Social networking sites, Adobe Creative Suite 5, wikis—these are just some of the tools designers use that were far from ubiquitous (or even around) just a few years ago. Today, everyone is focused on the cutting edge, especially in the creative field. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for more traditional methods, too. Indeed, pulling a few “old school” moves could help you distinguish yourself in the workplace or during a job hunt.
Following are a handful of time-honored tactics to help improve your career prospects in the short- and long-term:
Cut loose from your laptop. In her graphic memoir, “Picture This: The Near-Sighted Monkey Book,” author Linda Barry talks about the benefits of drawing your way through creative blocks. If you’re stumped for inspiration, or trying to come up with concepts for a new project, try sketching or writing some ideas out by hand.
This approach may be natural to designers who create art outside of work—but on the job, nearly everything is produced using a computer these days. Putting a pen to paper can engage your brain in a new way and just may lead to your next big idea.
Think outside the box. Online training courses and webinars make it easy to learn without the time and hassle of travel. But the web shouldn’t be your only educational portal. It’s worthwhile to work with your manager to carve out time in your schedule to attend an in-person seminar or networking event. Not only are industry gatherings great venues for updating your skills and learning about the latest applications and tools, they also are excellent opportunities to connect (or reconnect) with contacts in your field.
Communicate with class. Whether you’ve had a new client meeting or a job interview, don’t use your smartphone to send a quick thank-you or follow-up note. Given the speed and ease, it’s tempting to do so, but no one will be impressed by a message that says, “thx 4 ur time.” Instead, e-mail a brief message within 24 hours of the meeting and follow up with a handwritten note. Better yet, compose your note on stylish stationery to send via snail mail—this small touch can truly help you stand out.
Network in person. While connecting with others via social media and networking sites is essential, it’s equally important to arrange face-to-face meetings with your contacts. You can learn a lot about an individual through online interactions, but you won’t get a full picture of someone’s personality until you sit down with him or her. Face-to-face meetings also allow you to show off your interpersonal skills; some of your best qualities—your quick wit, for example—may only shine in person.
There’s no doubt designers have to keep pace with new technology and emerging trends, but strategically integrating some old-school moves into your daily repertoire can pay dividends.
The Creative Group is a specialized staffing service placing creative, interactive and marketing professionals with a variety of firms. More information, including online job-hunting services, candidate portfolios and The Creative Group’s award-winning career magazine, can be found at www.creativegroup.com. Follow The Creative Group at facebook.com/thecreativegroup or twitter.com/creativegroup.
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