Make the most of yourself

We asked Ian Coulson, founder of Mustard recruitment consultancy and a branding designer with experience of the industry, what studios and agencies are looking for in the current economic climate – and how creatives can best sell themselves in frugal times

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“Agencies ask us to help find creative thinkers who are both versatile and diverse in their problem solving, people who can work across all touch points of a brand. The recession has seen clients cherry pick the best creatives, but just by hiring the right team member who has the right knowledge or insight on a brand could seriously help win pitches, help an agency stretch its offer to its clients.

The recession has seen a lot of activity within freelance but also some agencies focusing more on looking for permanent staff. So it’s 50/50 out there. The recession has also forced everyone to work late – so an agency that is fun, has a great vibe, could very much sway your job offer decision. Salary? Everyone likes to be valued and paid what they feel they are worth. Know your value but also understand that it’s tough out there. These days there are lots of other benefits than just your salary.

Mustard specialises in giving advice to people starting out, finding their way. The job market has changed dramatically within the last two years – be aware of style trends, typographic trends. Keep in touch with what is happening within the digital arena. Watch how brands talk to their consumers, their environment, viral campaigns; read blogs, see what’s happening globally in design, in architecture, in advertising. Don’t copy, but understand the reason why a brand is blooming, what the brand has changed, what it has kept, what they’ve discarded.

This is the type of knowledge that you will be quizzed on when you go for interview. Have an opinion. Be confident in your decision making. Be excited about working for some of the most amazingly creative agencies out there. In this current climate, show that you are prepared and have the skills to work on everything: identity, packaging, retail, POS, communications, digital. Versatility, diversity and a great sense of humour is the key to the current job market.”