive Design Conference, we’re gearing up for the Boston conference, November 5-7. (Be sure to register by midnight tonight to save $100!) We’re so stoked to learn more about UX, UI, front-end design and processes from our exceptional roundup of speakers, including Ethan Marcotte, Husani Oakley, Blair Culbreth and Kristen Johnson of The Creative Group.

As TCG’s Vice President & Branch Manager in Boston, Johnson specializes in connecting interactive, design, marketing, advertising, and public relations talent with the best companies.  Johnson has been an active member of The Ad Club of Boston and AIGA, and she’s been a regular at HOW Design Live. Her numerous charitable activities and contributions include involvement with Junior Achievement, the Pine Street Inn’s Goodnight Program, the Cerebral Palsy of the South Shore’s Celebrity Gala, and the Alzheimer’s Association Memory Walk.

Johnson’s talk at HIDC Boston, “10 Stats Every Digital Creative Should Know” will take a swift but thorough look at 10 emerging hiring and workplace trends to keep on your radar in the coming year. Based on new research for The Creative Group’s 2016 Salary Guide and Creative Team of the Future program, you’ll not only discover which digital positions and skills are in high demand right now, but you’ll also learn strategies for overcoming common on-the-job challenges and becoming an indispensable team member.

We had the distinct pleasure of talking with Johnson this week. Here, she offers insights into her talk, as well as a quick overview of her most important hiring trends and design career advice:

What are some of the most significant hiring trends that are impacting designers or the design industry today?

Digital is in top demand and proficiency in areas such as user experience, web design, and coding are very hot right now. Hiring managers continue to look for creative professionals with a range of skills — aka “hybrid professionals.” Communication skills/soft skills are also becoming imperative for every creative — managers want to see that designers, for example, not only have the technical skills to do their jobs but can also communicate effectively with both colleagues and clients.

TCG 2016 Salary GuideWhich design careers are the most lucrative at the moment? 

Professionals at all levels with digital expertise are in strong demand right now.  Mobile and responsive design experience is particularly in demand and extremely lucrative.  Starting salaries for creative professionals in general are expected to rise an average of 3.8% according to our just-released 2016 edition of the TCG salary guide. Starting salaries for digital positions are expected to rise an average of 4.2% in the coming year.  Developers and User Experience positions are expected to exceed the average.

What should forward-thinking creatives be doing right now to be prepared for the future of the design industry?

A forward-thinking creative should be thinking about becoming more of a creative generalist vs. a creative specialist.  In other words, creatives who can wear multiple hats, with a wide range of skills will have more opportunities in the next two years. Also, forward thinking creatives should recognize new trends, and capitalize on them.  Creatives should be adaptable, flexible, and interested in honing their skills — both technically and non-technically (think soft skills).

What skills are the most important to creative directors and managers in today’s design industry?

Creative directors and managers want to see candidates with solid visual design and the ability to wear many hats — creatives who possess a wide range of skills are those who will see the most opportunities.

Regardless of the specific position or skill set required, managers are also always looking for candidates with good communications skills, eagerness and willingness to learn new skills. They want someone who will hit the ground running as a team player, come in early, stay late, come up with new ideas, and contribute immediately.

Why should HOW readers be excited about your presentation at HIDC Boston?  

Demand is often outpacing supply in today’s job market. Our recent surveys of hiring managers at large agencies and marketing departments tell us that it is becoming more challenging to recruit the creative professionals they need. Companies are finding it’s harder and harder to not only attract, but also retain talented professionals, especially those with the most in-demand skill sets.  That said – It takes more than just technical experience to be a successful digital creative in today’s fast-paced and evolving business world. My session will focus on ten important hiring and workplace trends to keep on the radar in order to become and remain more marketable.

Join us at the HOW Interactive Design Conference in Boston, Nov. 5-7, to hear more about the latest interactive design career trends and tips.