As anyone who has been looking for new creative opportunities already knows, it’s crazy out there these days. Finding a creative job or gig is a challenge that requires new approaches and, well, creativity. And even more so in today’s volatile market.

Fortunately, it seems that the creative community has never been more willing to help one another out, especially when it comes to navigating the job market. We wanted to share some of our top advice and resources for finding your next creative job. And while we can’t tell you how to apply your (personal) creativity to your search, these are some checklist items that you can and should take care of.

Get the Word Out

First thing’s first – let your network know you’re a free agent, whether you choose to post the news on a social media or networking platform or tell your contacts personally. You’re more likely to hear about opportunities that you might not otherwise find out about this way, and people who are already familiar with your work can advocate for you on that basis. Some estimates say that 70% of jobs are never even posted.

Take on Some Projects

There’s no better time to pad your portfolio than when you’re looking for new opportunities. Platforms like Twine provide a marketplace for creative and digital freelancers where you can choose from a variety of projects and network with collaborators and other creatives (others that you might want to look at include Upwork and Fiverr). Any one of these projects could lead to a long-term working relationship.

Join a Creative Community

There are so many great creative communities and initiatives (online and offline) where creatives can make important connections, pursue professional development, and get practical career advice from peers. Creative Mornings (which has its own job board) and Meetup connect people with common interests through thought-provoking conversation and events. United Designers is a private but very active corner of the web exclusively for those passionate about design. Some communities like Creative Tribes come with a membership fee, but you can be sure that you’re getting what you pay for – including access to the #job_postings Slack channel. Rising Tide is another very active community that regularly has creative job postings. These are all great places to build up contacts and learn from people with diverse experiences in work and in life as you chart your path forward.

Optimize Your LinkedIn Presence

While networking platforms can be tiring, the hard truth is that LinkedIn is an important tool for many businesses and HR coordinators looking to fill jobs. Regardless of whether you’re applying to things directly through LinkedIn, potential employers are likely to look you up to get a sense of who you are or put a face to the name. Take that new headshot, and fill out or refresh the descriptions of your previous positions, carefully tailoring them to the type of work you’d like to find. If examples of your work are available to browse somewhere on the web, take advantage of the “Featured” content that lets you pin and optimize link previews at the top of your profile – a great tip for people who work in a visual medium.

Is Linkedin a good platform for designers? Debatable. But it won’t take long to set up – and it can’t hurt you.

Strike the Right Balance in CV Design

It’s important that your CV reflects an understanding of current best practice as well as communicating your own unique creative flair. This is a good place to show off. But if you are any kind of designer or artist by trade, you know that trends can be fickle and unforgiving. Be wary of leaning too hard into the latest “it” colour palette or the typography of the moment. Work smarter, not harder: you don’t want to have to fully revamp everything in the next month or two.

Build or Refresh Your Portfolio Website

A well-executed CV is important, but the format can be very limiting in terms of demonstrating the practical application of your skills and qualifications. Give your past work room to breathe and by building a dedicated portfolio website, where potential employers can really engage with your work. A good portfolio site clearly communicates “the whole package,” so that visitors not only get a sense of what you can do but also who you are. Personality is key to leaving a lasting impression. If you need inspiration, a good place to start would be the latest batch of portfolio websites to earn recognition from Awwwards.

Lurk the Creative Job Boards

Pretty straight-forward. Here is where you will find jobs exclusively in creative fields, often each focused on a particular industry. Smashing Magazine is the resource for developers and designers, Talent Zoo caters to those looking for work in communications, advertising and marketing, and the Behance job board has a wealth of design-related job postings available all over the world. On Krop you can curate a portfolio of your work, putting it front and center for employers looking to fill the jobs posted on the site. Creative Hotlist serves a similar function and includes a pretty wide range of postings for jobs across several creative fields.

Sign Up for Notifications

Generalized job boards like Indeed, Monster, and LinkedIn Careers can seem hopeless. But most of them have decent enough search functions and notification features, so you can minimize the amount of time you spend on them looking at stuff that is not relevant to your job hunt. Pick a few key words based on postings and roles that do sound like a match and sign up for email digests when anything new is posted. You’ll be the first to know, and you won’t have to spend demoralizing hours plugging in your search terms and scrolling.

Craft Some Killer Interview Questions

Being ready for the questions interviewers might ask you is the absolute least you should do going into a job interview. Take things one step further and come prepared with some questions of your own – this will be your secret weapon. In many cases, the questions you want answered will tell potential employers more about you than anything else. A favourite: toward the end of the conversation, ask your interviewers if they have any hesitations about your qualifications. That way you can address reservations they may have about your skillset or background on the spot. It’s not just practical, but also demonstrates an impressive level of forethought.

Help a Charity

Job hunting can be time-consuming, but once you’ve secured full-time employment, you may look back and wish you had done something the constraints of a typical 9-5 doesn’t always allow for – like helping out a charity. Engaging in pro bono work is an excellent networking opportunity that also allows you to hone your skillset and, crucially, build up your portfolio. You’re likely to earn at least one or two glowing references when all is said and done. It can be difficult to find good opportunities. Sites like Volunteer Match or the volunteer board at Charity Village are a good place to start. You should also reach out to your favorite charities to offer your services. They might just have a need for your skills.

Work on Tangents and Unrelated Goals

Set some time aside to work towards something unrelated during your search – whether it’s building up your freelance portfolio, starting a new hobby, getting a qualification or certification, or just learning more about something you’ve been curious about. Hunting for the right opportunity can be demoralizing, and being able to see progress in some other domain of your life (creative or otherwise) will keep you motivated (not to mention making you a more interesting, well-rounded and holistic asset to potential employers).

As James Patterson discusses in his Masterclass (idea from a JWT handbook), there are no fresh ideas, only ideas that mix what you know. Learn about a lot of things – creativity is a mashup.

Keep Your Eye on the Prize

It’s easier said than done, but do what you can to keep your head up in these unpredictable times. When it comes to finding a creative job, even the small wins are worth celebrating.

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