Oh the simple days, when back-to-school preparation meant gathering all your pencils, papers and that timeless Lisa Frank notebook to head into the first day of class.

Well, bad news – summer’s over.

In today’s professional (and digital) environment, much more preparation is needed if you are hoping to land that perfect gig. You can’t expect to send out the same ol’ resume and dust off the same ol’ portfolio to get a brand new job. No – job hunting in the digital age requires special attention.

This is an intentionally broad topic that we could spend hours (and pages) discussing, but for the sake of time and sanity, here are a few key elements you can reference for job search success.

Avoid the spray and pray

A job hunter’s worst nightmare, the ol’ click to apply website application is loathed by most, successful for a select few. When you see the “apply now” button on a company website or job posting, run! Ok, maybe that is a bit extreme. You can certainly give it a shot, but please don’t take it personally and instead take it for what it is. Many of these fast-apply options have algorithms created to catch key words or phrases, so even if your experience fits the bill, it may be passed over due to your resume not being “SEO friendly,” if you will.

If you do pursue this route, make sure to tailor your resume with key words from the posting (while of course maintaining the accuracy and authenticity of your experience). Even if you do make it through, please keep in mind your resume/information may be viewed by an HR professional who may or may not have experience in the digital/creative space. Case in point, this approach should only be used as one of many tools in your job-hunting tool belt.

Be friendly, be bold

One of my absolute favorite methods for finding a job is networking. No, not the “awkward handshakes and forced small talk” type of networking. In this digital age, we must take to the online with our pursuits! We must seek out the people most relevant to our job search – our potential supervisors and peers – then *gasp* reach out to them directly using this newfangled technology.

There are multiple ways to go about this, but in my experience one of the most effective is to begin engaging with a company/individual even before they have a job posted online. The purpose here is threefold:

  1. It shows your genuine interest in the company and the people in it
  2. It sets you up perfectly to broach the conversation if/when a job becomes available
  3. It helps you organically expand your professional network (you never know where that next opportunity might come from)

This is accomplished by reaching out on a site like LinkedIn with valuable information or simply a kind word. The key here is remembering the “it’s not about me” principal. Make sure to do your research, try to understand your audience and find out what is important to them. A specific example would be you reaching out to a creative director with a message along the lines of:

“Really enjoyed the campaign you all launched for Nike, specifically the focus on allowing the audience to see the world through the athlete’s perspective. Based on that I thought you might enjoy this article on some of the world’s best athletes and their daily routines.”

In doing this, you may catch their attention, demonstrate your interest and knowledge in the space, and set yourself up to push for a call and/or face to face meeting.

Talking to strangers? Terrifying, I know. #squadgoals

Would you add you?

Back in the days of yore, one would compose their resume, line-by-line and page-by-page. No longer! Now we are able to not only talk the talk with a physical resume, but truly walk the walk with our entire online presence and brand. The digital world is our oyster, as we can create content, generate discussion and share relevant information. LinkedIn gives you a great ‘how-to’ starting point here.

A couple of my favorites from this are: be authentic and be consistent. Picture this, you receive a LinkedIn invitation to connect with someone who you don’t know directly, but appears to be in your industry. Their profile has all their professional info, but also includes some fun tidbits about their life, from winning the “came from a smaller hometown than you award” (thanks, Chad) to a blurb about what really drives them personally and professionally. You accept. You then discover that this approach is mirrored throughout their personal website, Twitter account etc. This is someone who has put in the time, you say to yourself. This is personal branding in the digital age.

Practice makes progress

Always. Be. Learning. This is about as common sense as they come, but also easier said than done. With new technologies, methods and tactics being thrown at you from every direction it can be difficult to make sense of it all. Let’s take new technologies for instance. The questions I like to ask myself when I hear about a new technology are:

  • Is this technology solving a new problem or solving an old problem in a new way?
  • Will this be something I use directly in my job?
  • Will this be something my colleagues/clients/customers might use?
  • Will this be something our competitors are using?
    Does this technology have staying power?

If the answer is even on the scale of maybe to yes I dive in head first to learn all I can.

The crux of this is to always be moving forward, aggressively, learning every step of the way. Never lose that childlike sense of wonder and curiosity. It may not be as easy as a kid preparing for back to school, but hey, it’s a hell of a lot more fun.


Nick is a former Creative Circle Account Executive. His background is in recruiting, sales, PR and marketing.

They say you don’t really know someone until you’ve seen them with their guard down. The best way to test someone’s reflexes and get a taste of their instincts—including their ability to think quickly—is to surprise them.

Surprises are fun in the right context (think cakes, diamonds, plane tickets) but everyone dreads the job interview question that they truly don’t see coming. When it reveals a lack of preparation on your own part, that’s the worst. But if it simply leaves you with no option but to go with your first thought, it can be rather freeing, and bolsters the interview process for everyone involved.

Having left long-term job stability for the freelance life, I have a lot of catching up to do. More than half of the interviews I’ve had in my entire life have been within the last six months. The bizarreness of the process is a lot to adjust to at first. Once you get used to the variability of it all, though, it’s easier to detach from nervousness. Really, we’re being approved and rejected all the time in our interactions. It’s just that we don’t typically send and receive emails about it.

What’s more, it’s never black and white. You can have plenty of positive interview experiences that don’t work out. It’s tempting to feel perplexed, and to doubt your own assessment. “I really thought they liked me,” you might think. And hey, they more than likely did. When you’re choosing from among several qualified candidates, however, it’s not easy. It shouldn’t be about finally finding the only candidate in town you think is really promising. You want the luxury of selecting which of many that you may not even like the most, but that you think would be the best overall fit based on a series of circumstances, keywords, and probably pheromones and whatever other conscious and subconscious triggers you may have. A panel interview is even more complex, as you become the subject of foggily conducted compromises. It is, to say the least, an inexact science.

So, there’s only so much you can do. Lying will not get you very far. You can research and practice all you want (and at least some degree of this is definitely a good idea), but eventually you’ll have to answer something that takes you off your script. This is where things simplify, if you let them. There’s not much time to debate in your own head. You can’t take your contact out for coffee to get perspective. You just have to be honest and do your best, and there’s not much you can do to study for that. You already inhabit a lifetime of self-study through your own experiences. It’s easy.

Regardless of whether any particular circumstance works out, the more you think about it that way, the harder it is to get stressed out. Polishing your resume and getting out there on the search for matches is not the same thing as starting from the ground up. The work that really matters—the strange concoction of complicated living that leads us along our individual journeys—has already been done.

It’s less about reinvention than self-reflection. In any transition, it’s hard not to think about where you’ve been, where you want to go, and what you think you’ve learned is the best course. If you’re honest with yourself in that thinking, and you’re exploring a range of realistic perspectives on each point of doubt those answers that already live inside of you will at least be considered, even if they turn out not to be “right.” Ultimately, remember to be kind and honest with yourself.

The ecosystem of variables in this game is too complex to get hung up on. On a regular basis, talk to yourself about yourself and you’ll find it’s much easier to talk about yourself to others. There is no one way to making any sort of human connection. Just do the work of being you and trying to be positive, and the rest will do itself.

There’s only one real way to truly do you, and the most important thing is that you’re the only one who can do it.


Marjorie is a Creative Circle candidate based in Portland with a longing for work-related travel. She is a writer/editor and stylist/producer with an emphasis in the design world. If you are interested in working with Marjorie, please contact Creative Circle Portland.

Perhaps you’re working full-time and the idea of a more flexible work schedule sounds like the perfect antidote to your corporate routine. Or maybe, as a freelancer, you’ve struggled to find paying gigs and a steady paycheck would be a welcome relief. Whatever your situation, reviewing both options can help. I’ve been through this analysis in my own career and here’s a few things I learned along the way.1

Tax impact

When I left my full-time job to go independent, the idea of making a much higher hourly rate as a consultant sounded pretty sweet. Then tax season came around and I found out that independent contractors (those getting paid on a 1099 basis2) actually pay higher taxes than employees who get a W-2 at the end of the year. If you are a 1099 worker, not only will you have to pay personal income tax, but you will pay double the Social Security and Medicare taxes over what your fully employed friends pay (a portion of this extra tax is deductible on your annual return). As an independent 1099 contractor, you are both the employee and the employer and have the privilege of paying both portions. For a side by side estimate of the tax impact, see the table below.

A related tax issue is whether you prefer to pay your taxes quarterly (1099 workers need to do this) or have your taxes deducted from your pay regularly. The advantage of quarterly taxes is you have the use of the cash you would have otherwise paid in taxes for 3 months. But writing that big quarterly check can be painful, especially if you’re not good at saving.

Freelancer-vs-employee-income-table

Benefits

At most companies, the cost of employee benefits can be 25-40% of employees’ base salary. Of course not every company-paid benefit is one you’d want to pay for yourself, so consider which are essential and those that are only nice to have. The table above includes an estimate for three common benefits. As you can see, with taxes, benefits and business expenses, you do need a higher hourly rate as a freelancer than as a full-time employee to have the same financial buying power.

Medical coverage: If you are currently on a company-sponsored insurance plan and you resign, you have the option of maintaining it through COBRA3 (your company’s HR team can give you the cost for this) or you can sign up for an individual plan. State or federal insurance exchanges (via the Affordable Care Act) are a good way to estimate the cost of an individual plan.

Other insurance: Do you want dental, vision, life, or disability insurance? Each is available at a price. Disability insurance can be difficult to get unless you can show a stable stream of income.

Retirement accounts: One advantage of being a freelancer is that you may be able to save significantly more per year in a tax advantaged retirement account. There are many flavors of IRAs, Roth IRAs, and individual 401ks. It’s best to talk to a tax advisor to understand the options and the advantages they may have over an employer sponsored 401k. Of course, employer based 401ks often come with a company match which will likely be missing from your individual plan.

Time off: Paid vacation, holidays and sick time are typically not something freelancers can expect. In a few cities even clients of independent contractors need to provide paid sick time (dependent on hours worked), but in most cases freelancers have to fund their own time off.

Business expenses

As a freelancer, you’ll have to pay for a lot of things that employers typically provide like equipment, office supplies and Wi-Fi. But if you’re independent, you have the freedom to choose the business expenses you want and they’re typically tax deductible.

Finding work

Oh yeah… there’s that. When you’re independent, you have to actually build a business. This was probably the biggest sticking point for me when I went out on my own. I loved doing the work and I was good at it. But potential clients couldn’t always find me and often didn’t realize what I could do for them. It’s hard work to figure out a marketing strategy and to sell yourself and your capabilities… something that would cause me to break out in a cold sweat if I thought too much about it. Independent contractors I’ve spoken with said that they spend 30-50% of their time networking and marketing. This challenge of finding work is why staffing firms like Creative Circle have so many talented freelancers on our roster.

And word to the wise, if you’re getting paid by the project and not by the hour, it’s easy to underestimate how long a project will take to complete. I was always tweaking and improving upon my work. Great for the client. Not so great for my bottom line. If you’re getting paid by the project, the fee you negotiate is typically the fee you get regardless of how much time it takes.

Being part of a team

The other aspect of being independent that I sometimes found difficult is that I would often go for several days without seeing anyone I worked with. For some, this might be a blessing, but I enjoy being part of a team. Yes, I’d often go into client offices and sometimes even work out of them for several weeks at a time. But even then you’re usually viewed as being an outsider. And often I’d be at home, working by myself and communicating remotely. If working with others is important to you, then being an internal employee may be more attractive. And if you’re a freelancer with a social mindset, look for longer term projects that include working in client offices or on client teams.

Flexibility

I saved the best benefit of being freelance for last. Yes, it is great to roll out of bed and begin work in your jammies while waking up to your first cup of morning coffee. It’s also awesome to take as many days off as you want (unpaid though they may be) and it’s incredibly satisfying to take an afternoon off to go on a hike only to come home and pick up where you left off because you feel so inspired. When you’re independent, you can work when you want, often where you want, and in the way you want. There can be more time for hobbies, family, fitness, travel or starting the next great American novel. Understandably, this is the main draw of going freelance.

The bottom line

Freedom vs. stability, independence vs. team affiliation, paid benefits vs. personal control… these are all options that will weigh differently for everyone. And no choice is forever. Your needs, interests and goals will change over time. Fortunately, with today’s technology, economy and workplace realities, opportunities to move between full-time and freelance can be fairly seamless, provided the work and jobs are available. Employers, especially those within the creative, digital, and marketing worlds, are generally understanding about candidates who make these transitions (unless they happen too frequently). And working on multiple independent assignments can strengthen your portfolio or resume by giving you a greater variety of projects to work on then you would typically get working for only one employer. This can help you land even better full-time jobs in the future.

[1]The information in this article focuses on a clear 1099 vs W-2 choice. Individuals who work through staffing firms (including Creative Circle) often have a blend of both worlds, being a W-2 employee of the staffing agency for the work they do through them and a 1099 employee for any independent work they do for their own clients.
[2] 1099 and W-2 are the terms used by the IRS to describe the forms you receive at the end of each tax year that companies use to report what they paid you. If you’re an employee, they send you a W-2 form and if you’re an independent contractor, they send you a 1099 form.
[3] COBRA is a law that allows you to keep your company’s medical insurance active after leaving their employment. You will need to pay for both the employer and employee portion of the insurance and it can be quite expensive. You can only keep this COBRA plan for a period of time however (typically 18 months), after which you’ll need to buy an individual plan.
[4] The footnotes below correspond to the letters notated in the ‘Tax impact’ table.
(a) Estimates based on 30-year-old single person (0 dependents).
(b) Estimated taxes are based on a Single and 1 filing status. State taxes are based on CA rates and will vary state to state.
(c) SS tax for W-2 = 6.2% of wages ($118.5k income cap). Medicare tax for W-2 = 1.45% (no cap).
1099 workers pay double (12.4% and 2.9% respectively). A portion for 1099 workers is tax deductible.
(d) 1099: silver plan (CA exchange) w/ $2,250 deductible; W-2: avg employee contribution for gold/platinum plan (per broker).
(e) 1099: lowest level of coverage (eHealth.com); W-2: avg employee contribution for common employer plan (per broker).
(f) Cost of receiving no pay for 2 weeks of vacation and 10 holidays.
(g) Estimate of business expenses (i.e. office supplies, dues, entertainment, travel) – these expenses are tax deductible.


Robin Elledge is Creative Circle’s Chief Administrative Officer. She directs the teams in Human Resources, Training/OD, Real Estate/Facilities and Internal Recruiting.

As a digital native—a term derived in the early 2000s to describe a generation of young people born into a world inextricable from the imprint of digital technology and the internet—the digital world is one that conjures a multitude of inspiring possibilities and associations in my mind. I’ve been an introvert for as long as I can remember, and connecting with strangers face to face has never proven to be second nature for me. While I undeniably have a shortlist of gripes with my own web presence like everybody else, on a (semi) professional, and academic, and personal level, the opportunities that the digital sphere has afforded me are limitless. In anticipation of a forthcoming career in the field, here are some reflections on the all-consuming medium.

To begin, my developed passion for music is inextricable from the social feed. This is true on many levels. My discovery of new music, for example, would be severely impeded without the algorithmically-determined suggestions that SoundCloud, YouTube, Pandora, and other streaming services provide. In fact, my journey through the Los Angeles music scene as a whole, a journey which has culminated in my current Venice-based internship at a music publication, started in the “related” sections.

In short, after a night of browsing classical music on youtube—a series of search queries that stemmed from my violin lessons at the time—I stumbled upon punk music. Soon, I had found my way to videos that chronicled the history of Los Angeles punk scene in the past and the present. As I soon discovered, the musical tapestry of my home city was endlessly rich, diverse, and open-ended. With the aide of Facebook groups, I was soon getting involved in the scene myself, attending live performances at some of the city’s most storied venues. That was nearly six years ago. Fast forward to the summer of 2016: while my taste, maturity, and educational opportunities have changed, my passion for music has not.

My academic pursuits have also been sparked by these experiences, where I study the digital technologies that deliver creative inspiration to me daily. Ultimately, it was the sleepless nights soaking up all the information I could about various bands, labels, and clubs that drove me to focus on a digital media major. My interest in art history stemmed from something similar. After attending an exhibit on abstract expressionism at the MOCA in downtown L.A. when I was in my latter high school years, I knew instinctively that I had to know more. In the weeks that followed, I researched all that I could about a slew of key movements, artists, and creative epicenters. Just as I’ve turned to a digital media major to pursue a career in the music industry, I declared a minor in art history to delve deeper into a passion that stemmed from the digital sphere.

Heading into my third year at school, I can confidently say that the real, tangible, invaluable experiences I’ve had in the local creative community wouldn’t without my presence on the internet. As the sharing economy expands exponentially, the digital native generation grows more numerous, and as our physical world becomes less and less separable from the silhouettes of augmented reality, the possibilities for digital technologies to serve as tool of education and empowerment grow in tandem. Amidst popular fears over the implications that such technologies may have on our social skills, attention span, and processing speed, the digital world still manages to instill particular hope for the future within me.

Despite the dizzying whirlwind of oversharing and rampant plagiarism, digital technologies remain indispensable for those following a path in the creative community. Whether empowering others with the wealth of readily available educational tools or simply giving brilliant work its due through channels of exposure, cultivating a presence online is integral to maintaining a sense of community among peers.

To other young creatives: What does digital mean to you? Does other creative work inspire you to engage on or unplug from social media? Does connecting through social media channels make you feel more in sync with your peers, or more distant? Do you feel most comfortable displaying your work and/or on photo sharing apps or in person? I’d like to hear your thoughts in the comments.


Evan is a 20-year-old college student, born and raised in Los Angeles, who has been shaped in innumerable ways by its creative community. He is majoring in digital media and minoring in art history with a dream of working in the music industry since his early experiences at punk shows during his teenage years. Evan currently interns at an online music magazine and ticketing platform, along with a marketing internship at Creative Circle.

Creating a portfolio is a fundamentally nerve-wracking exercise in self-analysis, one by which the world of potential employment will judge you. Its importance can’t be underestimated, and it is a representation of what you have to offer to the busy, changing world. It helps cut down on the overwhelming aspects if you break it up into three strategic priorities:

1. Design

This is easier than it might seem at first. Start by getting in touch with your own tastes. Especially in a creative industry, it’s great to show your personality and reveal a bit of your self. Instead of attempting the impossible task of trying to psychically determine what someone else wants to see, create a look that you enjoy. Maybe do a bit of roleplaying to try to envision what a boss-type might expect, but feel free to stay true to your own aesthetics. You’re ultimately not going to find a good fit in a position where tastes clash too strongly. You may as well begin establishing your perspective early. (Plus, it’s fun.)

2. Usability

This is less fun, arguably, but at least as important as the design and look of your portfolio. People are so used to being led down carefully laid trails of breadcrumbs on the internet—which is built and populated by a whole lot of people who spend their careers perfecting it—that many of them will automatically give up when they reach a dead end. Don’t let this happen to your work! Go through your entire site, and make note of how easy it is to get around. Have you created tunnels of information that people might get lost in? Organize your work by a clear rule: by project time is a good one to start with. Then make sure you can flow through each section without getting frustrated by added clicks or paging backwards. It’s worth hopping into a conversation with your website builder’s help desk (Squarespace or equivalent) if it means people are going to be more likely to give your work the consideration it deserves.

3. Depth

Those who’ve made it fairly deep into their career paths may have quite a bit of work to include. Younger candidates are often told to emphasize only their best work, but if you’ve been around for a while (or you are luckily prolific), narrowing it down to a top five or even 10 just won’t cut it. As long as your navigation is kept up, and viewers can easily get around, don’t be afraid to go deep.

Try prioritizing your portfolio this way and let us know how it worked for you in the comments.


Marjorie is a Creative Circle candidate based in Portland with a longing for work-related travel. She is a writer/editor and stylist/producer with an emphasis in the design world. If you are interested in working with Marjorie, please contact Creative Circle Portland.

Hey, here’s my resume. Read it. No really, go on. I’ll wait.

The last time I heard someone scoff at the concept of resumes was just a few weeks ago, over lunch. “Oh come on, who actually reads a resume?” Um, I do. And you probably should too.
The funny thing was that just days prior I’d placed a copy of my own resume in this very person’s hands. I like the guy, and he had no way of knowing what an unexpected pain in the rear it had been to put together five copies of my portfolio on short notice. (First, the realization that my husband had been ignoring his printer’s pleas for new ink cartridges past the point of usability; then the unanticipated time spent driving to Staples and back; and then the friend who tried to help me but ended up mis-ordering all the pages and somehow cutting her hand and getting blood on two of the front pages, setting me back to square one.)

What I mean to say, is that I wasn’t that miffed (it helps that he had been clearly receptive to my performance in said interview), but I was slightly appalled. It was less than six months ago that I was still working as the managing editor of a media company, which included participating in the hiring process. When it came to interns, the decision was typically left up entirely to me.
It was the kind of place that attracts young candidates, so our public calls for entry-level internships would result in mountains of resumes. I’m not going to lie and say I read each and every single one that hit my inbox—a few terrible lines in a cover letter were enough to send many applicants straight to the recycling bin. However, when you’re trying to differentiate the suitability of people who are largely just starting out, most of them don’t have a ton of tangible, finished work to reference, much less a slick, smoothly navigable profile site. Often their educational background is completely relevant to who they are in the present moment. They just haven’t done that much yet. So I actually read their resumes.

At some point in your career, writing your resume can evolve into an editing project. More than two pages is rude, so eventually you have to stop being exhaustive (and stop abusing tiny type sizes) and whittle it down to only the most impressive—a living document tailored by time and situation. Perhaps you remember writing your first resume—I know I do. That’s when all the opposite tricks were called for—furiously bumping up the type size to fill a single page and extracting every ounce of potential material from limited experience.

It’s kind of a great exercise, and frankly it can be a really interesting, not just useful, read. That’s partly because these types of resume writers are telling you everything—not just which schools they attended, but what their extracurricular activities were, or whether they studied abroad. A lot of them are also probably telling you revealing little white lies about what they did very little of (but, you know, they technically did… probably) and perhaps they now wish they’d done more of. They’re calling attention to their weirdest, least relevant work experience to simply reinforce the basic understanding that they’re a warm body who will show up on time and not steal the company laptops. Read as a whole, it’s actually a pretty effective map of a person’s life-experience.
Again, I’m not making the argument that anyone needs to read every resume they get. I’m totally down with the method of doing a quick first round of elimination based on a scan for minimum requirements. Blaze through those mountains. But by the time you get to the point of interviewing a candidate, I feel strongly that you should have read the thing in its entirety, whether you are dealing with entry-level or senior-level candidates (who probably ought to be able to edit a resume with at least some charm, anyway).

It’s not an etiquette thing. I relate to the fact that it can seem like more of a burden than it’s worth. But it’s only two pages (or less, and heavy on the returns and bullet points). It will take a very short time for you to read it, and the time it will save you in return makes for a fantastic ROI. Your conversations with candidates will be more efficient, you’ll be able to make decisions more quickly, and they will lead to better choices. Choices that may even have direct bearing on your own workload.
These are the people you’ll be seeing more days than not, after all. Read their resumes.


Marjorie is a Creative Circle candidate based in Portland with a longing for work-related travel. She is a writer/editor and stylist/producer with an emphasis in the design world. If you are interested in working with Marjorie, please contact Creative Circle Portland.

My name is Evan. I’m a 20 year old college student, was born and raised in Los Angeles, and have been shaped in innumerable ways by its creative community. I’m majoring in digital media and minoring in art history. I’ve dreamed of working in the music industry since my early experiences at punk shows during my teenage years, and am currently interning at an online music magazine and ticketing platform, along with my marketing internship at Creative Circle.

Sophomore year has concluded, and I’m now firmly within summer’s tail end, which means that the usual anxieties related to my (relatively) near future have begun to creep in. How will I approach my academic growth next semester? Will my courses bring me closer in any tangible way to realizing my ultimate goals? Will I have yet another set of dorm suitemates who prioritize their gym routines over practicing adult hygiene habits? All par for the course as an incoming junior.

Not all has been marred with increasing dread, of course. For two years, I’ve maintained a better GPA than I ever had in a single high school year. I just finished my first semester as a radio DJ on KSPC 88.7, a dream since I was young. And most importantly, in May, I landed an internship at a music magazine I’ve been reading religiously for years. Over the course of the summer, I will be using my digital media major, past experience with social, and passion for music to test the waters and sift through what this industry’s all about.

Just like so many of my peers, this kind of mental push and pull defines the college experience as a whole. It’s hard to even imagine someone without the constants of a single living space or standardized routine also command a clear headspace. Like many others with the privilege and resources to complete an undergraduate education at a liberal arts college, however, I’m still pushing forward in spite of it all.

As expected, the post-high school journey here has been one marked with a tenuous relationship with sleep, assignment due dates that seem to loom larger than life itself, and a perpetual fear of the inevitable internship search and subsequent cycle of networking pleasantries. As I navigate the market amongst other interns and forge potentially long-term industry connections, I’ll be weighing my interest in digital media and the larger creative industry for the long haul. Before I head back to take on my third year at school and look onward into my latter half of higher education, I’ll be sharing a few insights I’ve gained throughout the journey thus far.

  • A brief overview of my journey through different major considerations before deciding finally on digital media
  • Fears I still have in terms of networking/securing a real job in an increasingly unstable market
  • What digital means to me and why I think it’s so important to the next generation of creatives
  • Takeaways from my liberal arts curriculum in general
  • My experience in the L.A. creative community
  • My case for art history courses among college students considering creative industries

I hope that my experiences will ring true with others in the same boat, and that readers will feel inspired to start an open dialogue around any issues relevant to the larger community of interns, recent graduates, or students still working their way through the system. Feel free to start adding your thoughts about any of the above in the comments. I’ll check in again soon.

When interviewing for a job or with a prospective client, making a good first impression is crucial, setting the tone for what one hopes will be a mutually inspiring conversation.

Here are five things to keep in mind before you plunge ahead:

1. Check for tears, missing buttons, and stains.

What you wear matters. Your appearance is the first sensory impression you will make, so use it as a tool to project how you want to be perceived. Regardless of the look you decide on, make sure it is clean, unwrinkled, undamaged, and that it fits properly. Lint rollers are your friends.

2. Consider your environment.

If you are job seeking in a traditional corporate environment, dress the part. Wear a suit and tie or a solid, neutral-colored dress. Blazers for everyone. If you are interviewing in a creative office environment, you don’t need to be so formal—it could actually work against you—but make sure your clothes always demonstrate respect for the occasion.

3. Show some personality.

Even within the confines of formal business attire, it’s possible to tastefully exhibit memorable style—just mind the scale. Interesting (but not super bright colored, juvenile, or jokey) details on a watch, small piece of jewelry, scarf, or tie are a chance to quietly and respectfully leave an impression.

4. Use clothing to demonstrate your ability to handle tasks.

In more creative professional environments, there is more leeway in the types of garments that are appropriate, but stick to clothing that is in good physical condition. Exhibiting an interest in design and expression is almost always to your advantage, but it is a much more attractive trait accompanied by an interest in keeping things clean and tidy, too.

5. Start using hand grips yesterday.

You can buy a pair of hand grips for about $7, which is a steal when you consider the importance of a good handshake. A solid, firm (but not crushing) shake conveys confidence and strength. People will want to trust you if you give them a dynamite handshake, and all it takes is a few squeezes for a few minutes every day. Plus, it will do wonders for your typing.

Share your own tips below on what to do (or avoid) when meeting a prospective employer for the first time!


Marjorie is a Creative Circle candidate based in Portland with a longing for work-related travel. She is a writer/editor and stylist/producer with an emphasis in the design world. If you are interested in working with Marjorie, please contact Creative Circle Portland.

Monthly Typography Tidbits help to feed your typographic hunger and nourish your design output.


No matter if you’re designing a book, a brochure, a web page or even your resume, line lengths can make or break the readability of your page.

It’s really all about the harmonious relationship, or proportion from one element to another that makes design beautiful. And the proportion between page, measure and type size is super important in creating perfect line lengths that create comfortable reading copy.

Proportion is a central principle to architectural theory and the connection between mathematics and art. Well-designed buildings have space, symmetry and proportion that you can experience and feel as you walk through the space. This physicality of proportion ignites the senses while walking through the space.

With hierarchy and proportion in graphic design, readers take cues from the designer on what to read when, in what order, with what speed, in what tone and so on. Think of the designer as the tour guide through ‘spaces’ of content.

Now you might not like numbers or math, but this is not mind-bending rocket science. It’s just a few steps to begin with to help make your page look better. Think about it like this: A triple play in baseball is a rare act, but can be done if the mindset of all the players involved are in sync. Let’s take it play-by-play.

First Play: From the Format to the Grid

Creating proportion in design starts with the format or page size, which determines the grid. For a large format, like a newspaper, you can have 5 or 6 columns and accommodate a lot of content. On a small format, like a medical pamphlet, you might be dealing with a single column.

Our Notebook-Typography Tidbits-grid types
The page size is like the outer walls of a house which determines the structure of the rooms on the inside. The page size will narrow down your grid choices, as will the type of content.

Second Play: From the Grid to the Measure

The Measure is the name given to the width of a body of type, or column. Let’s use the example of an 8″ x 10″ book. It’s small, needs to be easily read, and set for flowing body copy, so I’ll assume it needs a double-column grid. Let’s test that.

The page size is 8″ x 10″, with 8 inches being the horizontal size. Subtracting a margin of 1/2 inch on both sides, and we end up with a body copy area of only 7 inches wide. Seven inches converts to 42 picas (6 picas per inch) across. You know this because you have that Conversion Chart in your hand.

Third Play: From the Measure to Type Size

If we lay in 9 points body copy, we end up at 138 characters per line. Too long. So, to calculate the type size based on the size of the 42 pica measure, we’ll split that value in half to start. The measure, on average is 1.5 to 2 times the type size. That means if we stay with our single column, our type size is going to be between 21 to 28 points. Whoa, that’s too big for body copy.

138 characters across per line, as indicated by the Info palette, is too difficult to read.
138 characters across per line, as indicated by the Info palette, is too difficult to read.

If we divide the measure into two columns, each column will only be 21 picas, or less with alleys, let’s say 19 picas. If so, we can set our type size between at 9.5 and 12.5, depending on the typeface. Use your info palette in InDesign to check the character count, and aim between 50 and 70 characters. A trained eye will make the final call on the correct size and weight for the page.

66 characters across per line, that's in the sweet spot.
66 characters across per line, that’s in the sweet spot.

If you prefer to see it in action, you can view some of basics of line length calculation process in this video.

This formula saves a lot of time in guesswork, right? It has saved me tons of time. Just knowing the size of the book, report or page has allowed me to be able to estimate print prices on the spot for clients. Based on the format size, I know how many words will copyfit onto the page, and how many pages are needed and figure out a rough production budget for printing.

The format helps us decide on the grid and dictates the measure size. The measure size helps determine the body copy size. They all work together to score a home run for your design career.

We didn’t even address leading, margins, hierarchy, etc. But it’s okay, because now calculating line lengths and creating proportion on the page is now in your strike zone.

Did you try this formula out? Let me know on Twitter at @TypeEd. If you’d like to learn more, visit our blog at type-ed.com.


Michael Stinson is a co-founder and instructor at TypeEd, where he helps designers implement better typography, efficiently. Get more typography in your inbox when you sign up for more updates about TypeEd.